The Ultimate Berlin City Guide: Local Favorite Things to See, Do, and Eat

April 20, 2020
The ultimate guide to the best of Berlin, with local favorite spots from restaurants to museums with a downloadable map to help you navigate your way through this hip city!

The Ultimate City Guide to Berlin

Berlin, Germany is a dream destination for creatives.

It's hip, affordable and a bit gritty making it the perfect canvas for street art and those looking for a place where everyone from any background can freely express themselves.

The city is home to over 200 museums to discover and is the greenest city in Germany with over 44% of the city is made up of parks and waterways.

I've been lucky to visit Berlin twice and can't wait to explore more of this amazing metropolitan unlike anywhere else.

I personally enlisted the help of my lovely friend Juliette, a Berlin local to help recommend some things you must see + do while in the German capital.

Keep reading for the ultimate guide to Berlin to help you discover Berlin like a local!

Get ready to fall in love with Berlin!

What to Know Before You Go

Berlin, the German Capital is filled with history, the city was destroyed during World War 2 and East Berlin was divided from the rest of Germany by the Berlin Wall for 28 years.

Flashforward to today the city has completely rebuilt itself to be a major economic and cultural hub, drawing in visitors from all around the world to this trendy and modern city called Berlin.

Language: German

Currency: Euro (€)

Population: 3.7 million

Get ready to see street art and grafitti everywhere.

How to Get to Berlin

By Plane:

Getting to Berlin by plane is usually the priciest option, but if you are already in Europe you can easily find cheap flights on budget airlines such as EasyJet or Wizz Air by using Skyscanner.

There are two major airports in Berlin, Berlin-Tegel Airport (TXL) is the largest international airport hub serving Berlin and is closest to the city center. You will most likely be flying into Berlin-Tegel if you are on a long-haul flight or using a non-budget carrier.

The other airport, Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SFX) mainly services low-cost flights from European destinations.

Each airport offers easy access to the city center by connections via an express bus from Berlin-Tegel Airport that takes around 35 minutes and costs only 2.80€.

Berlin-Schönefeld has an express train (RE7 and RB14), the train journey takes 28 minutes to reach Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin's main train station and costs 3€.

If you don’t have much time to spend in Berlin I recommend taking a plane so you can make the most of your short trip!

By Train:

Taking a train to Berlin is a great way to see the scenery, relax, and get work done with free wifi offered onboard most trains. Most major cities in Europe offer train connections to Berlin such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

The main train station in Berlin is Berlin Hauptbahnhof and is near the city center so you can start exploring Berlin as soon as you arrive.

I love using Omio to compare prices between taking a plane, train or bus within Europe to see which is the best bang for my buck. 

By Bus:

Buses are the cheapest way to get to Berlin but are usually the slowest route.

Taking a bus is the best way to save money especially if you take an overnight bus you can save on accommodation as well.

If you are on a tight budget and have time to spare or if you aren’t too far from Berlin taking a bus would likely be the best option for you.

Getting Around Berlin

Berlin is definitely a large city, over 9 times the size of Paris and around the same size as Bangkok.

Luckily, Berlin has two metro systems: the S-Bahn and U-Bahn to help you explore the city with ease with a combined length of 473km.

The metro systems are efficient, affordable and easy to figure out, you can find all the fare information and route maps on the official website of Berlin.

You can also easily get around by walking and discovering the hidden gems of the city using my map below.

I managed to catch the UBahn in the background after several takes.

Where to Stay

There are hundreds of different places to stay in Berlin ranging from luxury five-star hotels to budget hostels.

When I was in Berlin, I booked a spacious and affordable Airbnb in the trendy Kreuzberg neighborhood.

I love staying in Airbnbs because they give you almost all the amenities of a hotel minus the fresh sheets every day for a lower price tag.

*If you haven’t stayed at an Airbnb before you can use this code to save $$ off your first booking and use the money you saved to treat yourself in Berlin!*

My temporary home in Berlin.

If you are looking for a modern, centrally located boutique hotel I recommend Bikini Berlin. This stylish hotel features a hammock lounge, rooftop bar, sauna, and free bike rentals for all guests.

Photo ©Bikini Berlin

If you are looking to stay in a hostel, definitely check out Hostelworld to find the best hostel for your wants/needs from party-centric hostels to quieter places catered for digital nomads.

What to Do and See

Go cafe hopping in Kreuzberg

I have officially coined Kreuzberg as "the cool cafe district" of Berlin, there seems to be a unique place to chill and grab a coffee in every corner. Check out my guide to the top 5 cafes in Berlin you must visit for the best cafes to check-out in Kreuzberg and other neighborhoods as well.

Browse for books and magazines at doyoureadme?!

Doyoureadme?! is a local independent shop specializing in all things printed matter.

The store specializes in carrying books and magazines on architecture, art, and design and has a large selection of international books and magazines so if you can't read German don't fret you can still find your next best read here.

Have a picnic at an abandoned airport

Berlin Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008 and reopened as the city's largest public park in 2010 that's even bigger than New York City's Central Park.

The park is ideal for chilling with friends, rollerskating, biking, or just walking on the tracks of the old airport.

I suggest going when the weather is nice as there are no trees so it can get super windy.

It's definitely a unique experience you can only find in Berlin.

Relax after a long day of exploring in Treptower Park

Before I visited Berlin I thought it was a gritty concrete jungle filled with street art without much greenery and I was pleasantly suprised to say the least.

My favorite park in the city is Treptower Park, it's a huge park and has an abandoned amusement park inside called Spreepark for you to check out.

There is also a small island called Insel der Jugend where you can rent paddle boats, you can reach the island by crossing the Abteibrücke bridge.

Keep an eye out for Berlin's amazing street art

If you are a street art fan, you are in luck as Berlin is covered in unique street art.

Many of the world's top street art artists have made their mark in the city.

You can even find tours that exclusively show you the best street art and explain the meaning behind each work of art.

If you are keen to see some of the best street art without roaming endlessly around the city, check out Art Park on Lake Tegel which features 7 amazing murals created by artists across Europe.

A sneak peak of Berlin's epic street art.
Go swimming in the city's most beautiful pool

Stadtbad Neukölln is considered one of the most beautiful pools in Europe.

Located right in the heart of Berlin, the pool features ancient Greek inspired architecture with columns and mosaics.

It is the perfect budget-friendly activity with an entrance fee of only 3.50€ per person.

Try finding vintage gems at Pick'nWeight

Pick'nWeight is a famous vintage store with 5 locations throughout Berlin.

Here you can find some affordable wardrobe staples to even vintage costumes for Halloween.

Prices range from 25 to 85€ per kilo based on the category of clothing.

Eat a döner kebab as a late night snack

It's no secret that Berlin has one of the best nightlife scenes in the world and is home to Berghain, the most exclusive club.

After dancing all night every Berliners go-to late night snack is a döner kebab.

Trying a döner kebab is an essential experience when visiting Berlin and you can find shops and street carts everywhere selling Turkish-style kebabs for less than 5€.

The #1 thing you must try in Berlin.
Go to one of Berlin's craft/flea markets to find the perfect souvenir

Berlin is home to several cool craft/flea markets throughout the city, here you can find local products that will make the perfect souvenir or gift to bring back from Berlin.

  • Nowkoelln Flowmarkt: This flea market takes place from April until October on every first and third Sunday each month. Here you can find over 100 different venders selling almost everything and you can bargain for a great price. You can also expect to find lots of tasty street food here!
  • RAW Flohmarkt: You can find this flea market every Sunday from 09:00 to 15:00, you can even set up your own table and sell your goods. There are no professional sellers so you can expect to find lots of interesting steals for sale here and a funky vibe.
  • Mauerpark Flohmarkt: Takes place every Sunday in Mauerpark, this flea market is a bit more touristy but also attracts locals each week. Here you can find lots of vintage clothing, furniture and street food. It tends to get super busy around noon so I recommend going early to avoid the rush.
Visit one of Berlin's 200+ museums

It's an understatement to say that Berlin is a culturally rich city as it has over 200 museums for you to enjoy, ranging from photography to war history.

If you are a student or under 26 years old you can usually get discounted admission tickets or even completely free admission.

I visited several museums in the city and the one that stuck out the most was Hamburger Bahnhof.

Hamburger Bahnhof is one of the largest and most significant public collections of modern art in the world.

If you are interested in contemporary art or just enjoy cool exhibits definitely check it out while in Berlin.

Hamburger Bahnhoff Modern Art Museum

Where to Dine and Drink

Berlin has a thriving international food scene, you can find cuisine from almost anywhere in the city.

Try expanding your palette and check out some of the many different restaurants the city has to offer from Asian-fusion joints to vegan eateries.

House of Small Wonder

House of Small Wonder is a cozy Japanese fusion cafe serving daily brunch and dinner. The restaurant hails from Brooklyn, New York, and their specialty is American dishes with a Japanese twist.

The cafe is full of greenery and is perfect for a brunch or dinner date but tends to get crowded so I would recommend making a reservation.

The menu has an amazing brunch set which includes 4 dishes and a hot drink for 22€ or a bottomless cocktail brunch for 32€.

House of Small Wonder
  • Address: Johannisstraße 20, 10117 Berlin
  • Hours: Weekends 09:00 - 23:00 | Monday 09:00 - 17:00
  • Phone: +49 30 27 58 28 77
  • Metro Stop: Oranienburger Tor
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram
House of Small Wonder

Bichou Bistro & Cafe

Bishou is a cute French cafe and breakfast/lunch spot serving a simple but delicious weekly menu using only local and organic ingredients.

Everything on their menu always looks tasty, especially the homemade bread as the menu is always changing you can go here multiple times and always try something different.

Bichou Bistro & Cafe
  • Address: Schönstedtstraße 14, 12043 Berlin
  • Hours: Weekdays 10:30 - 17:00 | Closed on Weekends
  • Phone: +49 15 73 51 89 256
  • Metro Stop: Rathaus Neukölln
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram
Chipperfield Kantine

This is not your ordinary cantine, belonging to the famous Chipperfield architects it is a design lovers' dream lunch spot.

The canteen offers a small but great daily menu, I had the best salad of my life so far.

Here design and food are equally important, even the plates seem custom-made to fit the space.

Chipperfield Kantine
  • Address: Joachimstraße 11, 10119 Berlin
  • Hours: Weekdays 08:30 - 20:00 | Closed on Weekends
  • Phone: +49 30 33 84 44 30
  • Metro Stop: U Rosenthaler Platz
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Not Found
Chipperfield Kantine
Funk you Natural Food

An excellent all-vegetarian restaurant, perfect for a smoothie break in between your adventures.

Everything is homemade and prepared in front of you, they also have great sandwiches and you must try the snickers kuchen, a vegan, and gluten-free cake but you can't tell.

Funk you Natural Food
  • Address: Rosenthaler Str. 23, 10119 Berlin
  • Hours: 08:00 - 19:00
  • Phone: +49 17 66 10 55 335
  • Metro Stop: U Weinmeisterstraße
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram
Photo ©Funk you Natural Food

Dudu is a chic and intimate Asian-Fusion restaurant, all the dishes are based on Vietnamese specialties with Japanese and Latin-American influences.

I recommend trying their sushi rolls which come in generous portions, you won't go hungry here!

  • Address: Torstraße 134, 10119 Berlin
  • Hours: Weekdays 12:00 - 00:00
  • Phone: +49 30 51 73 68 54
  • Metro Stop: U Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram

Every Tuesday and Friday you can enjoy authentic Turkish specialties, flowers, and fresh fruit/veggies in the heart of Berlin.

Berlin is home to the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey and this market is a fun way to learn more about the Turkish culture through delicious food.

  • Address: Schönstedtstraße 14, 12043 Berlin
  • Hours: Every Tuesday and Friday 11:00 - 18:00
  • Phone: Not Found
  • Metro Stop: Schönleinstraße
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Not Found
Z Bar

A super unique bar with a cinema in the back with cheap drinks starting from only 2€.

Each Tuesday they host a free screening of short movies with a similar theme and you can vote for your favorites, and listen to the directors talk about their works.

Z Bar
  • Address: Bergstraße 2, 10115 Berlin
  • Hours: Monday to Wednesday 19:00 - 03:00 | Thursday to Saturday 19:00 - 04:00 | Sunday 19:00 - 02:00
  • Phone: +49 30 28 38 91 21
  • Metro Stop: U Rosenthaler Platz
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Facebook
Cafe Luzia

Cafe Luzia is a cafe by day and a lounge by night in a relaxing and kitchy environment filled with candles and mismatched furniture.

The bar offers lots of beer and cocktail options for reasonable prices, just remember to bring some cash as they don't accept credit cards.

Cafe Luzia
  • Address: Oranienstraße 34, 10999 Berlin
  • Hours: 12:00 - 05:00
  • Phone: +49 30 82 40 96 41
  • Metro Stop: U Kottbusser Tor
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram
Photo ©Cafe Luzia

If you are looking for a bar that is too Berlin to function, Sameheads is the perfect spot for you to check out.

The bar looks like an 80s museum with a futuristic and a bit of a strange vibe, it's also the best place for people-watching.

  • Address: Richardstraße 10, 12043 Berlin
  • Hours: 18:00 - 04:00
  • Phone: +49 30 70 12 10 60
  • Metro Stop: Karl-Marx-Straße
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram

For the rooftop bar lovers I had to include Klunkerkranich, this bar is located on top of a parking garage and has some of the best views of the city.

It's the best place to hang out during the long summer nights and snap some sunset pictures.

  • Address: Karl-Marx-Strasse 66, 12043 Berlin
  • Hours: 12:00 - 02:00
  • Phone: +49 30 66 66 66
  • Metro Stop: Rathaus Neukölln
  • Website: Link
  • Social Media: Instagram
Photo ©Klunkerkranich

Berlin Top Tips

  • Make sure to bring some cash handy as Berlin isn't the most card friendly city.
  • Berlin is a super bike-friendly city, most streets have bike lanes and it's the perfect way to get to know the city.
  • Bring an umbrella, sadly Berlin isn't renowned for its amazing weather.
  • You can drink in public, it's not uncommon to see people walking their dogs sipping beer.
  • If you aren't fluent in German don't worry, most Berliners speak almost native-level English and even if you try to speak German they will most likely switch to English.

Downloadable Map

I created a map you can use to easily help you find your way to all the amazing local spots in Berlin!

Have you ever been to Berlin? If so what is your favorite memory from your trip?

Want to visit Berlin? Keep this guide handy by pinning it for later!

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Welcome to madimonde.

Hey there! I'm Madi and I have an addiction to finding trendy local spots around the globe. Here I spill all my favorite places and tips you won't find in any guide books!

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