Why you will love Berlin!
On my first trip to Berlin in 2004, I went for just a weekend but ended up staying for a month. The city sucks you in that way and I swear it has something to with the incredible smell of their bread that permeates the city - it does something crazy to your mind! It's intoxicating as whole: both its history and contemporary incarnation, the incredible clubs and beautiful outdoor spaces, amazing bicycles, veggie food, and coffee. It is more than a weekend city, so don't even think about trying to see it all in 2 days. From Neukölln to Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, Mitte to Kreuzberg and Schöneberg: you can easily spend a week discovering this incredible city!
Watch out for:
- No Airbnb - you can still rent rooms but not entire houses/apartments after the ban on this came into effect in May 2016. I imagine Airbnb will try and fight this so always check for changes.
- Cycle hire: Berlin is the perfect city to navigate by bike. The cycle paths are wide and plentiful. There are loads of places around the city you can hire a bike from, but if you're heading there for a busy tourist weekend like Easter, make sure you book in advance. I've made this mistake before only discover that all the bikes were gone! There is a city-wide bike hire through Deutsche Bahn (like most major cities have now) but you need to register in advance
- Cash only: many independent cafes and restaurants don't take cards, only cash. So make sure you head there with plenty of Euros or be ready to withdraw cash regularly.
- Cobbled footpaths: being a city still steeped in history means that some areas still have footpaths made of small cobblestones that can be wildly uneven. Lovely to look at but torture on anyone trying to navigate them with a bag on wheels let alone drunkenly in heels.
- Slow service: don't ever head to any of the independent cafes or restaurants if you're in a rush. Service is pretty slow in Berlin when compared to other major cities. This is mostly to do with the more chilled vibe but there also seems to be half the amount of staff. At least that's probably what's keeping the prices low, so don't let it stress you out too much.
- Sunday brunch: Berliners like to have a buffet-style breakfast on weekends, especially on Sundays. Personally, I find them to be quite overpriced and lacking in anything particularly tempting, especially if you're a little picky about what you eat. If you happen to know a good one, though, let me know!
- Trashy fun times at Roses, White Trash Fast Food and Monster Ronson's Ichiban Karaoke.
- Coffee fix at Five Elephant, The Barn, No Fire No Glory and Westberlin.
- Sunday: guided tours at the Helmut Newton Foundation.
- Gluten-free goodness at Jute Bakery, Burrito Baby and The Bowl.
- Sexy experiences at Tres Bonjour, Fun Factory, Liquidrom and Newton Bar.
- Amazing Vietnamese at Monsieur Vuong, Hamy Cafe and Chez Dang.
- Exploring transformed Neukölln, especially if you haven't visited Berli since 2008.
- Brunch at Roamers, Cabslam, Zimt und Mehl, and Cafe Oliv.
- Burgers at BBI, Kreuzburger, and Tommi's.
- Clubbing at Zur Wilden Renate and, of course, Berghain.
- Photoautomat: adventuring around the city in black & white.