At the end of April, we flew from Venice to Berlin’s Schonefeld airport. From there we took a bus and the metro to get to our Youth Hostel in the Mitte area just south of Tiergarten park.
MAP with all the below mentioned spots and landmarks:
The public transport is one of the best that I’ve ever seen in any city. The metro runs every 5 minutes during the day, and every 20 minutes at night which is great when returning home from partying. The ticket price for an entire week of unlimited use of public transport is 38€. When you purchase a ticket you need to validate it using a machine that is located at each metro stop. If you buy a day’s pass (or more) you only need to validate it once.
The food was really good and quite affordable. There are numerous Turkish food stalls with doner kebab and other types of street food. Needless to say, we ate a lot of those. You also get your fair share of KFC’s, McDonald’s and Burger King’s which we opted to avoid.
WHAT TO SEE
Since our hostel was near Tiergarten park, this was our first stop of the trip. The park is huge and really beautiful in spring with little pathways and ponds where you can relax and enjoy the nature.
To experience a more lively and diverse park scene head north to the Mauerpark where there’s a party every single Sunday. We spent almost the entire day there! The park is full of Berliners having a picnic, barbecuing, drinking bear, watching street performers and dancing to musicians. We laid on the grass, took a stroll down the flea market, watched a hilarious street performance and ate from one of the many food stalls.
Had we known that East Berlin is such a cool place, we would have booked a hostel in that area. Instead, we took the U1 to Warschauer Straße and explored the surroundings from there.
- The first spot that we visited was the East Side Gallery which features the longest remaining strip of the Berlin wall. Some of it with the original artwork. We found it to be quite dirty and unkept, but still worth the visit.
- One of the coolest places to see was the area around Suicide Circus where you get to experience the real urban architecture scene. Old and decaying industrial buildings were turned to clubs and bars; there’s even an indoor skate park and one of the most astonishing climbing spots I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely worth the visit; during the day to take photos and at night to party!
THE PARTY SCENE
Everybody who comes to Berlin knows that this is where the party is at especially if techno is your thing. Some of the world’s most renowned clubs can be found here most of which are located in old industrial buildings or abandoned power plants.
We opted to go to Tresor which is supposed to be Berlin’s techno legend. All the clubs are notorious for their strict door policy and long queues. According to online forums, an all black attire and knowledge of a little German is key to increase your chances of getting in.
We came to Tresor’s front door at around 01:00 and waited in line for only 20 minutes. We got in without a problem even though we spoke no German. Maybe due to the early hour (the club was still quite empty), maybe due to good luck. Anyway, once in, we got quite disoriented as there are no signs and only dark corridors apparently leading to nowhere. Upstairs a more chilled bar area with a dance floor called Globus is located. If you make your way down you get to the Vault. You should be prepared for insanely loud techno beats and flashing red/blue lights which, when mixed with smoke, make it almost impossible to see.
- make sure you know the exact location of the club since there are absolutely no signs on the street or on the building itself,
- do not make too much noise while waiting in line and don’t be drunk,
- wearing black clothes apparently does help you to get in,
- be prepared to pay 10+€ to enter,
- do not even think about getting a photo of the inside or outside of the building as it is strictly prohibbited. Some clubs (Berghain) even put a sticker on your phone camera,
- know at least one DJ that is playing that night,
- know which club you want to go to and why. The infamous Berghain is deemed to be the hardest to get in; you can wait for 2/3 hours on the freezing cold and then be denied entrance. Do not expect an explanation why,
- check out this site where you can find useful information about Berlin’s clubs, their door policy and what to expect once (if) you get in: http://berlinclubs.com/
WEST SIDE ATTRACTIONS
These are the most touristy spots and some of them are really not worth your time (Checkpoint Charlie, for example).
- The Brandenburg gate is usually the first stop of your tour in the West. We got there, took our pictures and went away. There’s really not much for you to do there expect get hassled by guides offering you the latest tours.
- The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was our second spot just a few minutes walk from the gate. The place has a surreal vibe with rows of slabs of different heights and lengths.
- The Reichstag Building is the seat of the German Parliament. Located at the edge of Tiergarten park, the building rises in its grandiosity above the city. We visited the Reichstag Dome from where you can enjoy the view of Berlin and marvel at its glass architecture.
TIP* In order to visit the Dome you have to previously register on this page. The entry is free. Be prepared to go through airport-like security and do not forget to have your printed reservation document with you.
The Tempelhof airport is located south of the city centre. It is now a place for Berliners to spend their free time either jogging, longboarding, street kiting or just chilling on the grass. We decided to rent a pair of four wheeled vehicles and race across the runway.
/ BERLIN in a minute
There are many more landmarks and museums to visit, but these were the places we decided to see. Overall, we expected that the city had to offer a bit more historic sights related to the wars, so on that note we left a bit disappointed. However, Berlin does have its upsides especially if you are into the urban street scene and nightlife.
Thank you for reading. Keep exploring,