A Berliner’s Guide to Berlin

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History, street art, fine food, cutting-edge architecture and hedonistic nightlife all combine to make the German capital one of the most exciting cities in Europe. In fact, when it comes to Berlin, it can be hard to know where to begin – so who better to show you around than someone who hails from the city? Travelzoo deal expert Marco de Martino is just such a man and here he gives you the inside track on the city’s must-see attractions and hidden gems.

At the bottom of the page you’ll also find a selection of our favorite hotels in Berlin.

Walk along former borders and see how two cities have become one

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - Eastside Gallery
Eastside Gallery

The Berlin Wall is still there – but instead of being a border, it has become a symbol for freedom and unity. It’s also a focal point for the thriving street-art scene of the German capital. The so-called Eastside Gallery shows graffiti left on the wall right after the borders were torn down. Take a walk between the Spree River and the Wall from Ostbahnhof down to Warschauer Straße – on the way, you’ll pass some of the city’s old and new landmarks, including the historic Oberbaum Bridge and the modern Mercedes Benz Arena.

For another chance to see a blend of the old and new, head to the Reichstag, which was completely modernized and reopened in 1999, and returned to its original purpose as Germany’s seat of parliament. A massive new glass dome was fitted to the roof, but the graffiti left by Soviet soldiers in the first days of Berlin’s occupation was preserved. A visit to the Reichstag is a must – even if it’s just for the panoramic view from the dome.


Discover the remnants of the rule of fear

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - Berlin War MemorialFor more than 40 years, Berlin was a city between freedom and dictatorship, between East and West. One less heralded sight that serves as a reminder of this very special history is the Soviet War Memorial and Military Cemetery (left) in the Eastern district of Treptow.

Here you’ll find huge stone carvings, murals and statues, all of which aimed to underscore the might of the Soviet Union, right in the capital of the former enemy they defeated. Situated in Treptow Park, this is a simultaneously beautiful and bizarre place.

 

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - Memorial to the Murdered Jews of EuropeLike many similar monuments, the Soviet War Memorial was not destroyed after the fall of the wall. And others were even purposely erected. The Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe (left) is maybe the most impressive example of how a city – and a whole nation – tries to deal with its past. “Ugly,” “big,” “disturbing” is how most visitors describe it. And that is exactly what the monument is trying to depict.


Experience a cultural melting pot at its best

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg

Few districts in the city symbolize Berlin’s modern standing as a multicultural hub better than trendy Kreuzberg. The area’s distinct Arab and Turkish influence is clearly evident in the mix of traditional barber shops, halal butcheries and kebab houses on Adalbertstraße, but that only tells half the story.

Amongst this, you’ll also find an array of hip fashion boutiques, galleries and restaurants that have helped forge Kreuzberg’s reputation as a magnet for the young and trendy.


Get a taste of Germany’s culinary capital

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - Mehringdamm Gemüse KebapAn influx of nationalities over the past 60 years has resulted in an incredible variety of food. Berliners love to eat out because food here is very affordable, and this is the case for street food and fine dining alike.

Start with a hearty kebab at Mustafa’s Gemüse Döner (left) on Mehringdamm, or make your way to the Mitte district for sushi at Dudu on Torstraße.

For something a little bit special, check out Richard’s on Köpenicker Straße in Kreuzberg – the nine-course taster menu, with perfectly matched wines for each course, is an absolute must.


Party like a true Berliner

Travelzoo Blog: Berliner's Guide to Berlin - BerghainCurfew is a word unknown to Berliners. The party is over when the last guest leaves – and that rarely happens. Concert halls such as Arena Berlin, Columbiahalle, Mercedes-Benz Arena or the 100-year old Postbahnhof, regularly host underground and world-class bands alike.

And techno clubs such as Tresor or Berghain (left) have become globally renowned symbols of Berlin’s thriving music scene.


 

5 Hotels We Love in Berlin

Upstalsboom Hotel FriedrichshainThe Weinmeister Berlin-Mitte

The Weinmeister Berlin-Mitte hotel is a trendy celebrity haunt in Berlin. The property is surrounded by boutiques, cafés and pretty courtyards in Scheunenvierte.

Click here for rates and availability (Travelzoo-exclusive extras available)

AMERON Hotel Abion SpreebogenAMERON Hotel Abion Spreebogen

Set on the banks of the River Spree, the hotel is just across the water from Tiergarten and Schloss Bellevue (the German President’s residence).

Click here for rates and availability (Travelzoo-exclusive extras available)

DORMERO Hotel Berlin Ku’dammDORMERO Hotel Berlin Ku'damm

It is centrally located in the fashionable Charlottenburg area, near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Kurfürstendamm and Augsburger Strasse U-Bahn station is 5 minutes away.

Click here for rates and availability (Travelzoo-exclusive extras available)

Pestana Berlin TiergartenHotel Vier Jahreszeiten City West

This is a 4-star hotel in the borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf to the south-west of the city center. All guests get access to the spa, which has a hammam, a steam bath, a sauna & a gym.

Click here for rates and availability

Grand Hyatt BerlinGrand Hyatt Berlin

Berlin’s “most exciting” hotel, according to Frommer’s, the Grand Hyatt is two blocks from Potsdamer Platz, with an eighth-floor spa featuring incredible city views. A luxurious option.

Click here rates and availability

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