A Berliner’s Guide to Berlin

16 Dec 2015

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 favourite hotels in Berlin.

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

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

For 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 Cemetary (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.


Like 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 


Few districts in the city symbolise 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 

An influx of nationalities over the last 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 9-course taster menu, with perfectly matched wines for each course, is an absolute must.

Party like a true Berliner 

Curfew 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 Friedrichshain

Set in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Friedrichstein, with Metro station within a 5-minute walk. Bonus feature: rooftop terrace with far-reaching views of the city.

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

Hotel OTTO

Property has a buzzing location in leafy Charlottenburg, with a top-floor lounge and sundeck. Free snacks and drinks are served all day, and the hotel has free Wi-Fi throughout.

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

andel's Hotel Berlin

We particularly like the 14th-floor bar with panoramic views, but this ultra-trendy hotel also has a full-service spa with saunas, steam room & whirlpool bath.

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

Pestana Berlin Tiergarten

Next to the Tiergarten, away from the bustle of the city centre and within walking distance of Kurfüstendamm and Berlin Zoo. On-site bar has the largest selection of port in the city.

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Grand 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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