DAY OVER IN BERLIN
Berlin is a kaleidoscope, as colorful and diverse as its inhabitants. The city that never sleeps offers a different atmosphere in every other district, actually in every other “Kiez” (= Berlinese for “neighborhood”). It’s big, it’s green, there’s always something going on and if you know its insider tips, the tourist can have a lot of fun very inexpensively. The “Berlin Schnauze” is proverbial, but it only hides a soft heart behind a hard shell. Tolerant, open, extravagant, humorous, multicultural and in no way stuffy are the people who live here. They like to party, enjoy the beautiful cafés and flea markets, are culturally interested and have their own style. No other city is so artistic, so versatile, so free. Almost everyone is enthusiastic about it, every second person wants to move there. We have collected all the insider tips for a great time in Berlin – far from the usual city guide tips.
Culture: The Museum Island in Mitte (between Friedrichstr. and Alexanderplatz) offers great museums from history to art with interesting special exhibitions. It’s best to pre-book a ticket on the Internet to avoid long lines. The “Kulturforum” at Potsdamer Platz also attracts visitors with a huge painting gallery, the new National Gallery of Modern Art, the Museum of Instruments and the Museum of Crafts. The technical museum in Kreuzberg provides fun with old locomotives and antiquated equipment and especially with an exciting “do-with” area, not only for children. The Natural History Museum in Berlin features giant dinosaur models, stuffed animals, a stone collection and exciting electronic visualizations of tides and celestial phenomena. Impressive, but not for the faint of heart, is the Jewish Museum and Checkpoint Charly. The Martin Gropius-Bau always shows great art and history exhibitions, currently everything revolves around the “Myth of Olympia” at Potsdamer Platz. Furthermore, the Helmut Newton and Dali museums are just two examples of shows specializing in individual artists.
A trip to Potsdam to visit Frederick the Great and his Sanssouci Palace, a mini-version of Versailles, is definitely worthwhile. But suburbs like Königs-Wusterhausen also have small, historic castles with excellent guided tours.
Relaxing: spas and fun are plentiful in Berlin. Most of the good and large spas with saunas can be found a bit outside, like near Templin, Neuruppin or Luckenwalde, Bad Belzig or in the outlying district of Spandau. Also good: Tropical Island, which recreates the ambience of a tropical island near Briesen in Brandenburg. But with the Liquidrom in Mitte or the thermal baths at the Europacenter in Charlottenburg, two classy and atmospheric addresses have also established themselves in the heart of Berlin. Things get exotic in the hamams, the Turkish bathhouses. Here you can enjoy relaxing oriental treatments. Berlin’s sauna landscapes are also always recommended. There is one in almost every district. Cosmetic treatments and massages are available in many salons at reasonable prices.
Nature: Berlin trumps with really many parks. Each district has larger and smaller ones, which, with a few exceptions (Görlitzer Park, Hasenheide), are relatively safe to walk in the evening. Treptower Park and Tiergarten are ideal for jogging, at the former you can also rent a boat and chug through the beautiful Köpenick lakes and river landscape or enjoy a city tour with a knowledgeable guide. The Botanical Garden, the Zoological Garden and the Tiergarten are also classic destinations in Berlin that always promise a great day out. The “Gardens of the World” offer large-scale themed flora in Marzahn and, together with the FEZ, an amusement park in Wuhlheide, are the perfect playgrounds for children. Also the bathing lakes of Berlin and surrounding forests are recommendable in the summer, although a car is always advisable, since otherwise long U- and S-Bahn ways are of Nöten and nearly all beautiful lakes are somewhat outside.
Sports: Berliners usually do sports in the nearest park or fitness center. The SEZ in Friedrichshain is a sports facility for bowling, badminton, tennis, ice skating. You can also swim in a really sporty way in Friedrichshain, namely in the Velodrom in Landberger Allee. Right next door, there is the Paul-Heyse-Halle for friends of ice sports. The Sportforum in Weißensee also offers numerous ice halls and sports halls for almost every type of sport. For basketball and ice sports, the Max-Schmeling-Halle in Prenzlauer Berg is well-known. Soccer fans can cheer in the Olympic Stadium. Very popular in Berlin is climbing. The T-Hall in Neukölln and “Magic Mountain” in Wedding are essential for fans of vertical sports in the winter, and in the summer you can let off steam in Friedrichshain’s “Kegel” or at the many high ropes courses.
Shopping: Berliners love unusual, individual and old things. That’s why you should definitely visit one of Berlin’s flea markets. These are usually open on weekends, about until 4, 5 pm. The Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, the Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain and the big flea market at the big star and the museum island are absolute cult. Also, don’t be afraid to go to Berlin’s hip second hand stores, it’s really in here. If you prefer more conventional shopping, you can go to Friedrichstraße, Kurfürstendamm or one of the huge shopping centers in Berlin. Among the shopping centers, the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden, the Alexa at Alexanderplatz or the Schönhauser Allee Arkaden in Prenzlauer Berg are pleasant and stocked with thousands of hip stores. But also the area around Hackescher Mark and Oranienburger Straße offers cute boutiques with innovative style.