It has been almost thirty years since the fall of the Berlin Wall when the capital of Germany finally became whole again. Left with gaping wounds on their landscape, the city has been reborn in an extraordinary way in the last three decades whilst embracing its cultural heritage.
On one hand you have the centuries old Berliner Dom built in Renaissance style next to the river Spree, then there is the sprawling Memorial to the Murdered Jews, a tribute of over 19,000m3 of concrete blocks commemorating the tragedy of WWII.
Having spent a month in Berlin, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this metropolis complete with its multi-national inhabitants. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t visit everything I wanted to, but here are some of my top five most frequented hangouts:
A former airfield that was still in use until 2008, this endless stretch of criss-crossing tarmac paths is now an unofficial park beloved by Berliners. With over 300 hectares of ground, it is pretty safe to say that you won’t have to worry about not finding a free spot. With the fenced off terminal at the side and numerous abandoned planes scattered around, there’s plenty for you to explore.
The best way to do so is to rollerblade or cycle; it’s not every day you get to whiz down an airport runway, or have a barbeque while you watch people paraglide.
The park also hosts various pop-up events; during my visit there was a modern art mini golf installation, right next to a horticulture corner run by a local University. High profile events such as the Berlin Marathon and the Popkomm (during Berlin Music Week) were also held there.
The only downside of this park is that it’s not easy to reach from; you have to walk quite a distance with no signs to direct you. Therefore it’s recommended that you studied your route or print out a map in preparation for your visit.
Tempelhofer Field, 12099 Berlin
Station: U6 Tempelhof or U7 Südstern
Biergartens and Beach Bars
It would be a shame for you to visit Berlin and not indulge yourself in the favourite drink of the nation.
Whilst unfortunately biergarten is not a place where beers grow out of the ground and nor are beach bars actually next to the beach, they are favourite hangout spots for locals who flock there on sunny afternoons to chat and gulp down a few pints.
I had accidently stumbled into a biergarten on my first day in Berlin – the relaxing, friendly vibe had drawn me in like a moth to flame. Equipped with an expanse of chairs scattered across a courtyard, there will be a bar serving all kind of beers imaginable, from the local Berliner to a refreshing lemon beers .
There is usually a snack stand too, selling wrusts (German sausages) and chips. There is an endless parade of biergartens throughout Berlin and some even have their own brew for the beer fanatic in you to try.
Despite my inability to figure out why Berliners are so obsessed with sand, beach bars are admittedly a marvellous idea.
Often situated next to the river, or in some cases on a rooftop, you will find rustic wooden benches and deckchairs scattered across sandpits and raised platforms, not unlike those you find in popular seaside destinations. Some of the more dedicated bars even have a hot tub for its guests and in those next to a river or a lake many of the punters would venture in for a swim in the summer months.
Address: Revalerstr. 99 10245 Berlin
Station: M13 Simplostraße/ U Warschauer Str
Address: Schönhauser Allee 79, 10439 Berlin
Station: U2 Schonhauser Alle
Open: 10:00 – 00:00
One of the largest scale flea markets that I have ever seen in my life, there is no doubt that this is my favourite place on Earth, hands down.
Open every Sunday, this place is completely swamped with tourists and local alike, as well as a plethora of street artists performing next to the market.
The eastern entrance leads you straight into the busiest, more professional part of the market selling handmade jewellery, homemade honey in variety of flavours, printed shirts and drawstring bags.
The best parts of the flea market are the ever changing second hand stores further in. It is a true treasure hunt as you browse from stall to stall, haggling with stall owners for that gorgeous vintage skirt or stumbling upon a pair of retro roller skates that is just your size.
Further on are rows after rows of antique wares lined under tents, and stalls selling sunglasses or fridge magnets with quirky quotes. Unless you go into the market with nothing on you, it is a true feat to emerge without spending any dosh in this place.
It is very easy to feel claustrophobic and if you need to refuel or escape, there’s plenty of food store around selling Nutella crepes and Currywrusts and you head over to the empty green space next to the market to enjoy the music from Maurerpark bearpit karaoke, or up the hill to enjoy the graffiti and swings.
Address: Bernauer Straße 63-64, 13355 Mitte
Station: M10 Wolliner Straße, U2 Eberswalder Straße or U8 Bernauer Straße
Open: Sun 8:00 - 18:00
MarkhalleNeue Street Food Thursday
Located in the hip district of Kreuzberg, this hall transforms into a indoor market that is a true foodie’s heaven every Thursday evening when an international throng of street food stalls congregate to sell their mouth-watering goods to eager diners.
As you meander through the gaggle of people browsing the variety of food on offer, you will be wishing you can grow a second stomach so you can savour all the deliciousness on offer. Be it Chinese hand pulled noodle, Korean Kimchi burgers, Taiwanese pulled pork bao or a New York Pastrami burger, you will inevitably buy more than you have money for and ended up stuffed beyond belief.
Yet you won’t regret it for the world and will vow to yourself you will return next week, and again, and again.
Except you can’t, so you can only settle for buying a cup of fresh mint fruit tea to pacify yourself.
Markthalle Neun, Eisenbahnstraße 42⁄43, 10997 Kreuzberg
Station: U1 Görlitzer Bhf.
Open: Thursday 17:00 - 22:00
Humanas at Frankfuter Tor
Technically speaking this isn’t an attraction at all, but part of a second hand chain store. Why is it on my list then, you might ask. Well the answer is that I have been to this shop three times, and every time I ended up spending hours in there scouring through the racks and scouring a good buy.
If your not adverse to the idea of second hand clothing and harbour an inner hipster shopaholic inside you, then this could be your salvation or your downfall, depending on how you look at it.
With five whopping storeys of vintage and second hand fashion that won’t break your budget, you will be running around getting your mitts on anything that catches your eyes. Whether you are in it for the trend or simply because it is way more affordable than high street shops, the individuality and variety is a good alternative to get a unique souvenir of Berlin.
Address: Frankfurter Tor 3, 10243 Berlin
Station: U5, Tram 10 / Frankfurter Tor
Open: Mon-Sat 10:00 – 20:00
Tel. (030) 422 2018
Even if you’re only in Berlin for a few days, all these locations are worth visiting, so make your way there if you can!