The Berlin guide

I lived in Berlin from 2010-2011 + 2013-2014 and I quickly found lots of places I'd frequent. Here I'll try and list some of them - there are hundreds of other good places, and Berlin is a city best explored by just walking around. But here's a little to start from. I've divided it into areas.

Prenzlauer Berg
I lived in Prenzlauer Berg the first six months. It's not my favourite quarter as it's very mommy-polished, but it definitely has its charm and some great places. Danes, beware of talking (badly) about people in the streets, they're almost always fellow Danes...!

Hangi Sushi, Zionkirchstr. 42, My all-time favourite sushi place. The pieces are huge, and they serve my fave - Alaska Philadelphia with salmon, cream cheese and avocado. The staff is very friendly and in the summer you can sit outside with a good view of the Zionkirche and the locals walking by.

Kauf Dich Glücklich, Oderberger Str. 44, A superb waffle place - the furniture is old and quirky, you can buy tons of weird little things, and they serve delicious ice cream (you never know what they have, but I have tried popcorn ice and milkschnitte....) Further down Kastanienallee (nr. 54) is a sister shop where they also have clothes called Glücklich Am Park.

Bonanza Coffee Heroes, Oderberger Str. 35, Hailed as one of the best coffee places in Berlin, Bonanza lives up to its name. On weekends, the little strip of pavement in front of the shop is covered in coffee-loving Berliners, and why not?

Perlin, Griebenowstr. 5, Pay what you like-menu, good food and good atmosphere. I spent a very festive New Year's here...

Weinerei, Veteranenstr. 14, Sister-place to Perlin, Weinerei is a bar; pay €2 for a glass of wine, fill it up as much as you like, pay what you feel when you leave. Be prepared for some angry looks if you don't pay much, though. A good startup place; it closes at 20, also in the weekends.

Fleischmöbel, Oderberger Str. 2, They also serve food, but I come there for the cheap and efficient brunch. In the summer, you can sit on the sidewalk beneath the trees and look over to the other side of the street where the old swimming pool resides in a scary gothic building.

Casablanca/Lichtblick Kino, Kastanienallee 77, Every Saturday at midnight, this tiny old cinema shows one of the greatest movies of all time; 'Casablanca'. It's in original version, and it's a true weekend pleasure to sink down in the plush seats with a beer and a falafel from across the street and just watch.

Flohmarkt/Arkonaplatz, This is my favourite of Berlin's fleamarkets. The selection is good, they have letters and the area is beautiful.

Flohmarkt/Mauerpark, Far too touristic for me, but with a hangover it can be fun to walk around on a Sunday afternoon and do some people watching. There's karaoke at 16, and there's a booth that makes incredible steinofenpizza!

Foodmarket/Kollwitzplatz, Every Saturday, Kollwitzplatz turns into a scenic food market with organic vegetables, sinful cakes and flowers. It's easy to spend lots of money here as you want to buy everything you see.

St. George's English Bookshop, Wörther Str. 27, A little gem in gentrified P-Berg, St. George's is filled with English books from top to bottom - be careful, you can spend hours in there looking at books and talking to the sweet guys behind the counter.

PS Oderberger Str. is home to some good vintagestores! (Oder Barfuß, VEB Orange, Goo...)

Reaching from the glass inferno at Potsdamer Platz to the old part of town just behind the Berliner Dom, Mitte is a little bit of everything.

Schwarzwaldstuben, Tucholskystr. 48, German food at its best. The price is low, and you can try out German specialties like Flammkuchen in a really nice atmosphere. Reservations are needed, though, unless you're only two people.

Dolores, Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. 7 (+ Bayreuther Str. 36) Amazing burritos. Beware; you get a lot of food and might not be able to eat anything the rest of the day...

Barcomi's Deli, Sophienstr. 21, Cakes, cakes, cakes. And great coffee. Yes, it can be very noisy in there, but sometimes you just want to escape a rainshower by hiding inside with a piece of sinful cake...

The Barn, Schönhauser Allee 8, Oh my lord, this place makes coffee an out of body experience. It's closed every Monday (so head over to their other place in Auguststraße 8) because they roast beans. The decor is Scandi with heavy wood and industrial feel, and their cakes are divine.

PS Münzstr, Alte-Schönhauser-Str and Rosa-Luxemburg-Str., Great shopping area - Weekday, COS, H&M, Acne, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel... Major hipster alert.

Kreuzberg is by far my favourite Berlin area. I feel at home among the trashed out buildings, by the canal, around Oranienstraße, under the elevated tracks of the U1. From the old punks to the new hipsters. Kreuzberg is always cool.

Room77, Graefestr. 77, Trashy in the true Berlin way. They serve up decent burgers with funny names, often political (like the 'Mubarak's Resignation Burger' during the Arab Spring), and there are lectures in the bathroom...

Manouche, Grimmstr. 23, One of my favourite places in Berlin: French basement with amazing crêpes and galettes, impromptu jams à la 'Chocolat' and the right candlelit atmosphere for kissing your date in the corner.

Trattoria Pepperoncino, Urbanstr. 137, Located in my old building, this pizzeria has saved many a hangover. The owner is chatty and sweet, and the pizza with squash and fresh ricotta cheese is divine.

Little Otik, Graefestr. 71, Classy restaurant in spartane surroundings with excellent food (lots of meat). Reservations are needed!

Hamburger Heaven, Graefestr. 93, A small booth out of a Graefestr. building serving really good burgers. If you're lucky, you can eat your burger in an old camping wagon. What more do you want?

Ron Telesky Canadian Pizza, Dieffenbachstr. 62, Huge slices of heaven are served in this basement joint on beautiful Dieffenbachstraße. The waiters are always jolly, and how often do you get to eat your pizza beneath a moosehead?

Matilda, Graefestr. 12, Ringo's sister (see Neukölln) and a great place to grab a coffee or catch up on some writing all the while looking at Graefekiez' hipsters.

Falafel, Skalitzer Str. 102, 'Best meal in bread' as my friend Kathrine dubbed this place; by far the best falafel I've had in Berlin (and ever). Countless nights out have ended here with a pita containing everything you want; shawarma, crisp lettuce, hummus, couscous, mango sauce, halloumi.... Yum.

Five Elephant, Reichenberger Str. 101, Further down Reichenberger Straße than you'd normally go is Five Elephant, a coffee gem of the best kind. Hipster place for sure, but the coffee is to die for, and the cheesecake sends you to heaven.

Salumeria Lamuri, Köpenicker Str. 183, Beautiful decor, beautiful food. Köpenicker Straße isn't normally your go-to street, but Italian delicatessen place Salumeria Lamuri is definitely worth a hike!

Paloma, Skalitzer Str. 135/Kottbusser Tor, Hidden on top of the Kaizer's, you enter through a black door. The venue is small, but has good music and good drinks. And a view over Kotti.

Das Hotel, Mariannenstr. 26A, Good, strong drinks, trashy furniture and a lot of Spanish people. In short; a classic Berlin bar.

Berghain, Am Wriezener Bahnhof 1, Somewhat of a Berlin institution. The days of darkrooms and gay paradise is over; now you'll most likely find lots of wide-eyed American tourists there, but the place is still worth seeing. Especially on a Sunday afternoon where people have been dancing for more than 24 hours.

U1, Ride the oldest U-bahn line from Warschauer Straße to Uhlandstraße and pass the beautiful Kreuzberg buildings, the old stations like Schlesi (Schlesisches Tor) and Görli (Görlitzer Bahnhof).

Görlitzer Park, Maybe you'll see Frisbee Man, maybe you'll be approached by drug dealers. No matter what Görli is an interesting park where the Turks grill envious meals in the summer, and where you'll sleep off your hangover while some hipsters play guitar nearby.

Neukölln is hipsters, cafés, trendiness, underground bars. Some say it's about to die, but for now Neukölln is where everything happens.

Ringo, Sanderstr. 2, My favourite Berlin café. It's nothing special, really, but it has a nice local atmosphere. The breakfast is cheap and good, the coffee is decent, and you always see the same people reading the newspaper in the morning. Named after Ringo Starr, obvi.

Katie's Blue Cat, Friedelstr. 31, Oh their cakes! And their coffee! Katie's Blue Cat is a nice place to drop by for a sinful snack after a walk at the canal.

Sing Blackbird, Sanderstr. 11, A combined café and vintage shop, you can spend a significant amount of time here. The owners are sweet and talkative, the coffee is great and the clothes handpicked from the US.

Bully's Bakery, Friedelstr. 7, Their coffee is excellent, and they make a very good Flammkuchen as well. Plus, you're guaranteed to score points on the hipster scale...

Fuchs und Elster, Weserstr. 207, It has lost some of its original underground charm, but the 'secret' basement bar is still a good make-out-bar; and their floral equivalent of a Club Mate is worth a taste. Don't be worried if the bar on top level is empty and the doorman insists you are quiet; the party is going on in the hidden basement...

Kuschlowski, Weserstr. 202, Red and Russian, you're definitely in for a strong vodka here, and it's a good starting point before venturing out into the street's clubs and bars.

Ä, Weserstr. 40, A giant room full of tables, and a seemingly impromptu bar. It's simple, and it works. There's always lots of people here, and the drinks are cheap.

Tempelhof, Hitler's old airport is now a park where the landing strips are excellent bike lanes, and where you can picnic out in the open. A must on a hot summer day.

Friedrichshain is full of dreadlocks and political idealists. It's the old GDR centre with Karl-Marx-Allee as its impressive main artery. But around the corner and behind the scenes, you can find great cafés and markets.

Silo, Gabriel-Max-Str. 4, Clad in wood, Silo is simple and Scandinavian although the owner is Australian. The coffee, always served in red cups, is amazing, and the tables are big enough for you to fill up with your laptop or books.

Dachkammer, Simon-Dach-Str. 39, Perfectly located in the old DDR, Dachkammer is like taking a step back in time. Dark walls, dark beers, dark conversations.

Salon zur Wilden Renate, Alt-Stralau 70, An old house somewhere around Ostkreuz, Renate is a treasure chest of weirdness. There's a labyrinth where you need a password, and each room in the house offers a different sin...

RAW, Revaler Str. 99, The old train maintenance area is transformed into a DIY mayhem. There's a skate hall, a concert venue, bars, and every Sunday in the summer, there's a local and very nice fleamarket. This is where the vegan punks of Friedrichshain hang out.

Vintage&food market/Boxhagener Platz, Every Saturday, Boxi (as Boxhagener Platz is dubbed) turns into a food market, on Sundays it's a fleamarket. The quality is high, and the little square in the former DDR is cosy.

Karl-Marx-Allee, My favourite history spot in Berlin. Walking - or biking - down this wide DDR landmark is a must. The architecture is fascinating, and you really feel the DDR vibe.

Funkhaus, Nalepastr. 18, The old DDR radio city is now turned into studio ateliers and rehearsal spaces. The place is magnificent, and it's worth while spending €5 on a guided tour. Reservations are in order, though...

Spreepark, Abandoned in 2002, the old DDR themepark has an interesting story filled with drugs and scandals. Today, the park is overgrown with nature, leaving the old rides fading in the park. It's a true haven for urban explorers, but beware; dogs are ready to bite you if you jump the fence!


Karoline said...

Du er så god - kender mange af disse steder og det hele passer perfekt sammen !

woop woop for fantastisk guide !

Cille said...

Der ligger vist også en Kauf Dich Glüklich i Münster. Ein must dieses sommer - und natürlich auch einen schönes Guide!

karen sofie said...

Karoline; tak for ros, og tak for dine tips i mailen!

Cille; yes mand, den skal du da prøve! Så er du også fri for alle turisterne, der oversvømmer KDG i Prenzlauer Berg... Og danke :)

Brit Merrill Kjærulff said...

Fedt alt det du skriver om BERLIN. Vi har lejligheder i Moabit og Charlottenburg. lagde især mærke til det du skrev om vaskeriet i Moabit og synes det er et sjovt sted. Vi går selv meget op i melodigramprix. Berlin er i stor udvikling og de har mange fede butikker og caffeer. Bor du nu i Danmark igen eller fast i Berlin. Hygge fra 2 der går meget op i Berlin.
Hilsen Brit og Jakob

Brit Merrill Kjærulff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
karen sofie said...

Britt; Tak for roserne! Vaskeriet i Moabit er virkelig fint, har ikke været der i snart tre år, men det kunne jo være, man skulle tage derud igen :) Jeg bor i Berlin nu, ja, og tænker at blive her i mange år fremover.
Håber, alt er godt hos jer, og tak fordi i kiggede forbi.

Pernille Bernit said...

Hej Karen Sofie. Jeg var sidste år i Berlin og brugte flittigt din guide, jeg står nu og vil gerne af sted igen med min kæreste, og jeg tænkte på om du havde kendskab til et godt og billigt hotel/hostel? Har før lejet lejligheder via. airbnb, men så tæt vi er på afrejsedato er alt det gode udlejet :-)

karen sofie said...

Pernille; Hvor er det dejligt at høre, at du bruger guiden, det er jeg rigtig glad for!
Mht steder at overnatte, er jeg ikke ligefrem ekspert, men har dog haft familie, der har overnattet på i Kreuzberg - det var vist rigtig fint. Ellers er Ibis hotellerne også fine til prisen... Hmm, det er vist det, jeg har hørt om. Håber, det kan hjælpe en smule?

Brit Merrill Kjærulff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.