A Local's Guide To Berlin

7 November 2014
Read Time: 3.5 mins

Unique, poor, decadent, surprising – there are so many words to describe Berlin. Constantly growing and evolving, there is an incredible energy to the city, which has, two decades after the fall of The Berlin Wall, evolved as an international creative hub and new ‘hot-spot’ destination for both travellers and expats.

Want to experience Berlin like a local, while seeing the main sights? Here’s a 48 hour guide which gives you the chance to discover the city’s hidden gems, explore its history and indulge in the vibrant food scene.

You will probably want to spend more time discovering the various neighborhoods or ‘kieze’, but if your time is limited this will provide a snap shot of the Berlin city as I know it. Tip: wear comfortable walking shoes! You’ll thank me later.

 Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate

Day One:

I recommend staying in the Mitte neighbourhood at Amano (Auguststrasse 43, 10119 Berlin), which you can book here. With a sensational rooftop bar and cozy boutique rooms, this is the perfect spot to base yourself. Mitte, once known for its bombed-out buildings housing struggling artists, has emerged as one of the city’s trendiest areas.

 Mitte - spot the city's beloved symbol and pedestrian signal, the Ampelmännchen

Day one starts at The Barn (Auguststrasse 58, 10119 Berlin) where you can grab a seriously good coffee and croissant. Next up, there is no better way to feel like a local, see the sights of Berlin and learn about its intricate history than by bicycle. You can hire one through Fat Tire Bike Tours, and I recommend the all-in-one tour they offer, which meets at 10:45am at the main entrance of the TV Tower, or Fernsehturm, at Alexanderplatz (Panoramastrasse 1A, 10178 Berlin).

 See the sights on a Fat Bike Tour
 The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Suitable for all ages, and for just 24* Euro, this tour is jam packed with sights and history, relayed in an entertaining fashion. Highlights include important historical memorials: Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s Bunker, Reichtag, Museum Island, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and many more including a cruise through the beautiful Tiergarten park and a (much needed) beer garden break.

 Pick up a vintage piece at Die Hackesche Höfe

Having completed the tour, it’s time for a little shopping. Make your way to Die Hackesche Höfe (Hackescher Markt, 10178 Berlin), a heritage site consisting of eight communicating, beautifully restored courtyards to discover fashion boutiques and laneways popping with street art. Stroll around Rosenthaler Strasse, Neue Schönhauser Strasse, Alte Schönhauser Strasse, Münzstrasse and Mulackstrasse if fashion is what you’re after.

Then if time allows, pop into one of the local art galleries around Linienstrasse. I also recommend ducking into shops such as Do you read me? (Auguststrasse 28, 10117 Berlin) and the Gestalten bookshop (Sophienstrasse 21, 10178 Berlin) to pick up beautiful magazines and books. Just remember, shops in Germany shut at around 8pm and are closed on Sundays.

That’s one solid day of exploring, so time to head back to Amano to freshen up, grab a sundowner drink on their rooftop bar and check out the view. Now, where to head for dinner?

Katz Orange is known for its gourmet, organic farm-to-table menu (Bergstrasse 22, 10115 Berlin) or try Lokal (Linienstrasse 160, 10115 Berlin), a charming restaurant serving contemporary German food. Alpenstück Restaurant (Gartenstrasse 9, 10115 Berlin) is a beautiful Alps-inspired restaurant serving South German/Austrian cuisine or pop by Shiso Burger (Auguststrasse 29, 10119 Berlin) for quick and tasty Japanese burgers.

 Mein Haus Am See - former bookshop now simultaneously a bar, cafe, exhibition space and makeshift office

Berlin’s nightlife is considered one of the best, most sparkling and liberal in Europe so it would not be a true Berlin experience without hitting the town. Stop by Mein Haus Am See (Torstrasse 125, 10119 Berlin), Brut (Torstrasse 68, 10119 Berlin), Neue Odessa Bar (Torstrasse 89, 10119 Berlin) or Trust Bar (Neue Promenade 10, 10178 Berlin) for a cocktail or two.

Ready to kick-on? Head to Club der Visionäre (Am Flutgraben 1, 12435 Berlin) on the water or Prince Charles (Prinzen Strasse 85f, 10969 Berlin), renowned for their all-night hip-hop and house music parties in a space that used to be a swimming pool. Still keen to party? Try your luck at The Berghain (Rüdersdorfer Str. 70, 10243 Berlin), a Berlin institution.

Day Two:

After a sleep-in and breakfast at the hotel, head to the East Side Gallery (Muehlen Strasse, 10243 Berlin) located at Warschauer Strasse S-Bahn train station. Featuring the work of 100 international artists interpreting the theme ‘freedom’, it is one of the largest permanent outdoor exhibits in the world stretching 1.3 kilometres – an absolute must see in Berlin.

 The East Side Gallery - an international memorial to the fall of the Berlin Wall

You’ll probably be hungry by now, so it’s time to check out Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Head to Schönleinstrasse U-Bahn and walk to local café, Kaffeebar (Graefestrasse 8, 10967 Berlin) for lunch – their organic food and cakes are top-notch.

Berlin is an incredibly green city, both physically and politically, and with a population of only 3.5 million, the city enjoys an air of spaciousness. Take advantage of this by grabbing a beer at the local ‘Spati’ and walk along the canal near Kottbusser Damm (Landwehrkanal) where you’ll find the Turkish markets on Tuesdays and Fridays. If you need to stay warm, pop by Hopfenreich (Sorauer Str. 31, 10997 Berlin), a craft beer bar with the best selection in Berlin – you’re now officially a local.

 Enjoy some time out in Neukölln

With only 48 hours in Berlin, there’s no time to waste… head straight to dinner. There are literally hundreds of options in the surrounding area. I recommend Cocolo Ramen (Paul-Lincke-Ufer 39-40, 10999 Berlin), the ideal place for delicious, fresh noodles, Nudo (Lausitzer Platz 10, 10997 Berlin) for warm Italian goodness, pick up a currywurst at the famous Curry 36 (Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin) or grab some moreish Mexican at Santa Maria (Oranienstrasse 170, 10999 Berlin).

Opposite Santa Maria, you’ll find Café Luzia (Oranienstrasse 34, 10999 Berlin), the perfect spot to rest your feet, take in the Berlin vibe and enjoy a post dinner wine or two. Back to the hotel for a well-deserved sleep, and that’s Berlin in 48 hours!

Take note: Keep your eye on the ground, and you’ll notice hundreds of golden ‘Stolpersteins’ dotted around the city, commemorating victims of the Holocaust.

Rachael Horan

An Australian blogger based in Berlin, Germany, I always have my bags half packed for the next adventure! With a passion for out of the ordinary experiences, I love travel – real, gritty, confronting, romantic, challenging, and relaxing. Always seeking out destinations that allow me to soak in the fabulous world we live in, it’s the people, food, sights, sounds, stories, history and environment that keep my wanderlust alive.