Arriving in Berlin
It is Sunday the 31st of January of 2016 when I arrive in Berlin. I had a long flight that night. The passenger next to me was gaming during a night flight from New York to London, uselessly poking me every 3 minutes when he moved the game console. As a result, I am wrecked! When I arrive in Berlin, the sky is grey. It is cold. I feel cold, not knowing where this adventure will take me. I am excited and scared at the same time! A taxi is driving me to the temporary apartment in Prenzlauerberg, where I am reunited with Savage, my cat.
I started a new job with a photography company that same week. And slowly started exploring Berlin. I need a haircut and wonder why more money is charged for a woman with long hair?! Something I still don’t understand… Can anyone shed any light on this? Many traffic lights have different signs and symbols like love hearts and smileys! So cute! I eat my first pizza in Berlin, I explore the tourist sites and learn about Berlin by reading a Berlin (Lonely Planet Travel Guide). The city feels alien to me and I cannot easily adjust to the greyness of the city.
The start of summer
Thankfully after a few weeks, the weather clears up and the days are getting longer. Consequently, I start feeling happier and for the first time in years, I realise what summer can feel like. In April it already hits 25 degrees, something that would have never happened in Ireland, where I was living before! Berlin starts growing on me. I start meeting new people and make new friends. And so the exploring of the “real” Berlin has started!
Since I moved to Berlin, many friends and family came to visit. They always ask me where to go and what places to visit. Most visitors want to see the Dom, the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburger Gate. But there is SO much more to see! As I always like to explore different parts of any city or country, I will include some of my favourite sites in Berlin. When you visit, I hope you have a great time!
How to get around
The public transport in Berlin is pretty good and it is easy to get from A to B. Most of the popular areas are within the AB Zone and you can buy single tickets, group tickets, a day ticket or multi-day tickets. Please note that Berlin-Schönefeld Airport is in the ABC zone and tickets are checked regularly! The transport company is called BVG and you can find details here. All stations have machines where you can purchase tickets. If you take the tram you can find the ticket machine inside the tram.
Berlin has a lot of Spätis. They are like a corner shop that is open until late. Some Spätis rent bikes for 8-10 EUR a day. The bikes are located outside and are easy to spot. You can also find some basics here in terms of food and drinks. Biking can be a little daunting in Berlin but it is a great way to get to Tempelhofer Feld for example!
Restaurants and bars in Friedrichshain
As I live in Friedrichshain I know this area best. I think the neighbourhood has a healthy mix of locals and tourists and there are some amazing places to eat and drink. Please note I am not sponsored by any of the below recommendations, it is just a personal preference! And I will write about other parts of Berlin in the future.
- 19 Grams on Boxhagener Straße 74
- Neumanns Cafe on Gabriel-Max-Straße 18
- Café μ (mü) on Libauer Str. 1
- Olivia on Wühlischstraße 30 (cakes and chocolate)
- EisPiraten on Grünberger Str. 85 (ice cream)
- Süße Sünde on Niederbarnimstraße 21 (ice cream)
- Weder Gestern Noch Morgen on Gärtnerstraße 22
- Kuchenrausch on Simon-Dach-Straße 1
- Simon’s Coffee on Simon-Dach-Straße 9
Lunch & dinner:
- Il Ritrovo on Gabriel-Max-Straße 2 (pizza)
- Salami Social Club on Frankfurter Allee 43 (pizza)
- Eatalian on Mainzer Str. 14 (pizza)
- Datscha (Russian) on Gabriel-Max-Straße 1 (also nice for breakfast buffet)
- Speisehaus Berlin on Wühlischstraße 30 (typical German cuisine)
- Spätzle & Knödel on Wühlischstraße 20 (typical German cuisine)
- Kurhaus Korsakow on Grünberger Str. 81 (typical German cuisine)
- Ali Baba on Krossener Str. 17 (kebab and falafel)
- BurgerAMT on Krossener Str. 21-22 – Yes, you guessed it… burgers! The burgers are delicious!
- Burgermeister on U1 Schlesisches Tor, Oberbaumstraße 8 (an old public toilet, now famous burger restaurant)
- 1990 Vegan Living (Vietnamese vegan food)
- Sheriff Teddy Bar on Weserstraße 25
- Macondo on 14 Gärtnerstraße
- Cafe Szimpla on Gärtnerstraße 15
- Café Dachkammer on Simon-Dach-Straße 39
- RAW-Gelände has many different bars and some nightclubs like Cassiopeia and Suicide Circus Berlin
- Volkspark Friedrichshain
- Boxhagener Platz
- Treptower Park – Here you can visit the Soviet Monument, rent boats on the river Spree and visit the Insel der Jugend. There is a little beer garden and in summer there is often an open-air cinema.
- There is a food market on Boxhagener Platz every Saturday and on Sunday there is a flea market. The flea market at Mauerpark is also hugely popular.
- Bring a drink from the Späti and watch the sunset from the Odersohnbrücke.
- Tempelhofer Feld – this is a former airfield which turned into a public park
- Teufelsberg (Grunewald) – During the cold war Teufelsberg was used as a listening station
- Reichstag – free entrance but you have to book in advance as your passport will be checked for security reasons
- The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park
- The Kreuzberg neighbourhood – In this area, you will find lots of nice restaurants and bars as well as nice shops
- Berliner Unterwelten – A tour of underground Berlin takes you through WWII air raid shelters and tunnels used to smuggle people out of East Germany
Museums and Galleries:
- c/o Berlin – This is a photography gallery with great exhibitions
- Boros Sammlung (you will have to book in advance and is often sold out)
- Berlinische Gallerie
It is safe to say I know my way around Berlin pretty well by now. I love cycling around the city and I keep exploring parts I never visited. Just reading a book in the park or have a picnic at the lake is one of my favourite things to do in summer.
What are your favourite parts of Berlin? Do you have any tips for Berlin?
Disclaimer: To be fully transparent, please note that this blog post contains affiliate links and some purchases made through such links might result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). Not all links are affiliate links as I just want to share knowledge and tips with my readers and this blog is not aimed to make a ton of money! However, every little helps of course to fund future travels.