"Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin!"
August 27, 2005 3:41 PM   Subscribe

What is the Best of Berlin?

I'm going to Berlin with a friend on Thursday. We are 26 and 31 respectively and want to get the most out of our four days and nights.

What are the city's hidden treasures? Where do we find the best nightlife?

We've both been there about 7 years ago, and know about the big attractions and monuments. Still, your recommendations and insights are most welcome about which are good and which are not. Tips about cheap (hostel-style) and central accomodation would be useful too.
posted by springload to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Definitely eat at Hannibal. They have great food there, pretty cheap, in a laid back atmosphere. Try the shakes, they're creative and delicious. Have breakfast there. Hannibal may be what I miss most about Berlin.

To get there, take the U1 to Görlizter Banhof. It's right outside the train station.
posted by pealco at 4:20 PM on August 27, 2005

n Berlin last year I stayed at the Jugendgästehaus , (Lehrter Strasse 68, 10557 Berlin , Tel: 011 49-30-398-35011, Fax:011 49-30-398-35010, gaestehaus@berliner-stadtmission.de).

It's new, clean, friendly, brightly colored, and has big rooms (enough for two queen size beds and a couch/coffee table, bathroom, shower). It's 2 stops from the Zoo, the main train stop in Berlin.

If you're interested in engineering/technology and such, you might really enjoy the Deutches Technikmuseum.
posted by whatzit at 4:39 PM on August 27, 2005

There are lots of hostels in central Berlin, though of course the city is so big that lots of areas can be considered central. Being close to the main above-ground S-bahn line (the one that runs through Zoo and Ostbahnhof) will help if you're getting around by public transportation. I stayed at the Circus hostel on Rosa-Luxemburg-Str. (near Alexanderplatz) a couple of years ago and was satisfied with it.

I don't know as much about nightlife, but I've always enjoyed wandering around Prenzlauer Berg for the cafe and restaurant scene. There are lots of cheap and tasty Asian restaurants--Thai, Indian, Sri Lankan, and more. Perhaps not quite as good if you know the real thing, but I ate at a Sri Lankan place that I really liked. I can't remember where it was exactly, just that it was in the neighborhood to the west of the Prenzlauer Allee/Metzer Str. tram stop.
posted by komilnefopa at 5:20 PM on August 27, 2005

Also, there's always something going on in Berlin. A friend and I caught a Thievery Corp. club show and a U2 concert in the same week, totally as a fluke -- we hadn't planned on it or anything.

Check the various ticket vendors (there's one just out of Banhof Zoo), pick up the weekly New Berlin Tours pamphlet (most hostels should have them), or just ask at the reception of wherever you're staying.
posted by pealco at 6:22 PM on August 27, 2005

Even though you've seen the city before, if you want a quick refresher or more detail: the ultimate Berlin treasure in my opinion is Berlin Walks. Do a walking tour and you'll see everything you want to see in one day.
They're run by native English speakers who live in Berlin and know the city as well as the natives do and BETTER because they're just complete Berlinophiles. Their tours give you MUCH more information than you'll even find anywhere else. I've done their 4 hour "Discover Berlin" walking tour, which goes past every point of interest and mentions every little detail, from a house where someone once jumped over the wall to the the "Ampelmann". I also remember something about either plumbing or electricity wiring..anyway, those kinds of details.
I also did their tour of Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which was equally informative.
posted by easternblot at 8:26 PM on August 27, 2005

Best answer: For clubbing, I recommend Matrix (German only, it seems). There's several dancefloors, usually with different music on each. It's next to U- and S-Bahnhof Warschauerstrasse.

As for accommodation, I have no direct experience, but a whole row of new hotels opened near Potsdamer Platz (Stresemannstr to be exact) and they're rumoured to be greatly under-occupied. You might get a good deal. Try Hotel Reservation Service for some deals.

Take a walk along Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg for a flavour of Turkish Berlin, and make sure you get a Döner kebab - cheap and very tasty - and baklava from the excellent Turkish pastry shops there.

For a traditional pub with grub, try Henne. It's a Berlin institution and serves two excellent dishes: chicken with potato salad or chicken with cabbage salad.

There's a Goya exhibition on at the moment in the Alten Nationalgalerie, but the crowds are huge.

A boat trip on the canals is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon and see the city from a different perspective, but don't use Reederei Riedel - they're a rip-off and very unfriendly (which is saying something for Berlin!)

If you feel like a day trip to Poland, you can make a 3 hour trip to Poznan. The first train leaves at about 6:30am, and you can be back in Berlin at 9pm. (Some pictures of my from Poznan here if you want a feel for the town.)

You can also make easy day trips to Leipzig or Dresden from Berlin. Potsdam's worth a visit too, of course - about 20 minutes on the Regional Express from Zoo or 30 minutes from Alexanderplatz.

On Saturdays and Sundays there's guided tours of the Palast der Republik, the former GDR parliament building opposite Berlin Cathedral and not far from Alexanderplatz. It's worth a visit, and is going to be pulled down next month (or so the latest news goes). I can't find a link at the moment, but there are signs hanging on the fence outside.

Have fun in Berlin!

My email's in my profile if you need any translations etc...
posted by ciaron at 5:24 AM on August 29, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: OK, I'm off. Thank you all for your recommendations! A special thanks to ciaron for the comprehensive post and the kind offer of translation.
posted by springload at 3:17 PM on August 31, 2005

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