What should I do in Berlin?
February 4, 2014 12:56 PM   Subscribe

I'm in Berlin this week for the first time! I like tiny strange museums, free things, cafes with live music, markets, parks, walking around outside, bookstores, cheap food, and interesting shops. Basically I love cities and I want to understand about what this city is like. I'd love suggestions for neighbourhoods to wander around in.

Right now I'm planning to go to the c-base and betahaus hackerspaces. I'm staying in Kreuzberg.

things on my list so far:

* an Alternative Berlin tour
* Teufelsberg
* east side gallery
* willy brandt museum
* Schwules Museum
* the jewish museum?
* Prinz Eisenherz Buchladen
* a [roller dance lesson?](https://www.facebook.com/Rollers.Inc)

It is extremely warm this week so I'm super into outside activities. I have a small amount of appetite for art museums but not very much. Help! =)
posted by oranger to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (16 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: oh, I forgot! I'd love delicious-things-to-eat suggestions and I'm vegetarian.
posted by oranger at 1:00 PM on February 4, 2014

This page has a list of flea markets. I liked this one, but it was ages ago that I was last there, I assume its presence on this page means it is still going strong. it is central and handy for the Tiergarten S-Bahn.
posted by biffa at 1:13 PM on February 4, 2014

How do you feel about tiny strange museums full of medical specimens? It has very disturbing subject matter, but the Berlin Museum of Medical History is certainly an experience.
If the phrase "embalmed malformed fetus" worries you, then this is not the museum for you
posted by Paragon at 1:16 PM on February 4, 2014

Saunas - depending on your preference for atmosphere, I'd suggest one of two:

The Liquidrome Berlin is a sauna/massage/swimming/relaxation center. In addition to a full service sauna (with hourly Aufguss), they have a steambath, an outdoor hottub, indoor hottub, and a pool (I can't describe the architecture of the pool except this picture)Easy (five min, max) walk from UBahn Möckernstrasse, or just a hair longer (six min, max) from S Bahn Anhalter Bahnhof.

Or for a more low-key alternative, Olivin Sauna/Lounge (Schönhauser Allee 177, 10119 Berlin - take the U2 in Richtung Pankow to Senefelderplatz, it's about 2 min north of the station) is a relaxing just-a-sauna and garden in Prenzlauer Berg, and it's next to a biergarten. Friendly staff, nice cozy atmosphere.

Also, the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin isn't a small museum... but it's almost a collection of a half-dozen or so small museums all in one building - (Link to their various permanent exhibition halls). The halls include everything from a half dozen trains, to a dozen or so planes, to mechanical "computers" from the late 1800s, to various types of fabric and textile, or the manufacture of pharmaceuticals.
posted by Seeba at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It sounds like you're in a perfect city for you. Berlin is full of tiny, free, and/or strange things.

Go to the bookstore Another Country, in Kreuzberg - it's a weird, wonderful place. Go to the Flohmarkt am Mauerpark on Sunday, though it will be packed. If you like parks, explore the whole, massive Tiergarten.

I had good luck wandering around the Mehringdamm U-Bahn stop (you'll be there anyway for the Schwules Museum, I think), as well as the Kotbusser Tor stop in Kreuzberg (especially for nightlife). While you're at Mehringdamm, get a vegetable Döner kebab here.

If you're in Charlottenburg for some reason, go to Schwarzes Cafe at any hour of the day or night. If the weather gets gross and you want to be naked, go to a Turkish-style Hamam! This one in an old chocolate factory in Kreuzberg is women-only, I think; this one admits men on Sundays and Mondays.

And I actually recommend the Jewish museum, even if you (like me) are not a museum person. The Topography of Terror is a specifically Berlin, specifically Holocaust site, if you want to focus on that. While I appreciated the Jewish museum's focus on Jewish history outside of the Holocaust, I found the Topography more powerful because it rooted me very specifically in the place I was in.

Have a wonderful time!
posted by fast ein Maedchen at 1:26 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Read about the Ampelmann traffic crossing lights, then go to their store in Hackischen Höfen (or other locations) and see for yourself.
posted by CathyG at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2014

One of my favorite things in Berlin was visiting the Sammlung Hoffman. It's a private art collection in a super cool giant loft that they open up for public tours on Saturdays. If you aren't that into art museums YMMV obviously.

You might enjoy this guide by a designer/illustrator who lives in Berlin. Although some of it may be outdated.

And Do You Read Me? is a cool magazine/bookshop in Mitte.

Berlin is a great city for just wandering around in. Pretty much all the central neighborhoods are great for that.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

My favorite place here that many tourists miss is the soviet war memorial in Treptower Park ...and it's also a good park, with boardwalk cafes along the riverbank and an old abandoned amusement park nearby. And if you have more time, it's a nice walk from there down to the Köpenick town center which is also a nice picturesque spot.
posted by pete_22 at 2:15 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

And if you're at all into fashion, there's a photo museum near the zoo with an impressive helmut newton collection...
posted by pete_22 at 2:20 PM on February 4, 2014

Second Technikmuseum. I love it there!
A friend dragged me into the Bröhan Museum the other day, which I guess is small and rather quaint, but I didn't like it very much. (The current exhibition is disappointing.)
The Jewish Museum is one of my favourites, but it's not exactly small or quaint.

As for food, Mehringdamm (directly after exiting the subway station) has both a very popular Curry place right next to a veeeeery good Kebap stand. (You may have to wait about half an hour for your food there.)

Also, as mentioned above, Hackesche Höfe (close to the Museumsinsel which I recommend! Although the current construction is rather ugly...) are very pretty.

If you need any help navigating, PM me, I'm a native Berliner!
posted by LoonyLovegood at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2014

Are you staying in Kreuzberg 36 or 61? 61 is alright but a bit boring, 36 is where it's at.

East Side Gallery and DDR Museum are extremely touristy and you may well spend an hour waiting in line at Mustafa's kebap. It's excellent kebap. But it's also an hour of your life.

You could walk from Kreuzberg (36) to Friedrichshain, you'll cross Oberbaum bridge and pass by East Side Gallery. Friedrichshain is in what used to be East Berlin and has become Berlin's main clubbing area. At the same time gentrification is in full swing. It's a pretty interesting neighborhood that's changing very quickly.
The area between Warschauer Str, Ostkreuz and Frankfurter Allee has many restaurants and small shops.
Some nice/interesting things there:
- there's a market (Saturday)/ flea market (Sunday) on Boxhagenerplatz
- Sudanese Fastfood
- Vegan Cake/Bagels/Snacks
- Aunt Benny (coffee place) and Antlered Bunny (Bar)
- Spielwiese
- Karl Marx Allee

Simon-Dach-Straße is full of horrible tourist trap-y places, so avoid that (except for Dachkammer)

Other things to see:
- Stasi Museum. Much much more interesting, scary and authentic than DDR museum
- Spreepark
- Beelitz Heilstätten (abandoned sanatorium)
- Sammlung Boros (a private collection of contemporary art in a bunker)
- Hansaviertel

Neighborhoods to walk around in:
- Wedding (around Leopoldplatz I guess) has been said to be up and coming for years now, and I think it's finally about to happen.
- Charlottenburg (around Savignyplatz) has some beautiful old houses and streets and to me feels very glamorous in an old-fashioned kind of way
- Schöneberg was/is (West) Berlin's gay neighborhood. I don't know it very well but you'll go there anyway if you visit Schwules Museum and it's said to be an interesting neighborhood

Also: Seconding Sowjetisches Ehrenmal, Museum of Medical History and Topography of Terror
posted by snownoid at 4:18 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I second Treptower Park. There's a somewhat random collection of monuments in Volkspark Friedrichshain as well, but if you're only going to go to one, go to Treptower.

My impression is that the DDR Museum is kind of a tourist trap, but I could be wrong.

I was going to tell you to go to the Berlin Wall Memorial in Bernauer Strasse, but it looks like the Documentation Center is closed for renovations and that was the most worthwhile part.

The most random thing I did in Berlin was go to an exhibition of photographs of the Spanish Civil War in SPD headquarters (Willy-Brandt-Haus). It looks like it's currently an exhibit in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Willy Brandt's birth. You'll need to take your passport to get in.

No one has mentioned the Holocaust memorials yet. There is a 'Place of Information' underneath the Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (if you're standing with your back to Tiergarten, I think the entrance is in the far left corner) that is worth a visit. It is fairly intense, though, so if you're alone, you probably need to think about how you deal with Holocaust museums first. (The memorial alone is worth it, too.)

If you read German, the Deutsches Historisches Museum is really good, but not small (by any stretch of the imagination) or quirky. The English signage is a bit lacking.
posted by hoyland at 4:31 PM on February 4, 2014

Best answer: If weather is cooperating and you like massive, beautiful parks, you MUST go to Tempelhof! Imagine a full sized commercial airport turned public park/urban garden... When I was visiting last summer, it the highlight of my daytime Berlin activities. It may not be as welcoming in the winter, but it would still be worth checking out. How many times in your life do you get to stroll/ride a bike/ lie down on the same runway that was a part of the Berlin Airlift?
posted by supertramp at 8:59 PM on February 4, 2014

I'm vegetarian too and I liked Kopps in Mitte and the ramen at Cocolo round the corner. There's also Cookies Cream as well as Chipps but I haven't tried either yet. Not particularly vegetarian but amazing nonetheless is this tiny place called Zuckerstück. Every last thing except the croissants is homemade, the drinks are hot, the service friendly (unusal in grumpy Berlin), and the prices excellent too.

I live on the tenth floor at Alexanderplatz so drop me a message if you're still in town and would like to stop by for a cuppa and the view! (Sorry, can't help it; having been a more or less active CouchSurfer for the last few years seems to have left its mark...)
posted by mrsh at 6:23 AM on February 5, 2014

Spent a week in Berlin last Christmas, and I really had a ball getting the 3-day museum pass and going to as many as possible.

One of the coolest things that I had no idea existed until I walked past it was the little meditation/prayer room on one side of the Brandenburg Gate. Totally worth going into - it's incredible how silent and still it is. Here is some more info on it. I am not a religious person, and I found it very serene and a nice break from all my hoofing around to painful historical sites.
posted by mostly vowels at 8:11 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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