What's good to do in a weekend in Berlin?
November 20, 2006 7:47 AM   Subscribe


Can anybody take my breath away with ideas for what to see, visit, explore, taste in Berlin?
E.g. can anybody suggest interesting or unusual:
good modern architecture, and also maybe where we can find a nice dreary soviet-style neighbourhood - we enjoy bleakness and are quite intrepid.
Danke schon!
posted by Flashman to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know how unusual you want, but the dead chickens gallery is one of the most awesome things I've ever seen. Huge, coin-operated, animatronic steel creatures. Sometimes singing, sometimes breathing fire. Like the hell-version of those Showbiz Pizza characters. Somewhat hard to get to, but amazing.
posted by unknowncommand at 8:31 AM on November 20, 2006

The UFA film museum in Potsdamer Platz is pretty cool and is worth a look. You can take a tour of subterranean Berlin although english tours need to be scheduled in advance. Berlin Mitte has a lot of cool places to see. In 2004 I wandered around it and found an amazing multi-artist's residence/club that was very avant-garde.

As far as the old East, just hop on the train heading east and get off at an interesting spot. I did that and found some interesting neighborhoods, some with endless rows of old Soviet-style apartment blocks. I can't remember where it was though.
posted by JJ86 at 9:14 AM on November 20, 2006

As a typical tourist, you'd probably stay either at Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain or Prenzlauer Berg. All of them have a lot of bars and clubs. With respect to (decaying) socialist architecture, I like the Frankfurter Allee (there are several tube stations there, so it won't be hard to find).

For the standard tourist sites you might want to head towards the Friedrichsstrasse, which could probably be described as Berlin's meager attempt to have a 5th avenue. Also, you would have to check out the Museumsinsel and visit a museum of your choice there. And of course the Brandenburger Tor.

If you are interested in the GDR's everyday life, you might want to check out the "DDR Museum", even though I found it somewhat disappointing as in "lacking depth". For a more serious look at GDR history you could visit the "Stasi-Gedänkstätte" at Hohenschönhausen, a former intelligence service prison, but this is not a very light-hearted outing.

Berlin has literally hundreds of clubs and thousands of bars, so you would have to be a little more specific in what you are looking for. There are also several German-language Time Out-style magazines where you can find out about events, e.g. zitty, 030 or for the gay crowd, Siegessäule. There is also an English-language magazine for Berlin, called Ex-Berliner.

Have a lot of fun and feel free to ask some more specific questions!
posted by Herr Fahrstuhl at 9:46 AM on November 20, 2006

Well, I'd do better with a better idea of your interests, but this is a pretty good day in Berlin:

Start out at Eberswalder Str., walking down Kastanien Allee. This street is lined with cafes and shops, and you're bound to see a bunch of stuff that you like. Once you get to about Zionskirchplatz, hop on the M1 and take it to Hackescher Markt. Walk north a little bit on Rosenthaler Strasse and head right on Neue Schoenhauser Strasse and basically check out all the shops around there (plus Weinmeisterstr, Alte Schoenhauser Str. and Muenzstr.), then head back over to Hackescher Markt and walk down Oranienburger Str until you get to Oranienburger Tor.

Some spots worth checking out in this general area.

Monsieur Vuong: Amazing, fresh Vietnamese
Oliva: The best pizza I've had in Berlin, and only 4 euro
Rissani: Amazing, cheap Arabic food
Tacheles/Zapata: Squat Bar/Cafe/Cinema/Club

After this, I'd recommend hopping on the S-Bahn at Friedrichstr and going down to the Reichstag. Then, I'd hop on the S-Bahn and take it over to Warschauer Str. to explore Kreuzberg (Especially around Schlesisches Tor and Kottbusser Tor) and Friedrichshain (especially Simon-Dach-Strasse).

If it's a Tuesday or a Friday, it's definitely worth checking out the Turkish Market in Kreuzberg, located on the canal just east of Kottbusser Tor.

I have a ton more suggestions, but this should be a pretty good start.
posted by atomly at 9:54 AM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Several years ago I went on Terry's top-hat walking tour, and I have only great things to say about it. I was staying at a hostel in east berlin, which I doubt is still around considering the state of the building it was in, but I picked up the tour there. It's a little off the beaten path.
posted by cotterpin at 11:42 AM on November 20, 2006

If you like bleak, are intrepid, and absolutely not squeamish, you should check out the Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum (Berlin Medical Historical Museum). I was led to this place by a local. It's small, it's quite a bit out of the way, and it is one of the most memorable museums I've ever been to.

There are several old medical devices that'll make anyone squirm, but the bulk of the collection is the shelf-upon-shelf of medical specimens, particularly disesased medical specimens (e.g. a tuberculosis-ridden lung, brain cross-sections). If the thought of seeing two rows of embalmed malformed foetuses (microcephalic, macrocephalic, Siamese, parasitic-twins, etc.) isn't appealing, though, this ain't the museum for you.
posted by Paragon at 12:08 PM on November 20, 2006

You can walk around a lot of central Berlin, hopping an occasional bus (or tram in the old East Berlin). See this page about public transport and the 100 and 200 buses.

I would say an absolute "must" is to walk from the old West Berlin through the Brandenburg Gate and along Unter Den Linden, just because the ability to do that seemed an impossible dream for so long. Before you set off East, look at the Reichstag (long queues to take the tour), and near its south east corner the unofficial memorial to victims of the wall which is mentioned on Virtual Tourist along with some other ideas.

Architecture: Potzdammer Platz! (But also lots of historic bits.)

Museuminsel and Hackescher Markt are very close together and you can just wander off North/North West from the latter into the artist's quarter that grew up after the wall came down and hard-up people moved in from the West to the cheaper rents there. The further you go, the less reconstructed.

I hadn't realised Berlin had so much water -- rivers and canals. The big central park is big, and you can't easily hop a bus half way across because most of the buses go round the edges where the people are and not through the middle.

Visiting the Jewish Museum is an amazing experience. It appears to be open Mondays, but if your weekend extends into Monday, be aware that many museums close that day.
posted by Idcoytco at 12:15 PM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh, and the same friend took me to a restaurant that has grubs and locusts on the menu. I had roast locusts on a couscous bed. They were pretty good. A bit chewy.

Unfortunately, this was in 2003, and it seems that they don't offer insects anymore. It was still a good restaurant, so it may be worth checking out: Soda Club.
posted by Paragon at 12:20 PM on November 20, 2006

You could spend a full day at the Hamburger Bahnhof.
posted by beerbajay at 1:24 PM on November 20, 2006

Hackescher Markt is cool, and right next to the S-Bahn.
posted by borkingchikapa at 2:23 PM on November 20, 2006

I went in November two years ago, and it was great -- gloomy weather, gloomy buildings, gloomy service personnel. It fit. I pretended to be an angel at the most memorable Wings of Desire locations, i.e. siegessaeule, in the Tiergarten (which was beautiful in November) and the Staatsbibliothek, right off Potsdamer Plotz.
posted by Methylviolet at 6:01 PM on November 20, 2006

Response by poster: Wunderbar, thank you for taking the time to share your knowledge. This is more than enough already, but atomly and/or Herr Fahrstuhl, in case I can pry any more ideas out of you, the sorts of place we'd like to go, bar/cafe/restaurant wise is probably something countercultural but relaxed...perhaps along the lines of this 'Tacheles' place, from the sound sof it. (We're staying on Weinbergsweg)
posted by Flashman at 10:48 AM on November 21, 2006

Tacheles is good, but most of the stuff in the area tends to be a bit too touristy, especially on weekends. If you're on Weinbergsweg (which actually turns into Kastanien Allee.. I'm guessing you're staying at the Circus?), then I'd also recommend just checking out all the bars to the north of you. The street is packed with them, so if you don't like one, you can easily move on and find one you prefer. There's also an excellent coffee shop where I'm typing this right now, located at the corner of Weinbergsweg and Torstrasse, called St. Oberholz. They have free Wi-Fi and it tends to be full of interesting people and good music.

Prater Garden is on Kastanien right near Eberswalder Strasse and is the oldest beer garden in Berlin, so that's worth a visit, though it tends to be much busier in the summer (as most beer gardens do).

Another excellent restaurant that'll be in your area is a pizza place on Schoenhauser Allee called i due Forni. Amazing pizza from Italians with a slight punk theme. I can't express how amazing the pizza is, though.

The coolest spot in the area, though, is a place called Weinerei. It's a wine bar/restaurant where you pay 1 euro deposit on your cup, then drink as much wine as you want (they usually have about 5 to 10 bottles open) and eat if you like to (it's a buffet that leans toward vegetarian), then pay as much as you feel like you owe when you leave. It's located just off of Kastanien/Weinbergsweg near Zionskirchplatz.
posted by atomly at 6:58 AM on November 22, 2006

Response by poster: Wow thanks very much, cool. I'm sure we'll be having a better visit thanks to your help. Yes we're staying at the Circus. I've been enjoying your music by the way - thanks for that as well!
posted by Flashman at 2:20 PM on November 22, 2006

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