Europe is a traveller’s dream for many reasons. A small continent that offers a staggering variety of food, culture, history and landscapes. Within that, the continent boasts some of the world’s great cities.
London and Paris are right up there in most desirable destination lists, but another that has always packed a punch is Berlin. It’s a city that has always packed a punch and combines a fascinating history with incredible nightlife.
We pick out some of our favourite things to do in the German capital.
1. Currywurst and wiener schnitzel in a traditional German bar
Currywurst is an institution in Berlin. It’s as simple a dish as it gets: sausage and curry sauce served with either chips or potato salad, but getting it right is very difficult Wiener schnitzel is another of their local dishes which is served all over the city: breaded and fried veal escalope.
Our tip to eat both is at Dicke Wirtin bar in Charlottenburg, West Berlin. A restaurant and a bar, called the Fat Landlady in English, serves these Berliner delicacies alongside a superb selection of beer in an old world style German bar. It’s a little off-the-beaten track to get to but worth it.
2. Brandenburg Gate
It’s one of the most visited sites in the city, but that doesn’t take away from the appeal of the Brandenburg Gate. Set right in the centre of town the 18th Century neo-classical monument tower up from the Pariser Platz, and on a sunny day is stunning: Paris’s equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe.
It’s also a stone’s throw from the German house of parliament – the Reichstag, which is also worth a visit when nearby. The gate was one of the original city gates and was the start of the road between Berlin and Brandenburg.
3. The Holocaust Memorial
Just around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate is the Holocaust Memorial. Germany’s darkest hour is commemorated here by paying a permanent tribute to the Jews that lost their lives in the Holocaust period of World War II.
Built to commemorate the atrocity 60 years after the war, the memorial is a section of grey stone structures of varying heights built in an open area of the city centre. The interpretation of the design of the memorial is said to have been left open to interpretation by its architect Peter Eisenman but the similarities to a graveyard are there for all to see.
4. Canal life
The Landwehr Canal runs through the south side of Berlin and is another great place to sit outside when the weather is fine. To get to the most picturesque section, take the Ubahn to Kotbusser Tor and then walk down to the bridge on Admiralstrasse.
In fine weather, the area is covered with people sitting out on the grass and the bridge itself, with buskers playing as entertainment. Right on the corner of that bridge, you can also find Il Casolare Italian restaurant which serves massive pizzas on a terrace overlooking the canal.
5. Burger and kebab heaven
Street food is an essential part of the Berlin experience and vendors and vans are all over the city. But one corner jumps out as the best for us. It’s at Schlesisches Tor Ubahn stop and on either side of the road has two of the best street food shops in the city.
One one side is Burgermeister and on the other Baghdad Café. Burgermeister serves up a range of craft burgers and beers that have been rated as the best in town. The location, set in converted public toilets, is also just about the most unusual you will ever find.
Kebabs are everywhere in Berlin and the city is touted as serving the best anywhere, outdoing even Istanbul. That’s a bold statement but when you eat at Baghdad Café you’ll know why. A combination of flat bread with a range of different spiced meats takes the kebab to a new level; for me, this is the best in the city. Technically the shop is a restaurant but as it has a large outdoor area we’re including it as street food. During the summer sitting outside in the German sun is perfection.
6 Green in the middle of the city
Parks are dotted all over the city but the one to visit is Viktoriapark. Located on the southern side of the city it boasts a hill with a wonderful view out over the surrounding city and has a waterfall at the top, which comes as a pleasant surprise in the urban jungle that Berlin is. It’s the best way to get a view of the city you’re exploring for free.