“Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well… Berlin.” – Hiroshi Motomura, 2004
After our visit to the German capital this summer, I just couldn’t agree more with Motomura’s quote about this amazing city. I love it! It’s an old city with a young heart that you simply can’t miss. The contrast between historical and modern is one of the first things you notice and it’s what makes this city so interesting.
We were a little skeptical about travelling in August but it turned out to be the perfect time. The weather was nice, not too hot, it wasn’t so crowded and it was a great escape from 40 degrees on the Mediterranean, where we live.
Tips and Suggestions
Transportation and Welcome Card – Berlin is a huge city so you’ll need some kind of transportation to get around. A day pass you can use on trains, busses and trams for zones AB costs 7 EUR. If you are staying for more than one day and you plan to visit museums, sightseeing tours by bus or boat, you should consider Berlin Welcome Card. Welcome Card 72 hours, zones ABC for 30 EUR was a good deal for us. It includes free transportation all over the city (including airport Schönefeld) and discount for 200 sights and attractions.
Food and Drinks – In Berlin you can eat pretty cheap, there are currywurst and fries on every corner for less than 4 EUR. Turkish and Italian fast foods offer kebabs, pizzas and other for very reasonable prices. In summer there are fairs on Breitscheidplatz, around Kaiser Wilhem Memorial Church (“the hollow tooth”) and on Hackescher Markt, where you can find German domestic food and Berliner Weisse (excellent beer). In Scheunenviertel you can try hummus, falafel and other dishes typical for Israeli cuisine. If you want to eat in a nicer restaurant you will have to pay at least 15-20 euros for a meal. Average beer price for 0,5 L is 5 EUR.
Museums – A walk around Museum Island is a must whether you plan to enter the museums or not. You can stretch your legs, admire historical buildings and maybe even wave to Angela Merkel who lives in an apartment across the street from the Pergamon Museum. In case you are interested in entering more than one museum check Museum Pass Berlin. I wouldn’t recommend the DDR Museum and I must agree with the Berliners when they say it’s a joke. On a couple of websites you can read that the entrance for some museums is free on Thursday after 6 PM but I’m afraid that this is a disinformation. It used to be free but not anymore.
Other Things Good to Know
- It is normal to tip good service; waiter, guide or taxi driver.
- Public toilets in shopping malls aren’t free, prepare 1 EUR in coins for entrance.
- If you are in good shape, renting a bike for approx. 10-12 EUR per day, isn’t a bad idea ’cause Berlin is all flat and in one day you can see a lot.
- Berlin is a safe city, we didn’t have any inconveniences and we felt secure all the time although there isn’t much police around.
- There are a lot of street musicians near the East Side Gallery in the evening where you can enjoy good music by the river Spree.
- There is a beautiful corner near Potsdamer Platz full of small restaurants, cafes and shops. We really enjoyed our coffee there so we found ourselves constantly coming back. Don’t miss the amazing Sony Center nearby.
- A good coffee is hard to find. If you order cappuccino or coffee with milk it is most likely that you’ll get white coffee or caffe latte. A big cup. Waaaay too much milk for us from the Mediterranean. So be careful what you order.
Alexsanderplatz, Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag and Charlottenburg are just some of the wonderful and interesting things you will see if you visit Berlin.
Hope you’ll like it as much as we did!