We spent a week staying in the heart of 'trendy' Kreuzberg with a great Airbnb host, luckily arriving at start of a much needed sunny spell. Berlin has so much to offer we couldn't possibly list all the many things to do, especially as the capitals nightlife rarely sleeps. Here are a few of our favourite things; some that we stumbled onto, others came as recommendations and some pure classic touristic activities that must be witnessed. Introducing, our Berlin top picks....
Spend A Sunny Sunday In Mauerpark
This really does have to be top of our list of fun things to do in Berlin. Every Sunday people of all ages and cultures come together to celebrate the joys of Summer with an eclectic afternoon of live music, market stalls, dancing, drinking and relaxation on the grassy mounds. The festival-like atmosphere is incredibly fun, there is so much energy, creativity and freedom from the crowd that you just can't help leaving feeling inspired. People come here to chill with friends and to hang out with strangers in a carefree and open Berlin kind-of-way. Expect to see people jamming to the beat of a drum, others dancing however feels good. We were lucky enough to see an amazing Latin funk band all the way from Chile perform on our visit to Mauerpark. One of the highlights though has to be Bearpit Karaoke, which consists of a hilarious Irish guy orchastrating an afternoon of karaoke of anyone willing to sing to a very large cheering crowd. It really is entertainment at its best, you get to see such a diverse mix of people performing their favour songs, and the crowd go really wild! Mauerpark is free to enter every Sunday, either bring drinks with you or pay an extra Euro and get a cold one there.
Soak Up Kreuzberg
Kreuzberg has exploded over the last few years and now nearly every space is a bar, restaurant or corner shop selling food and booze. The cafe culture is huge, and there really are hundreds of people lining the streets with a tinny in hand chatting to friends and enjoying the moment. The atmosphere is free and easy, super fun but relaxed. No one is rushing here, clubs open all night and some all weekend so people are chilling on the streets till late and then head out even later. Görlitzer park is a great place to hang out on a sunny evening or weekend, and on Tuesday nights the locals come together to make music and jam in the park. Pick up a delicious donner kebab for 3 euro or a famous Berlin currywurst, you really can't get more taste for your buck. Burgermeister constantly has a queue of about 20 people snaking down the street, or if you are more into Mexican, Indian, Italian, vegan or ramen then it's all there for you too. Wondering around Kreuzberg at night is like feeling the energy of the earth. Nothing else matters except that you are there and you are with like-minded people.
Admire The Murals At East Side gallery
There are many places to see the Berlin Wall across the city, but the East Side Gallery is a must-go for all travellers. A long section of wall has become an outdoor canvas and mural for artists new and old. The gallery has two functions these days; one as showpiece for graffiti, an art form that can be found across the capital. The second, a reminder of Berlin's divisive history. Much famed is the piece 'Fraternal Kiss' between two politicians from the 70s, this kiss actually happened, around much fanfare. Situated near Oberbaumbrücke station is the Wall Museum that does a fantastic job of taking the viewer through the journey of the lives either side of the wall. All the way through to the triumphant dismantling of wall, with a whole room devoted to Pink Floyd's landmark gig 1990, an absolute must see!
Party Like A Berliner
You can't visit Berlin without hearing talk of it's infamous party scene. Standard clubbing this is not. Think of it more as experiential process! The mystery surrounding Berlin clubs has gathered over many years where promoter, bouncers and psychologists (apparently) curate the evening dependant on music, vibe and crowd. Clubbers shouldn't feel disheartened if they don't get in. It's normally that some has decided your look, vibe, whatever doesn't fit the night. That said not all clubs attest to these strict principles. We had a tip off from a local that Kater Blau is great spot for a good night and the staff are not allergic to foreigners. Set up by the folks who ran the legendary Bar 25, Kater Blau looks to continue the vibe on a bigger scale by creating a playground for grown ups, fun woody outdoor hangouts in the layout of a ship, foil curtains, coloured lighting, lots of pockets to hang out and chat, dark and light techno, balconies, club all night long till the next day, and unlike other cities, the bouncers just leave you be to chat and make new friends in an open and inclusive haven.
Watch The Sunset at Templehof
The story behind Templehof park starts in an interesting way, if you don't already know the history. Once a commercial airport in its beginnings, later a airforce base in the war, then an airport to the stars, later becoming a US airbase; finally being given back to the people in 2008 to become one of the largest green spaces in the capital. I mean its huge, its an airport right! Given its size there's an array of activities to do around the park; one could rent bikes and cycle, others were blading, few were even windsurfing or those less adventurous just fly a kite. There are two large BBQ areas where Berliners convene in great numbers to drink and dine. One of the most original aspects of this park is the social projects that run through it. Every decision on upgrades or new areas of the park are decided on by the people. One of the most recent additions is the beautiful growing area that is open for visitors to wonder through, sit, read, and admire the foliage. Surrounded of course by fruit, vegetables, wild flowers and bee friendly flora that sit into Heath Robinson style grow boxes, platforms and seating.
Feel The Divide At Treptower Park
Treptower park is where East meets West; a huge park that can be walked through for hours. Before entering the greener parts you must witness the huge soviet memorial. The structure really stands out from more conventional western public art. Upon entry you are met by two huge arching stone gates, very minimal, very dramatic, very soviet! This park is the largest landmark left by the soviet empire in Berlin leaving the viewer with powerful communist visuals to contemplate. If that was not memorable enough, you can keep walking down the river to find a disused fairground. As legend has it the fairground was built by local man, a local drug dealer, who used his profits to build this fairground for the local children. When he was jailed the fairground went into disrepair, the remnants can be view through a fence, very mysterious! if you do need somewhere to take the kinder there some fun wooden play areas littered in the forest.
Re-live History at Checkpoint Charlie
It's impossible to visit Berlin and not see the influence of the wall. The divide that split the capital, and to some extent the country, is one of the most important historical events to shape Europe and the world. There is only one place to learn about all the details of the wall and that is to visit Checkpoint Charlie, USA's and USSR's infamous border crossing point. A place that symbolised many of the cold war divides. Visitors can discover stories of escape plans, some that succeeded some that didn't, potential war starting events of the 60s, and the design and engineering that USSR put into the wall development, all totally fascinating. We learnt so much, for example, who new Berlin was actually split into 4 quarters with France and Britain also administrating parts of the capital! And that it was Russias GDP that eventually brought the collapse of the soviet empire. There is so much information to take in you may wish to split your visits across a couple of days. From the checkpoint one can read the timeline of events for free on the large boards running up to the checkpoint. Then a more detailed exhibition can be found inside the boarded area for €4, finally a visit the to the checkpoint Charlie museum. Not forgetting the East Side Gallery for the best graffiti and detailed accounts of life either side of the wall.
Promote Plant Power
If you're one of those people who enjoy their time in nature, Berlin has many outdoor spaces, one in particular is the Prinzess Innen Garten (eco garden) found in Kreuzberg. An impressive wooden structure that caught our eye, inside we discovered a huge tree house made from recycled woods with seats aplenty, the perfect spot to enjoy a couple of drinks. As you wonder through the rest of the garden it's clear this plays a big social role for the area as they include many ideas that bring people together including a 'free box' where clothes can be swapped, cooking and gardening workshops that were happening, a bar and food stalls. All these parts came together to form a great atmosphere. Lest we forget, many beautiful growing spaces of organic fruit and veg which visitors can purchase and an impressive recycling area. People can bring unwanted metals and woods to the garden safe in the knowledge they will be used for grow boxes on site.
Chill Like a Local on the Canal
Berliners make fantastic use of their open spaces, these places are shared and navigated with a sense of openness. As long as there is mutual respect people can live however they like. As a result spaces like canals, parks and streets become melting pots for social get-to-togethers. Especially the canal which offers many spots to eat, drink and be merry. We would recommend wondering the Landwehr Canal in Kreuzberg on sunny evenings and you are likely to hear live music, or you could grab a takeaway and devour it on the bank of the canal. Or purely walk the paths soaking up the lovely multicultural-ness of the area. If your visit falls on a weekend be sure to attend the locals market around Hobrechtbruche on a Sunday, where second hand wares are all the rage, vegan food is rife and coffee is freshly ground.
Mark first visited the RAW bar area, unknowingly, i 2008 when it was just a few connected warehouses crumbling and derelict with industrial charm. Any soul was free to roam this playground of old buildings. Fast forward 9 years and this space has been transformed into a vast district of bars, cinemas, gig venues, restaurants, climbing wall and art spaces while maintaining the industrial aesthetic that made it so special in the first place. You can wonder the RAW bar area on any day or night of week and find something to do, or just sit back and chill in one of the many bars it is so well known for. You can get to the area from nearest tube stop Warschauer Straße. Just go explore it and have some fun.
We hope you like our top things to do in Berlin, if there is anything we can help you with then let us know in the comments box below.
(so you can find it again next time)