I'll be spending a week in Berlin at the end of May. I'll be renting a flat (most likely in Mitte) and I've got the RS Berlin guide, as well as several books on Berlin from the library. I'm just at the beginning of my research for this trip. If you have been to Berlin, was there anything in particular that you really enjoyed. A particular meal, a particular walking tour, a particular neighborhood, a particular beer? Are there any good websites (e.g. bloggers, etc.) that you've found that have good tips on Berlin? Thanks.
The Berlin zoo is the one of the best in the world. It isn't that big, but it simply has a huge variety and number of animals. For a unique beer, try Berliner Weiße. Kind of like a Belgian lambic, they add fruit flavoring to balance out the sour flavor.
Our highlight was a guided tour of the Reichstag. They are free but you do need to make a reservation well ahead of time, i.e. now: http://www.bundestag.de/htdocs_e/visits/besgrupp/fuehr.html We also liked shopping in the Prenzlauer Berg district. There are some unique boutiques like "Who Killed Bambi?" http://wkbambi.wordpress.com/our-shops/
Laura, Lucky you. We went to Berlin last year for the first time and are looking forward to going again. Rather than repeat what I've already said before, here are links to two recent threads seeking advice or comments about things to do in Berlin: What is your favorite memory of Berlin? 3 nights in Berlin
We have gone on 3 walking tours in Berlin with Insider Tours. A general overview the 1st day, a tour to Sachenhausen and a tour to Potsdam. When I go back, I want to do a 3rd Reich tour, a Cold War tour and one of the underground tours. You get to see and learn so much of the history of the locations you pass, since much of it is gone now, plus you get a good orientation to the city. I spent about 6 hours in the Historic Museum, and 3 hours in the Jewish museum, but others may go quicker. The Pergamon was closed for renovation when I was there, so that is still on my list. Like the Berlin Dom, climbing to the top for a great view. The Sony Center was cool and I wish I would have gone there in the evening when it was lit up. A visit to the Spree Wald would also be on my list. I am a schnitzel fan and prefer to leave the curry wurst to others, though I do like bratwursts. Every place will have their own recipe.
The German Historical Museum on Unter den Linden. If you're a history buff like me, you won't be able to get enough! Kreuzberg for the Jewish Museum and Turkish food. Either a bike or walking tour. The city is flat with very little traffic and is ideal for both. While the Checkpoint Charlie Museum is a must for a first-timer, I enjoyed walking along Bernauer Strasse much more. The nightlife. Oh, the nightlife. Even if you're not a club kid, you'll get a kick out of the sheer madness of it all. Ever had Singaporean food? Neither did I until I went to Berlin, to a restaurant in Mitte on Oranienburger Strasse. Learn the U-Bahn system. Much less intimidating than it seems. If you can manage New York, you can conquer Berlin. I'd say I was jealous, but I'm going back myself in May. Have a wonderful time!
Wow, my list is filling up quickly. I love lambic so a Berliner Weisse will definitely be on my drinks menu. And I'm dying to know who killed bambi :). I'm a huge fan of walking tours and history, so it already looks like much of my week will be tied up. Thanks for all the great suggestions so far and keep them coming.
Laura, Good area to situate yourself in Mitte for a week's stay. Historical Berlin was traditionally east of the Brandenburg Gate. You'll have lateral access to the S-Bahn to the east. The guide I absolutely recommend is Rough Guide on Berlin. To add to your research on Berlin, its Prussian-German history, etc., I heartily recommend the book by Alexandra Richie, especially if you're in the mood for deep reading. Aside from the suggestions above, I would recommend Karlshorst, Treptow, Berlin-Köpenick, the oldest Prussian military cemeteries are east of Berlin Hbf....how about a particular hotel, which was also historical? See the Adlon just east of Pariser Platz. The original was so damged by the war that this is modern lavish one. Also, the Kempinski on Kurfürstendamm, the plaque there is poignant. And, yes, of course...on the beer, it's Berliner Weiße with red or green.
I don't know if they still allow this but when I was there in 2006 you could rent a go kart and drive around Berlin. I never got to do this, even after throwing a "best of life" tantrum. I really regret this. Not the tantrum.
From my visit this past summer: - loved the Pergamon Museum, it's walking back in history to 3000 years ago - the DDR Museum is small and crowded but gives you a hands-on experience of what it was like living in East Germany. - Checkpoint Charlie Museum is a hodge-podge collection and overpriced. Spend a couple of hours reading the billboards along the border across the street instead. - Schloss Charlottenburg is beautiful with lovely gardens. - For a tasty low-priced meal, eat at one of the Va Piano restaurants - excellent fresh Italian food. - I was underwhelmed by the Jewish Museum I used the DK Eyewitness Guide to Berlin. I would have liked to take a day trip to Potsdam - next time.
It's hard to choose favorites, but I recommend the English language Berlin Walks (www.berlinwalks.de). I knew the basic sights, so I took the "Nest of Spies" tour. A special spot off the beaten path is the Track 17 Memorial at Grunewald Station, site of deportation during the Holocaust. (You also need to walk around and look at the sculpture at the entrance to the tracks.) Have lunch at Rogacki (an English article: http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/10/04/travel/04bites.html). Check out the East Side Gallery - a mile-long preserved section of the Wall with contemporary paintings. In the midst of the most important buildings on Unter den Linden is Babelsberg Platz. Look for the memorial to Nazi book burnings in the middle of the platz -- it's below ground level. Have a great time -- you'll be peeling off layers of history.
Thank you very much everyone. I've spent every evening this week reading about Berlin and it looks like I will not run out of things to do. This has been very helpful.
It's a bit of a stereotypically "touristy" thing, but I think it's really worth taking a short boat trip of the centre from one of the firms by Friedrichstrasse station. Unlike many other river cities in Europe, like London or Paris, the buildings in central Berlin are often built right out to the water, and you get views from a boat that you can't by walking along the banks.
Go to the now-unused Tempelhof Airport and have a picnic. It's a vast field with a vast hangar, and you see people picnicking or riding bikes or flying kites - it's surreal. Go to the top of the Parliament building on a day when the glass dome is open. We went up to the roof in the evening when the dome was closed. The Pergamon Museum is AWESOME!!! If you have time or desire to see only one museum, visit that one. The Museumsinsel is huge but if you have the time and stamina, visit as many museums as you can. If you'll be in Berlin on a Sunday, there are free classical music concerts outside in front of the Bode Museum. Visit a flea market for unique gifts and souvenirs.