The following is a guest post by Isabel Clift.
Berlin is a real playground if you’re in your twenties: food, drink and travel are cheap, and there’s a wealth of DIY art galleries, underground clubs and cafes to explore. No cheesy check-box sightseeing here, either: Berlin’s raw recent history gives edge and immediacy to its landmarks.
Landmarks to see
Holocaust memorial: A tight, oppressive grid of concrete blocks you walk between, whose sides grow taller the deeper you go: the Peter Eisenman-designed Holocaust Memorial is a masterpiece whose effectiveness will shock you.
The Wall: A remaining section of the Berlin Wall runs along Mühlenstraße near Oberbaum Bridge. It’s been nicknamed the East Side Gallery after being covered with graffiti art.
TV Tower: This GDR-era ’60s landmark on Alexanderplatz looks like it was drawn by a Jetsons cartoonist. Climb to the observation deck for the highest views in the city.
Babelplatz book-burning memorial: The less you know before you go, the more poignant this is. Go to Babelplatz at night, walk towards the light shining up from the middle and look down…
Berghain/Panorama bar: A Friedrichshain power station turned clubbing Mecca, Berghain operates a strict door policy and confiscates cameras on arrival. If you do make it in, expect Bladerunner-style surroundings and relentless, vocal-chord-shaking minimal techno played til 3pm Sunday (yes, you read that right).
Golden Gate: You know a club’s intimate when you feel like you’ve stumbled in on a particularly grimy house party. Found behind an unmarked door underneath a railway bridge on Dircksenstrasse, drinks are cheap and the dancefloor’s sweaty.
Watergate: Your go-to for sleek and stylish clubbing on the Spree. Grab a breath of fresh air on the floating terrace and be mesmerized by the giant, glowing Universal logo on the opposite bank.
Restaurants, bars and cafes
Breakfast: The Soviet-themed Gorki Park serves a fine ‘worker and farmer’ breakfast platter for two including fresh potato pancakes, salmon caviar and blini rolls.
Lunch: Eat lunch in former factory Michelberger Hotel’s shabby-chic courtyard; think fresh European fare like seasonal veg risotto and spicy tagines.
Dinner: Want a glass of wine with your dinner? At Weinerei you rent a glass for EUR 1.50, then sample from a range of bottles. Soak it all up with a buffet of German fare made with organic ingredients, and pay what you think you owe at the end.
Takeaway: Hipster takeaway Angry Angry Chicken serves finger-lickin’ Korean chicken at varying spice levels: friendly, sexy, angry and furious. Brush the crumbs off afterwards and duck through an unmarked door at the back to secret bar Soju.
Voo: Indicative of the area’s slide from grit to gentrification, Voo is a fancy new concept store off Kreuzberg’s main drag Oranienstrasse. Pick up threads from Acne, Pendleton, Wood Wood and Surface to Air, plus books and artisan cosmetics.
Made in Berlin: With several outlets around the city, Made in Berlin specializes in affordable vintage edited with an eye on current trends. Perfect if you love vintage but hate rummaging.
Mauerpark: Join the crowds every Sunday for amphitheater karaoke, flea-market riffling and impromptu beers ‘n’ barbeques.
About the author: Isabel Clift (@Isabel_Clift) is a London-based travel blogger for AnyTrip, the budget travel specialists – check out their selection of cheap Berlin hotels. A fan of all things currywurst and techno, Isabel’s got into the habit of visiting Berlin at least once a year.
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