Berlin Travel Tips From an Insider
When heading to any city it’s important to know what not to do as much as where to go. We sat down with one of our expert guides in Berlin to bring you the best Berlin travel tips from an insider.
What are your city’s tourist traps?
Checkpoint Charlie is probably the most anticlimactic city attraction; although it was once the site of a hostile Cold War standoff between the US and the USSR, it is now just a hut on a busy road where students dressed as soldiers charge tourists for photographs.
Where would you suggest going if you want an authentic local experience?
For somewhere absolutely authentic: the historical ballroom Clärchen’s Ballhaus has been hosting dance parties since 1913! You can do the twist and jitterbug with Berlin natives or have proper German food and a beer. Clärchen’s Ballhaus hosts an incredible mix of young hipsters and aging regulars. Check their website for information on dance lessons and events.
In many ways at the heart of the action in Berlin, the districts of Kreuzberg and Neukölln are just a short hop from attractions across the city and are a multicultural hub with a thriving creative scene. Small galleries, trendy bars and a relaxed atmosphere infuse the area with character, buoyed by the leafy cobbled streets and regular canalside markets. Accommodation here tends to be in apartments, many of which are renovated to a high standard, and smaller hotels.
What are the local customs that travellers should embrace?
Our very own Natalie has compiled a trusty guide to help visitors to blend in with the locals and find themselves participating in real Berlin life. In general, Berliners can be quite rude, especially on public transport and as pedestrians. There’s no need to adopt this custom, just keep calm and carry on!
What is the most unique aspect of your city?
Since the fall of the Wall, Berlin has been a place of empty, undefined spaces, as well as cheap rent and low living costs. Karl Scheffler’s century-old declaration “Berlin is a place doomed to forever become, never to be” is often quoted because it remains true. Again and again, Berlin reinvents itself, and German history is present in every corner of the city.
Any other tips, hints or must experience suggestions?
Watch out for amazing street art everywhere! In April 2013, famous French street artist JR worked on over 15 buildings within the context of his project ‘The Wrinkles of the City’. JR’s large scale art pieces sometimes take over whole facades of buildings and portray older people who have lived through the changes and upheavals of their city. Another tip, this time from large scale to small detail: search for „Berliner Korkmännchen“ on street signs in Kreuzberg, Mitte and Neukölln. You might discover little cork men doing yoga or striking funny poses.Tags: Berlin