Willkommen and welcome to Berlin! This our our exclusive Insider Travel Guide that we have prepared for you so you can make the most of your time in Berlin! Be sure to check back from time to time as we are always updating our selections and adding new ideas to help you explore the city!
Berlin Bucket List
Top Berlin Attractions
Berlin Movie Guide
We think all of our tours are great, but we would also say that some tours are better choices for certain kinds of trips. Here’s our roundup!
Here’s our pick of the must-see attractions in Berlin. See them on your own, or visit many on our tours!
One of the favorite activities of locals and visitors alike is a trip to a local market. The great thing about Berlin markets is that you find a wide variety of foods and goods so everyone will be entertained. And, they are casual and fun, so don’t worry about crowds or unruly bargain hunters - just come and enjoy! Here is a list of some great flea markets, followed by some picks for our favorite farmer’s markets.
Where: Eichen Strasse, Treptow (S-Bahn Treptower Park)
When: Sat and Sun, 10am-4pm
A literal treasure trove. The Arena indoor market is an incredible mishmash of stalls and stands, most of which look like they have been there since the dawn of time. That is if they had VHS tapes in the dawn of time. Housed in a huge warehouse in the Arena complex, it is 4000 sqm filled with mink coats, antique radios and everything you probably don’t really need.
If you are looking for creepy children’s toys this is your place. Of all the markets we have reviewed this is probably the most daunting. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, but if you are in the right mood for a hunt then you’ll will probably find some treasure. This market is perfect for rainy weekends and is certainly a market where bartering is welcome. It is located right next to the River Spree, so perfect for a little river-side stroll before or after. Grab a beer and wander through the cave like labyrinth of vintage nonsense. Their website states weapons, pornography and Nazi memorabilia are forbidden, so enjoy a controversy-free flea-market!
Where: Maybachufer, Neukölln (U Bahn – Schönleinstr)
When: Every second Sunday, starting March 2016
Nowkölln market offers everything from 1950's handbags to vintage wares to organic locally produced orange and rosemary ice lollies. It's an absolute gem.
Located alongside the Landwehrkanal, the canal which separates the two districts of Kreuzberg and Neukölln, it tends to attract local international creative types. So the stalls generally stock second-hand hipster wares, hand-made goodies or real vintage. This market is a sure sign of the gentrified times and just how much the area has transformed in the last ten years. Many cute coffee shops and ice creams parlors are open nearby if you fancy a little rest and a people-watch. Make sure you check their website before you head down there, to make sure you have the right Sunday.
This is one of the cutest flea markets in the city. It is pretty small so won’t take you too long to stroll through, and it specializes in fifties and sixties design pieces. If you are looking for something from the GDR or any kind of retro, vintage home ware this is a good place to come. Thanks to the local population and their combined styles, you are sure to find some vintage/designer clothes going pretty cheap.
Arkonaplatz and Mauerpark are just about 10 minutes walk from one another, so once you are finished here you can head over to the icon and bustling super-sized Mauerpark market.
Probably one of the most written about flea markets in the northern hemisphere, it really does encapsulate Berlin’s ever changing nature. When the city turned up its gentrification valve, Mauerpark and the surrounding area was the first to feel it. To set the scene we would need some yummy mummy’s, strolling around looking for the perfect organic handmade locally sourced vegan delights, whilst sipping on a soy latte purchased from the ethically sound bio-dynamic vintage cafe. As you can probably tell from that sentence, life in this environment involves a lot of buzzwords.
There is literally everything you can imagine here; a plantation of kitchenware, handmade jewellery/art/clothes/everything, a liquorice stall, leather galore, not to mention all the food stalls. There is also a bar in the middle of the market called Schönwetter Club, which offers refuge vibes if you starting to struggle with the relentless droves of humans.
An Irish man called Joe Hatchiban has been bringing joy to Mauerpark since 2009 with his Bearpit Karaoke, set in the amphitheatre of the park. It is open air and attracts thousands of people each week. Anyone can sign up to sing, and although some incredible voices inevitably step up, the rougher singers tend to get more support from the crowds. So if your singing skills are lacking, fear not – they will cheer you on nevertheless!
Every Saturday 9am-4pm (S and U-Bahn Warschauer Strasse/ S and U-Bahn Frankfurter Tor)
This market is in the heart of the vivacious Friedrichshain district. Not only do they have a seasonally changing selection of fruit and veg, but they also have interchanging food stalls. You'll spot everything from artichokes, to reaspberries and pumpkins, plus all the good stuff; the fish stand, the smoked meat and sausage stand, the dangerously delicious cheese stand. If you want to feel really German, grab yourself a Spreewald Gherkin or Thuringia sausage and a beer to walk around with.
If you liked the market and loved the area, come back on Sundays for the Boxi-Fleamarket!
Every Saturday 9am-4pm (U-Bahn Eberswalderstr)
This market is located in the epicentre of beautiful Prenzlauer Berg. This district is infamous for its high population of young families andyou will notice kindergarden after kindergarden, parks galore, and shops specialising in all things miniature. The market itself has some tasty offerings including crepes, chorizo and cucumbers. As well as local handmade wares such as; scarves, jewellery and wooden children’s toys.
Grab yourself a little picnic and walk up to the Wasserturm (Knaack Str.22). This is the oldest Water Tower in Berlin, dating back to 1877. In use actually until 1952, it piped water to supply the rapidly growing population of workers in the district. Now its less water tower, more exquisite apartments. Sit there, imagine you live in a water tower and enjoy the view of the city.
Every Tuesday and Friday 11am-6.30pm (S and U-Bahn Kottbusser Tor)
For want of a better description, this is our realest market! The two above are wonderful by products of their districts’ gentrification, but this is one is considered a bit rougher around the edges, and thus far more charming. Turkish people form the largest ethnic minority in the country, and this is the heart of our Turkish district. (Many Turks invited over to West Germany in the 60s and 70s as guest workers, in factories and the service industry. Originally this was thought, by both the ‘Bundesrepublik’ and the Turkish Republic, to be a temporary arrangement.) Neukölln is our most multicultural part of the city and is extremely popular with tourists today.
Maybachufer is the name of the street which runs parallel to the Landwehr Kanal (Canal), making this a beautiful setting for the hustle and bustle of the market. Half the city make it down to markets on one of the two days, to fill up their fridges with cheap fruit and veg. The predominately Turkish stall holders have their art down to a tee. The sound of their offers fills the street ‘BUY TWO WATERMELONS, GET ONE FREE’. It is hard not to get caught up in the moment. You may find yourself buying more boxes of blueberries than you could ever feasibly eat.
There are also lots of Turkish food stands, so you can grab yourself a hot Gozleme (a traditional Turkish flat bread usually entwined with spinach and feta). There are endless stalls here of fabric, kitchen equipment and general bits and bobs. Grab a coffee and some nibbles and sit yourself by the canal to watch the world go by.
Berlin is known for its pivotal role in cinematography, both on and off screen. In fact, one of the biggest film festivals in the world, the Berlinale, is hosted by the city each year. Whether you are about to head to Berlin and want a sneak peak, or you are missing the city like so many visitors do, we have a great list of films to get you back to Berlin!
Without a doubt the most raved about Berlin-themed film to hit the screens in some time. (In fact, most of the open air cinemas in Berlin had to put on extra screenings!) The plot centres on Victoria, a young Spanish woman who has recently moved to Berlin. Struggling with her new life in the city, she meets four guys getting kicked out of a club and we then follow her adventure. IN REAL TIME! The film is incredible, made in one single continous take.
A tragicomedy set in Berlin, in which a young techno DJ ‘Ickarus’ (played by real life DJ Paul Kalkbrenner) is institutionalised for his drug addiction. About as Berlin as it gets; sex, drugs and techno.
This is a must see for anyone interested in Second World War history. The film depicts the final 10 days of Hitler’s reign over Nazi Germany in 1945, and is probably the most accurate portrayal of Hitler you will see on the big screen. A fantastic glimpse into the chaos of the closing days of the war, and how the Nazis carried on fighting until the very end. It is set predominately in his bunker in the centre of Berlin, the site of which is in fact one of our stops in on the Berlin Highlights Bike Tour, Berlin City Bike Tour, and our Third Reich and Nazi Germany Tour.
This film won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, so it’s definitely worth a watch. It follows an East German playwright as, unbeknownst to him, he becomes the focus of the East German secret police (Stasi). The film provides a great insight into the methods and practices of the Stasi, and is an endearing story following one agent as he re-assesses the morality of his actions. Many former East Germans were stunned by the factual accuracy of the film’s set and atmosphere.
Here we have the story of a son who keeps the reunification of Germany a secret from his fiercely communist mother. Right at the fall of the Wall, Alex’s mother suffers from a heart attack falls into a coma. Luckily she pulls through, however Alex (Daniel Brühl) is warned by a doctor that should she have any sudden shock, she may easily die, so he scrambles to hide it from her.
Based on the book by Christopher Isherwood, the film is set in 1931 Berlin, during the Weimar Republic and amongst the growing influence of the Nazi Party. We follow a wild American dancer (Liza Minnelli) in her bohemian Berlin life, back in the good old days.
Shot in black and white, ‘A Coffee in Berlin’ tells the melancholic story of a mid-twenties law school dropout Niko and his absurd interactions. A gentle comment on generation Y living in Berlin and the prolonged adolescence of today’s youth.
After losing a bag containing 100,000 deutsche marks on the subway Lola and her boyfriend, Manni, must find the money again and deliver it to a gangster or Manni will likely be killed. The only catch is that they only have 20 minutes to do it.
In Wings of Desire, you are shown a divided Berlin through the perspectives of two angels as they hover over the city. They are only observers taking notes, and cannot change anything or take part, but occasionally descend to comfort a man contemplating suicide, or listen to the thoughts of the people on the streets. The film is beautifully shot with great views of Berlin over the Wall.
Based on actual events, this film illustrates the horrific and heart breaking experiences of a young girl, Christiane, who, between the ages of 13 and 15 descends from being a typical teenage girl with normal (and relatively mild) problems, to funding a serious drug addiction with prostitution and surviving on the brink of death.
When a peaceful protest in West Germany turns violent, Meinhof, a journalist and pacifist, turns to other methods of opposition and becomes involved with the violent RAF. The Rote Armee Fraktion were a militant group active between 1970 and 1998 who sought to oppose what they perceived as a fascist and imperialist West German government.
Shot on location in war-torn Berlin, this film offers amazing footage of the extent of Berlin’s destruction during WWII and also depicts the tough experiences of ordinary Berliners in the aftermath of the allied invasion and obliteration of the city centre.
Ok, so not strictly a film but more of a TV mini-series. Think Band of Brothers but from a German perspective, Generation War follows five close friends from the eve of the invasion on the eastern front until the end of the war. What is quite interesting is the aftermath of this production; over seven million Germans tuned in to watch Generation War. It has been very controversial with praise and criticisms from respected historians. The war generation, the witnesses to these events are all soon to be gone, so the next few years will be the last chance for dialogue with these people.
Lore is an indoctrinated child of a high-ranking SS officer who has to make her way through occupied Germany after the end of the war. Her parents head off to a POW camp after burning their documents and leave Lore in charge of her younger siblings. As she makes her way through a defeated Germany, certain truths are revealed to her.
Set in 1980’s East Germany, Barbara is the tale of a doctor has been relegated to a remote country side hospital after trying to apply for an exit visa to the West. She has been given a state owned apartment and is under constant surveillance from the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious secret police force.
Sophie Scholl was a member of the non-violent White Rose group, an active resistance group in Nazi Germany. The film focuses on her last days and prosecution after she was caught distributing anti-Nazi leaflets at her university.
Berlin has earned bragging rights for having some great places to eat. The range is substantial. You can enjoy fine dining at posh clubs and rooftop terraces, or enjoy humble yet original street food in casual neighborhoods. No matter where you eat or find food, we have some tips to help you refill like a local so you can dig in with confidence.
It’s no big deal to pay for your 3€ street kebab in cash, but when it comes to a big sit-down dinner for a larger party, most visitors to Germany are used to whipping out a credit card at the end of the meal whenever they dine out at home. Which is why it can be a big shock to find out that most German restaurants refuse to accept plastic – neither credit nor debit! And it’s even worse to realize this only after you’ve been presented with the bill, and stare into your wallet at a single, lonely, woefully inadequate 10€ note. Add to that the relative lack of ATMs, and you’ve got a small problem on your hands. Thankfully, now that you’ve read this, you’ll make sure to bump up your cash stash before you head to the restaurant.
In many places in the world, water is a given when dining out. Sometimes with ice, sometimes already waiting for you on the table, and always free of charge. Not so in Germany. The gastronomic powers-that-be in this country realized long ago that people would pay for water if it came out of a bottle instead of a tap. This remains true today. Many travelers assume that the tap water must not be safe to drink if even the locals order bottled water. Again, not true! Tap water in Germany is 100% safe to drink.
Many locals prefer sparkling water, however, which is exactly what the waiter will bring you if you simply order “water”. If you can’t stand the bubbles, simply order “stilles Wasser” (plain bottled water, usually the same price as the bubbly water) or “Leitungswasser” (tap water, usually free of charge).
There’s no need to go overboard on tipping, but don’t leave it out completely unless you are on an absolutely bare-bones budget or the service was astoundingly horrific. Servers in Germany expect around 10% in “Trinkgeld”, which translates as “tip” but literally means “drinking money”. (At least they’re being honest!)
As awkward as it may feel to you, it is completely normal in Germany to pay your tip directly to your server when it’s time to settle the bill (never leave a tip behind on the table). So if your beverage costs 4.50€, give 5€ and say “stimmt so” (that amount is correct). If you only have larger bills, pay with one and just state out loud how much you want to pay in total; in this case, say “5€”. Your server will give you the change and always thank you for the tip.
There is a German word, “Servicewüste”, which literally means “service desert.” And they use it to describe the relatively low standard of customer service in their own country. It’s true: smiles from servers are rare, checking in on a table during a meal is unheard of, and you may experience a curtness that borders on rudeness – at least it would if you were back home.
But you’re in Germany, and even though it might seem like your waitress is going out of her way to be hostile towards you, chances are she’s not – in fact, she’s probably behaving in a perfectly normal, culturally acceptable, “Service Desert” way. So don’t take it personally. She didn’t smile at you? You don’t have to smile, either. Or you can go the other way with it and make a joke or two to see if she’ll crack. She hasn’t checked in on you? If something’s not right with your meal, be assertive and call her over. And if her attitude really rubs you the wrong way, you can tell her. If she really can’t handle the feedback, your tip can reflect your opinion.
You may feel like your server is ignoring you when it comes time to pay the bill. In your native country, the server probably brings it automatically once the meal is finished and plates are being cleared. But in Germany, the customer is left to enjoy their place at the table and their company for as long as they wish, without being rushed out so as to clear a table for the next customer. This means you’ll have to ask outright for the bill. But the good news is that splitting the bill is easier in Germany than in most places in the world. Just tell the server which items you want to pay for. You’ll be given a verbal total just for those items. So you can enjoy your 3€ beer (adding 10% tip, of course) and let your companion pay full price for that costly mojito.
If you’re dining with Germans and one of them says ‘I invite you’, this means that they would like to pay for your meal. Accept the invitation with gratitude.
Bars and restaurants in Germany are obligated to provide their customers with a free working toilet. That doesn’t stop many places from posting an attendant outside the bathroom door with a sign stating a monetary amount. If you are a patron of the restaurant, you do not legally have to pay this amount. Then again, you’re not legally required to tip your server, either – but it’s a nice thing to do. If the bathroom was indeed clean and well-stocked, anywhere from 20-50 cents is enough of a tip to leave on the collection plate.