The Ultimate Guide to Berlin: What to See, Eat, Do

In the beginning of June I took a two-week long vacation to Europe as a last journey before starting my first full-time job in July. While I was there I spent most of my time in London, but took a weekend getaway to Berlin, Germany. Germany is a country I’ve always wanted to visit since German makes up 50% of my ethnicity. I figured Berlin would be the perfect city to tackle in a weekend.

Here are my recommendations on what to do while in the city for either a weekend, a week, or maybe even a month.

To See…

brandenburg gate

When I think of Berlin the first monument that comes to mind is the Brandenburg Gate. It sits high above the main street of Museum Island, making its presence known. This is where most walking tours start, something I’ll mention in the “To See…” section. I learned that the structure on top is called a quadriga and is a symbol of peace. It was built atop the gate to protect the German city. However, soon after the structure went up, Germany entered into WWII.

Berlin fashion blogger

The East Side Gallery is a must for those artsy Berlin Instagrams that you know you need to post when you visit. I mean, do you see these bright colors!? All jokes aside, while it is a very eye-catching spot, it also tells a lot of very important political messages. I enjoyed looking at each piece of art and interpreting what it meant in the context of Germany and its history.

East Side Gallery

This mural seemed to be a pretty popular one among tourists. I’m pretty proud of this shot I was able to capture of this random couple posing in front of the image. However, it is pretty mind-blowing how ignorant some tourists are to the meaning behind murals like this and other monuments over the city. People don’t quite realize the pain people all across Europe were put through in the 1900s.

East Side Gallery style

To Eat…

As many of you probably already know, food is my ABSOLUTE favorite part of traveling. I love trying new restaurants and cuisines in each city I visit. Honestly, I was a bit nervous for the German food. However, Germany might have had one of the best selections of all the countries I’ve ever been to.

Berlin fal

Berlin is known for having amazing falafel, so this is a food I couldn’t wait to try. Luckily, we happened to stumble upon one of the best falafel shops in Berlin. Fatoush is a simple little cafe with outdoor seating on a beautiful tree-lined street in the East of Berlin. Not only was the falafel itself some of the best I’ve ever had, but the vegetables in my wrap were fresh and delicious.

Fatoush Berlin

My friend tried the haloumi salad which looked so yummy… if only I ate cheese! While I would recommend the falafel since the city is known for it, definitely try the haloumi if you’ve never had it before. For some reason it’s extremely popular in the UK but not in the US. Us Americans are missing out!

My friends and I also couldn’t resist trying the local German drink, Club-Mate. Club-Mate is a carbonated maté tea beverage. It is extremely high in caffeine and got me super wired for the rest of the day, which was actually a good thing since I took a 5am flight there from London.

Bramibals donut

If you didn’t already know, Berlin has a HUGE vegan population. I’m pretty sure there were more vegan restaurants there than restaurants that served meat. We typically think of bratwursts and currywursts when thinking of the country but Berlin natives are actually very progressive in their environmental views.

This being said, I was extremely excited to try all of the yummy vegan food the city had to offer me. When I first decided I was going on this trip I researched a bunch of restaurants and cafés to try. One that instantly caught my eye was Brammibal’s Donuts. They serve coffee and matcha but most importantly all different kinds of vegan donuts. I had such a hard time deciding which one to get but ended up trying the peanut butter and jelly one. Their flavors change everyday and they always have a charity donut where the proceeds are donated to that month’s charity.

vegan currywurst

Germany is most well-known for their currywurst, or pork sausage covered in curry ketchup. Since I don’t eat meat I couldn’t try the original version of this popular dish, but I did try a vegan version. This I found at a stand in Mauerpark flea market, a huge market that happens every Sunday in the summertime. Overall, the sauce was really good. I mean, who doesn’t like curry and ketchup!? However, the “meat” was nothing special- a typical spongy tofu meat replacement. If you don’t eat meat though, give it a go!

One of my favorite vegan restaurants in the city was a Vietnamese place called 1990 Vegan Living. Not only did they have a delicious blood orange cocktail, but each dish was to die for. They had a bunch of small tapas to split between the table as well as entrees. I got a soup that reminded me of pho and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Father Carpenter Coffee Brewer

Last but not least is my favorite little cafe that I found in Berlin. Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers is nestled away in a little courtyard off a main shopping road. It is truly a hidden gem. There is an elaborate fountain surrounded by bushes and a stone patio. The buildings surrounding it are stunning and reminded me of Parisian architecture. Not only is the ambiance the perfect aesthetic, but the coffee and food cannot be beat.

Father Carpenter Coffee Brewer Berlin

It was extremely hard for me to find a coffee place that I enjoyed in Berlin, but thank god I found this one. They have it all! Even iced coffee… which cannot be found anywhere else in the city. I ate their poached eggs with salmon while sipping my latte and reading my book. And let me tell you, it could not have made for a better last few hours in Berlin.

best coffee Berin

One last thing, most of these restaurants ONLY accept cash, so be sure to bring lots of euros with you to Berlin. I unfortunately didn’t do my research and found myself running to the ATM many times too often to withdraw cash. This is something you don’t want to do; all of those fees quickly add up!

To Do…

While most of my time in Berlin consisted of eating and hanging out in the local parks, I did go on a few tours which I highly recommend. I am usually super against guided tours and prefer to see things on my own time, but I really enjoyed the Sandeman Walking Tour (which also happens to be free). I learned a lot of cool facts about Berlin, most related to WWII. My favorite part of the tour was standing in a car parking lot overtop Hitler’s underground war bunker where he committed suicide. It fascinated me how the Germans chose to not highlight it in any way. I wouldn’t have thought twice about the spot unless I had taken this tour.

berlinblog10

The tour walked us to through various historical squares of Berlin and through the Holocaust Memorial. After seeing this memorial on the tour and feeling the emotions it brought out I decided that it was a must to visit the nearby concentration camp.

berlinblog5

The tour was of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, a work camp where they brought prisoners who were prominent figures in the community. This was a longer, half-day tour but something every person needs to see. Nothing can describe what you feel when you are placed in an environment where such terrible things happened.

concentration camp cartoob

I was particularly moved by this cartoon drawn by one of the prisoners in the kitchen of the camp. It shows how frightened the prisoners always were and how they were constantly being judged on whether or not they deserved to live.

Berlin concentration camp

This was the main entrance to the camp. You can see a clock on the top of the tower which supposedly still reads the time the camp was liberated.

If you want to experience Berlin’s nightlife, I recommend going on a pub crawl. They are relatively cheap and will take you to a bunch of different bars and clubs in the city. The tour I went on took us to a ping-pong bar, absinthe bar, and techno club. While I am not much of a partier, these bars were more relaxed and allowed us to socialize with the locals as well as others in our group. And let me tell you, I DOMINATED in ping-pong. Shout-out to high school gym class for teaching me my skills.

Berlin Germany

Overall, Berlin was far from what I expected. The architecture and streets reminded me a lot of Paris. I did not expect the city to be as progressive as it was. Most restaurants are vegan, nobody uses plastic straws, and people clean bottles off of the streets in order to earn some extra money. Berlin is definitely steps ahead of any other large city in the world and it was pretty amazing to experience. While I would probably only go back for the delicious vegan food, I am happy it is a city I can say I’ve experienced.

Let me know if you’ve been to Berlin before and what you enjoyed most about the city.

If you want to check out some more of my travel guides be sure to read The Ultimate Guide to Dubrovnik- What to See, Eat, DoThe Ultimate Guide to Iceland- What to See, Eat, Do, and The Ultimate Guide to Amsterdam- What to See, Eat, Do.

 

February’s Reads

As you will see, I really branched out from my typical genre of books in the month of February. I have discovered an appreciation for both classic works of literature as well as romances set in the 1920s and 1930s. These books were so captivating that I finished most of them in a matter of a day or two.

Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear… And Why by Sady Doyle-

This book analyzes popular female “trainwrecks”, such as Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears, and questions why they are given this label. Doyle discusses how society is the reason for these women’s breakdowns and how we can stop this. She questions why men are idolized for the same actions that women are called crazy for. If you enjoy feminist or thought-provoking literature, give this one a read!

Book Review

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi-

I’m sure many of you have heard lots of reviews about this book. It has become increasingly popular, and for good reason. It accounts the life of a neurosurgeon who falls ill with cancer, taking you through his thoughts of life and death. I believe everyone should read books like this because they give you a deeper appreciation for what really matters. Kalanithi struggles between his illness overcoming him and his love for surgery, which is such a powerful message. Be prepared to cry!

When Breath Becomes Air review

Madonna in a Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali-

This book was being displayed as a featured book in Daunt Books one day, so naturally I decided to pick it up. This bookstore always gives the best recommendations and has books with the prettiest covers. I’m not gonna lie, the cover is what really got me… and the sales lady’s endless praise for it, too. This book is not a typical read for me, being that I usually head towards business or psychology books, but I quickly fell in love with it. It follows a Turkish man who finds himself in Berlin, captivated by a beautiful woman in a painting. I won’t ruin the magic of the book but the characters do end up meeting. Maria, this woman in the painting, is a character I found a lot of myself within, which is probably why I am so fascinated with her. Her strong, complex character is reason enough to read this novel.

Madonna in a Fur Coat

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald-

A literary classic, I have been yearning to read this novel for awhile now. When I found it for only a few pounds in a bookstore in Old Street station, I knew it was finally time to read it. The first part consisted of the most magical, captivating pages. This part discussed Anthony’s fascination with Gloria and her youthful, free spirit. I have developed a deep love for the character of Gloria in her younger years. The rest of the novel follows the love story of these two characters and the changes in their lives relative to their own fortunes. I personally love the way Fitzgerald writes; there is something so poetic about his descriptions of people and events.

If you have any recommendations on books you think I should read, please leave them below! Check out January’s Reads and be sure to look out for March’s Reads, coming soon.