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Essential Berlin

Berlin has become an electrifying international cultural scene, with a 21st-century brand of unpolished glamor.
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Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Duration: Multiple days

Overview:  Berlin is a city that has risen, fallen and dusted itself off so many times in the past centuries that it could be called a Stehaufm... more »

Tips:  Although it’s hopping year-round, Berlin’s atmosphere is most buoyant in the late summer months and into the fall. The weather is... more »

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Points of Interest

1. American Academy in Berlin

The Academy’s villa is located in the near-distant suburb of Wannsee, across the lake from the House of the Wannsee Conference, where the Final Solution to the so-called “Jewish Problem” was signed. The estate had been owned by a Jewish banker who fled the country during the 1930’s. The house then fell into the hands of the Third Reich’s minister ... More

This bar boat moored by the Turkish market, is afloat with hipsters, punk rockers, and the occasional aging French tourist couple who have steered way off course. When the sun sets (that would be 5 p.m.), the bar becomes the kind of Berlin free-for-all that has made the city the world’s capital of informality.

Address:
104 Kottbusser Damm
Berlin
... More

This hip favorite is housed in a muscular former power station in a nether zone between West Kreuzberg and the gentrifying Friedrichshain area of the East (you’ll simply never find it). In its mix of straight and gay, this fantastically imposing space recaptures the Weimar aesthetic Berlin has been aching for ever since the Third Reich wiped out... More

The concert hall, by architect Hans Scharoun, is widely considered one of the best in the world and still the greatest artistic joy the city has to offer. The audience is seated like the U.N. General Assembly around the warm, glowing orchestra stage.

Address:
1 Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-2548-8999

Though nominally Turkish, the restaurant also smartly plays with the flavors of the Mediterranean. In other words, the greasy döner kebab that feeds Berlin’s workers and party people is blessedly absent from the menu. Try the Imam Fainted—a zesty mix of aubergines with pine nuts and peppers, in a tomato-herb sauce. Defne also has the spiciest... More

Facil, on the top floor of the Mandala Hotel at Potsdamer Platz, is reminiscent of the clean lines of the Neue Nationalgalerie down the street, and one is mesmerized by the two rows of chestnut trees—yellow and green in equal measure—shivering in the autumn cold on the attractive patio. The weird acoustics deposit snatches of political and... More

Henne offers the moistest, crispiest milk-roasted bird to be found in Mitteleuropa, along with a décor that’s a celebration of Berlin as a working-class city, with its wooden ceilings, tartan tablecloths, and dingy, nicotine-stained walls.

Address:
25 Leuschnerdamm
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-614-7730

In 1907 legendary hotelier Lorenz Adlon opened this classic hotel at one of the most covetable addresses of all of Berlin, on a leafy block across the Brandenburg Gate. The Kempinski Group has since taken the helm, but evidence of the founder’s fine taste remains in the opulent barreled-vaulted lobby, velvet-upholstered furnishings, and the... More

Semicircular property with 301 rooms (some classic and outfitted with English and Continental antiques, others modern) and a leafy inner courtyard. Room to Book: If you’re in search of peace and quiet, ask for a room facing the leafy courtyard. Doubles From $612.

Address:
27 Kurfürstendamm
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-884-340

10. KMA 36

The vodka martinis are excellent, and the bar’s architecture alone is worth the visit—this former GDR cosmetics studio is an open constructivist glass box that would rank with the best of Warsaw Pact design. Glowing bright at night, the bar has a simplicity and inclusiveness that belie its ridiculous roots.

Address:
36 Karl-Marx-Allee
Berlin
... More

A grocery store in the front, and a deligthfully boisterous neighborhood restaurant in the back. Highlights include the occasional appetizer of homemade lard with plums and bacon, a tender goose with a glistening layer of fat, and a plate of spaetzle egg noodles smothered with cheese and perfect for brunching.

Address:
2 Rochstrasse
Berlin
... More

New York architect Peter Eisenman’s haunting field of concrete pillars.

Address:
Cora-Berliner-Straße 1
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-2639-4336

13. Monarch, Berlin

In Kreuzberg, the Monarch bar, on the second floor of a hilariously dreary housing project, beckons the 40-year-old hipster who wishes to turn the clock back by exactly 15 years and is ready to groove to a disco version of “Hava Nagila” or the gypsy-punk band Gogol Bordello.

Address:
134 Skalitzerstr
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-6165-6003

The Reichstag, with its transparent Norman Foster dome and top-notch collection of contemporary art (cue Gerhard Richter’s stunning interpretation of the German flag in the lobby), is a blessing upon the urban grid and a serious statement about Western democracy’s chances of survival.

Address:
1 Platz der Republik
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30... More

15. Tape

The club is the home of the World Championship for Chess Boxing, where the contenders play chess for four minutes and then beat each other up. At other times, this enormous space hosts well-known acts like the Swiss diva Miss Kittin and the singer Peaches, the ever popular mistress of incorrectness, whose filthy Canadian mouth has found a perfect ... More

The market stretches along the Maybachufer bank of the canal. Sample a smorgasbord of fat navel oranges, hot spinach böreks that flake to nothingness in your grasp, glowing aubergines, piles of octopus glistening in olive oil, every gradient of feta known to the Bosporus. The Anatolian young women in beautiful sequined chadors and men... More

17. 032c

The international insider’s magazine par excellence has opened a compelling shop with a collection of “new, forgotten, anonymous, commissioned, or reissued industrial objects and products”.

Address:
9 Brunnenstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-4405-0980

The hotel presents an alluring combination of elegance and affordability—as well as the stylish breakfast café Club del Mar—on a tree-lined street in Prenzlauer Berg.

Address:
21 Belforter Stasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-4431-2603

19. Christian Ehrentraut

This eponymous gallery of one of the New Leipzig School’s founders shows the work of emerging artists.

Address:
123 Friedrichstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-4403-8385

20. Contemporary Fine Arts

Don’t miss Mitte’s high-end art space with three stories of huge rooms and high ceilings and space for oversize sculptures and canvases by the likes of Georg Baselitz and Chris Ofili.

Address:
10 Am Kupfergraben
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-288-7870

21. Egoiste

Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, the former center of radical West Berlin, is now one big sidewalk café spiced with kebab shops and leading-edge, cheap-chic boutiques like this one.

Address:
202 Oranienstresse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-4030-1879

The Rocco Forte group typically makes magic out of run-down but exquisitely situated properties, like Brown’s Hotel in London and the Hotel de Russie in Rome. Their latest accomplishment: Hotel de Rome, set in Berlin’s former Dresdner Bank. Interior designer Tommaso Ziffer filled the lobby with dark velvet upholstered furniture and Romanesque... More

23. Ma Tim Raue

Located in the Hotel Adlon Kempinski are star chef Tim Raue’s twin restaurants. Uma is more low-key, with an open kitchen and a Japanese-inspired mix-and-match menu, and Ma Tim Raue veers more toward the eccentric (fish maw) and extravagant (diamond-label beef).

Address:
72 Behrenstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-3011-17333

The hotel sits along the Spree River and has splendid views.

Address:
103 Friedrichstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-2060-7900

25. Motto Berlin

Magazine junkies relish Motto Berlin for its archives of artsy, hard-to-find publications.

Address:
68 Skalitzer Str.
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-7544-2119

The canal-front restaurant spotlights regional dishes such as lamb with chanterelles, fresh tarragon, and apricots.

Address:
44A Paul-Lincke-Ufer
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-6128-9992

The restaurant offers modern Italian cuisine and the most flattering lighting in town.

Address:
101 Friedrichstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-3064-54980

28. SO36

The club hosts an energetic bingo night in addition to bills of see-them-now bands.

Address:
190 Oranienstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-6140-1306

Over in Mitte, a mix of fashion and media types frequent this club, built under the tracks of the commuter S-Bahn train.

Address:
11 Schiffbauerdamm
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-2758-2070

A rather humdrum façade belies the sumptuous interiors at the Regent—which is just steps from Gendarmenmarkt square (and which was a Four Seasons property until 2004). The lobby’s crystal chandeliers, marble floors, and French antiques set the tone for the 195 guest rooms—all fitted with Biedermeier furniture, damask upholstery, baths with ... More

31. UVR Connected

Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, the former center of radical West Berlin, is now one big sidewalk café spiced with kebab shops and leading-edge, cheap-chic boutiques like this one.

Address:
36 Oranienstrasse
Berlin
Germany

Phone:
49-30-6981-4350