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Published on Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sshhh....our guide to Berlin's best kept secrets



 


Berlin is one of Europe's most eclectic cities, which is already well-known for 24/7 party culture, it's anarchic art scene and, of course, its centuries of history. However, it's also Germany's most secretive city, where many of the main attractions are hidden away down dark alleys, tucked under railway bridges or lurking behind non-descript facades, so you need to know where to go to make the most of what it has to offer. Here's a taster of some of Berlin's best kept secrets.


 




Dining:

Berlin has some fantastic restaurants, the best of which are ridiculously hard to find which, oddly, makes them feel even more special. Take Cookies Cream (cookiescream.com), for example, a Michelin-starred gourmet vegetarian restaurant whose entrance is located next to the rubbish bins behind the Westin Hotel, you'd never know it was there if you weren't in the know.

Similarly, the entrance to Tausend (tausendberlin.com) is almost hidden from view under a railway bridge, but inside there's a fabulous bar with live music and an intimate dining room serving really excellent food.

Solar (solarberlin.com) is another gem, which is tucked away down a side street. From its lounge on the 17th floor you can listen to a DJ while sipping cocktails sitting on swing and admiring the panoramic view of Berlin.

For more casual dining, you'll find plenty of street cafes serving up everything from German currywurst to Vietnamese noodles.

And what's more, in Berlin it's considered uncool to take selfies and photos of your food, so you won't have to put up with other diners snapping their smashed avocados.





Solar lobby

Clubs:

Berlin is Germany's party capital and whether you're into hip hop, disco, tango or salsa, there's a club for you. There's no dress code in clubs in Berlin, no official closing time and public transport runs through the night so you can let your inhibitions fly and party 24/7 without worrying how you're going to get back to your hotel or Airbnb.

However, most of Berlin's top clubs operate a strict door policy and some have a reputation as being almost impossible to get into. Apparently it's not who you are but who you know that will determine whether you're admitted. Some clubs are anti-tourists, so it's best not to chat in English in the queue, large groups are likely to be turned away, and you'll almost certainly be banned if you get out your smartphone. Remember, selfies are 'uncool'. The best advice is to check the door policy before you head out.

Sage (sage-club.de) is probably one of the easiest clubs to get into, although you'll still be turned away at the door if the bouncers don't like the look of you. It's almost hidden underground and has four dance floors where the DJs play everything from techno to hip hop to pop, and there's even a swimming pool and, ahem, double beds.

If you're more into classical music, you're spoilt for choice in Berlin, which has three world-famous opera houses and, here's the best bit, tickets for performances are generally cheaper than in the UK.

Shopping:

Berlin has several smart shopping areas where you can buy designer gear, but to pick up unique, Berlin labels and interesting local boutiques you should head to Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg or Scheunenviertel - otherwise known as the trendy Barn-Quarter. You'll also find lots of interesting second-hand stores in these areas too, but serious vintage shoppers should head to Picknweight Concept Store in Kreuberg or Made in Berlin in Mitte.

Prenzlauer Berg is also home to one of Berlin's most popular flea markets, which is held at Mauerpark every Sunday. It's particularly popular from spring to autumn when there are karaoke sessions from 3pm.

Mitte, Kreuzberg and other districts of Berlin also have their own flea weekend flea markets where tourists can mooch around and pick up anything from jewellery to vintage clothing to pre-reunification memorabilia. Anyone for a Russian doll?




Culture:

Lots of Berlin's major attractions are outdoors, easily accessible and free to wander round, such as the East Side Gallery (the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall), the Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Memorial and even the Reichstag (now the seat of the German parliament) although you have to register to visit the latter. The Guggenheim, which has a collection of contemporary art, is free on Mondays.

One fun and easy way to get a feel for the city and what it has to offer is to take a whistle-stop self-drive guided tour in a traditional eastern European Trabant, which were the most popular cars in Berlin before the wall came down. Tours are available from Trabi World (trabi-safari.de), take an hour to 75-minutes, and go past many of the city's main sites.






Getting around:

Public transport, including trains (S-bahn), buses, trams and the underground (U-bahn), is fast and cheap (compared to London!) and easy to navigate. VisitBerlin (visitberlin.de) sells Berlin Welcome Cards which include public transport and offer discounts on some of the city's top attractions. Prices start at €19,90 for one adult and three children aged six to 14 for 48 hours. Otherwise, a day pass (Tageskarte) providing unlimited travel on public transport cost from €7 or €17.30 for five people (Kleingruppen-Tageskarte) travelling together.

Uber also operates in Berlin.

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