Berlin City Guide
Berlin is a dynamic modern city, shaped as much by its tumultuous past as by its aspirations for a bright future. It’s a town of somber memorials and rollicking nightclubs, of sauerkraut and doner kebabs, of fascist facades and expansive parks. To experience Berlin like a local would, a travel plan needs to include all of that and a lot more. Each one of Berlin’s neighborhoods is like a city in itself, wrought from the distinctive people who have come to call it home: bureaucrats bustle past historical architecture in the Mitte district, Turkish immigrants play punk-rock jams in Kreuzberg’s trendy bars, and aspiring artists buy organic produce in Prenzlauer Berg.
Today’s Berlin has something for every traveler. Art lovers will find some of Europe’s greatest museums here, from Mitte’s cozy galleries to the incredible Museum Island (complete with five museums and a UNESCO World Heritage status). Fun-loving backpackers can drink and dance in bars and clubs that buzz round-the-clock (literally). Food-seekers will be hard-pressed to find a better town for eclectic eats, especially on a budget: currywurst stands perch on street corners, perfect pad Thai overflows from take-out boxes, and Turkish pizza stifles afternoon cravings. Mugs of beer accompany everything, of course. Berlin is a city of constant surprises and rapid change, so come with an open mind and an appetite for culture.
Berlin Travel Tips
- The majority of restaurants expect their patrons to find their own seat. Waiting to be seated will most commonly result in a long and unsuccessful attempt. Customers are expected to find their own tables (excluding very expensive restaurants). Also if you’re not packing cash it would be smart to check if the establishment accepts cards before sitting down. Berlin’s establishments are notorious for not accepting plastic.
- When meeting or greeting a local don’t be put off by stern faces, cold welcomes, and unemotional service in restaurants or stores. Most Berliners have been brought up to think that smiling can be a sign of superficiality and act accordingly.
- Tipping in Berlin is expected. Servers in Berlin receive a fairly fixed salary so tipping has become the norm. Rounding up to the nearest euro or 10% is the going and accepted rate in the city, but of course feel free to leave more for exceptional service.