Berlin, the capital of Germany and symbol of so many historical events that we all studied back in high school. Although none of them included Bansky graffitied walls, vodka bars, or lawless and mythical 'squats'.
- Book the free sightseeing tours. You'll get a good overview of the history, meet new people and still have plenty of time left in the day.
- Stroll along the East Side gallery. It's the longest remaining part of the Berlin wall and isn't included in most walking tours.
- Drink some fine German beers but remember you only have 3 days and spending one of them in bed would be a shame.
- Walk around town on your own to check out the graffitis and street art. You might stumble upon artists making one in right in front of you.
For social travellers on a budget, Berling offers a variety of options, both in the east and the west. I picked to stay in East Berlin at the East Seven hostel for about €30 / night in an 8-bed dorm which was half full most of the time. It isn't a party hostel and has almost a family like atmosphere where you will quickly become friends with staff and other travellers having a casual beer in reception area.
If you're looking for non-stop action, I'd recommend the One80 Hostel even more centrally located with its own nightclub in the basement.
Here you'll find every possible type of cuisine, from burgers to middle eastern and Turkish restaurants. The only thing you might struggle to find is an English style breakfast and decent coffee (like we are used to have here, in Australia).
Around the corner from the TV Tower you'll find Hofbräu - the house of authentic beer and pork knuckle. This place if huge unlike any other Hofbräu and always packed, any day of the week. International and local travellers of every age gather in a room filled with music, banter and laughter.
For something more quiet and stylish with the same German charm, I recommed DasMeisterstück, right in the centre of the modern Mitte district. It has an excellent selection of craft beers and sausages.
The best way to see Berlin's most famous attractions such as Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag is by booking a tour. The Free Berlin Tour along with my accomodation are the only two things I planned and booked prior to arrival.
There are a couple of companies organising those tours and your experience will depend entirely on the guide that you get at the time. Expect to tip anywhere from €5 to 20€ at the end of the tour.
If you're eager to discover not only the 20th century history but also the cultural side of modern Berlin, I recommend the Free Alternative Tour. It takes your through some of the less popular areas where you'll discover street art, graffiti, bizarre shops and markets, and even an African style beach club YAAM, that will still serve you the finest German beer.
As your day turns into evening any bar or pub is a good start. The famous shopping and dining area of Hackescher Markt has a varity of restaurants and some outdoor cocktail bars.
If you want to uncover the hidden spots where locals hang out and make some new friends, book a pub crawl with your hostel. Hostels already work with pub crawl organisers and will get you picked up.
You might come across places like Dr Pong, where for €2 you'll get a raquet to play around a single ping pong table with 20 other visitors and regulars. Don't be surprised if your game gets worse as you keep drinking.
Madame Claude is another interesting bar where the furniture is literally upside down, on the ceiling. Bartenders are chatty and drinks are strong.
To finish off the night, check out the legendary techno club Tresor. Not as posh as Berghain and has an easy going crowd who's there for the latest underground beats.
Other places you might want to visit on your own by taking the Bahn:
- East Side Gallery - a stroll along the Berlin wall is a must, however avoid the eastern European swindlers.
- Museum of Topography of Terror - an exhibition portraying the system of terror during the Nazi regime.
- The TV Tower - enjoy the view from the highest point of the city.