Why look like a tourist when you can travel like a pro? We’ve partnered with vacation expert Ava Roxanne Stritt from the blog Spa Travel Gal as she offers tips on how to see Berlin through a local’s eyes.
It’s been more than 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany today is nothing like the Germany of yesterday.
If you haven’t yet, it’s time to rediscover this European wonderland.
Sure, you could do a guided tourist excursion and touch on all of the major vacationer hotspots. But to really understand “Deutschland” today, you must experience Berlin like a local.
Here are 10 ways to do Berlin like you live there, from incredible places to eat to sights you have to see to believe.
- Dine at Clärchens Ballhaus. If you don’t speak German, best to bring a date who does, as you won’t hear much English here. This stunning restaurant seamlessly fuses German and Italian food for an unexpected dining win, and it’s all served up in an atmosphere that feels like time has stopped. The massively vaulted ceilings are accented by old-world chandeliers. It feels like you’re eating in the ballroom of an ancient castle — except you can dig into a plate of perfectly prepared pizza. After dining, put on your dancing shoes for Tango Tuesdays or swing dance on Wednesdays. What else would you expect from a restaurant stationed in Europe’s oldest ballroom parlour?
- Drink at Fragrances, Ritz-Carlton Berlin. Here’s something you don’t see every day: Fragrances at The Ritz-Carlton Berlin serves up cocktails to complement your favorite perfume, and each in its own unique glassware designed to enhance the drink. This one-of-a-kind cocktail lounge located inside the Ritz feels like an international adventurous gentlemen’s club. As each drink is presented it tells its own story and ingredients. Curl up in one of the cozy sitting areas with friends for some surprisingly creative drinks — always made to order. Tip: Make sure you notice the vessels for all the drinks — each has an innovative surprise!
- Relax at the Prater Biergarten. There’s nothing more German than a biergarten, and Prater is Berlin’s oldest. It has been serving up beer under the same chestnut trees since 1837. Although the beginnings of this “garden” are unclear, you can find various tall tales about its roots. What remains undisputed: Locals love to indulge in authentic German beer on the outdoor patio from April through September (otherwise, it’s too chilly).
- Ride bikes around the city. With great public transportation, an environmentally-friendly mindset and limited parking in the old neighborhoods, it’s oh so German to not own a car and get around entirely on bike. See the city by bike, at a slightly slower pace, and experience it like the locals do. Rent your bike from Berlin on Bike, a friendly company that can even bring you on a guided bike ride, if you aren’t confident enough to take on Berlin alone. For a taste of local cuisine, you can even take an evening food tour by bike for a yummy and scenic trip about town.
- Treat yourself at the Guerlain Spa. The Spa at the Waldorf Astoria is a lovely place to relax after a busy day on the bike. A facial and then zen time in the indoor pool, steam room and ice station will reset your mind and body for more adventures.
- Dine on a rooftop. Dinner on the rooftop restaurant, Neni, comes served with some of the best views in Berlin. Enjoy a panoramic view of the famous Berlin Zoo and City West, and make sure you stop by the restroom on your way out. The last stall in the ladies’ room has glass walls that give you a full shot of the monkeys in the zoo — and warning: They can see you, too. Now, that’s a restroom experience you’ll never forget.
- Make a point to visit the different neighborhoods. Berlin is divided up into various neighborhoods, each with a distinct energy and atmosphere. There are 60 areas in total, so you probably can’t see them all, but pick a few that catch your eye and plan a neighborhood tour, with the help of the free app, app.visitberlin.com.
- Shop on Kurfürstendamm. This is one of the best (and more elegant) shopping districts in Berlin, and the architecture in the area makes it all the more appealing to want to spend the day here. You can find reasonably priced shops here, as well as the top-end designers, from Chanel to Cartier to Yves Saint Laurent. Stroll through shops and take a break in decades-old cafes. It seems everything here has a story and history worth exploring.
- Go out in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. If you’re wondering where the cool, young locals go out, you’ve found it. This area is always hoppin’ and quite colorful. Here, you will find the most clubs per square kilometer in Berlin. There is always something going on, often until late in the night.
- See the Gardens of the World. OK, this may be a tourist indulgence — but many locals enjoy coming here to get away, too. It’s especially popular among gardeners and outdoorsy types. This unique, sprawling park features garden styles of different cultures. It’s a nice respite from the otherwise bustling streets of big Berlin.
Ava Roxanne Stritt is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnomads visit travelocitygnomads.com.
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