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Berlin’s rich history can be explored in a full day or two but if that’s all the time you’ve spent here, you’ve missed the city. (GORDON WELTERS/NYT)
Berlin’s rich history can be explored in a full day or two but if that’s all the time you’ve spent here, you’ve missed the city. (GORDON WELTERS/NYT)

Hip, affordable Berlin is disappearing Add to ...

Nightlife in Berlin is bewildering given the vast amount of choice. There is no single neighbourhood to head out to but rather a number of areas catering to any taste scattered throughout the city. The area around Schlesisches Tor offers some of the cheapest bars in abundance. A local favourite is Madame Claude, a basement bar with furniture hanging off the ceiling and an international crowd. Although probably the cheapest bar in the area, Madame Claude co-owner Julien Bouille told me recently that he would have to raise the prices of drinks very soon due to rising costs. Wendel bar offers minty and very alcoholic caipirinhas made by real Brazilians. If it’s warm, head to Club der Visionaere, just down the street on a barge floating in the canal. The outdoor bar and dance floor open till very late and, like most Berlin bars, is not pretentious. Don’t forget to line up for an excellent burger at the end of the night at Burgermeister, housed in a former public toilet.

Over drinks with a friend and native Berliner a few weeks ago, he told me he’d bought an apartment in trendy Kreuzberg. His motivation? Bargain-basement Berlin wouldn’t last much longer.


What to see:

Topography of Terror A stunning museum that brings home the horrors of the Nazi secret police that terrorized Germany. Niederkirchnerstrasse 8; topographie.de

DDR Museum A bizarre collection of relics from communist East Germany from the Trabant to living room furniture. Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1; ddr-museum.de

Holocaust Memorial Wander through the nearly 3,000 concrete slabs that are meant to provoke feelings of isolation and reflection. Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1; stiftung-denkmal.de

Eastside Gallery The largest, most impressive remnants of the Berlin Wall covered in paintings and murals. Muhlenstrasse; eastsidegallery-berlin.com

Sanssouci Park and Palace The former summer palace of Frederick the Great that can easily be reached by metro from the city for a half-day stroll in the park. An der Orangerie 1

Where to stay:

Casa Camper A clean and cordial boutique hotel in the centre of Berlin with one of the best restaurants in the city, Dos Palillos, on the ground level. Rooms start at $280. Weinmeisterstrasse 1; casacamper.com/berlin

The Circus Hotel Helpful staff, central location and great value make this one of the most popular places to stay in Berlin. Rooms start at $120. Rosenthaler Strasse 1; circus-berlin.de

Die Fabrik A funky, alternative hotel in Kreuzberg in an exciting area near the city’s best bars and nightlife. Rooms start at $70. Schlesische Strasse 18; diefabrik.com

Where to eat:

The Barn When you think about Germany you think strict and this place is. Fortunately, it also has the best coffee you’ll ever taste – just never ask for sugar. Auguststrasse 58; www.thebarn.de

Café Fleury Unpretentious French brunch and breakfast are the highlight here in this cozy spot between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. Weinbergsweg 20

Pasternak This is the place to try Russian food in Berlin and the brunch is heavenly and well-priced. Knaackstrasse 22-24; restaurant-pasternak.de

Prinzessinnengarten Under fire from authorities, this community garden and café deserves to be preserved and celebrated. Moritzplatz; prinzessinnengarten.net

Rissani Fresh and easy lunches of hummus, schawarma and friend halloumi. The lentil soup is also excellent. Spreewaldplatz 4-6

Huhnerhaus Lineups of hungry people wait day and night for cheap but amazing roasted chicken. Gorlitzer Strasse 1

Das Edelweiss In the centre of Gorlitzer park, this place is at once a bar with a great patio and a restaurant with a seasonal menu. Gorlitzer Park; edelweiss36.com

Spatzle and Knodel This is the best place to sample real German food such as spatzle and schnitzel – just don’t tell the Viennese. Wuhlischstrasse 20; spaetzleknoedel.de

Lavanderia Vecchia The city’s best Italian restaurant and an exciting culinary journey both at lunch and dinner. Flughafenstrasse 46; lavanderiavecchia.de

Burgermeister The best burgers ever cooked from a public toilet. The long lines are worth the wait. Oberbaumstrasse 8; burger-meister.de

Wendel A popular cocktail bar that does perfect and powerful caipirinhas. In the afternoon, it’s a lovely café. Schlesische Strasse 42; nstp.de

Madame Claude A quirky French-owned bar with furniture hanging from the ceiling and cheap drinks. Lubbener Strasse 19

Fuchsbau A smoky candlelit bar that is hugely popular at the moment for its cocktails. Planufer 95

Club der Visionaere An open-air bar on a barge that picks up late at night. Am Flutgraben 1; clubdervisionaere.com

Witty’s If you must try a currywust, this stand in Tiergarten is the best of the best and it’s all organic. Wittenbergplatz 5; wittys-berlin.de

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