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A Foreigner's Guide to Berlin

Posted in: Inspiration, Berlin

There hasn’t been a day gone by this past month that I haven’t been thinking about my amazing three months in Berlin and about how keen I am to go back there. I thought I’d reflect on my time there by giving you some amazing hotspots. These are places/shops/things I’ve enjoyed going to or doing while I was in Berlin.


Shops

Soda Bookshop

This list of shops make my little designer heart melt. It contains mostly interior design stores, book stores and ‘creative’ stores.

Soda was one of my favourite bookstores during my time in Berlin, I went there occassionally just to get some inspiration. I also bought my first copy of “Little White Lies” here, a magazine dedicated to movies and the people who make them. Wish I hoarded more magazines and books there, because they all looked so interesting and amazing, definitely would recommend if you’re interested in any kind of niche magazine or design books. I also enjoyed going to Big Brobot in Friedrichshain. This store also has design books, but a slightly smaller collection.

Schee

Considering interior design, the HAY store and Hallesches Haus were my absolute favourites. I’ve mentioned Hallesches Haus before, but they’re also a design store. Definitely a must visit if you’re fond of brands such as HAY, Ferm Living, Serax, Studio Arhoj etcetra. The picture above was taken in Schee, near Rosenthaler Platz. They had a lot of cool posters and interior design stuff there as well.

And last but not least, Modulor. Modulor is like the IKEA for art students. I think every kind of designer could find his/her way over there. Whether you like embroidering, knitting, hand lettering, analog photography, painting or making scale models. Modulor has it all.


Food

Asian

I don’t know whether Berlin is known for Asian food, but — damn — I ate some good Asian dishes. My absolute favourite restaurants were PHO and House of Small Wonder.

Other places definitely worth mentioning are Umami, Madami, Long March Canteen and of course Maroush and Fadi for your usual late night Falafel ;)

Italian

I should be careful with what I say here, because I made a lot of Italian friends in Berlin ;) Zola and Malafemmena are both restaurants real Italians approve of, so that’s when you know it’s good. When you’re going to Zola try asking for the “Margarita with Straciatella” You don’t know what’ll hit you — no it’s not chocolate, and yes I was confused as well at first.

Another nice Italian restaurant is Mädchentaliener. It’s a bit more expensive than the others, but definitely equally molto gusto ;)

Coffee & sweets

VisitCoffee

I’m such a sweet tooth and I just can’t say no to something to nibble on with my (preferably iced) chai latte ;-) So of course, here’s a list with the best muffins, cakes, cinnamon rolls of Berlin.

For the best 👏🏻 cinnamon rolls 👏🏻 ever 👏🏻, you should be at Zeit Für Brot. Come with an empty stomach because they’re huge! Best cakes goes to Hallesches Haus, and with a fair second place Queen of Muffins (because I went there literally every week if not every day to get their Banana Oatmeal Muffin 🤤).

Other places I’d definitely recommend are:

  • Silo Coffee, cosy atmosphere, friendly people and nice coffee & tea
  • Books & Bagels (also known as Shakespeare & Sons or apparently also Fine Bagels), a super nice bookstore/bagel place where you can also just grab a delicious snack
  • The Visit Coffee Roastery, they were not super duper friendly, but the cakes were good so yeah 🤷🏻‍
  • The Barn Coffee Roasters, great cheesecakes and coffee :)

Other foods

HalleschesHaus

  • I also really liked the food at Fechtner, but the service there was a bit sad. Fechtner is a health food restaurant and you can find all of your veggies, salads and ginger shots here. The location itself is also really pretty. Too bad the staff was not that friendly and it took forever to get our food, while the restaurant was nearly empty.
  • On Thursdays it’s Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun. It’s a bit like a food truck festival, where you can find food from all over the world. There’s even an Aldi ;) so definitely a recommendation!
  • Burgermeister; cheap and good burgers ;) Nothing more to say about that.
  • I’m going to put Hallesches Haus on the list once more here — sorry not sorry —, because of their impeccable breakfast, lunch (and brunch) offers. I mean look at this Sironi Sourdough French Toast with plum & lemon compote, vanilla greek yogurt and pretzel almond crumble, my mouth is watering again. (see image above 🤤).


Things to do in Berlin

Need to take a breath from the heavy stories you’ve been hearing about the history of Berlin or just want to do something different than your average tourist? Then the following things might be interesting for you.

Kayaking

Berlin itself is super nice, but the surroundings of Berlin are not to be underestimated as well. Me and my colleagues once went kayaking in Spreewald. It wasn’t the nicest area of the Spreewald, I think, but it was nice to unwind a bit and I definitely felt refreshed even though it was just an hour away from the city centre. Another nice place to unwind is Wannsee, a nice lake where you can relax a bit and have a casual barbecue. But be aware, Freikörperkultur (FKK), or nudism, is still a thing in Germany, definitely amongst elder people (correct me if I’m wrong, this is from what I’ve experienced). So if you’re not used to this kind of freedom, be aware of where you’re sitting. Some parts are ‘reserved’ for the FKK people. Me and my friends had to discover this for ourselves as well haha.

BotanicalGardens

Another fun thing to do — if you’re into plants that is — is going to the Botanical Gardens of Berlin. They address every continent and its most astonishing plants. When you’re there, it’s like you’re in a real jungle. I’ve often told myself to bring a book and just read there, but unfortunately that never happened, but that would definitely be an amazing experience. Besides the greenhouses, they also offer a big domain, where it almost feels like you’re walking through a real forest. Super nice. Definitely would recommend – unless you’re highly allergic to pollen of course and it’s the hay fever season 🤷🏻‍

Buchstabenmuseum

Museums I would definitely recommend going to are the Buchstabenmuseum and the Bauhaus-Archiv. The Buchstabenmuseum houses all kinds of letters, hence the name. It’s really interesting if you’re into typography like me. The first time I went there was with my university and we got a guided tour — which I definitely recommend trying to get if you want to pay a visit. The guide told us a bit about the history of the letters and how they got their hands on it. When going to the Bauhaus-Archiv, I also recommend taking a tour. The guides often know and tell more than what’s out there on the little explanation signs.

Other fun stuff to do:

  • Renting a (Lidl) bike and bike through the city.
  • Picnicking in a park. I really liked Viktoriapark, because it has a waterfall and an amazing view, Tiergarten or just any park with a great lake/pond/puddle in it. I liked to be surrounded with water.
  • Street Markets. Every day of the week, there’s some kind of market somewhere. You could go to the farmer’s market (every Saturday) and flea market (Sunday) at Boxhagener Platz, the Saturday market at Hackescher Markt or the Sunday flea market at Mauerpark.


Tourist Places

KinoInternational

I won’t list all of the obvious tourist spots like for example Alexanderplatz or Brandenburger Tor, but I feel like these places would be forgotten or not thought of when visiting Berlin. I’ve listed just few that left quite an impression on me.

  • Flughafen Berlin-Tempelhof. This used to be an active airport in Berlin, but closed down in 2008. Nowadays, Tempelhof has become a hangout spot. You can just chill on the grass and runways without airplanes hovering over you, but did you know you can also get a tour inside of the airport? Fun fact: they filmed the Hunger Games in here! ;-)
  • Kino International used to be one of the most important cinema’s in the GDR (German Democratic Republic 1949-1990) and a lot of premieres happened there until the Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It’s now mostly known for it’s architecture and atmosphere and still used by a lot of filmmakers to premiere films due to its ambience. I’ve watched Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs there and I must say that it’s a location I will never forget.
  • Close to the Kino International lies Strausberger Platz (also on Karl-Marx-Allee). Strausberger Platz is famous for the buildings there in the particular “Zuckerbäckerstil” or Stalinist Architecture. The bricks are stacked in a way that it kind of reminds people of a wedding cake, it’s very impressive and very distinctive for that era and area in Berlin.
  • Sachsenhausen Detention Camp lies an hour away from the city but is definitely worth visiting if you’re interested in the history of nazi-Germany.


What's up! I am Lotte; a digital designer based in Belgium. I strive to create work that is both visually pleasing and intuitive – I mean – don't we all? I have just graduated from university and I have just returned from an amazing internship at Edenspiekermann Berlin (and I'm still enjoying the afterglow through my blog). Thanks for taking the time to read some of my articles!

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