First published on 15 Jan 2013. Updated on 15 Jan 2013.
During the day you’re walking on a disused runway that’s the centrepiece of a new park and by night you’re dancing inside a former power station. That’s Berlin all over: a city that keeps building on its unofficial title of Europe’s capital of cool.
See and do
Tempelhof Park (Tempelhofer Freiheit) is a former airport being turned into a hub of creativity as well as an urban oasis. In 1948 and 1949, Tempelhof Airport was the centre of the airlift during the Berlin blockade and nowadays the airfield offers locals and visitors the chance to stroll through gardens, walk on disused runways and bike along dirt parkways. Tours of the site provide an insight into the airfield’s controversial history. Oderstrasse, Berlin. +49 30 9013 93000.
Delve deep into the city’s history at the Mauermuseum (aka Haus am Checkpoint Charlie), one of Berlin’s most fascinating museums. Photos, documents and relics demonstrate some of the attempts to escape from East Germany. Friedrichstrasse 43-44, Berlin. +49 30 2537 250.
On Mühlenstrasse, discover a 1.3-kilometre long section of the former Berlin Wall. Known as the East Side Gallery, here artists have painted murals interpreting the events of November 9, 1989, when the wall came down. Mühlenstrasse, Berlin.
Berliners are some of the best dressed citizens in the world and top shops to buy some threads at include Das Neue Schwarz (Mulackstrasse 38, Berlin, +49 30 2787 ext 4467) for vintage and second season clothes, and hip shoe store Le Coup Shoes (Steinstrasse 16, Berlin, +49 30 6094 4813).
Eat, drink and club
Berlin is infamous for its club scene – one that gets going on Thursday nights and doesn’t let up until after the weekend has officially passed. Heading up the list of top techno spots is Berghain, a one-time power plant in Friedrichshain that was converted into a superclub eight years ago. Am Wriezener Bahnhof 1, Berlin.+49 30 2936 0210.
Expect minimalist design alongside trancelike beats from local and international DJs at nearby Antje Oeklesund, also in Friedrichshain. Rigae Strasser 71-73, Berlin. Over in Mitte, Schokoladen is more intimate than many clubs in the city, but still attracts a solid line-up of global talent. Ackerstrasse 169, Berlin. +49 30 282 6527.
Berlin has been gaining a reputation for its cocktail scene in bars that are at times harder to find than clubs. With a speakeasy theme and prohibition-style cocktails to match, Mitte’s Reingold is under the watchful eye of barkeep David Wiedemann, whose obsession is everything classic. On balmy nights, enjoy drinks on the terrace out back, while the German snacks are washed down well with a kicking Negroni, served by bar staff decked out in braces and bow ties. Novalisstrasse 11, Berlin. +49 30 2838 7676.
On popular Charlottenstrasse, Newton Bar is the place to stop by for a damn good vodka Martini. Hanging on the walls are images snapped by famed German-Australian photographer Helmut Newton. Charlottenstrasse 57, Berlin +49 30 202 9540. For the past 16 years, the Green Door in Schöneberg has been a locals’ haunt thanks to its expansive drinks list and kitsch interior crafted by owner and Berlin playwright, Fritz Müller-Scherz. Winterfeldtstrasse 50, Berlin. +49 30 215 2515.
Like good cocktails, also expect great produce in Berlin and make sure you score a table at Lokal on Linienstrasse where good-value organic food is on offer (we’ll have the côte de boeuf, 55Eur for 2, please waiter) and make sure you save room for the Nutella cookies. Linienstrasse 160, Berlin. +49 30 2844 9500.
While Lokal rocks casual dining in this city, fine wine and expensive cuisine is to be had at Grill Royal on Friedrichstrasse – order the kilo of roasted prawns and a classic Beef Stroganoff. Friedrichstrasse 105b, Berlin. +49 30 2887 9288.
For a quick, fresh meal on the fly, stop by Monsieur Vuong for some Vietnamese rice paper rolls. Alte Schönhauser Strasse 46, Berlin. +49 30 3087 2643.
Some of the best cups of coffee in town are sipped on at Café Fleury, alongside pastries and sandwiches. Also try sister den Petit Fleury, located opposite. Weinbergsweg 20, Berlin. +49 30 4403, extension 4144.
Adina Apartment Hotel Berlin Hackescher Markt has oversized rooms with kitchenettes and a vibrant location in the heart of Mitte close to Unter den Linden and Alexander Platz. The one-bedroom apartments offer an ideal amount of space. An der Spandauer Brücke 11, Berlin. +49 30 209 6980.
British Airways flies daily to Berlin via London. Spend a few more bucks and grab a seat in the World Traveller Plus (premium) cabin where there’s more legroom, a bigger recline and better food and wine than economy. Before you fly home, take the time to eat, drink and shop at Heathrow Terminal 5.