During your stay in Dresden, you may want to hop on a train or bus for an exciting side trip to Berlin.
Roughly six times the size of Paris, Berlin can be difficult to navigate, so we’ve picked out our top five destinations. If you’re ready for an adventure, follow the pink and purple pipes (which prevent the city from collapsing into its precariously high water table) to these unforgettable sites!
Alexanderplatz (S+U Alexanderplatz)
This historical square situated under the iconic TV tower was the site of East Germany’s million strong Alexanderplatz Demonstration in November of 1989. Today, it combines American Capitalism with East German style! If you are a claustrophobe who appreciates Ikea parking lots, this is the stop for you! We highly recommend a tour of the TV tower at sunset, which offers an unmatched opportunity to experience the backs of hundreds of people’s heads.Be sure to visit Alexanderplatz at Christmastime when the vacant lot next to the mall transforms into a dazzling holiday market. The combination of highly sweetened, hot wine and action-packed carnival rides promises winter magic for couples and families alike!
Oranienburger Strasse (U6 Oranienburger Tor, S Oranienburger Str.)
Visiting Oranienburger Strasse is a great opportunity to take beautiful photos of the Synagogue, the TV tower, and tourists darting in front of the tram like squirrels. Though beautiful at all times of year, this street really comes to life in the summer. Along with Prague, Berlin has become a popular destination for British “stag dos:” bachelor party groups are to Oranienburger Strasse as Starbucks franchises are to New York City and Waffle Houses are to Georgia: once you lose sight of one, you immediately see another! If you are a woman and enjoy light sexual harassment, this is the place for you! Finance guys in all combinations of kilts, morph suits, and afro wigs await at every corner to sell you a mini bottle of Jägermeister or ask you to get your tits out.
This street is also home to some of Berlin’s most successful restaurants. As you dash to avoid the assertive hosts of the catch-all-Asian Mirchi and Amrit franchises, you may find that the only direction you can physically move into is the entrance of the restaurant! Bright satin umbrellas, giant golden Buddhas, and fake tropical plants create an atmosphere as colorful as those giant cocktails on the illustrated menu! From here, you can enjoy a great view of Tacheles, Berlin’s one-of-a-kind urban art house. This city icon, named after the Yiddish phrase for “straight talk,” was first a Jewish department store and briefly a Nazi prison. The best, however, is yet to come: this famous space will soon be renovated to help meet the city’s ever-growing demand for luxury apartments.
KaDeWe (U1/2/3 Wittenbergplatz)
What would a trip to Europe be without shopping? Visit Kaufhaus des Westens, Europe’s largest department store! Head southwest from Wittenbergplatz and play an exciting game of “dodge the canvassing Scientologist” as you make your way to this empire of luxury retail. Fine fragrances, designer accessories, and kitchen knives that cost more than the down payment on your car are displayed with museum-like curation. Why not indulge your inner child with a visit to the toy department? Detailed train sets, lifelike dolls, and anatomically accurate stuffed animals invite you to join in a specifically German kind of fun. Be sure to check out the Karl Lagerfeld Steiff Teddy Bear, which retails for over 2,000 US dollars. Only ten were made, and seven are in Blue Ivy Carter’s hope chest.
Does shopping make you hungry? You’re in for a treat! With over 1,200 kinds of sausage and an atrium dedicated entirely to truffles, the gourmet department is less than ideal for vegetarians and diabetics, but absolute paradise for everyone else. Homesick Americans can even pick up a beloved Hershey bar or an 8 Euro package of Pop Tarts. (Hey, you’re in Europe!) Of course, no visit to KaDeWe would be complete without going all the way to the top: the glassed in “Wintergarten” buffet restaurant enthralls locals and visitors alike with its chic, seasonal offerings and unintelligible pricing. Toast to capitalism with a 14 Euro glass of prosecco and an unparalleled view of West Berlin’s skyline!
Note: You may notice English speaking tourists asking around and looking for “Coddowa” (rhymes with Ottowa). This is what they mean.
Markthalle Neun (U1 Görlitzer Bhf)
Hungry? Ditch the Döner and check out Street Food Thursdays at Markthalle Neun for Berlin’s most eclectic gourmet offerings! Dozens of vendors serve up delicious small plates, from Australian pies to Zimbabwean… pies. Nowhere else in the city can you wash down a vegan pulled-pork sandwich with a delicious sextuple IPA, or top it off with a scoop of locally produced organic waldmeister-rhubarb sorbet! Enjoy an elegant Japanese soup consisting of a single, giant Udon noodle; dare to try exquisite oysters in a landlocked German state. Best of all, this celebration of sustainable food includes disposable dishes and cutlery for each of your half-dozen tiny courses: don´t worry, it´s compostable!
Mauerpark (U2/M1/12 Eberswalder Str; M10 Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn Sportpark)
Still enjoying Berlin on a Sunday? Head over to Mauerpark, the lively strip of dirt and cigarette butts that inhabits the former space between the outer components of the Berlin wall. Follow the trail of street musicians (from drunken beat-boxers to world-class singer-songwriters) to the karaoke stage, where anyone can croon a favorite hit to an encouraging crowd of hungover tourists, drug dealers, and indiscreet teenagers! If you’ve successfully slithered your way through the expensive-baby-carriage traffic of Prenzlauer Berg, you will be well-prepared to navigate the Mauerpark Flea Market! Here, you’ll find East German garbage at sensible, West German prices! Enjoy a tiny bottle of fancy lemonade as you watch locals haggle to buy back their stolen bicycles, and maybe even pick up a piece of hipster nonsense to commemorate your stay in this gem of a city.
Still looking for fun things to do?
- Check out Pariser Platz, home of the Hotel Adlon, where Michael Jackson famously held a baby out the window! (S Brandenburger Tor)
- Bring a GPS enabled smartphone and meander through the Tiergarten, the idyllic labyrinth that inspired the film Inception! (S Tiergarten, S Potsdamer Platz)
- Grab a hard hat and walk along Unter den Linden, where a detailed, two kilometer outdoor exhibition showcases beautiful plans for the 35 year city center renovation project! (S Brandenburger Tor, S Friedrichstrasse, S+U Alexanderplatz)