Backpacking Europe on hold for the moment? You can always pick out the perfect destinations to visit when the time is right. When it comes to trendy, hip, and unmissable European cities, Berlin is at the top of the list. From the city’s cultural hotspots to the pillars of local life, discover what makes the German capital incredible.
1. These sneakers are made for walking
Don’t worry if you wear out your shoes while taking a walking tour of Berlin, the city’s sneaker culture is world-renowned. Notably, Berlin is home to Europe’s largest sneaker wall — that’s right, a wall of sneakers. With over 370 varieties available, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect pair for strolling along the East Side Gallery.
2. You are what you eat…
…sometimes literally when you’re from Berlin. Although the locals are known as Berliners, this name is also a common name for donuts in Germany. Famously, the term was used by U.S. President John F. Kennedy. His 1963 speech on solidarity, in which he proclaimed, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” understandably raised some eyebrows.
Ubiquitous around the city, the traditional Berlin currywurst is still the dish du jour. In fact Berliners consume up to 70 million each year. That’s a lot of sausage and bread! Looking for another famous local treat? Try a döner kebab. With over 950 döner spits on rotation each day, you’re bound to stumble into one on your journey through Berlin.
4. A long commute
With one of the world’s best public transport systems, most Berlin locals prefer to take the train rather than find a parking spot. Naturally, the BVG and Deutsche Bahn networks have an impressive reach. If you were to add each trip made by Berlin’s buses, trams and trains together, it would match the distance of traveling 8.7 times around the earth.
5. More than meets the eye…
Although Berlin is known for its size, you might be surprised to discover that around 40% of the city is actually underground. Just below the surface are networks of train lines and bunkers, wartime tunnels and — of course, in Berlin — an underground brewery.
6. Bedtime? Never heard of it!
Yes, Berlin likes to party. In fact, it might be the real “City That Never Sleeps.” With no official closing requirements over the weekend, many clubs will stay open from Friday until Monday. Forgot to bring deodorant or a toothbrush? No problem, you’ll find them for sale in many clubs.
7. A very expensive and accidental rabbit hutch
While the Berlin Wall is famous throughout the world (and worth a visit!), most people don’t know two separate walls actually ran in parallel. As the space between them became a “no man’s land,” the city’s population of rabbits flourished there for 28 years.
8. A spate of spätis
A beer and a snack are never too far away thanks to over 1,000 spätis (corner shops) spread throughout Berlin. Whether you’re on your way out for a night on the town or just taking a break from exploring, the spätis have got you covered.
9. Shop ‘til you drop
In the mood for some new threads? Head to Kaufhaus des Westens or KaDeWe as it’s more commonly known. As one of the largest department stores in Europe, KaDeWe covers over 60,000 square meters of shopping space.
10. Museum multiple choice
Berlin has no shortage of incredible museums. Officially, 108 cultural spaces are spread out across Berlin, but the must-visit spot is Museum Island in Mitte. With a fitting name, some of the biggest cultural institutions in Berlin can be found here. The Neues Museum, Altes Museum, Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, and Alt Nationalgalerie are all worth a visit.