It’s fair to say that I’ve written about Berlin at great length here on my blog. It is truly a fascinating city, with SO much going on and so many different kinds of life being lived there – if you are curious to read more about my thoughts on the city and why I love it, please check out my post ‘5 Things I Love About Berlin’. If you are heading to Berlin and are in need of some specific recommendations, I also wrote a trilogy of blog posts featuring my favourite ‘Restaurants’, ‘Drinks’, and ‘Attractions’ in the city, so feel free to explore those too!
The thing about Berlin is, every single time you go there, you uncover some new amazing place that you didn’t know about before! The city is constantly evolving, new eateries, exhibitions and shops are springing up all the time and the city is so progressive, which is something that I love so much about it. I recently had a free day to spend in Berlin, and I decided NOT to return to any of my old favourite haunts (where I would normally go), but instead chose to explore only new places that I hadn’t yet been to. I found some real gems that you may not yet know about, as well as a couple of more well-trodden corners that you probably do, so I thought I would collect them all here in one post, for the next time you (or I!) might need some fresh suggestions for ways to spend a lazy free day in Berlin.
Bites To Eat
First off and most importantly: food. Always a very difficult decision when in Berlin, because there is SO MUCH good food on pretty much every street. I do have a couple of new recommendations for you though, and they are both incredible and must-gos.
For breakfast/brunch, I decided to try Commonground (a sister cafe to Silo, which I have also mentioned on my blog before and also an AMAZING brunch spot). Commonground is a big open plan cafe – I happened to visit on a hot summers day, and they had all the front windows and doors wide open which was heavenly. The food is ridiculously great; I had poached eggs on their unique Sironi bread, smashed avocado and salsa verde, and LOTS of bacon (by the way, there are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan options!). The coffee is also spot on. I would say Commonground is perfect if you have a group of people, the staff are all SO friendly and the vibes are just great!
The Commonground breakfast!
Brunch at Commonground pretty much kept me going all day, until about 9pm, which is when I decided to grab some dinner at Cocolo Ramen. I chose this place because I fancied some ramen and all the reviews online claimed that this was the BEST ramen in Berlin, so my expectations were pretty high. Things to know about Cocolo Ramen before you go there: they take no reservations, and it is a tiny and extremely popular restaurant, so you have to be prepared to queue out the door for anywhere up to an hour (at popular times). I would suggest going later, maybe around 10 or 11pm, and not to go in big groups – as I was by myself I actually got seated ahead of a lot of people which was a plus. I have to say though, the ramen is totally worth it – it is delicious. The kitchen is right out front, and if you can manage to bag a seat at the bar, you can watch them cooking which is fun. The menu is pretty small – you can basically choose from about 4 or 5 different ramens (and a few other things on the menu), ranging in price up to about €10 – and their turnover is fast, so don’t take too long over your food! But the atmosphere is fabulous and this place is a real little gem!
I got the pork broth – delicious!
If you are like me, then coffee is an absolute priority, and just spending an hour in a cute coffee shop is the perfect plan for a sunny afternoon! Berlin offers some really fantastic and locally owned independent coffee jaunts – they are all over the city so please never, ever, feel like you have to rely on Starbucks for your pick-me-up! This time, I tried a new coffee place, Ben Rahim. It is absolutely tiny, and totally hidden away – if you didn’t know about it, I don’t think you would ever find it! You sort of have to find your way through an alley and then a courtyard and then another alley and then you might spot it. If the weather is good they put little tables and benches outside, and as it is so tucked away, it feels very peaceful and lovely to enjoy your coffee outside. (But there is also some seating indoors for the cold days too.) Ben Rahim specialises in Arabian coffee and tea, and you can definitely also get your own preferred style of coffee there too. As it was such a hot day when I visited, I decided to try their iced latte, and I thought how they made it was genius; they make the espresso shots in ice cubes and freeze them, and then add them to milk when one is ordered. As you drink it the ice-cube melts and the coffee gets stronger as it slowly dissolves into the milk, which I just loved. It was a beautiful coffee and I would love to go back there and try their other blends too.
My iced-latte at Ben Rahim
Independent and Vintage Shopping
Of course, Berlin has a large (and slightly tedious) shopping district. But if you are more into cute little boutiques and vintage shops then I have a few suggestions for you! For clothes, I would definitely recommend checking out Paul’s Boutique. It is a little hole-in-the-wall style shop, full of second-hand and vintage clothes for men and women. They have lots of cool brands and vintage style garments, including a selection of Doc. Martens and Levis. Even if you don’t find something you like, or you aren’t particularly looking for anything, it is really fun to just look around and see what you can find. If you are looking for a larger selection of second-hand and vintage clothes, check out Humana – there are actually a few of these stores around the city, and they tend to be pretty big. Humana offers a wide variety of clothes and ‘stuff’, for men and women, at a range of different prices, from €2 to €200, so again, it’s just fun to see what you can find. I have had a lot of luck there was things like concert clothes, jeans, shirts… it’s a cool store!
If you are a bookworm looking for some great deals on second-hand books in Berlin, definitely head to St. Georges English Bookshop. There is a huge selection of all kinds of books here, from floor to ceiling (literally), mainly in English but also in a few other languages too. From novels to cookbooks, books on Hitler and the war, religion, kids books… it is definitely a little nook to get lost in for a while! They also sell some new books at regular prices too, and if you are looking for something in particular and are going to be in Berlin for a while, they will happily order it for you.
If you fancy spending an afternoon at a museum or an evening at a concert in Berlin, I’ve got you covered. Berlin is FULL of artistic events going on all the time; every single day there are literally 1000s to choose from. I wrote a blog post recently on my experience visiting the ‘Wanderlust’ exhibition at the Alte Nationalgalerie (read it here!), and if you happen to be in Berlin until the 16th September 2018, definitely get yourself to that! If not though, or if painting isn’t really up your street but you are interested in other mediums of art, Museum Island is a great place to start in Berlin. It is a little island in the middle of the city, where all the big museums are located. If you really want to throw yourself into art and culture you can purchase a day ticket which will allow you entry into all the museums in one day! Otherwise, I can tell you that the Pergamon Museum (also mentioned previously on my blog!) which houses the Gates of Ishtar, amongst several other amazing things, is seriously awe-inspiring, incredible, mind-boggling and you HAVE to see it. I mean, you get to actually see a whole Greek temple inside the museum. It is awesome.
Alte Nationalgalerie, Museum Island, Berlin
If you are seeking a good concert to go to that is maybe a little removed from the mainstream concerts of the Philharmonie hall (which are nevertheless fantastic), check out the newest addition to Berlin’s concert hall scene, the Pierre Boulez Saal. This hall, nicknamed the Oval Office of concert halls, is the result of a project initiated by Daniel Barenboim. It is a smaller, more intimate chamber hall which is dedicated to hosting exciting and innovative concerts and music projects in Berlin, which don’t stay strictly true to old-fashioned style classical music concerts. Keep an eye out for a blog post coming soon on the breath-taking concert that I was lucky enough to witness there when I visited (and which was the sole reason for this day that I got to spend in Berlin!).
Sneak peek of an upcoming post, telling you all about this unique and stunning concert that I saw at the Pierre Boulez Saal