There’s a famous metaphor that says that there are ‘dog cities’ and ‘cat cities’. Dog cities come at you with their tail waggling and are instantly likeable. Cat cities take a little while longer to be liked. They have more secrets and don’t show all their glory at first sight. But once you get to know them, well, you’re in love. Berlin would be a cat city. Despite all its culture, history, art and 24/7 party scene, it takes a little while to appreciate and get to know the city in all its glory. So we decided to wag Berlin’s tail a bit for you first timers and show a little love on your first visit. This Berlin guide for first timers will make you blend in a little easier and have you fall right in love with our beautiful city.
RENT A BIKE
First things first. Hands down the best tip we can give first timers to Berlin is to rent a bike. Berlin is a great city for biking and a bike gives you freedom to discover many great gems and neighbourhoods. Try to find a hostel (like Amstel House Hostel Berlin…) that rents bikes and reserve one beforehand. Drop your bag and off you go!
Also, there are amazing bike tours that cover plenty of highlights in one afternoon. Berlin’s highlights are quite spread out so you can see a lot more on a bike tour than a walking tour!
NEIGHBOURHOODS OVER SIGHTS
When visiting Berlin, try to avoid focussing on ticking off all the sights and focus on neighbourhoods instead. Berlin has so much to offer historically and culturally that it can sometimes be overwhelming. Depending on the time you have, pick a few neighbourhoods and do them well. Go for hip and happening Neukölln, multicultural Kreuzberg, or crisp and design loving Prenzlauerberg and Mitte. A stroll in these neighbourhoods will make you feel so much more satisfied and part of the city’s cool vibe!
Try to avoid staying in the super touristy areas. Instead, try to blend in as a cool local in one of the city’s more local and upcoming neighbourhoods. Hoods like Wedding (artistic), Prenzlauerberg (families), Neukölln (hipsters), Friedrichstein (party lovers) or Alt Treptow (nature lovers). People will make you feel welcome and approach you more like a fellow Berliner and less like a tourist. Warm fuzzy feelings already!
Amstel House Hostel Berlin offers a home away from home in up and coming and charming neighbourhood Wedding (Mitte). Speculations that this will be Berlin’s newest hot spot are whispered more frequently as a lot of artists and creatives have started to settle here.
GO OFF THE BEATEN TRACK
Yes, do the biking tour and see the famous Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. But after there’s heaps more! What about going to one of these Berlin art house cinemas? Or have a craft beer in of these amazing Berlin bars? Or check out these not so famous but great Berlin museums.
INDULGE IN BERLIN’S FOOD SCENE
Be sure to try a curry wurst (or two) but check out all the amazing cuisines found in Berlin. From Asian to fusion to tapas, Berlin is a true paradise for food lovers. And best of all, most of it is super affordable! For instance, be sure to have a 2 euro pizza around the corner from the Amstel at Pizza con Amore. A born and raised Italian chef turns pizzas into masterpieces that will make your taste buds drool. Check out one of these great places for best brunch in Berlin. Or try a yummy Turkish BBQ! Or one of the best burgers in Berlin.