Get to know what life is like in Germany's capital
Everybody is talking about Berlin. As one of the hottest cities in Europe, it attracts people from all over the world. But what does life in Berlin mean if you don't just visit it as a tourist, but spend your daily life here? We show you the authentic side of the capital and what is typical for its inhabitants.
Where the real "Bärliners" live
Newcomers are particularly drawn to the trendy districts of Neukölln, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Mitte. No wonder, when you consider how lively and diverse they are. However, life in Berlin is not just about the hip centre. And there's good reason for that; the outskirts have their own special charm. So called "outside" areas such as Treptow-Köpenick and Spandau are just as attractive as the city centre and also score points with their proximity to nature, relaxed environment and lower apartment prices. It is not uncommon for people who have lived in Berlin for a long time and have had enough of the daily hustle and bustle to prefer the outer districts as their home at some point. Especially since Berlin's excellent transport connections mean you never feel far from the action. And even if you live centrally, a tour or two into unknown regions beyond the S-Bahn ring can be more than worthwhile. It won't do any harm to your Berlin expertise.
Berlin's hot side
Berliners love summer because the city has a lot to offer at high temperatures. The big squares and shopping boulevard are best avoided. It is much more pleasant to spend the seemingly endless days in the park or at the lake. You can escape the heat on the streets and meet some like-minded people. And you don't even need to travel far, as there are many parks throughout the city, and a few lakeside bathing areas, such as at Weissensee or Plötzensee, where you can jump into the cool water even on a balmy weekday after work. In general, life between May and September is spent mostly outdoors. So a day at the beach, or a badminton match in the park, is often followed by an open-air party under the night sky at Ipse or Heideglühen.
When it's chilly outside
Even in winter the capital city doesn't show its inhabitants the cold shoulder. In the pre-Christmas period, a mulled wine at one of the numerous Christmas markets is a must. But even after Christmas nobody retreats into their own four walls. For the more athletic, you can try your hand at practically any sport, even those not traditionally played indoors. If you want to meet up with friends, you can make yourself comfortable in one of the many Altberliner Kneipen, the traditional pubs found on pretty much every street corner. And if you really want to go shopping, feel free to stroll through the warm shopping arcades without a guilty conscience.
For those with a rumbling stomach
The range of restaurants and bars in Berlin is huge and everyone has a few favourite locals in their own neighbourhood. Some culinary rules of thumb can be deduced with enough experience: Berlin's Italians know that the best pizza in the capital is baked in the ovens of Standard or Gazzo restaurants. Those who fancy Asian cuisine either find their favourite on Kantstrasse in Charlottenburg, or make a small detour to the 'Little Vietnam' of Lichtenberg. In the Dong Xuan Center, you can find some authentic restaurants beside countless junk shops, hairdressers and supermarkets with exotic specialities. Moreover, every local knows that no döner kebab can be so much better than all the others, and certainly none that would justify a 50m-long queue.
On the run
Everyone needs a little distance from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis from time to time. Fortunately, it is easy to reach beautiful places and landscapes quickly from Berlin. If you're feeling sporty, a bike trip to Havelland is definitely worth it. The Spreewald, a forest dotted with pretty canals, is located south of Berlin and is easy to reach by train. A trip here is a must for every Berliner, to enjoy the peace and quiet while camping or in a paddle boat on the quiet waters.
It takes a little longer to reach the Elbe Sandstone Mountains, but a day trip there by car is also worthwhile. If you're a hiker, you'll be thrilled by the impressive rock formations. And if you're longing for the vastness of the sea, you can reach the Baltic Sea coast by train or car in only three hours, and enjoy typical North German fish sandwiches with a fresh breeze.
Escape the tourists
First of all: there are no places in Berlin that you should avoid at all costs. With the right timing, you can enjoy even the most popular places and attractions. If you prefer to avoid crowds, it is perhaps not advisable to visit Alexanderplatz during the Christmas season, when several Christmas markets and various shopping opportunities attract thousands every day. When planning a visit to a club, it is also a good idea to plan ahead, to avoid queueing at the entrance for hours (though some say this is half of the fun). If you want to explore Berlin's parks, it can be lovely to head there when everyone else is still asleep, and take in the dawn with fresh air and a damp, sparkling lawn.
This town is full of possibilities. Life in Berlin is exciting and diverse, and the longer you live here, the more you will enjoy it. While you get plenty of tips for special experiences, it is worth trying out new things for yourself and gaining your own experience. In this way you can find out for yourself what you like, and create your own typical Berlin.
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