When it comes to travel, it’s nice to have an insider’s perspective. Here at Blueprint, presented by CBRE, we are fortunate to have an expansive network of local colleagues around the globe who are not only real estate experts, but also local tastemakers. We have asked them to give an insider’s perspective on some of the best, most iconic cities across the globe. Today we explore Berlin, Germany.
Nicknames: The Gray City
Population: 3.5 million
What is your favorite public space? Why?
The most beautiful place in Berlin is the Gendarmenmarkt in the heart of the city. The two dominant towers of the German Church and French Church frame the Schauspielhaus Concert Hall, built by the renowned German architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel in 1821. The area is surrounded by cafes, bars and restaurants. Professional street musicians can be heard playing at every time of day, making a rest here even more pleasant. Cultural highlights include classic open air concerts in July and the Christmas market in December.
Where can you find the best view of the city?
The television tower at Alexanderplatz, where you can start your day with breakfast in a revolving restaurant as you take in spectacular 360-degree views of the city. If you are up for something more unique and adventurous, and don’t want to stand in line, you can also visit the top of the Teufelsberg in Berlin-Grunewald. It is an 80-meter-high, artificial mountain of rubble that dates back to the 1920s. The NSA operated a listening station there during the Cold War. Nowadays, it’s home to artists and party organizers.
You are going for a bike ride. Where do you go?
Berlin has plenty of parks, forests and lake-dotted, cycle-friendly flat green surroundings that make it a real bicycle paradise. Cycling is a popular way to tour the city, especially the central district Mitte and popular surrounding districts like Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Tiergarten. If you are not too tired after your trip, we recommend wrapping up your exercise with some kiting on the grounds of the former Tempelhof Airport. The 877.2-acre Tempelhofer Field is the world’s largest inner city park. It was opened in 2010, following a public vote to stop all development plans in the area.
What is the best place to discover local music?
Berlin is home to many music styles, but you’ll mainly hear electro, house and techno there. Legendary clubs in town include Berghain, Sisyphos, Kater Blau and Watergate. However, the most impressive space is the Tresor Club, located in an abandoned power plant at Köpenicker Strasse. It’s not only a live music venue, the space also hosts theater sessions, performances and art exhibitions.
What is the “don’t judge a book by its cover” restaurant?
Berlin has a lively and impressive culinary scene with 12 one-Michelin-star and seven two-Michelin-star restaurants, including FACIL restaurant, a favorite for many. Of the one-star restaurants, Nobelhart & Schmutzig and Einsunternull provide a unique regional gourmet experience. If you want to combine quality food with great wine and a more casual atmosphere, visit Cordobar at Grosse Hamburger Strasse 32 and follow the recommendations of your host Willi Schlögel. And if you can snag a reservation, there’s a cozy private dining space available on the first floor.
Favorite Place to Watch a Game?
If you want to see a live soccer game, you can choose between watching a match played by Berlin’s Bundesliga team Hertha at the Olympic Stadium or the more laid back atmosphere in the Alte Försterei stadium, which is home to the traditional club 1. FC Union Berlin. It’s not uncommon to hear fans chanting and cheering for the team at the massive venue, which can accommodate up to 25,500 spectators.
Another great experience is watching the local Eisbären ice hockey team play in the Mercedes-Benz Arena. The thousands of enthusiastic fans who play drums, sing songs and wave flags in the stands make every match a memorable experience for visitors.
Best public transportation experience?
Take the No.100 bus starting from the Berlin Zoological Garden. On your ride, you’ll pass many of the city’s sights and monuments. It’s cheaper than a sightseeing bus, and you can exit the bus at any station you want. The bus line ends at Alexanderplatz, where you can continue your trip with some shopping at the boutiques along Münzstrasse.
Favorite place to unwind?
Just sit down and relax at the banks of the Spree River. There are several tranquil places along the riverbanks where you can relax. One of the best places is Strandbar Mitte at Monbijou Park, considered by many to be one of the best riverside bars in Berlin. It’s the perfect place to relax after visiting the must-see treasures at Museum Island.
Favorite place to be inspired?
A great place to feel inspired is the Futurium at Kapelle-Ufer 2. This centrally located space in Berlin’s government district hosts discussions and creative workshops where attendees can exchange ideas about the future. Other opportunities for inspiration include the Tanz im August festival for modern dance, the Berlin Biennial for contemporary art (next one to take place in summer 2018) or the Falling Walls conferences on future breakthroughs in science and society happening every Nov. 9 in commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Best place to be alone?
A quiet place for contemplation is the cemetery Dorotheenstädtischer Friedhof, which houses the tombs of philosophers Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Johann Gottlieb Fichte, as well as those of poets Heinrich Mann and Bertolt Brecht. The Brecht house, located at the entrance to the cemetery on Chausseestrasse 126 is also worth a visit.
Best independent shopping venues?
Although big international brands have taken over many of the old hot spots around Hacke’s Market (Hackescher Markt) in the Mitte district, there are still interesting galleries in Auguststrasse and Linienstrasse. In addition, you can find independent boutiques in the Scheunenviertel along Alte and Neue Schönhauser Strasse, and north toward Torstrasse. Take your time to discover the courtyards and find some hidden gems.
Best place to get a local specialty?
Go to Konnopke’s Imbiss in Schönhauser Allee, which has been serving up “the original Berlin currywurst” since 1930.
23 March 2016 by Tony Sheehan