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Berlin, Germany is a bustling, modern metropolis that still manages to retain some mystery. You’ll find no shortage of things to do here after 5:00 pm, from art to history to food to spas to some serious nightlife. Berlin is very liberal and cosmopolitan, and offers something for everyone. While you’re here, check out how to get a 5-night stay at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Berlin, including daily five-star breakfasts, worth $1,450 – paying only credit card points.
You must see the Brandenburg Gate, a quintessential monument at the edge of Tiergarten – which is kind of like Central Park. Brandenburg Gate is in the center of the city and part of an easy, self-guided walking tour described below.
How to Get to Berlin, Germany
Berlin’s Tegel (TXL) airport is one of Germany’s biggest airports, and it’s easy to get from there into the city. You can pick up a Jet Express Bus from the airport, which will drop you off at one of several major city center stops. These buses run every 6-10 minutes from about 4a-midnight every day, and they only cost about $3 for a one-way ticket. It takes around 40-45 minutes, which is about 10-15 minutes slower than an Uber or taxi. Speaking of, you can easily pick up an Uber or a taxi from the airport too; expect to pay around $30-$40.
Don’t rent a car. As in most major cities, Berlin has heavy traffic and parking is expensive, so save yourself the hassle. Berlin’s public transport system is easy to navigate, even if you don’t speak any German. I found the subways to be clean, fast, and efficient. Rideshare and taxis are readily available too. I recommend a rideshare over taxis because you won’t have to worry about your taxi driver taking you for a ride, so to speak.
Where to Eat in Berlin, Germany
KaDeWe // Short for Kaufhaus des Westens. This is technically a luxury department store, but it’s actually one of the BEST places to eat in Berlin. The 6th and 7th floors are basically one huge, fancy food court, comprised of dozens of small eateries; some of them stay open as late as midnight. Check out Cinco Jotas, aka 5J, which serves acorn-fed iberico ham, or pick up a seafood stew. Walk around and eat whatever appeals most. (KaDeWe is walking distance to the lovely InterContinental Berlin, which can be booked with IHG points and free nights.
Golvet // A Michelin-guide restaurant in Berlin that offers nightly tasting menus, as well as a fantastic bar. If you can afford the pricey tasting menus ($100-$200 per person), they both look and taste modern and incredible. But it’s also very possible to just to have a cocktail and a great time at their un-fussy bar. Note: Golvet is temporarily closed due to COVID-19, but is expected to reopen in September 2020.
Azzam // A cheap, excellent Mediterranean place believed by locals to serve the best hummus ever. This is mostly a takeout and delivery joint. Be aware you might encounter long lines due to the restaurant’s popularity. Open 8a-midnight every day.
Doner kebab // This is a popular fast food offered all over Berlin. It’s technically Turkish, but it reminds me of Greek gyros; you get meat that’s roasted and rotated, then cut thinly to be served in flatbread sandwiches with vegetables. One popular option is K’UPS Gemusekebap, but you can find “doner” all over Berlin, often late at night.
Zenkichi Omakase // Berlin’s premier Japanese restaurant and another Michelin-guide restaurant is on our list. Omakase means you’ll eat a set menu based on the chef’s choice; 8 courses currently costs 75Euro. The atmosphere feels like ancient Japan, with bamboo everywhere, and private rooms for your dining experience. Open daily for dinner till 11p.
Things to Do in Berlin at Night
Visit Checkpoint Charlie // Checkpoint Charlie is the crossing point between East and West Berlin, where an American diplomat attempted to cross and was stopped by East German soldiers. History buffs will enjoy walking around Checkpoint Charlie, which has lots of interesting pictures and descriptions – in both German and English.
Walk along the Berlin Wall // Right by Checkpoint Charlie, you can see bricks from the Berlin Wall, which is actually visible throughout the city if you know where to look. What’s remarkable is how nondescript it is, just a couple of bricks in the ground in most places.
Continue to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Brandenburg Gate // After seeing Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall, continue your self-guided walking tour to these next landmarks, just about a 15-minute walk away. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an abstract monument that you can walk through (quietly and respectfully!) in the middle of the city. And just another five-minute walk away is the famous Brandenburg Gate, where you can conclude your short walking tour with a monument perfect for photo ops.
Unwind at Vabali Spa // Vabali isn’t the type of spa where you book a facial and go on your way; it’s a high-end destination and experience. Open from 9a-midnight daily, Vabali offers dozens of saunas, steam rooms, pools, and hot tubs of varying temperatures, both indoor and outdoor. You can attend salt-scrub and meditation classes in some of the saunas too, with schedules posted throughout the “campus.” Refuel at the on-site bars and restaurants, or even take a post-sauna nap in one of the many daybeds. However, note that Vabali is decidedly European; all men, women, and children are expected to be fully naked in the pools and saunas, which can be jarring to some. Chalk it up to part of the Berlin experience, and you’ll quickly find that public baths are common here – and Vabali is among the most luxurious.
Go clubbing // Berlin is known for its nightlife, and if you can stay up late for at least one night of your trip, try to check it out for the experience. Many clubs don’t even open until midnight, but there are some that have events a little earlier and throughout the week. Check out Anomalie Art Club, which is in a former auto mechanic shop and home to informal art exhibits that change frequently. Anomalie becomes a dance club late at night, but is a great place to get introduced to Berlin’s nightlife scene. If you’re up for more, Berghain and KitKat Club are two of the most well-known nightclubs in Berlin. Be aware that the dress code, and some of the activities inside, are decidedly adult. It’s not uncommon in the Berlin nightclub scene to stand in line wearing your regular clothes, and then be asked by the bouncer to take off a couple articles of clothing upon entering – regardless of your gender.
Also check out:
- Bilbao, Spain After 5:00 pm
- Copenhagen, Denmark After 5:00 pm
- Sol Area of Madrid, Spain After 5:00 pm
- Brussels, Belgium After 5:00 pm
- Dubrovnik, Croatia After 5:00 pm
- Nuremberg, Germany After 5:00 pm