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10 Things Not to Do in Berlin

by Ralph Martin

Spend all your time in East Berlin

Yes, the former East Berlin is one of the hippest districts on earth. Yes, its history is fascinating, and it still feels freshly unwrapped. And, yes, renovation and a slew of new restaurants are quickly turning the East into a feast for the eyes and stomach. But look beyond the hype and you'll find that much of the East is besieged by tourists on Segways and in Trabants, that those renovated buildings are often sterile and boring at second glance, and that the trustafarian quotient can be gag-worthy. It has all inspired a malaise peculiar to this half of the city: Ostalgie, nostalgia for the deprived days of shoddy goods, a planned economy, and no tourists.

Enjoy the wonders of West Berlin

While the Kurfürstendamm, with its chain luxury stores, is interchangeable with New York City's Fifth Avenue or the Champs-Élysées in Paris, the cobblestoned streets of Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg, and Schöneberg recall the days before reunification, when West Berlin was the countercultural capital of Europe. Kreuzberg's hipness quotient is now approaching Mitte's. It remains heavily Turkish-influenced, a legacy of 1970s immigration policies, and the result is a bustling multi-culti neighborhood. Posh Charlottenburg gives you a flavor of how the rich lived before World War II, in massively scaled Art Nouveau apartment buildings; the streets are lined with fancy antiquarian shops and still-proud independent booksellers like Marga Schoeller. Schöneberg is Berlin's gay neighborhood, home to leafy residential blocks that abut red-light streets with a gentle, not menacing vibe. It all feels like a trip back to a time when art and culture mattered more than the provenance of your delicately distressed T-shirt.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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