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Berlin City Guide

Berlin Travel Guide

Berlin is a dynamic place, still in the process of self-reinvention a quarter-century after the collapse of its infamous Wall. Most traces of World War II have been obscured, and although vestiges of Eastern Bloc ...

Berlin is a dynamic place, still in the process of self-reinvention a quarter-century after the collapse of its infamous Wall. Most traces of World War II have been obscured, and although vestiges of Eastern Bloc prefabricated construction (plattenbau) remain, modern economic forces are rapidly remodeling the city. The transition is most evident at Potsdamer Platz, the historic public square laid waste by Allied bombing and neglected during the Cold War, which now boasts buildings designed by some of the world’s leading architects. The Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is the cultural heart of the city, centerpieced by the Pergamonmuseum, which contains an astonishing collection of classical antiquities, including the immense Pergamon Altar and Babylon’s blue-tiled Ishtar Gate. 

Recommended Luxury Hotels in Berlin

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.

Best Restaurants in Berlin

Chef Daniel Achilles won two Michelin stars for his Continental cooking served in a chic dining room within the renovated former workshops of the AEG electrical company. Expect unusual and dramatic dishes such as scallops with radish seed pods, sorrel and aloe vera; and lamb steak with chorizo, red pepper, mugwort and chervil root. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Edison Höfe Schlegelstrasse 26c, Mitte Berlin US$130 - US$225

Chef Kolja Kleeberg presents a creative Continental menu in a gleaming setting of steel, glass and slate. Representative dishes include roasted codfish with bean ragout and Saucisson de Lyon, and crispy suckling pig with Riesling sauerkraut, potato confit and watercress. The wine list is exceptional. Closed Sunday.

Jägerstrasse 54-55 Mitte Berlin US$150

This one-star restaurant also offers a great sense of place, being housed in the gymnasium of a former Jewish girls’ school. Dishes such as rich Bavarian-style pork belly with fried snails and smoked onion purée, and a deeply flavored but light main of turbot with crisped veal and fried oysters exemplify New German cuisine. 

Auguststrasse 11-13 Mitte Berlin US$90

This stylish steakhouse is where Berliners go for first-rate beef. Start with some oysters, lobster bisque, fennel salad with pear and Parmesan, or salmon tartare with dill and cucumbers, then opt for the beef, which is offered in different weights and with a choice of sauces, vegetables and potatoes.

Friedrichstrasse 105B Mitte Berlin US$90

Chef Eberhard Lange presents contemporary German cooking with international influences at this glamorous restaurant on the top floor of the Hotel InterContinental. His ever-changing menus run to dishes such as pan-fried sea bass with celery and caramelized whey, and grilled veal with oxtail tortellini and truffles. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Budapester Strasse 2 Tiergarten Berlin US$180

This attractive restaurant serves both French and German dishes in a dining room adorned with art nouveau mosaics. Start with oysters from the North Sea island of Sylt, then try the excellent Wiener Schnitzel with hot German potato salad, a steak or salmon. Open late, this is a particularly useful address for supper after a concert or ballet. 

Französische Strasse 47 Mitte Berlin US$110

The opulent food hall on the sixth floor of this venerable department store is a terrific place for a quick lunch. Counters serve different foods, so you can opt for oysters, sushi or smoked salmon — or experiment with some 1,200 varieties of sausage and cold cuts. Closed Sunday.

Tauentzienstrasse 21-24, Schonenberg Berlin Prices vary

One of Berlin’s newest and most anticipated restaurants, Nobelhart & Schmutzig is religiously devoted to local and seasonal ingredients, going so far as to avoid anything not produced in the region, including citrus and black pepper. I feared the food might be gimmicky, but almost every course on the tasting menu was delicious, as were the ambitious wine pairings (thankfully not confined to the immediate region). One of my favorites was a dish of char roe and sour cream served atop rapeseed flowers instead of blini. I also loved the savory blood pudding with barely bitter radishes and refreshing parsley purée, and the wonderfully clean celery broth enriched with beef fat and crunchy leeks. Almost all seats surround a long counter facing the open kitchen. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Friedrichstrasse 218 Berlin
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