Mitte is Berlin’s central borough. If you’re visiting the city for the first time, it’s likely that this is where you’ll be spending most of your time. It’s home to many of Berlin’s “must see” buildings and monuments — Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate and Museum Island to name a few. There’s much more to Mitte, however, than these selfie hotspots.
If your time is limited, or you’re just after the perfect way to spend a day, we’re here to help you make the most out of your visit to the heart of Berlin. With our '12Hours' guide you can tick off the historical hotspots before zipping through Mitte like a local; chowing down on incredible food, hitting some of the city’s best art galleries, and dancing the night away the old Berlin way.
10am: House of Small Wonder
Every good day starts with a good breakfast and you’re going to need it to set yourself up for these next 12hrs. We’re off to House of Small Wonder – an instagrammable brunch location with a Japanese twist. Most importantly, though, the food tastes as good as it looks.
11am: See the Sights
Now that you’re sufficiently sated, we’re going to take an easy stroll towards the Brandenburg Gate. In the next hour and a half we can tick off a lot of sites in one long amble. Walk through the Gate and veer right to swing by the Reichstag (book a visit to the dome here) before looping back through the Tiergarten. Here we’ll wander via the the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Murdered Under National Socialism and the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism before reaching the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A friendly reminder: be considerate at these memorials — Berliners aren’t afraid to scold those who demonstrate disrespect.
Midday calls for a history lesson so we’re making our way to the free museum, the Topography of Terror. With its incredibly detailed accounts of Nazi Germany, it’s a brilliant resource of information – plus it’s also located right next to a section of the Berlin Wall. Look out for bullet holes riddling the surrounding buildings — a reminder of how very real the events you’ve just been reading about were.
The Topography of Terror can leave you with a heavy heart so we’re off to get some more food and enjoy a much lighter afternoon. Next stop is Mogg for the best pastrami sandwich in Berlin. Located in an old Jewish Girls’ School, Mogg (formerly known as Mogg und Meltzer) became a smash hit after an article in the New York Times told the world how good it was. You’ll pay €12 for a sandwich – a little pricey, but we promise you won’t regret it. As you leave, note the art deco tiling in the communal spaces and how dramatically they contrast with the building’s stark exterior. A feast for the eyes as well as the belly.
Just a few doors up from Mogg is the KW Institute, a former margarine factory and now one of Berlin’s most established contemporary art galleries. A revolving roster of exhibitions and events means there’s always something interesting showing and there’s free guided tours daily.
Staying on Auguststraße, walk a few steps further and you’ll find Do You Read Me? Launched ten years ago when the world cried out that print was dead, DYRM? swung open its doors in celebration of all things print. Now considered Berlin’s premiere spot for magazines and books, its topics cover everything from architecture, art and design to literature, fashion and sports — there’s literally something for everyone here. Great spot to buy a gift for someone back home (or yourself).
4pm: Shopping and Coffee
For some lazy, late afternoon shopping, let’s head over to Neue Schönhauser Straße. This street and its neighbours have got you covered from head to toe with everything from high-end Acne Studios to high-street H&M. For a coffee as you hop from shop-to-shop, stop in at Father Carpenter who use beans from Berlin-based roastery Fjord Coffee. Father Carpenter’s goal is for you to leave happier than when you arrived so it’s an ideal spot for a pick-me-up.
Wait, how have we got this far into the day and not had a beer? You’re in Berlin for goodness sake! Scoot over to Kaschk and order a local craft beer before going head-to-head on the shuffleboards. It’s €9 before 6pm, €18 after so looks like we arrived at the perfect time. Pröst!
All that beer has got us hungry again, and we’ve done a lot of walking today, so a hearty German meal is just what we need. Head to the Schwarzwaldstuben. Serving up Swabian-Baden cuisine, this homey restaurant mixes eclectic furniture and taxidermy with great food and (more!) beer. Their menu is regionally sourced and it changes seasonally as they adhere to the Slow Food movement. Good vibes all round.
As we leave our dinner spot, Berlin’s nightlife should be starting to flicker into life. Make your way down to Mr Susan's and splash out on one of their signature cocktails. It doesn’t look like much at street level, but as you head down the stairs a decadent interior greets you. Cosy up on a plush velvet seat and give yourself over to the wonderful bar staff – they’ll look after you well.
Feeling a little giddy, it’s time for a spot of dancing. But no, not to techno. Tonight we’re heading to Berlin’s legendary dance hall: Clärchens Ballhaus. Surviving two world wars, its home to Berlin’s tango scene where gigolos, soldiers, rubble women and guest-workers would come together and dance the night away in passionate exuberance. These days, depending on which night you turn up, a different dance style will be on the cards. Leave your inhibitions at the door — or at least find your courage at the bottom of a Stein glass — and go a little wild, the old Berlin way!