Anika Oehme of Oooh, Berlin! – who are hard at work producing a series of free hand-drawn maps guiding newcomers and veterans alike around the capital's best-kept secrets – takes The Local readers on a tour of Berlin Mitte.
Find one of Anika and partner Chris' maps in English or German in a bar, photo machine, street food stall, or bicycle basket near you – and watch out for other Berlin districts coming soon – or go and say hello at their Facebook page.
There is so much to see in a city like Berlin. Of course every week a new pop-up is… well, popping up, or the latest hipster band is playing somewhere, but it can be just as interesting to explore your own borough a bit further.
Having grown up in what many would describe as a boring bit of Mitte, I never had that much interest in what my borough has to offer, until I moved back recently, perhaps more willing to explore than before.
After a bit of exploring, I've learned just how easy it is to spend a whole day walking the streets of Mitte. Here’s a day out for you to enjoy exploring with.
Start your early afternoon at Märkisches Museum station – a tube station you have probably ignored most of your time in Berlin unless you happen to live nearby.
It’s one of Berlin’s prettier stations and was opened in 1913 as part of Berlin’s second ever tube line, the U2. You may actually notice it is also one of only two U-Bahn stations in the whole city that does not have central columns holding it up.
When exiting the tube station you’ll find yourself on Wallstraße, which on first glance seems rather unexciting. But its unprepossessing appearance conceals a wealth of history.
Wallstraße used to be a very important hub for trade and manufacturing in Berlin in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and quite a few architectural treasures from back then have managed to survive until today.
Now home to the Australian Embassy, walk over to the building at number 76-79, which boasts an opulently decorated pink façade with ornaments from 1912 depicting people, snakes, bears and other animals – giving the building a feeling of truly majestic grandeur.
At number 84-85, peek through the window curtain to discover an impressive, abandoned hardware store from 1872, with its 19th century showroom and a grand mezzanine level which have hosted many art projects in the last few decades.
Take a look here to find out more about Wallstrasse's architectural heritage.
Anyone for soup?
If you haven’t had lunch yet or fancy a quick bite, do yourself a favour and duck into Inselstraße. There you will find a tiny place called Suppengrün that is only open for lunch during the week, providing the nearby office workers with some of the best soups to be found anywhere in Berlin.
Their menu of around 6 soups changes weekly and every incredible soup is only 5€ – and by Joe is it worth every cent!
If you go down to the park today…
At the end of Wallstraße you find a tiny park called Köllnischer Park, which is home to Berlin’s only remaining official city bear, Schnute.
While there's a lively debate about how she should be kept in her old age, now that both of her cubs have passed away, for now you are still able to just pop by to say hello whilst she roams her outside enclosure.
While you’re there, don’t miss the chance to visit the actual Märkisches Museum at the end of the park. The museum, specializing in Berlin’s pre-war history, is excellent.
Entry normally costs €5, but it's free on the first Wednesday of every month, so definitely worth a quick visit.
Once you’ve enjoyed Schnute and Berlin’s history, stroll down to nearby Jannowitzbrücke. Between Thursday and Sunday, pop into the Buchstabenmuseum, situated in a former GDR supermarket just opposite the S-Bahn station.
©BUCHSTABENMUSEUM (Foto: Andrea Katheder)
Run by a team of passionate volunteers, this unusual gem of a museum exhibits semi-recent typography in Berlin with alphabetical characters and full-size signs of stations and buildings, which is simply fascinating.
Entry is 6.50€ and it is open Thu-Sun 1-5pm only.
Kaffee und Kuchen
After your quick history lesson in typography, get a Kurzstrecke and jump on the U8 to Weinmeisterstraße (or if the weather is nice, why not walk, it will only take you about 20min) for a quick coffee break in one of Berlin’s ultimate coffee shops.
Father Carpenter Coffee Brewers is hidden in a courtyard just off Münzstraße and serves one of the city’s best Flat Whites in their stylish light blue cups. If you are feeling a bit peckish, I cannot recommend their deliciously creamy espresso cheesecake enough – and after all this exploring, you know you definitely deserve it.
Coffee break over, stroll down Alte Schönhauser Straße and you will find a buzzing street full of small shops and nice looking restaurants.
One of the more interesting shops is Paper & Tea, a shop with incredible interior design specializing in, as you can imagine, paper and gorgeous tea from all over the world.
Don’t be shy, even if you know nothing about fine tea, their passionate experts will gladly talk you through the differences between white, green and black tea and you can even try a few sneaky samples to see which one you prefer.
If you still feel a bit peckish at this point, nearly opposite Paper & Tea is a local favourite, Yamyam, a Korean casual diner where you can experience one of Berlin’s best Bibimbaps or maybe even just some quick Mandu (amazing Korean dumplings) for very fair prices.
They’ve got outdoor seating allowing you to really soak up the atmosphere of the street.
Now that you are properly nourished, take your time to admire the Berlin design stores of Mulackstraße and visit the multiple galleries of Auguststraße und Linienstraße.
A lot of the galleries don’t ask any entry fee, so it’s great to spend a few hours admiring the artworks. If you are in to fashion, make sure to do a little detour to KONK on Kleine Hamburger Straße.
This small, elegant boutique is special as it exclusively supports Berlin-based designers and with their finger on the pulse all the time, they are a definite must for fashion fans.
Time for a bite
Worked up an appetite for dinner yet? Well, you're already in a great area with some fantastic choices.
On Wednesday, Friday or Sunday you're especially lucky to be here, as the wonderful Roberta Kocht is open and you can enjoy some delicious hearty South German cuisine.
Roberta's intimate restaurant in Zionskirchstraße has an open kitchen where you can watch the charming owner cook everything completely by herself whilst still finding time to get to know her guests.
Fancy something a bit quicker? The only real authentic Neapolitan pizza in Berlin is just a few minutes away in Templiner Straße.
Owner Florian opened Standard late last year and has since been showing Berlin a better alternative to the cheap 'n' cheerful pizzas the city is used to.
Using his original Italian-imported oven and some seriously passionate Pizzaiolos, the dough here is allowed to rest for 30 hours before cooking in a piping hot oven for a little over a minute before being ready!
Having recently done a pizza tour of Naples, I can honestly say Standard is up there with the best of them!
Want something even quicker and even more casual? How about one of Berlin’s best burgers?
Of course there are a lot of places in this city claiming to be the best, but the guys from Tommi’s Burger Joint have one of the best claims to be playing in the big leauge.
The main focus here is on the quality of the Angus meat and not overloading it with unnecessary toppings. Order a cheeseburger with sweet potato fries and their awesome Tommi’s sauce, grab a beer and chill out.
Take in a concert
Ready for some free evening entertainment? Head down to Rosengarten in Volkspark am Weinbergsweg. This community-led outdoor space puts on daily free events in the summer, inviting Berliners to enjoy free workshops, concerts and much more in this beloved neighbourhood park.
Every Tuesday they even have a free open-air cinema! What a better way to end your day in Mitte than with a free film or some live music?
Still fancy a quick drink or a night out? If you’re looking for something special pop down to Torstraße and ring the bell at Sodom & Gomorra.
You will be led through a surreal library-like entrance to find yourself in a fashionable hub oozing with dark alluring charm and lavish interiors.
Mixologist-owner Cem Erzincan will create some of the best cocktails in the city for you, and you can choose to dance the night away on their outside terrace. Cheers to Mitte!
by Anika Oehme
For more tips pick up a free Oooh, Berlin! guide around town or download a digital version from ooohberlin.com