For a perfect day in Berlin, delve into the city’s myriad historic sites. The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag are both hugely iconic and should feature on all Perfect Day lists, as should a visit to the poignant Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the nearby Potsdamer Platz. In between you can squeeze in a coffee or a beer in one of the laid-back cafes and upbeat bars that scattered throughout Berlin’s central neighborhoods.
The Holocaust Memorial is one of the most important memorials to the murdered Jews of Europe, mainly for its location, between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin. The Memorial consists of the Field of Stelae, designed by Peter Eisenman, and the subterranean Information Centre. It is free.
THE BRANDENBURG GATE
You can’t be in Berlin without passing through or near the Brandenburg Gate.
The gate is the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, the tree-lined boulevard (named after linden trees) which formerly led directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs.
MORNINGS AT THE BARN
The Barn is a bucolic coffee bar in the Mitte district that boasts top-quality coffee (from Copenhagen’s famed fair-trade Coffee Collective) and a local-food ethos, inspired largely by the owner’s formative years in rural Germany and his mother’s penchant for baking. Ornamented with rustic touches, like bales of hay, knotty wood benches and tables, and a large chalkboard menu, the cafe has cultivated a large bean since it opened two years ago and shows no signs of slowing. I’d make the trip to Berlin just for a cappuccino and a scone.
SONY CENTER – SUNSHINE AND SAILS
The Sony Center at the Potsdamer Platz has a “ceiling” that’s a work of art. Walk inside this building on a sunny day, and you’ll be greeted by a center flooded with warm sunshine—and reflections of the steel-and-textile ceiling on nearly every glass surface around you.
There are several restaurants, a movie theater, and a Lego store here too.
EAST SIDE GALLERY – THE LIVES OF OTHERS
I’ll never forget that day in 1989 when the wall came down—and the iconic images that followed. It represented freedom, the success of democracy and the West, and it marked the end of the cold war! It was the Reagan era, Saturday Night Live was hilarious, and MTV was actually cool!
GEL GOR INEGOL – TURKISH KÖFTE IN BERLIN
Berlin is good for fast food—sushi, kebabs, pizza, currywurst. This style of köfte is from Anatolia, from Turkey. They fry minced sausages and serve it with mint, different herbs, and salad. Kottbusser Damm between Sanderstrasse and Pflügerstrasse. Open 24 hours.
JOHN MUIR – COCKTAIL BAR IN KREUZBERG
Named after wilderness activist John Muir, this trendy cocktail bar in Kreuzberg serves classic libations with a twist. The menu regularly changes, and the interior of the basement bar (lit by candles) is cozy and comfortable—great for cool evenings.