Berlin Tips & Advice
Below are some frequently asked questions and fun facts about Berlin. For additional information, help with accommodations, assistance with further European travel, etc, just drop by our shop. Our friendly, native English-speaking staff is always eager to help! From free luggage storage and clean facilities to laundry services, we’re here for you.
How do I use the phone here?
Germany’s country code is +49 and Berlin’s area code is 030. When calling from abroad, drop the ‘0’ at the start of the area code. Within Germany, keep the ‘0’. For instance, to call our shop from New York City, dial 011 49 30 24 04 79 91. To call it from Frankfurt, dial 030 24 04 79 91. To dial from Germany to another country, start with the’00’ access code, before entering that country’s international code.
Calling here can be expensive and there’s seemingly never a coin-operated phone when you need one. Your best bet is to buy a phone card from any of the myriad of media stores typically found around the main metro stations.
Where can I change money?
If you just got here or are heading over the border soon, your best bet is to hit the American Express offices on either Bayreuther Strasse 37-38, in the former West near the Europa Center, or Friedrichstrasse 172, in the former East, just south of Unter den Linden.
What’s the trendiest area of Berlin?
All of Berlin is trendy, in its own way. At the moment the ‘hippest’ nightlife, intellectual hangouts, and alternative stores are in Mitte, center of the former East, and Prenzlauerberg, just to the north. A sure bet is to peruse Kastanienallee. Take the U2 to Eberswalder and hit Kastanienallee from there. If you happen to get lost, good for you! You’ll be sure to run into many great spots in that area.
Where can I get souvenirs and memorabilia?
If you want cheesy, often fake Russian and DDR memorabilia, definitely head to Checkpoint Charlie. This important former border crossing, arguably a physical focal point of the Cold War, has now been overrun with somewhat shady vendors. Have fun and negotiate!
If you’re looking for quality gifts to take home - cuckoo-clocks, beer steins, pewter and wood crafts, etc - head to J. & M. Fäßler’s on the upper level of the Europa Center (right next to Zoo-Station).
How about some beer gardens?
Yeah, how ‘bout them? Folks, it’s a tragedy. For the last couple years Germans have consumed more coffee than beer! If you would like to get the statistics back to where they belong, a few recommendations include:
* Zollpackhof, across the Spree River from the Chancellor Schroeder’s office, and home to Berlin’s oldest chestnut tree (138 years old, and under historical protection). Take the S-Bahn to Lehrter Bahnhof and then head towards the river.
* Prater Biergarten, along Kastanienallee, is great in the evenings to people-watch and become one with the Berliners.
* Schleusenkrueg, just east of Zoo Station in the Tiergarten, gives you the unique opportunity to simultaneously watch boats float through canal locks and trains zoom by while listening to lions roar from the zoo 15 meters away. We enjoy stopping here on our bike tour!
Where can I surf the Internet and burn digital camera pictures?
At our shop, of course! We can read all digital memory types to burn your pictures onto CD or DVD. We’re a wireless hotspot as well, so feel free to bring your laptop if you have one. Both our wireless service and use of our Internet cafe are free of charge.
We strive hard to be your one-stop travel resource and our native English-speaking staff is always happy to help.
What is the norm on tipping?
Waiters and waitresses here do not rely as much on tips as in countries such as the US or Canada. However, tipping is appreciated. Most patrons will round up about 5% - 10%. So if your total is €7.10, you may want to tell your server €7.50 or €8.00 when he or she comes to the table for payment.
Are the locals really in love with David Hasselhoff?
Yes. Well, at least back when the Wall fell they did. Hasselhoff played to a crowd of a million strong at what was left of the Berlin Wall at Brandenburg Gate on New Year’s eve 1989. His “hit” song “Looking For Freedom” was at the top of the West German charts when the Wall fell, prompting Hasselhoff to say in an interview, “I find it a bit sad that there is no photo of me hanging on the walls in the Berlin Museum at Checkpoint Charlie.
How about Berlin nightlife?
Berlin is the nightlife capital of Europe, with more clubs here than in any other European city, relaxed closing hours, and no real last call for alcohol at many establishments. This leads to a frenetic nightlife that’s always bustling. A few focal points for nightlife are in Mitte between the TV Tower and Friedrichstrasse, in Prenzlauer Berg around the Eberswalder U-bahn station, and around Boxhagenerstrasse in Friedrichshain. Of course there are tons of other hot-spots and one-off parties that are famous in Berlin.
How do I get out to Potsdam?
A day trip to Potsdam is the most popular excursion for Berlin visitors. We of course recommend taking the Gardens & Palaces of Potsdam Bike Tour offered by Fat Tire Bike Tours for a fun and insightful day through the town. Should you prefer to go on your own, however, it’s easiest to take the RE 1 train (quicker) or S 1 (more frequent) out to Potsdam Hauptbahnhof, the main station. Once there, however, you’ll find that many of the gems, including the famous Schloss Sanssouci and Schloss Cecilienhof, are quite far removed. (At this point if you don’t have a bike you’ll really be kicking yourself).
Should you choose to want to bike the sights on your own, we’re happy to rent you a bike from either of our 2 locations. You may take bikes with you on the train and metro. Just purchase an additional bike ticket, costing you €5.10 for a day allowance for bikes throughout all ABC Zones.
Berlin Segway Tour
He Was Hilarious
We took a tour of Berlin with Walid a few weeks ago through ‘Fat tire’ and had the best time! We’ll recommend it to all our friends :) He was hilarious! We wanted to send him a few pictures we took of the tour. If you could please show this mail to him and send our regards it would be great. Thanks!More Testimonials