Fun – Insiders Berlin A Berlin city guide by the people who live here Mon, 27 Mar 2017 15:12:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 45032905 Relaxing Yoga Weekend 150km outside Berlin Tue, 03 Jan 2012 15:11:08 +0000

For those who are in need of some quiet time, nature, yoga, ‘me time’, and/or relaxation, we recommend a yoga weekend with Erinbell Fanore at the Salvey Mühle. Her last weekend in November quickly sold out as was a complete success. She is offering two this Spring. The March one is sold out but there is still space on the FEBRUARY 17-19 weekend.

The weekend includes 6 yoga classes (Yin and Hatha), 6 delicious home cooked vegetarian meals and two nights accommodations at the 750 year old beautiful renovated mill.

The Salvey Mühle is a great place to unwind and recharge. The surrounding nature is stunning. The combination of yoga, good food, fresh air, and quite, inspire deep relaxation. As her last guests told us, you’ll be sure to return home recharged.

Erinbell Fanore is an experienced and well loved yoga teacher (certified by Yoga Alliance). She has taught in Ireland, Morocco, Sicily, Malta and now runs classes throughout Berlin in English and German. She teaches both Yin (slow deep yoga for the health of the joints and the connective tissues) and a following Hatha class (for strength, conditioning and muscular flexibility).

The weekend costs, 190 euros for a Single Room or for 170 euros Double Room, with a maximum capacity of 12 people.

For more information about Erinbell, her Berlin classes and her Yoga Weekend February 17-19, 2012 see (all information is in English):


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Reederei Riedel Boat Tours in Berlin Fri, 23 Sep 2011 22:26:40 +0000

Reederei Riedel Boat tours are among most popular in Berlin and are popular with locals and visiting Germans. Here is a quick summary of some of what they offer and where to catch their boats.

Their inner city tours take about an hour to complete and run a route going past the beautiful historic area around the Museum Island and Cathedral (or Berlin Dom) through the central government area in Berlin, past the Chancellory (Bundeskanzleramt) all the way to Moabit.

They depart every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour starting at 10:00 in the morning from the

Moltkebrücke bridge below the main train station (see map)

There are also much longer trips that you can take that take about three hours to complete. You can find more detail on exactly what’s in these trips in our section on Berlin boat trips.

You can also find out more about Reederei Riedel by going to their website or checking out their brochure.

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Friedrichshain Park: A great place for kids (and their parents) Fri, 08 Jul 2011 20:04:08 +0000

Compared with most cities in the world, Berlin is completely overrun with playgrounds and great big green open spaces. It is one of the things that make a summer in Berlin such fun for kids and their parents. And one of the best places to enjoy it is in Friedrichshain park (better known by its German name, Volkspark Friedrichshain, which is literally translated as “the peoples’ park”).

One of the biggest and best is the Volkspark Friedrichshain, a huge green park that fills up over summer weekends. It has plenty of space to hang out and fire up a grill (it is one of the few parks in Berlin where it is legal to have a fire) and it also has some of the greatest kids’ playgrounds in Berlin. There is a busy Beer Garden, restaurant and a couple of places selling ice cream and snacks. It also has the remains of two Flak Towers that were built during the war. There isn’t much to see of them now, but you can climb to the top for some lovely views out over Berlin.

The park also offers a wide variety of experiences. If you start at the bottom of the park (or its Western edge) the first thing you will see is its sculpture garden. This is known as the Fairy Mountain (or Märchenbrunnen). It contains a lovely fountain and 106 sculptures depicting scenes from German fairy tales and was built in 1913 specifically for Berlin’s children.

Carry on walking into the park and you come across a dense criss-cross of paths leading through sunny grass fields and children’s playgrounds with imaginative climbing frames, swings and ubiquitous sandpits. Carry on and you come across large ponds surrounded by sunbathers. Leading into them is a firm favourite among children, a sloping little stream with fountains and stepping stones. On warm days the place is heaving with children, toddlers and up, all splashing happily, building dams and sliding down the little fountains.

The Friedrichshain park is dominated by the remains of two old flak-towers that were built by the Nazis as part of their elaborate air-defence system for Berlin. Now the towers are largely destroyed and covered with earth and rubble leaving them looking like steep hills with odd bits of concrete poking out. If you want some exercise this is the place to do some serious hill-work, whether on foot or by bike.

Keep going along the paths up the hill and you come to a large cafe and Beer Garden (the Restaurant Schoenbrunn) that serves nice beer and passable food.

In short, if the weather is lovely and you just want to soak up some sun and chill, there are far worse places to go than the Friedrichshain park.

How to find Friedrichshain park

The park is easy to get to using a tram. The M5, M6, M8 & M10 all pass nearby. Another option is to catch the bus, number 200, which runs from Mitte out past the park.

Read more:

Slowtravel Berlin has a great post with lovely photos at this link.

You can find out a bit more about the history of the park on Wikipedia.

Lonely Planet has a bit on some of the lovely memorials found at Friedrichshain Park.

Friedrichshain park

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The Rum Trader: Berlin Wed, 04 May 2011 16:05:52 +0000 Sometimes bars leap out of their context and take on a symbolism and meaning that is, somehow, far beyond the bar itself. It is difficult to pin down what makes these establishments legendary. But one knows them when one sees them. One such bar is the Rum Trader. Berlin may be filled with interesting bars, but this one stands out among bar cognoscenti for the fact that it is tiny, hidden and punctilious about serving carefully-made drinks with rum. Getting a seat can be hit and miss as it only has space for about 25 people. It is also easy to miss with a door that blends in. But few people who’ve been there won’t remember the experience.

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The Berlin Street Music Project Fri, 29 Apr 2011 10:03:15 +0000 Berlin is packed with street musicians. This is a project to record some of them:

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The bubble men Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:57:10 +0000

A highlight for kids in Berlin is to find one of the many bubble men who blow gigantic bubbles. They are like pied pipers and are usually surrounded by throngs of enthusiastic children watching or chasing and popping bubbles. You can usually find them at Mauerpark on Sundays and can try your luck at Kollwitzplatz over the weekend.




They provide loads of fun in exchange for tips. Some even come prepared with extra materials and mixture for sale.
And if you want to buy the kit and liquid and make your own bubbles at home-an absolute winner with the kids!-you can
order some from Peter and Pats Seifenblasen

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Tempelhof Park – A Great Green Space From an Airport in the Centre of Berlin Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:55:07 +0000

There are few things more surreal and more amazing than Tempelhof Park, a green space that has been created in the middle of Berlin from the old Tempelhof Airport.

When approaching this park, the first thing you see is the imposing facade of the Nazi-era airport that was built as a showpiece in the 1930s. At one time this was one of the world’s biggest buildings. It is also one of the most brutal and ugly buildings around. The history though is interesting, for not only was it an important airport during World War 2, it also served as a key hub for the allies to use during the Berlin airlift, when the city was kept alive by an air-bridge that carried supplies to the Western portions after the Soviets cut all communication with the city.
Now, however, it has become an amazing open space that fills up with cyclists, rollerbladers and runners. It has  huge expanse of grass that stretches way out into the distance. It also has some strange leftovers from the airport’s time as an American airbase. These include a shooting range and parachute training towers.
To get a sense of the history of the place you can sign up for tours that take you through the buildings, into the old bunkers and past walls shot full of bullet-holes. You can read a bit more about the history in an article in The Independent here. Or you could just chill out with a beer and kebab or burger at the Beer garden.
In summer it is a great place to visit to picnic. It is also fantastic for kids as they can run or ride to their hearts’ content without you having to worry about traffic as no cars are allowed inside.
The best way to get there is to take the U6 line and get off at Paradestrasse or you could take the U8 to Bodenstrasse.
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The best Christmas markets in Berlin Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:53:04 +0000

Christmas time in Berlin is truly magical because of all the charming Christmas markets that spring up all over town. There are more than 60 of them ranging from the really upscale on the Gendarmenmarkt to the kitsch and tacky the best example of which has to be the one at Alexander Platz. Finding them is not hard. Just about every public square in the city will have a Christmas market that runs from early December to a couple days before or after Christmas. Some of our favourite Berlin Christmas markets include:

WeinachtZauber christmas market at the foot of the Konzerthaus in the Gendarmenmarkt in Mitte (pictured here left and above) with gourmet foods, live shows and music and high quality hand made crafts. This is the grandest of Berlin’s christmas markets and charges a small entrance fee. Its on from 22/11/10 until 31/12/10

The small, all organic and fairtrade Grune Liga Adventsmarkt on Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg is another market we enjoyed. We came away sated with waffles, Lebkuchen and Gluhwein and with some beautifully crafted wooden airplanes. This market is open on the 4 Sundays preceding christmas: 28/11; 05/12; 12/12 and 19/12 from 12-19h00.

The Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt at the Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg does a Swedish take on the usual christmas market – it offers Glogg instead of the usual Gluhwein. Its overrun by throngs of Prenzlauer Berg children who are thrilled by the bungee jump trampoline, the shows, visits from Santa and the sweet carousel rides.

And then there’s Holy Shit Shopping
Billed as a relaxed shopping experience in a club setting, Holy Shit Shopping showcases cool clothes, designer objects, funky jewelry and some interesting art and photography. In the shopping lounge where DJ’s spin the discs, we felt more like we were out clubbing than christmas shopping and we came away with some unusual presents for ourselves and friends. This year (2010) Holy Shit Shopping will be on Saturday 11th December (12-22h00) and Sunday 12 December (12-20h00). Check the website for venue details.


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Berlin Boat Tours – These are the best Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:47:42 +0000

Berlin Boat tours - landwehrcanal

On the Landwehr canal, enjoying a relaxing afternoon Berlin boat tour

Most visitors are a bit disbelieving when they are told that Berlin has almost as many miles of waterway and canal as does Venice. And until you take a boat tour along some of the quieter and leafier canals you would have no reason to believe it. Yet once you do, your whole vision of Berlin is transformed.

There are three major Berlin boat tours that you can take.

The short Spree boat tour

The first, and probably most popular, is simply to take a short ride up and down the Spree. It is a great way to get a different view of the city and to see some of the major sights, such as the Reichstag and the new government district. But make no mistake, this is not a boat trip along the Seine. It is one of the more pleasant ways you can spend an hour on a warm summer afternoon, but you won’t disembark completely blown away by the experience.

The Landwehr Canal Boat Ride

The next step up, however, is a delight, even for seasoned Berliners. That is to take 3 hour trip that cuts through the back of Berlin along the Landwehr Canal and then rejoins the river. This really is spectacular as it takes you through leafy and gritty suburbs, past abandoned and seemingly squatted riverboats and round the Tiergarten and Zoo. You get to see some of Berlin’s most beautiful buildings as you chug slowly along. One piece of grisly history is that this canal was also supposedly the site where the body of Rosa Luxemburg was dumped after she was murdered by the Nazis.

This is not a tour aimed at foreign visitors and most of the people on it are German. Many Berliners take the ride as it is a relaxing and beer-drinking way to spend an afternoon. There is a commentary given by a guide but for large parts of the trip they drop the English translation and just hand out little guidebooks for you to read up on the sights on your own. If they do that to you be sure to moan loudly and not tip the guide as it is particularly unfriendly to anyone but German-speaking visitors.

The other thing to note is that unless you have a built-in Germanic predilection for eating sausages with mustard, then come well fed. Apart from the beer there is not a huge variety of food served by grumpy Frauleins in the restaurant on the boat. They are offered by a couple of companies and you can catch the boats at a couple of places, the easiest of which is probably just nearby to Markisches Museum U-Bahn station.

A boat ride to Potsdam

The third sort of boat tour you can take is a really long trip that goes all the way out to Potsdam or beyond. These will require a real commitment of at least half a day or more. As such these are probably not the best ones to recommend to time-pressed visitors. But if you have a summer afternoon and want a real sense of how green Berlin is, and how it is surrounded by forests and lakes, then slowly cruising along the river by boat is hard to beat.

There are several options for taking a tour by boat.

Reederei Riedel is one of  the main companies offering regular boat trips. Their website is in German and you can find out more at Or I have a short write-up about Reederei Riedel boat rides on this site.

Stern und Kreisschiffahrt is the other major shipping company offering tours along the Spree. They have more than 30 ships and have regular departures from several wharfs. You can see where to pick up one of the regular departures on the map below. For a full timetable check out their website. They usually depart every half an hour or so in summer from any of the spots marked below in Blue.

You can also contact Stern und Kreisschiffahrt  on 030 – 536360-0 or email them on

Other Berlin Boat Tours

A fun option could be to hire an eco-friendly solar-powered boat from

If you are a phyically fit sort, try renting a kayak to cruise around on the waterways under your own steam at

And then there is always the Eastern Comfort, a hotel/hostel that is on the bannks of the spree and is a well known meeting point for Berlin’s English-speaking expats. You can find more about it at

The Berlin Love Boat

berlinloveboatFor something a little more intimate and private there is always the Berlin love boat. It is a beautiful small wooden boat that can take you on a romantic tour of Berlin’s quiet canals.


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Bar Gagarin – Prenzlauer Berg Tue, 26 Apr 2011 11:22:08 +0000

Bar Gagarin Berlin is high on the list of restaurants that we bring visitors to when they are staying with us in Berlin.

In summer one can lie back on a lounger while drinking coffee and having brunch. In winter, snuggle up with some blankets and try a hot chocolate topped with cream and with a shot of vodka.

Our favourite is one of the house specialities; , blini filled with salmon and served with horseradish sauce – a real central European taste that ought to catch on in other parts of the world because it is so good.

They also do a good Sunday brunch, but for that we normally go next door. Gagarin also has the cutest bathrooms that are filled with everything you might need to glam yourself up for a hot date from makeup in the women’s (pictured left) to razors and toothbrushes in the men’s. Its at Knaackstrasse 22 and you can call them on 030 4428807.

It is also really close to the Rykestrasse Synagogue so you could combine your visits to both of these fantastic places.


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