Leave all your assumptions about Berlin at home; this city is in a perpetual state of change with a knack for reinventing itself time and time again. In the 30 short years since the fall of the Berlin wall, Germany’s capital has evolved into a metropolis humming with energy, creativity and diversity.
There’s an unparalleled freedom of expression here, which makes a trip to Berlin an unforgettable adventure. While every traveller sees the city a little differently, here are five truths about Berlin we can’t deny.
1. Anything goes
Berlin has a bohemian nature, making it one of the most accepting, diverse and tolerant cities in Europe. Anything goes here and the city and its people are exceptionally permissive. In Berlin, you can relax and be completely yourself without fear of discrimination or judgement.
You’re more likely to be given a hard time for failing to recycle than you are for getting your face tattooed or leaving the house in just your underwear! The city has no shame so you shouldn’t either.
2.Berlin is not Germany
As the saying goes, ‘Berlin is not Germany, Germany is not Berlin’. Many other parts of the country are quite traditional and conservative, while Berlin is known to be expressive, creative and progressive.
A lot of travellers associate Germany with expansive beer halls, fairy tale castles and snow-capped mountains but in Berlin you’ll instead find a buzzing startup culture, a pumping nightlife and a vibrant creative arts scene. You won't find anywhere else in Germany quite like it.
3.It’s a melting pot of cultures
Of all of Germany’s cities, Berlin is the most multicultural and diverse. Over 13% of the population is international and it’s home to the largest Turkish settlement outside of Turkey – almost 200,000 people.
Berlin has long been a haven for expats, refugees and migrants and this global influence means that you don’t have to search too hard to find a decent Australian flat white, a bowl of Vietnamese bún cha or an American cheeseburger. It’s all here.
4. Cash is king
While a lot of other cities are embracing the cashless system, in Berlin, cash is still king. Cards are not widely accepted in restaurants, bars or markets so make sure you’ve always got a wad of Euros in your wallet. This might seem strange to travellers, considering that Germany is Europe’s economic powerhouse but there’s a deep aversion to any kind of debt here, including credit cards.
Historic events such as the severe hyperinflation of the Weimar era have contributed to these deeply entrenched cultural beliefs. To Germans, cash represents freedom, while debt represents guilt and shame.
5. Sundays are for chilling out
If you plan to be in Berlin on a Sunday, make sure you grab some groceries the day before because German law mandates that all shops, supermarkets and pharmacies close on Sundays. This is a day of rest in Germany.
Most Berliners spend it with family or friends and visit parks, cafes or markets (which are still open). A little planning in advance means you won’t be caught unawares without any supplies!
This guest post was written by Rachel Bale.