Berlin Exploring: A City Of ‘Glamour And Grit’

east side gallery Berlin

"Berlin's combo of glamour and grit is bound to mesmerise anyone keen to explore its vibrant culture, cutting-edge architecture, fabulous food, intense parties and tangible history" - Lonely Planet

Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate


Lonely Planet couldn't have described Berlin any better. It truly is a city of glamour and grit. If you are looking for ideas for a city break this year then I'd highly recommend visiting Berlin as it has something for everyone. In one area you will see pretty buildings with impressive architecture and luxurious shops and in another area you will see abandoned buildings with walls covered in colourful graffiti. The city is full of art galleries and museums, it has a buzzing nightlife scene, fascinating history and pretty parks if you fancy spending time outdoors. Berlin has a charm and character that reminds me a bit of Liverpool when you liken it to the architecture of the three graces on the Pierhead contrasted with the rustic and raw warehouses of the Baltic Triangle.

Last week my boyfriend and I set off on an exciting journey to Kreuzberg on the East side of Berlin, where he will be living for a year. I helped him settle into his cool new apartment, we explored the graffiti filled neighbourhoods and I also had the opportunity to test out my new camera; it arrived just in time for the trip! It wasn't the first time I've visited this vibrant urban metropolis and it won't be my last either as I've already booked more flights with Easy Jet for next month!

Exploring East Berlin on Bikes

The priority of this particular trip wasn't really to see the main sights; it was to get a good feel for where Toby will be living for the foreseeable future and to help him get settled. We decided to rent bikes on one of the days which allowed us to explore the area much quicker and soak up the sights of Kreuzberg without too much effort.

Berlin is such a big city that it's physically impossible to see and experience everything within one weekend so I'd highly recommend getting bikes if you decide to visit, to help you get around quicker as they only cost us around 8 euros each for the day. Luckily the weather on this occasion was bright and not too cold as the following day was absolutely freezing!

Berlin Street Art

At every street corner we discovered an explosion of colour, with interesting graffiti covering the walls of buildings. Wherever the buildings were unused and dilapidated, the street art brought a new lease of life to them with striking and colourful illustrations.

East Side Gallery 

On our Bike ride we decided to visit East Side Gallery which is a place that I didn't get the chance to visit last time I ventured to Berlin a few years back. East Side Gallery is the world's largest open-air gallery; a 1.3km section of the Berlin Wall that was painted by 118 artists from 21 countries around the world immediately after the wall came down. The hundreds of paintings depict the political and social changes around 1989/1990 and is now an international memorial for freedom. The paintings were vibrant in colour with some conveying interesting messages about society at that time.

East Side Gallery street art

east side gallery Berlin

This city break went by in a flash and now I'm back to reality in my normal routine, dreaming of my next adventure.

Have you ever visited Berlin? If so I'd love you to comment below with some recommendations of cool design-led places to visit as I will be back again in February.

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Natalie x

13 thoughts on “Berlin Exploring: A City Of ‘Glamour And Grit’

  1. Berlin is on my to visit a list. I have heard many interesting facts about it including very interesting and thriving art scene as well as amazing modern restaurants, great for foodies. Love your colourful snapshot from your trip.

  2. First of all, wishing your boyfriend a great start in this vibrant city – hopefully it’s only short term. I have never been to Berlin and for some reason I find Germany not very exciting , not sure why. I do have an open mind though and look forward to being converted by you! I assume that this is the first of many posts to come on this subject?

    1. Ahh thank you! Berlin is so big so everything is very spread out. It’s worth doing some research first rather than just winging it as you won’t be able to make the most of the trip. Apparently it’s one of the best places for design and has soooo many art galleries and museums! I will be back again in Feb so definitely more posts to come 🙂

  3. I’ve always wanted to visit Berlin. It’s got so much culture. I’ll look forward to hearing more from your future visits. And good luck to Toby in the new home.

    1. Thanks for the comment, looking forward to going back again and exploring the furniture shops. There were lots of upcycling shops and vintage furniture everywhere!

  4. Berlin is one of my all-time favourite cities. I love the urban vibe there and the fact that it is gritty. I wrote about the amazing street art there on my blog and a the design destinations I visited a few years ago. My best friend lives in Prenzlauer Berg which is a beautiful district. I thoroughly recommend a leisurely wander there. I also highly recommend the Buchstabenmuseum, especially if you’re into typography (You can check it out on my blog) and if you’re looking for something a bit unusual the Museum der Dinge (anyone who is not a bit of a design geek might find it a bit weird though). Nhow hotel is also worth a visit. It’s right by the East Side Gallery in Osthafen, between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. It’s a music and lifestyle hotel designed by Karim Rashid so it’s a bit crazy (I’ve also blogged about this). How exciting that your boyfriend will be living there for a bit. You’ll have plenty of trips to get to know the city better. Enjoy!

    1. Ahhh thanks so much for the tips! I will have a look at your blogs, your recommendations all sound interesting 🙂 I’m counting down the days till my next trip and can’t wait!

    1. I’m yet to try Currywurst, even though he dragged me round for an hour trying to find a place! We settled for Burgers mainly on this trip which were very tasty, but looking forward to going back and try different restaurants x

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