Photo: Iain Masterton/Alamy
Hot on the heels of the 30th anniversary of reunification last year, Berlin has emerged as a tech hub, with Facebook, Amazon, and Google setting up shop here. But the city is forward-thinking in subtler ways as well, including a push toward immigrant- and eco-friendly businesses. Here’s how to spend a day off in the revitalized City of Freedom.
Start in multicultural Neukölln, at Isla Coffee, which takes a sustainable approach to everything: To-go cups are made from recycled coffee grounds, leftover steamed milk goes into bread pudding, and fruit and vegetable scraps are pickled, fermented, and canned for porridges.
Walk off breakfast in Tempelhofer Feld, a public park that opened in 2010 on the grounds of a former airport. The green space includes community gardens, a four-mile bike path, and a trail that documents the role these grounds played in historic events from 18th-century Prussia to the Berlin Airlift.
Hop on the bus (the two-day, €20 Berlin WelcomeCard is your friend) to Schöneberg for lunch at Malakeh. Former TV chef Malakeh Jazmati came to Germany in 2015 after fleeing Syria; her original aim was to heal other refugees’ homesickness, but her fan base has since widened (and now includes Chancellor Angela Merkel). Don’t sleep on the jebet altajer, a fried pita filled with mushrooms, chickpeas, corn, peppers, and cheese.
Skip the crowded Museumsinsel and take the S-Bahn to the Futurium in Mitte. Opened last fall, the free museum is dedicated to exploring how we can build a greener future. A wristband tracks your progress through interactive exhibits that cover how people, nature, and technology can coexist; at the end, you’ll receive a personalized information kit to take lessons learned home with you.
Head back to Neukölln for a whirlwind meal at Michelin-starred Coda, where the tasting menu’s seven courses are inspired by dessert flavors and techniques. You might find, say, a raclette-filled waffle with a side of powdered-pickle-topped yogurt, paired with a glass of sparkling pear wine containing a scoop of peach liqueur ice cream. Prost!
Grab a nightcap at the influencer-friendly Monkey Bar, a cocktail lounge on the 10th floor of the 25hours Hotel, attached to the luxury Bikini Berlin mall. Order a rum-based King Kong in honor of your view of Zoo Berlin’s monkey house below.
The Sir Savigny Hotel and its ultra-puffy beds are a short walk away in Charlottenburg, the historic literary quarter. The cozy rooms nod to the area’s bohemian 1920s heyday. Now, it’s the perfect place to curl up under heavy velvet blankets and dream of another day exploring Berlin.