Restaurants in Berlin are melting pots of culture and gastronomic delight. The city's culinary traditions have been immensely influenced over the years by its vibrant immigrant community, with authentic international cuisines growing to cement a firm place on the city's food scene.
The flagship dish of Berlin is the simple yet satisfying boulette, a combination of fried meatball and hamburger often accompanied by Berliner Weiße, a traditional mix of sour beer and juice. The highly popular Doner Kebab from Turkish influence is one the most popular fast food dishes, while German favourites like beer and pretzels are stocked in abundance.
The central Mitte borough, which also contains many of the prime tourist sights, is the best bet for eating out in Berlin. Brimming with a wide variety of restaurants, Oranienburger Street is a particularly enticing option, featuring a buzzing atmosphere and many of the city's most popular restaurants.
The German capital can give even the most seasoned of shopaholics a run for their money, offering plenty of opportunities for shopping sprees with establishments such as high-end fashion stores, humble flea markets and enticing antique emporiums.
Luxury designer boutiques are found lining the streets at the west end of Kurfürstendamm and in Friedrichstraße. All the different shopping precincts have their own distinctive style and the best outlets are often tucked away in back alleys or quiet courtyards.
The main shopping districts are the Kurfürstendamm, Breitscheidplatz and the bargain-friendly Budapester Strasse and Tauentzienstraße. One of the trendiest shopping spots is the Schönhauser Allee, with countless independent shops boasting the latest fashion and young independent designer labels which can be snatched up for a song.
Most major stores are open from about 9.30am to 8pm during the week and between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays. They're also usually closed on Sundays, except for smaller ones in the main train stations.
Berlin follows close on Amsterdam's heels for the title of Europe's most liberal city, offering avant-garde setups, trendy bars, risque underground clubs, artistic local hangouts and world-class performing arts. Berlin's nightlife expanded rapidly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with locals excited to take advantage of a new type of social freedom. The clubbing scene in Berlin is now one of the most competitive and stimulating in the world.
The Mitte district is one of the trendiest, boasting some of the city's most popular party spots but often flooded with tourists. New clubs regularly spring up in Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, while Kreuzberg is fast becoming a go-to hangout with locals, and is distinguished by its edgy atmosphere. Schoneburg offers some superb cafes and saunas and is quite big with Berlin's gay community, as is Nollendorfplatz.
There are plenty of neighbourhood pubs serving local brews and old favourites, while cabaret is still a popular pastime in Berlin, with many cabaret clubs dotted around this vibrant city. Live music venues dominate much of the city, showcasing both well-known and amateur acts in just about every type of atmosphere, from intimate eateries to grungy music halls.