BLY’s definitive guide to Berlin guide books.
There are thousands of tourist guides to Berlin. We know better than most: we’ve written many of them. But, this multi-faceted metropolis has always artfully eluded being surmised in just one handy guidebook. Instead, you have to dig a little deeper to get the insider’s view of the soul of this city, its history and what keeps millions of people visiting each year.
And there’s no greater place than Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus’ seemingly endless array of English language books in Berlin to help you get started. We’ve crafted a must-have starter kit for any tourist–whether you’re flirting with the idea of visiting, or just hobbling off the plane. Beyond that, Dussmann’s incredible display of top-notch vinyl, its gorgeous café with a mossy vertical garden, and its late-night hours (bookstore open till midnight!) might keep you there for hours on-end. It certainly traps us.
Walking in Berlin by Franz Hessel
This is an alternative tour-book for those with vivid imaginations and a feel for history. Published in 1929, Walking in Berlin is a collection of intertwining essays on what author Franz Hessel observed whilst doing nothing in particular – simply Walking in Berlin. Today, it’s seen as one of the best guides to the city because whilst the landscape has dramatically changed, you can follow in his footsteps, through the squares and thoroughfares, noting that some things haven’t changed at all. Through his writing, Hessel captures the spirit and excitement of Weimar Berlin, whilst also making observations on the Berliners and the Berlin way of life, something that, in 2018, still resonates – the soul of the city is unchanged.
Citi X 60: 60 Berlin Creatives Show You The Best of the City
This adorable pocket-sized Berlin guide packs a real artsy punch on your tour of what is, arguably, one of the more artistic and gritty cities in the world (a place where artists still flock for the cheap-ish rent and the eclectic ideas). And having this guide is akin to carting around your hip, artsy friend with the secret goods on who’s-who and what’s-what in the city–sans the normal drivel of touristy bars and overblown museums. Want to mosey along locals’ favorite street art, sip on a 3-euro cocktail at a neighborhood bar, or eat a soul-affirming, artist-approved kebab at 4 a.m.? This is the guide for you. Plus, the thing unfolds into a handy map and features QR codes to unlock more secrets of the city.
Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood
Sally Bowles, Cabaret… it all started here with this novel. Christopher Isherwood’s depiction of 1930s Berlin is celebrated both for its characterisation of the devil-may-care parties of the decaying Weimar era, as rich and poor alike drown their post-depression sorrows in sex, drugs and alcohol, as well as the sense of impending dread it conjures – the gathering storm of Nazi and communist ideologies clashing in the streets, and the Nazi party beginning to take its hold. Goodbye to Berlin is a XYZ something that connects to tourists.
Berlin Bars by Peter Eichhorn
This Berlin bar guide features over 100 Berlin bars. Its author, Peter Eichhorn, is a walking (and sometimes sitting and drinking) encyclopedia of Berlin beer and the city’s brewing history. In this book, he has turned his expertise to the city’s classier side – listing his favourite cocktail spots around the city. It’s an address book for sophistication, dressed Berlin chic, lounging in a bar that conjures the spirit of old Weimar Berlin, candles, gold and mirrors, to enjoy a serious drink mixed by an absolute professional. The book divides Berlin by neighbourhoods, so you’ll always find somewhere right near to you.
Street Art in Berlin by Kai Jakob
Kai Jakob’s Street Art in Berlin is arguably the most successful book about the streets of Berlin–collecting a wide variety of photographs of long-forgotten murals, along with current masterpieces that Berliners bypass every single day, and articulating the current trends of the street art scene in Berlin (and how Berlin continues to lead the charge on street art and individual expression). Berlin is synonymous with claiming space as one’s own, in personal reinvention. And street art is the perfect manifestation of that.
So: there you have it. The quintessential guide to Berlin guides. Have another favourite? Tell us in the comments!
Article sponsored by Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus.