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Don’t Act Like a Tourist in Berlin

by Josh Kraus

Sep 10, 2014

Bode Museum of Museum Island © Matthew Dixon | iStock


Berlin is cool. Really cool. So cool you feel cool just being in it. And there is nothing less cool than looking like a tourist. To pass through this magical cityscape undetected, try to avoid these rookie mistakes:


  1. Toilet money

Like many cities in Europe, Berlin does not believe in free public bathrooms (a.k.a water closets). That’s why it’s always a good idea to carry a few extra euros in your pocket in case nature calls. Because nothing says tourist faster than that look of sad bewilderment when you realize WCs are a for-profit business.



  1. Check-out process

The grocery store check-out process comes as a shock to most foreigners. First, there are no complimentary bags, so you either must bring your own or pay for one. Second, there are no baggers, so while the cashier scans your items with superhuman speed, you must bag, pay and look totally mellow in an intricate dance of agility and precision.


  1. Pay for your train

    Hauptbahnhof Central Station © Manakin | iStock

    Hauptbahnhof Central Station © Manakin | iStock

Don’t be seduced by the absence of turnstiles in the U-Bahn. Buying a ticket is mandatory, and you’ll soon discover undercover ticket checkers frequently roam the train cars waiting to kick off offenders. If you’re caught without a ticket, it’s a hefty fine and a humiliating walk of shame.


  1. Beware of train zones

If you’re taking the train to the Schönefeld Airport, remember to buy a ticket for A, B and C zones. While most of Berlin’s attractions are in zones A and B, Schönefeld is in C. It’s a common mistake, but the intimidating ticket checkers don’t see it that way.


  1. Closed on Sundays

Don’t plan your shopping for Sunday. In Berlin, most shops are closed Sundays, including grocery stores and liquor stores. If it’s an emergency, major train stations like Potsdamer Platz and Kurfürstendamm do have shops that stay open, but your best bet is to load up on supplies Montag through Samstag.



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