What's On travels to: Berlin, Germany
Go green in Germany…
Travel. Whatever the reason behind it, business or pleasure, the thrill of experiencing new cultures and cuisines, or just ticking a landmark off your bucket list, we should always consider the impact that travel has on our planet.
The buzz surrounding eco-tourism has never been more prominent. And in some destinations, such as the German capital of Berlin, green travel is making exploration of the city’s big-hitting hotspots even more fulfilling.
Here’s how to get the best out of Berlin, whilst staying green.
Where to stay
Lulu Guldsmeden Berlin
A number of hotels in Berlin have made the choice to go sustainable. Stay at Lulu Guldsmeden in the heart of the city, where sustainability has always been a priority with huge efforts being directed towards minimising its environmental impact and responsibly managing the resources the hotel relies on.
Inside, the hotel and the rooms feature a unique combination of modern design and Nordic-style sleekness. You will find bottles made from recycled plastics which you can take around as you explore Berlin, bamboo toothbrushes, toothpaste tablets, bed linen made from organic cotton, and much more. Incredibly cosy, warm and homey, the rooms are just what you need after a long day of exploring the city’s cultural and culinary spoils.
Tucking into a meal at the hotel? Lu Liba serves a fusion of Mediterranean and Lebanese flavours with a unique Guldsmeden twist. All the dishes are made with 100 per cent organic ingredients. Additionally, all food is sourced sans flight and even though the varied menu serves meat, many items can be ordered in vegetarian or vegan versions. At Lu Libar, you can enjoy the local beer, great wine, organic soft drinks, spirits and more.
Additionally, any elements from the breakfast buffet is implemented into the a la carte menu, reducing food wastage to nearly zero. If there are any leftovers after that, the scraps are taken and turned into biofuel.
From Dhs450 per night. guldsmedenhotels.com
Where to eat
Berlin, like any other multicultural cosmopolitan city, is home to a number of cuisines for you to enjoy. And most of them, if not all – can be enjoyed with a vegan twist.
Want a guide? Explore the streets of Kreuzberg with Fork & Walk Tours and get ready to be veganised.
Soi and Co
For dessert, Soi and Co is a plant-based cafe serving up Instagrammable vegan pastries, ice cream and specialty coffee. Chocolate fans must try the tamari chocolate sponge cake, which is an undoubted highlight on the city’s dessert scene. It’s created by infusing three-year fermented tamari (a type of soy sauce) into the cake creating umami notes, which complement the rich, bitter and sweet, notes of chocolate.
Wen Cheng 2
Arrive too late at Wen Cheng and you may just miss out on some of the city’s best homemade Chinese hand pulled noodles. Before even opening its doors, diners are queued up outside the restaurant hoping to get a table at first seating. Hand pulled noodles in homemade stew and a mild chilli oil are plated with the restaurant’s special sauce, coriander and Asian pickles. You can pick your spice levels – spicy (a level two spice level) or Asian spicy (a level three spice level) and if you want more heat, you can add chilli oil. There are beef, lamb and tofu options, or opt for aubergine with soy minced meat for a plant-based alternative.
Taqueria El Oso
You can find this lively Mexican taqueria in Markthalle Pfefferberg – a food hall in Schönhauser Allee, which serves up delicious mouth-watering tacos. The menu is limited, but crowds of hungry tourists and locals line up for a chance to tuck in. There’s also a vegan version and each bite is packed with freshness and flavour. You can add on as many topings as you like before you run back to the line for seconds.
For a light bite in-between your Berlin exploration, make a pit stop at momo – a 10-year-old restaurant serving up homemade organic veggie dumplings made with plenty of love. Only certified organic ingredients are used in the preparation, from the veggies to the herbs, but the result is a mouthful of pure goodness. There are eight dumpling filling choices including hot potato, eggplant, chickpeas, mushroom and feta cheese & spinach. There are three dip options to dunk your momos in, and you can pick from a platter of eight, 14 or 18 momos.
For a lighter sweet treat end to your dining experience, make a beeline to Brammibal’s Donuts. There are six locations around Berlin, and they’ve been serving up vegan handmade gourmet doughnuts and coffee since 2015. The flavours are numerous and there are seasonal flavours too for tucking in with a twist.
Where to shop
Love fashion? Walk in style across an environmentally friendly green catwalk decked out in Berlin’s finest handmade sustainable fashionwear.
You can spend an hour in Meher Kakalia’s store just admiring the finely crafted shoes, bags and accessories. All of the pieces in Meher’s unique collection stand out with craftwork from the Moghul Kings and Queens era, which is over 400 years old. It has been passed down through the generations and Meher worked closely with these women learning the tricks of the trade. She is now helping keep the craft alive in her ateliers in Berlin and London. In keeping with the theme of sustainability, Meher’s workshop in Karachi operates only in the daylight and uses embellishments spun from plastic waste.
Trippen is an unconventional footwear store designed in Berlin born during the early 90s. Each shoe looks different and is created using a sustainable process. This includes using a water-based glue, vegetable tanned leather and other green initiatives. The store is even working intensively on the development of vegan shoes. When you do shop here, you will see a few symbols next to the shoes which showcase if the shoe is undyed, vegetable tanned, metal free, plastic component free, adhesive free and more.
Other highlights in Berlin
If you’re the sort of traveller that likes to plan ahead, your top itinerary hot spots should include the Bradenburg Gate (though it’s currently under restoration), and the Berlin Cathedral. For art lovers, your trip is not complete without a visit to Museum Island, which is home to five popular museums: the Altes Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode Museum, Neues Museum and the Pergamonmuseum (also currently under renovation).
A 20-minutes subway rude away from Museum Island lies…
The Futurium, (also known as the Futurium Museum, or Musée Futurium) is a museum focusing on the future. Similar to Dubai’s own Museum of the Future, the innovative exhibit-packed space invites guests to answer the question ‘how do we want to live?’. Visitors can explore many possible futures here and they can participate in open discussions or even try out their own ideas in the super fun, hands-on Futurium Lab.
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Another 20-minutes away from Futurium is The Humboldt Forum. It opened its doors in 2021 and is considered the ‘German equivalent’ of the British Museum. It houses non-European collections of the Berlin State Museums, temporary exhibitions and even hosts public events.
The Tempelhof Airport
If you want to really feel like a Berliner, few sites embody the city better than Tempelhof Airport. No, we aren’t embarking on an elaborate way of telling you to go home: what was Berlin’s first airport is now a public park. It’s free to enter and is packed with people taking walks, exercising, skating, walking their dogs, or just enjoying me-time. There’s even an urban gardening section in the park, which is owned by residents, where they grow lettuce, carrots, tomatoes and more.
How to get around Berlin the sustainable way
Intercity buses, subways, trams, bicycles, scooters, car sharing – if there’s a sustainable way to get around the city, you’re sure to find it in Berlin. Of course, you can make like a local and walk from one spot to the other.
Psst – Berliners love to walk, so you’ll fit right in.
How to get there
Turkish Airlines flies to Berlin from Dubai and Abu Dhabi for a starting price of Dhs1,950.
Images: Getty Images, Instagram and supplied