This hip German city, known for its boundary-pushing art scene and as a hub of design and culture innovation, also boasts lovely weather in the summer months and into early fall. If your upcoming travels include Europe (or you’re just plotting an escape), consider exploring Berlin’s cultural offerings, which have grown increasingly rich since the city began its transformation into a heady artist’s quarters. What’s more, you’ll discover a more sophisticated offering of restaurants, museums, and coffee shops that are more sleek than fringe.
Meandering through Berlin’s avant-garde array of cutting-edge cool culture calls for an edgy-yet-practical wardrobe to match. Here are a few suggestions on what to bring.
With independent magazines and galleries aplenty, feel free to let loose in Berlin—sartorially and otherwise. (Art lovers should mark their calendars for late April, when the city hosts a gallery weekend.) If you’re feeling artsy, perhaps try a trompe l’oeil print as in this funky frock in light lime ($250) with walkable flatform sandals ($211). Or go for separates in a carefully distressed pair of faded jeans ($198), and snake print tee in black and blue ($90). Even accessories can take on an architectural tone, such as these round shades in a clear smoke frame ($42) and dove gray leather tote ($265). To avoid coming off staid, liven up your more neutral city palette with a couple jolts of color, like this neon green "friendship bracelet" with skull charm ($19.11).
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Check out the lively bars in cool prints and fabrics, like this black and white silk dress ($310) and white leather bomber jacket ($249.99). Leave the color to your accents like a foldover leather clutch in green ($98) or glossy red shoulder bag ($34.99). A slick edge is another always-savvy touch, such as this black and gold claw ring ($90.75) or these black sandals with a block mirrored heel ($101.40). Regardless of the outfit, a flattering red lipstick will dress up any look. This red-coral color by Berlin-based beauty company Uslu Airlines might do the trick ($31).
Sport and Sip
Berlin has played quite the role in Germany’s past. Take a stroll through the former Berlin Wall grounds in something easy and sporty like a botanical green V-neck T-shirt ($16.95), dark denim ($185), and soft black-on-black Nike sneakers ($80). For longer day jaunts, perhaps to the refreshing forests of Grunewald, throw a couple extras into this yellow backpack ($70), including a garment-dyed hoodie ($68), headphones by German company Bose ($99.95), and sharp silver sunglasses by Berlin-based Mykita ($374.26). If you happen to get an early start, perhaps you’ll have time for an afternoon kaffe und kunchen (coffee and cake) at Mein Haus au See (great for people-watching) in this bird-print khaki button down ($127).
The nightlife scene in Berlin is kaleidoscopic and wild (be prepared for techno and all night raging at some venues), so dress for comfort in a long sleeve cotton crew by German designer Thom Krom ($88.60). The dip-dye sleeves add just the right amount of funk for your night out. Then, maybe pair it with a simple slim fit chino ($42.99) or khaki-colored jeans ($52). Footwear should be able to hold up in the bobbing crowds—these rugged-chic gray Red-Wings ($250) should stand the test of all-night grooving. Or if your evening plans are on the tamer side, casual picks will do the trick, like this cotton jacket with hood ($228) or blue marble t-shirt ($104). If you’re up for the splurge, this classic strap watch by German watchmaker Stowa will add a decadent flair to just about any outfit ($690).
Where to Stay
Despite recent price hikes, Berlin still offers an excellent range of accommodations. In the historic Mitte district, Adina apartment-hotels are great for the traveler that likes to cook his or her own breakfast or have the flexibility of a fully equipped kitchen. The one- and two-bedroom apartments also feature laundry, a nice option for longer stays. Over at the popular Mittendrin, a bed and breakfast with nice high-tech touches like iPod docking stations in each room, the rates are also reasonable, from about 99 euros a night.
If you’re willing to pay top euro, the luxury choices include the stylish Das Stue featuring a gorgeously designed building and interior furnishings. Tiergarten Park is nearby for a morning stroll, or ask the concierge about bike rentals. (There are also several companies that offer Berlin bike tours to which the concierge can refer you.)
Those looking to dip into the city but who prefer more verdant surroundings should check out Schlosshotel Im Grunewald, located in a suburb of Berlin. The grounds and indoor pool are truly a vision to behold.
Photo credit: Women Day: Courtesy of Barneys New York; oseiduro.com; YOOX S.p.A.; MONO & ME; oaknyc.com; oaknyc.com; OPENING CEREMONY; or its affiliates. Woman Night: Courtesy of LALA BERLIN; Bloomingdale’s By Mail Ltd.; Meemi Ltd.; Mango On-Line Inc.; ANN INC.; Amazon.com, Inc. Men Day: Courtesy of CONVERSE; Nordstrom, Inc.; oki-ni 2013; SOTO OHG; EMINENT, INC.; Bose Corporation; Concepts.; Gap Inc; or its affiliates. Men Night: Courtesy of matchesfashion.com; EMINENT, INC.; LEVI STRAUSS & CO.; bananarepublic.com; French Connection.; STOWA; oki-ni.