Two sisters, two cities: London vs. Berlin

While I study journalism in London, my sister is a business student in Berlin. But what makes one of these cities unique when compared to the other? We unveil our favorite city hotspots and compare which capital offers the best in lifestyle, shopping and culture.

Yvette, Berlin:

“Berlin has a very special vibe. It’s the mixture of the old and the new – the art of how modernised architecture merges with the city’s historical flair. For me, Berlin represents a modern generation that doesn’t forget about the past, but at the same time is identified by much more than just a shaded history.

  • Culture, Lifestyle & Shopping

Hackesche Höfe Berlin

Living in Berlin is very cheap compared to other capital cities. I pay much less than my sister in London for much more space. Especially Kreuzberg is one of the upcoming student areas. The city is full of young and individual people. Berlin is definitely a fashion hot spot in Germany, with many unique shops and upcoming designers. One of my favorite places for shopping are the Hackeschen Höfe. In the numerous one-off stores you can look for special bargains, which you won’t find anywhere else.

On a summer day, there’s nothing better than enjoying a frozen yogurt from Wonderpots at the Spree river. A nice place to relax is the Monbijoupark close the “Hackeschen Höfe”. From here you have a lovely view towards the dome and also the “Museumsinsel” is very close. Walking along the Spree river you’ll find many cafes. There are also plenty of beach bars across the city, where I love to relax during summer time and bury my feet in cooling sand. One of the most famous beach bars is Traumstrand Berlin close to central station.

  • Food

Berlin is a multicultural melting pot. You can experience this already through the variety of restaurants. My favorite is Amrit & Mirchi. Basically this place represents two seperated restaurants, which are always located next to each other. While the Amrit offers the best Indian food in the city, Mirchi is inspired by the Singaporean cuisine. Both serve delicious food and at night they offer great cocktail deals.

An absolute insider’s tip is Sushi Miyabi (Friedrichstraße or Uhlandstraße). They have happy hour from am to pm, where they serve you double portions. The highlights are the individually filled baked rolls. Definitely worth a try.

Berlin also offers the best Kebabs, if you’re rather looking for a cheap on-the-go meal. Mustafa’s Gemüsekebab is the most famous and you can easily stand in line for up to 60min. to get your “Döner”.

  • Nightlife

German celebrities at the Mango Store Opening in Berlin, 2011

The nightlife in Berlin can’t be compared to any other metropole. Especially because there seems to be a difference in the styles of celebrating between East and West. While the Western parts of the capital are rather posh, the Eastern areas are known for their unique electro scenery.

Puro is an elegant nightclub located on the 20th floor of the Europacenter, right next to the Memorial Church at the famous Kurfürstendamm. The view is priceless, everything is glassed and you can overlook Berlin in it’s whole beauty. If you like to look out for celebrities, you should definitely party here. Another fancy place is Felix.  It’s an admired place to party for VIPs like Paris Hilton and Co. and was one of the beautiful locations in Til Schweiger’s film “Keinohrhasen”. While it’s a restaurant during the day, it turns into a nightclub in the evening.

Besides the posh VIP places in the Western parts of the capital, there is the so called „Berliner Szene“ in the Eastern areas. It describes the modern electro scene of the capital city. Currently, Berghain is the number one address to party. The Eastern scene-districts include Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg.

One of the best places to experience the trendy neighborhoods is the nightlife at Simon-Dach-Straße. Ist a great place to plunge into Berlin’s unique vibe. Going out here is very cheap and famous amongst students. You see! You probably won’t find such a versatile nightlife anywhere else.

Overall Berlin is the city of contrasts. It’s derelict and luxurious, it’s historical and forward-looking, it’s casual and posh. Berlin just has so many different faces and there’s something to love about it for everyone.”

Berlin at night

Ines, London:

“London is a splendid city ruled by majestic buildings and class. Still, walking along the lanes and streets, you don’t really feel the large-city-vibe everywhere. London is not a city filled with high-rise towers and a cosmopolitan skyline. This place somehow managed to keep the charm of the traditional British brick houses and revive them with modern architectural elements.

  • Culture, Lifestyle & Shopping

Living in London is an expensive adventure. One year ago, my boyfriend and I were looking for a place together. While I was still working on a Friday, he already spent a day visiting some properties. The first thing he told me when I arrived one day later was: “Do you remember when we talked about lowering our expectations? Lower them again!” Finding an affordable apartment was an absolute nightmare. In the end we were lucky, but still: 1100 £ for a studio apartment is in my eyes very very expensive.

London – The city of temptations

The living expenses are not much higher than back in Germany. Supermarkets offer great deals and fruits and vegetables are even cheaper (only 1£ for a pack of fair trade bananas). The real dangers are the temptations across the city, where you can easily drain your money. One dinner here, a new pair of shoes there… It’s a never ending curse! While Berlin is the place for upcoming designers, London occurs to me as vintage paradise. There are so many places across the city where you can find beautiful dresses, scarves and jewelry from days gone by. One of them is the Kingly Court with all its one-off stores, just next to London’s famous Carnaby Street.

But more than everything else, I love the markets across the city. Walking through the Portobello Road in Notting Hill and seeing all the colorful Victorian townhouses while looking for treasures is such a unique shopping experience.

During the last year I became a real artoholic. Culturally, London has so much to offer. All the museums in London are for free and there’s nothing more relaxing than spending a rainy day looking at the photographs and paintings at Tate Modern or Saatchi Gallery.

  • Food

Inamo St. James

London’s food menu is multicultural and a feast for all your senses. Going out for a dinner here is not just about eating. It’s about dressing up and being entertained. There is for example Inamo, an interactive restaurant near Piccadilly Circus where you order food and drinks with a touch screen. A projector displays the menu onto your table and there are also plenty of games (battle ship, memory) to play until your food is ready. It’s so much fun – and it’s for a reason that this place was voted “London’s best restaurant” in 2010.

Since I’m here I couldn’t find any good kebab places that could compete with the ones in Germany, but that’s no reason to starve. London has Pizza Lupa! It’s definitely the besssst fresh pizza you can order in the whole city (“Buffalina” is my favorite)! It’s stone baked and the selection for vegetarians is immense.

An absolute must for a sweet treat is Ben’s Cookies. It’s London’s chocolate heaven with the best melt-in-your-mouth cookies in the whole wide world.

  • Culture & Nightlife

London’s nightlife is versatile, colorful – and an early bird. People go out already at 7pm and clubs are full around 8pm already. The reason for this is that the last tube leaves around midnight and if you don’t leave early, you’ll be stuck in the city until the early morning. Actually, I really like this party attitude here, because I just know how difficult it can be to brace myself up again after relaxing on the couch for the whole evening.

A typical night out at the pub with my class

The British also love their pub culture. Most students here spend their nights out at traditional pubs, it’s simply cheaper than the fancy places. Sounds boring? It’s not. Actually, it’s a part of the culture here and there are so many young people in the bars, which makes it really easy to meet new people.

Overall, London is one of the most amazing places to live. You’ll never get bored, that’s sure. But as a student with a limited budget it’s sometimes really hard to enjoy all the amazing places. Would I come back to live here in future? Sure! But only as a millionaire.”

The Tower Bridge

Now it’s up to you to explore Europe’s most famous capitals! If you’re planning to explore the continent during your time in the UK, Berlin is definitely worth a visit! Tickets are cheap (with Ryanair or Easyjet) and the flight only takes about an hour.

For us both cities are always worth a visit for some great shopping, a unique nightlife – and most importantly to see each other.

xo, Ines & Yvette

London vs. Berlin – both cities are worth a visit, to see each other.

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