Ausland is a non-commercial arts space with an eclectic programme of experimental film, performance and music, from avant-garde rock to electronica.
In a city lacking decent sushi options, Sasaya is a standout, serving tender sashimi and seasonal specials. The secret’s out, though, so book ahead.
Lucky Leek offers vegan cuisine such as beetroot noodle soup with coriander dumplings and red wine-braised seitan (wheat gluten) fillet with roast chestnuts. The desserts are excellent.
Restaurant Volt offers upscale dining with traditional German influences in a canalside former factory.
For lunch, try Markthalle 9, a renovated 19th-century indoor food market with a slow food canteen at its heart. At €6.50 for two courses, it’s one of the best lunch deals in the city.
Converted laundrette Lavanderia Vecchia offers home-style Italian classics such as creamy burrata cheese and tagliolini with truffles, with a set menu in the evening.
At Hamy, crowds gather to inhale steaming bowls of fragrant pho and Vietnamese-style curries – a bargain at €4.90 per plate.
Sauna culture is big in Berlin, and that’s a good thing at this time of the year; be aware that nudism is the norm. Hamam Berlin is a gorgeous Turkishstyle bath for women with a sauna and salon, open daily until late: €14 gets you three hours’ respite from the cold.
Alex Hotel (rooms from €69) is a small, bright hotel in a typical turn-of-the-century Berlin building, a stone’s throw from Volkspark Friedrichshain. Local designers have decorated the rooms with bold colours and stylish furniture.
Once a vacuum cleaner factory, Hüttenpalast (rooms from €45) is now a quirky ‘indoor campsite’, where guests sleep in wooden huts and caravans as well as normal rooms, with shared bathrooms.
Soeur specialises in second-hand designer garb. Among its colourful contents are pieces by Zac Posen, Chloé and Stella McCartney, as well as some terrific statement heels.
Set in a pretty hinterhof (yard), Voo Store is a beautifully curated shop and café, stocking everything from records, perfumes and homeware to minimalist Scandic fashion.
Sing Blackbird is a charming café and vintage shop rolled into one, with homemade cakes, coffee and rails of secondhand finds.
Named after the founding fathers of krautrock music, Neu! Bar is an edgy little place with an after-hours feel and excellent alternative music.
The hip bar at Das Hotel is tiny, crowded and decked with flowers, but still finds space for the odd impromptu music gig.