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How to spot a Berliner on holiday

When a Berliner goes on holiday they can stick out somewhat. Read on for how to spot a Berliner abroad.

Doc Martens – a Berlin uniform no matter the location. Photo: IMAGO / Pond5

No matter where you are, you’ll notice them. It might be Stockholm, Lisbon or Crete, but there they skulk with a sceptical look and Doc Martin boots. One of their main habits is comparing everywhere else to Berlin, usually along the lines of “there are actually a lot more upcycled vintage shops / listening bars / vegan brunch places in Berlin”.

Here are some sure fire ways to recognise Berliners on holiday.

“It’s so expensive here”

You rarely find prices as low as in Berlin when eating out on holiday. Photo: IMAGO / Manngold

While Berlin is far from immune to the effects of inflation – our favourite noodles now cost eight euros rather than six – life here is still commonly cheaper than in most popular touristy cities. It’s still much cheaper than other big German cities like Cologne, Hamburg or Munich, and far more so than Paris or London. Berliners like to remind people of this fact when they’re on holiday and will do so repeatedly, whether they’re in a cinema, a café or a bar.

“What do you mean the clubs aren’t open on a Tuesday?”

Photo: IMAGO / Andreas Beil

Berliners can be guilty of overlooking a city’s strengths and forgetting that not everywhere is Europe’s number one party destination. Not everyone is looking for world class club culture (the misguided fools). If there’s no party available you’ll find them filling the beach with hot beats at all times of day or night.

“Where’s the Späti?”

A wasteland with no Spätis to be found. It hardly bears thinking about. Photo: IMAGO / Hohlfeld

Whether you’re in Kreuzberg, Mitte, Friedrichshain or Prenzlauer Berg you’ll never be too far from a Späti. There are so many that some of them get creative in order to stand out from the crowd. Check out a list of our favourites here! When the average Berliner is on their well-deserved holiday and is looking for a cold beer or cigarette papers in the narrow streets of a small Mediterranean town late at night, it is a desperate situation. They search and search, dying of thirst and hunger. But there are no Spätis to be found. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those poor souls.


Spock is a style icon for many Berliners when it comes to hairstyle. Photo: IMAGO / Ronald Grant

Two hairstyles are currently in vogue here in Berlin – the mullet and the techno bowl as inspired by Spock from the Starship Enterprise. He was a style visionary, decades ahead of his time. Berliners can spot eachother with these distinctive hairstyles in foreign parts, even when dripping wet, because they don’t lose their shape in the rain. Very practical!

“No, we haven’t rented a car”

You can’t drive off into the sunset if you don’t have a drivers licence. Photo: IMAGO / Imagebroker/Fabian von Poser

Even if unreasonable folk keep claiming the opposite, Berlin is a city where you can get along just fine without a car. Our well-developed public transport is second to none, and as a result there is a particularly large number of people in Berlin who don’t own a car. Some were born here and never felt the need to get a driver’s license, others have a licence but lack practice, and for others life without a car was a reason to move here in the first place.

The non-driving Berliners quickly attract attention on holiday, when there are certain advantages to renting a car. The quietest and most beautiful bays, starting points for hikes and farm shops are often impossible to reach by public transport. On the bright side the Berliners can cook dinner at the AirBnB to contribute, because we’re not the ones who’ve been negotiating the hairpin bends all day.

“The bus only comes every 30 minutes?”

Photo: IMAGO / Pemax

Because they can’t (or won’t) rent a car, many Berliners are instead at the mercy of the inadequate timetables of small town transport. You’ll see them standing at the bus stop with a disgruntled look, a Coca Cola in hand (no Fritz Cola here) waiting for the bus. The fact that the ticket will be much cheaper than in Berlin won’t stop them grumbling.

“Have you got factor 50 suncream?”

Tattooed Berliners need a lot of suncream on holiday. Photo: IMAGO / agefotostock

Suncream has experienced a real boost in popularity thanks to beauty gurus on Instagram, who assure us that the only effective remedy against aging skin is applying suncream to your face both summer and winter. Of course at the beach it’s even more important. The many tattoos that adorn Berliners need special attention, and a whole bottle of factor 50 suncream can easily disappear over a week away.

Detox or retox?

Photo: IMAGO / Chris Emil Janßen

It’s so easy to indulge in excess in Berlin, and for some holidaying Berliners the indulgence comes along for the ride, in beach bars, clubs and at parties. For others, going away means finally escaping the many opportunities for overdoing it. Because, let’s be honest, if Berghain is on your doorstop at home there’s no need to attend the sticky floored clubs of Magaluf. To detox, or to retox, that is the question.

Doc Martens in 34 degree heat

Photo: IMAGO / Runway Manhattan/Zach Chase

Berliners display an incredible tenacity of purpose when it comes to wearing shoes designed for a North European winter, even when it’s 34 degrees and the sun in shining. Shorts and docs, a practical look for festivals, but perhaps somewhat sweaty for tramping the hidden bays of the Côte d’Azur or the streets of Dubrovnik at noon. Look out for the signature fanny pack too, which although they’re popular all over Europe now, are particularly so with Berliners.

“Selfies are lame”

Selfies? Cringe. Photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia/Andrey Popov

Even more embarrassing than taking generic selfies in front of major landmarks is the ultimate sign of lame – the selfie stick. Most Berliners don’t stoop to the level of taking posed pictures in front of the castles, arches or waterfalls, even if secretly they’d quite like to.

This article has been adapted from the German by Poppy Smallwood.