This Sunday marks the end of the FIFA World Cup run for 2014, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Germany qualified for this year’s final with their stunning defeat of Brazil’s national team 7-1 Tuesday. (If you have been living under a rock, you can catch the highlights here.) They’ll be playing Argentina, who knocked out the Netherlands Wednesday in shootout scoring, 4-2.
Germans are more than a little fanatical about their national soccer team, and after three consecutive tournaments with victory remaining barely elusive, the nation is holding out hope that the team can bring home Germany’s fourth World Cup title—a significant win as the country’s first victory since reunification.
Berliners have spent the last month gathering at public viewing locations across the city to celebrate the tournament’s highs and lows together. If you’d like to join in the fun, here are a handful of the best locations for catching the game as well as recommendations for where you can pick up some affordable Germany fan gear to blend in seamlessly with the crowd.
But first, the facts: the 2014 World Cup final starts at 9 PM German time on Sunday, July 13. It will be broadcast live on free television (ARD); within Germany you can also view on ARD’s free World Cup livestream here.
Offering the biggest crowd as well as the ultimate fanatical atmosphere, Berlin’s Fanmeile (Fan Mile) stretches 2 km along Straße des 17. Juni between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Due to its size, the Fan Mile is secured along its perimeter and visitors are subject to security searches and basic safety prohibitions (no glass bottles, alcoholic beverages, fireworks, weapons, or dogs allowed).
The Fan Mile has four entrances:
Straße des 17. Juni, between Yitzhak-Rabin-Straße and Großer Stern
Yitzhak-Rabin-Straße, at John-Foster Dulles Allee
Brandenburg Gate 1: Ebertstraße from the direction of Dorotheenstraße, at Simsonweg
Brandenburg Gate 2: Ebertstraße from the direction of Behrenstraße, at Ahornsteig
Despite accommodating over 100,000 people, the Fan Mile may fill up before the game, so it is important to show up early to clear security and ensure your space!
You will be exposed directly to the elements as well as standing for the entire game, so plan your attire accordingly. Pack a map, as it may be necessary to walk to a different (further) station due to crowd-related closures on your return journey. Food and drink are available for purchase along the Mile.
Pros: amazing atmosphere
Cons: standing, crowded, very loud, security checks, longer walk to/from public transit
The Fan Mile can be reached by foot from S-Brandenburger Tor, S-Potsdamer Platz, S-/U-Hauptbahnhof, S-Friedrichstrasse, S-Bellevue or U55-Bundestag.
Just a stone’s throw from the Fan Mile (and most certainly within hearing distance when goals are scored!) is Berlin’s “pregnant oyster,” the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), which has opened its auditorium doors for game viewing. Here there are no limitations on bringing in food or beverage, but food and drink are also available for purchase on site. Indoors, with ample seating. The crowd is interested and excited, but definitely more reserved in their exuberance (and slightly older) than the Fan Mile.
Pros: seating, indoors (in case of inclement weather) , BYOB
Cons: longer walk to/from public transit, more likely to fill up quickly
HKW can be reached by foot from S-Brandenburger Tor, S-/U-Hauptbahnhof, S-Bellevue, and U55-Bundestag.
If the Fan Mile and HKW are full, you can try your luck in front of Hauptbahnhof—there are 1,000 outdoor seats available for public viewing. From here, you can hear the roar of the Fan Mile without enduring the standing or the crowds!
Pros: seating, BYOB
Cons: closest to public transit, more likely to fill up quickly
Allermunde am Hauptbahnhof is located directly behind Berlin’s main train station.
If you’re looking to get away from the central action, try one of these options—one in the West, one in the East.
The Mercedes-Welt, located in Charlottenburg, has opened its atrium for World Cup viewing. Ample indoor seating and a 48 sqm screen (larger than many European apartments!) mean you should have a comfortable view of the game no matter where you find yourself seated!
Pros: seating, indoors, BYOB
Cons: more likely to fill up quickly
Mercedes-Welt is located near S-Tiergarten or U2-Ernst-Reuter-Platz
The WM-Wohnzimmer (World Cup Living Room) is this year’s newest and perhaps most surprising public viewing venue. The Stadion in der Alten Försterei is the home field of one of Berlin’s local soccer teams, FC Union. During this year’s World Cup run, they took applications and parcelled out spaces for couch parking across the field, creating a giant living room atmosphere for watching broadcasts on their big screen. Don’t worry, however—even if you don’t have a couch, you are still welcome to sit in the field’s bleachers and watch the game. They open up seating on game days at 6 PM, and it’s certain to be full for the final match, so show up early to get a good seat. Security regulations are similar to the Fan Mile, but bringing your own food and beverages, unfortunately, is not allowed.
Pros: seating, unique atmosphere
Cons: distant location, must purchase all food and drink
The Stadion in der Alten Försterei is a 10-minute walk from S3-Köpenick station.
You can pick up small fan articles in German colors—everything from goofy hats to temporary tattoos to black, red and gold leis, noisemakers, flags or glasses—at any of the city’s many Euroshops (the country’s Dollar Store equivalent). You can find the store nearest you by entering “Berlin” or your preferred German zip code here.
If you’re looking to invest in a quality DFB jersey (currently priced around 80 euros), you’ll find the best selection of official gear at department stores such as Karstadt or Galeria Kaufhof, both of which have set up special “Fan Shop” areas for soccer fans. You’ll find Kaufhof next to both Alexanderplatz or Ostbahnhof stations, or check here for one of its other three Berlin outlets; Karstadt has 13 locations across the city, and can be found, for example, on Kurfürstendamm or at Hermannplatz.