Berlin, a city which boasts both a thriving arts scene and a raw, and sometimes brutally honest, cultural experience. The abundance of street art and incredible art galleries here, combined with a very open remembrance of the city’s troubled political past makes Berlin one of the most fascinating and unique travel destinations in the world.
As a major Capital city in Europe, you can imagine the amount of awesome things to see and do here; so here are a few of the great experiences to try out on your travels inside hub of German culture. We didn’t regret our trip there, and neither will you!
1. The Berlin Wall / East Side Gallery
On our first afternoon in the city, we walked along a section of the Berlin Wall, one of the most recognisable constructions in the city. While remembered as a symbol of division, it now plays host to the East Side Gallery, where you can find large-scale pieces extending the whole length of the wall. You can also read stories of those living in Cold War Berlin.
2. The Brandenburg Gate
Probably Berlin’s most intimidating pieces of architecture, the Gate has been the backdrop for some of the city’s major historical events (“Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”). The authentically-German style of this Gate is magnificent and in person is sure to leave you in wonder at the sheer size! Oh, and don’t forget it’s a great photo opportunity 😉
3. Museum Island
The island (true to its name) is the cultural centre of the entire city, with halls and Cathedrals displaying the most beautiful design work, and it also hosts some of the city’s best artwork and historical monuments. The Altes Museum was our favourite; we got a glimpse into the role the Media has had in shaping German society.
Tip: there’s lots to see and do on Museum Island. Why not bring some lunch with you and have lunch in front of the majestic Cathedral in the Lustgarden?
4. The Reichstag
Being completely honest, we did not do the guided tour of the Reichstag, Germany’s principal Government building. Instead, we booked a table at the beautiful rooftop cafe. Doing so, we gained free access to the dome right beside it and got some great views of Berlin! However, talking to people I have been told that the tours are interesting, so definitely check it out!
5. Checkpoint Charlie
Post WW2 Berlin is one of the city’s most beguiling periods in its history. The stories of those fighting against the inequalities of the times and the division between the two factions comes to life harrowingly at this recreation of one of many checkpoints. There’s a few interesting museums around as well if you want to read more.
The one right across the road is fascinating (and free!)
6. The Holocaust Memorial
This is definitely the most emotional stop during your stay in Berlin. Each huge block is said to represent thousands of lives lost during the Nazi regime due to persecution and repression. There is a visitors’ centre beneath the monument which holds the name of over 3 million Jewish victims and provides glimpses into the world of Nazi occupied Europe.
7. The Victory Column
Walking through the Brandenburg Gate you will see the Victory Column off in the distance. Erected as a commemoration for the victors of the Austro-Prussian Wars, the purpose and symbolism of the Column has shifted over time. The design is beautiful both inside and out; plus for only a few euros, you can climb the tower and get a great panoramic view of the city!
8. Currywurst Stalls
I couldn’t write a post about Berlin and not mention the greatest food to be found! We were quick to find these amazing street foods outside the Haufbahnhopf Train station and became quickly addicted. You’ll find them all over the city and they’re awesome.
GERMAN SAUSAGE + CURRY SAUCE = PERFECTION!
So that’s my tips for your travel plans in Berlin. There’s so much more to discover in the German Capital; but it can’t be read, it has to be lived. Auf wiedersehen!