Berlin has been on my to-do list since I studied German in my 1st year of high school. But unfortunately we are yet to make it here. Hopefully we will be able to cross it off the last later this year.
Justin from TrueNomads.com has been there however and has written his top 10 picks for our readers. Justin has some great posts on his blog so I urge you to check them out! For now, enjoy Berlin!
Get a lesson on an Island
At the eastern end of Unter den Linden is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site called the Museum Island. Its home to five of Berlin’s most important museums, the best being the Neues Museum, home to the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti and the awesome Pergamon, one of the world’s major archaeological museums. Within it you walk through a series of astounding structures, from a partial recreation of the Pergamon Altar (170–159 BC) to the two-storey Roman Gate of Miletus (29 metres wide and almost 17 metres high) and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, dating from the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (605–563 BC). Upstairs is the Islamic Art collection. You can get a day ticket permitting entrance to each museum.
Spend an afternoon in Mauer Park
The long strip of grass along the middle of Prenzlauer Berg’s Mauerpark is where Berliners go on Sundays to browse the massive flea market. They sell everything imaginable, from souvenirs to pianos. Around three in the afternoon the hillside becomes a giant karaoke scene. If you have what it takes to sing (good or badly) in front of a large crowd, then join in. It’s good for a laugh on a Sunday afternoon.
Have lunch in Grunewald
Grunewald forest is to the south-west of Charlottenburg. It is an easy ride down the S-bahn to get to it, and a cool spot to get away from the bustling city. Grab some food and head there for a picnic. You can wander through the woods by foot, bicycle or by horse. When it is warm enough you can swim in the near-by lakes of Schlachtensee or Wannsee. Then there is Teufelsberg, a man-made hill above the forest, constructed by the Allies after World War II from the city’s rubble. The only way to access the hill is to take one of the offered tours.
Get a panoramic, birds eye view
Architecturally, Berlin is amazing, in a wide array of styles. From medieval buildings with their stone statues to post-modern sites and controversial street art, Berlin can fascinate anyone. A visit to the Reichstag, the home of the German Parliament, provides the perfect overview. The roof is an entirely glass structure, allowing for a panoramic view of the city right from the centre of government. There are similar birds-eye views found by taking Europe’s fastest elevator to the Panoramapunkt on the 24th and 25th floors of the Kollhoff Tower in Potsdamer Platz. Over in the east of the city is Fernsehturm, rising over 200 metres above Alexanderplatz, which contains a revolving restaurant and viewing gallery. On clear days visibility can reach 40 kilometres. Dotted throughout the city are balloon rides as well. You get into the basket and then they slowly unwind the anchor line as the balloon takes you above the rooftops. They leave you up long enough to get some great photos of the city then reel you back in. I always wondered what would happen if the line broke though.
Get a glimpse into the Soviet era at the DDR Museum
The DDR Museum offers a snapshot of life in the old Soviet days, and allows both children and adults alike to get a truly hands on experience. The even let you dress up like a Stasi officer and listen in on a bugged flat. You can also take a unique tour of the city by renting a Trabant, the classic car produced in former East Germany, now painted in bright colours by the Trabi Safari company.
Learn About Berlin’s Jewish history
The Jüdisches Museum presents the story of Berlin’s Jewish population through the Museum’s own architecture. The newest and most eye-grabbing section of the building was designed by controversial Jewish architect Daniel Libeskind. Across Oranienburger Straße (pronounced Strasse) is the Neue Synagogue. Somehow it’s big golden dome survived WWII. On a more serious note is the Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas. This memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe takes the form of 2,711 blocks arranged across the area of a housing block. Just walking through many parts of Berlin feels like a stroll through a museum. Even big buildings like the ones of Humbolt University and others are Medieval and old looking, in a very cool way.
Walls, Check-points and Graffiti
The Wall was mostly demolished between June and November 1990 although a restored stretch remains along the southern border of Wedding and Mitte. Visit Checkpoint Charlie, the famous east-west border control during the Cold War and now a tourist centre, for display boards telling the Wall’s story. There is also a small museum across the street from the McDonalds. For more of a hands-on history, take a walk along the Wall by the Spree, where it runs between the Freidrichshain-Kreuzberg districts. The east part of the remaining wall, known as the East Side Gallery, still sports some original graffiti from the cold war, and is worth a glimpse as it probably won’t be around for long.
Dance until sunrise
When it comes to partying, Berlin is got to be Europe’s go to city Techno, Electric and metal raves are more common here than anywhere I’ve been. Head to Berghain/Panorama Bar, on the border between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. It’s a big former factory turned techno raver. Then there is the club called Salon Zur Wilden Renate, with its massive underground house party vibe. There are also awesome DJ’s at Farbfenseher in Kreuzberg that play non-stop house music until morning. Take a short break to watch the sunrise, and then continue dancing at Panorama Bar. There are so many smaller pubs in Berlin I could never name them all. I can tell you this though: My last time in Berlin marked the first time I ever participated in drunken, killer, rotating, speed Ping-Pong tourney.
Eat like a Berliner
I’m sure you’ve heard of Berlin’s famous curry worst, and your already plan on indulging at one of the many street side vendors. What you might not know is that Berlin has one if the most culturally diverse food scenes that I’ve ever seen. I would recommend mixing it up, and trying a different country’s culinary every day. There are amazing smells from every street corner when you are downtown, coming from Turkish kebab vendors. There are Lebanese and Israeli shops with delicious schwarmas and Mid-Eastern food. There is Ethiopian and Mongolian BBQ’s, Japanese sushi bars, and authentic Chinese cuisine. A cool and weird places is White Trash Fast Food. This joint is like walking into a John Woo flick. Chinese dragons, palm trees and other crazy stuff top the list of frills setting the tone for this weird place. There is a cinema downstairs, amongst other things. Hey, why not get a tattoo while you eat your White Trash Burger? It’s on offer! All while listening to the band or DJ’s they have that day.
Shop the day away
Ever feel like wandering around a city in a royal purple tuxedo with green suspenders like The Joker in Batman, or maybe all yellow like Dick Tracey? Herr Von Eden is the place to go. It’s an expensive designer, but hey, you only live once right? They will hook you up in crazy suits with (un)matching accessories, like bright colored bow ties, fury blue top hats, etc. No one at the rave is going to accuse you of being a dull boy. Or girl.
Have you been to Berlin? What recommendations would you add to this