Ashamedly, I’ve only been to Germany once – I travelled to Berlin in June 2014 with a couple of friends. Although we were only there a few days, I must admit I fell in love with the city a little bit – how can’t you?!
The people were friendly, the food was excellent and there are endless things to do. But my favourite thing about Berlin was, of course, the history.
There are loads of museums and sites dedicated to 20th century German history, I think this is the part of history that I find most interesting because it’s still pretty fresh in people’s minds.
These were some of my favourite things to do in Berlin.
1) Topography of Terror (Topographie des Terrors)
The former site of the Gestapo and SS during the Nazi regime, this museum offers indoor and outdoor exhibitions which illustrate the events of 20th century Germany. A good place to start your tour of Berlin.
2) The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe/ Holocaust Memorial (Holocaust-Mahnmal)
This museum documents how two thirds of the Jewish population in Europe lost their lives and publicises letters from families to their relatives, who had no idea of the terror they faced in concentration camps. The memorial holds the names of every known Jew who was killed during the Holocaust.
3) Checkpoint Charlie
The most well-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin.
4) The Berlin Wall & East Side Gallery (Berliner Mauer)
A line runs across the city, marking where the wall once stood, and the parts of the wall that are still standing have been decorated with beautiful street art (the graffiti was started before the wall was pulled down).
5) Palace of Tears (Tränenpalast)
From 1962 to 1989, Berlin Friedrichstraße station was a border crossing for people travelling between East and West Germany. The station is now a museum which re-enacts its former use.
6) Nordbahnhof S-Bahn Station
An exhibition on display at this former ‘Ghost Station’ explains how the rail services (which were run by West Berlin) no longer stopped at stations in East Berlin and how the underground tunnels became a means of escape for East Berliners.
7) TV Tower (Fernsehturm)
A symbol of Berlin, the television tower offers 360 degree views of the German capital. Sunset is the best time to visit. Cost: €13.
8) Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
An 18th century arch representing peace, the Brandenburg Gate has stood through historical events and was refurbished in 2000 after being damaged during WW2.
9) Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)
The largest church in the city, construction of the first part of Berliner Dom was completed in 1451, and additional buildings were added in the years to follow. You can take a tour of the building and the views from the top are beautiful. Admission cost: €7.
10) Reichstag Building (Reichstagsgebäude)
The seat of the German Parliament. You can take a tour of the terrace and dome but should book in advance – we didn’t get to do it on our trip as it was fully booked!
11) A personal highlight: Potstamer Platz
The Berlin Wall was only knocked down in 1989 – just three years before I was born! The city had been separated in two: Western Germany (and the Western side of Berlin) became the Federal Republic of Germany (BRD) and the Eastern sides of the city and country became the Soviet German Democratic Republic (DDR).
My dad visited Berlin in 1990 – just a year after the fall, and I found it so interesting to compare the photos he had taken to what I saw fourteen years later. The two images below are photographs I took of his printed photographs from his visit in 1990 (sorry about the quality!) The mound of dirt in the bottom photo is the fallen Wall – these mounds are still here today but are now covered in grass.
How to get around in Berlin
Berlin has great transport links, with fantastic tram, bus and train/underground links across the city. Alternatively, you can take a taxi. I really recommend the Berlin WelcomeCard:
- Cost: €19.50 for 48 hours, €26.70 for 72 hours or €34.50 for five days
- Benefits: offers discounts of up to 50% on more than 200 attractions
- Website: http://www.visitberlin.de/en/welcomecard
Where to stay in Berlin
We stayed at Hotel Castell Am Kurfürstendamm in a triple room. It was a pleasant, comfortable stay, with friendly staff and a free, fairly decent breakfast every morning. Use the widget below to browse more options.
- Hello – Hallo / Bye – Tschüss
- Please – Bitte / Thank you – Danke
- Where is…? – Wo ist…?
- How much is it? – Wieviel kostet das?
- The bill, please – Die Rechnung, bitte
- Do you speak English? – Sprechen Sie Englisch?
- I don’t understand – Ich verstehe nicht
Have you been to Berlin before? What did you make of it?
Thanks for reading,
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