Berlin is one of Europe’s most important and historic cities. The capital of Germany is a thriving cultural and economic center with masses to see and do.Visitors can take part in an amazing variety of different experiences. Those in search of the night-life can drink craft beers and see underground bands in the city’s excitingly bohemian neighbourhoods. Culture enthusiasts can take in the one of the city’s many art galleries for a more highbrow experience. The city’s history is a rich and fascinating story told through its architecture and museums that will have you eager to learn more the more you explore its streets. Here is the top ten of the best activities that Berlin has to offer:
1. The Brandenburg Gate. This iconic landmark is one of the best known of Berlin’s tourist sights. The imposing neoclassical triumphal arch, built on the old location of one of the city’s historic gates, was originally constructed as a monument to the period of peace and prosperity that took place under the reign of the Prussian king Frederick William II. The gate is an impressive architectural achievement and is best looked at at night when it becomes illuminated, or early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
2. Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum) . The history of Jewish people in Berlin is a long, troubled and fascinating one. The best place to learn about it in Berlin, unsurprisingly, is at the Jewish Museum, which explains the community’s struggles and the important role they played in German history through to the present day. There’s films, art and some great interactive exhibitions there. Daniel Liebskind’s design for the museum is incredibly striking; a stark, harsh and uncompromising modern structure that creates a real sense of foreboding and disorientation in the visitor and uniquely compliments some of the more troubling exhibits. It’s a must-see.
3. The Riechstag Building. After falling into disuse in in the WW2 period and then subsequently staying that way during the most of the Cold War, the Reichstag Building was finally restored and now once again houses the German Parliament or Bundestag. It’s a beautiful, impressive and dignified structure. The interior has also been tastefully refurbished. Those visiting should be sure to go inside and get a fantastic view of the city from the building’s magnificent glass dome.
4. Berlin Television Tower (Fernsehturm). Standing at 368m, the Berlin Television Tower was an important symbol of East Germany during the cold war, as an example of the supposedly bright future that socialism could provide for its citizens. Since then, it’s become one of the best known and loved landmarks in the re-unified capital. The tower is an impressive sight that can be seen from all over the city. The observation floor also commands some of the best panoramas of the city from 200m in the air. You can even dine in style in its excellent restaurant when you’re up there.
5. Museum Island. This island, situated in the middle of the river Spree, is where you’ll find 5 of Berlin’s most famous museums, including the Pergamonmuseum, which hosts some of the world’s most spectacular archaeological treasures. Perhaps the most impressive of these is the ancient Babylonian gate of Ishtar, which is well over 2000 years old. The Alte Nationalgalerie is one of the most important galleries in Germany and houses work in a number of different styles including early modernism and impressionism. It’s great for an afternoon out, but there’s so much to see there that you’ll probably be back for more.
6. The Berlin Wall. The Berlin Wall was the large collection of fences, walls, partitions and guard posts that used to separate the communist east of the city from the west. Nowadays most of the wall has been demolished, but there are a few places where you can still see the remaining pieces, and several different exhibitions and tourist attractions alongside it. Most people start at the historic ‘Checkpoint Charlie’, which was the main entryway from one side of the city to the other. Be warned though – it is a bit of a tourist trap. If you’re looking for something Berlin Wall – themed that’s a bit more reflective then check out the Schlesischer Busch Command Post in the Friedrichshain – Kreuzberg district. During the summer months, this former guard tower is now a venue for some thought-provoking art exhibitions and events.
7. Charlottenburg gardens. The magnificent palace and gardens were constructed in 1705 and feature some incredibly opulent interiors and beautifully tended gardens. Walking around the grounds makes for a perfectly sedate afternoon and inside the sumptuous interiors – designed in the French Rococo style – are sure to impress.
8. Friedrichshain – Kreuzberg. If you’ve had enough of the museums and art galleries during the day, these are 2 of the best areas of the city to explore. There’s a really bohemian energy with some great bars and clubs open late into the night. Kreuzberg is a draw for hipsters and creatives from all over Europe, and has a vibrant music scene. Check out Das Hotel for some great music and well – mixed drinks. In Friedrichshain, take a stroll down Simon-Dach-Strasse at night and discover a great dance scene as well as lots of gay – friendly bars and clubs.
9. Oberbaum Bridge. This magnificent bridge is one of Berlin’s most impressive monuments. Crossing the river Spree, the double decker construction accommodates rail, cars and pedestrians. When the city was partitioned between east and west, the bridge used to act as one of the main checkpoints between the two. The bridge links Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, so having a look is a great idea if you’re in the area.
10. Currywurst. Like a great deal of street food,this dish sounds and looks a little odd, but tastes great. Consisting of pork sausage in an improvised curry Sauce, made with ketchup and curry powder and served with bread or chips, this warming delicacy is a big hit with tourists and locals alike. You can buy it in almost every area of the city, and no trip to Berlin is truly complete unless you sample it.
Berlin is a wonderful city and hopefully this brief guide will get you started on your adventure.