Thinking about going to Berlin? Let me tell you – you won’t be disappointed! If you love rich history, plenty of meaty-food and walking round exploring a city, then you’re in luck. Here are my top 6 things to do in this fantastic German city.
Berlin is based in northeastern Germany on the banks of rivers Spree and Havel. As the largest city (and capital) of Germany, it is a city with plenty of people, restaurants, museums, galleries, shops and bars. Before going to Berlin, I didn’t know a lot about it so ended up doing my research whilst there. If you’ve got limited time, it’s definitely worth figuring out what you want to see and do before you go as there is just so much to cover!
Ready to get going?
Berlin is similar to any other city break, so packing is pretty easy. One thing to note is that even in February, the weather is extremely chilly, so ensuring you have a thick coat, scarf and gloves is recommended during the winter months.
My top recommendations for Berlin
1) Berlin Wall & Checkpoint Charlie
Getting to learn about Germany’s turbulent history starts with heading to the wall and checkpoint Charlie. Here there are lots of informational points to read through to gain a good understanding of the effect it had on the people’s lives on each side of the wall and devastating impacts it had.
There are traces of the Berlin Wall at different points in the city – as you walk round you will see different remnants and varying levels of graffiti covering it. If walking is for you, you can do a specific trip around the city, following what is left of the Berlin Wall and seeing some great sights of the city whilst you do.
Taking On The City Advice: As a heads up, this area is super touristy – get here earlier to ensure you can be ahead of the crowds. Over the road from the checkpoint is now a McDonald’s – so be prepared to get creative with your camera to ensure you don’t get it in any of your pictures.
2) Jewish Museum
Opening in 2001, this Jewish museum is a good place for anyone of any age to visit. The educational points span across a range of learning tools to ensure kids can learn just as much as adults. It costs 8 euros per person to enter, but the amount of time you’re there, this is definitely a good price for so much information and things to see and do.
Of course, given the topic, some parts of the museum are extremely sad and difficult to get your head around the sheer numbers of people who died, but it’s very important we learn about everything that happened here during this ever so turbulent history.
Taking On The City Advice: There’s a lot to see, so give yourself plenty of time to browse this museum.
3) Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe
Completed in 2004, the Holocaust memorial remembers the 3 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It’s a large site in the city centre with 2,711 concrete slabs positioning in a grid pattern. The actual land it’s built on is very significant, being the former location of the Berlin Wall where the ‘death strip’ once divided the city.
Taking On The City Advice: You can walk around and through the memorial, following the different pathways to get different perspectives of the memorial and blocks, that vary in height.
4) Try the traditional German food
Whenever I go away, I always think it’s important to give the local food a try. So we headed off to a restaurant called Maximilians from a friend’s recommendation. It is a fantastic Bavarian-style bar and restaurant with all the traditional trimmings you could ask for. Don’t be expecting anything fancy, you get what you see but the food (although might look a little interesting!) is deliciously heart warming.
Taking On The City Advice: Try the sausage parade at Maximilians – a mix of different sausages, cooked in various ways with mashed potato, sauerkraut and gravy.
5) Take a stroll down the river (perhaps stopping at the range of bars on the way?)
Perhaps one of my favourite things that we did in Berlin was simply walking along the river. For me it was one of the best ways to see the northern parts of the city and there are some incredibly stunning buildings as you go. Many of which are museums and galleries on what is otherwise known as Museum Island in the middle of the river Spree. These museums and galleries are part of the UNESCO listed world heritage site, so you can imagine their grand status. We didn’t have time to go into any of these but I’d put it on the list if I go back sometime.
If you like a couple of drinks, there are some great stop offs on the way along the river to make it a great afternoon activity.
Taking On The City Advice: Wrap up warm – it’s cold at this time of the year! If you want to keep on walking, Berlin is accessible all by foot – don’t miss sights like the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate which are located around the city.
6) Go all-out nostalgic at the DDR museum
Looking for a snapshot of the olden days of Berlin? Head to the DDR museum which is great for both adults and children. Then if you feel brave enough (I didn’t!), you can go on a unique tour of Berlin by renting a Trabant. The Trabant is known in Berlin as the classic car of former East Germany and now you see them dotted about the city, painted in bright colours – they are great for photo opportunities!
Taking On The City Advice: Next to the Trabi World, there is also the hot air balloon, that will give you great views of the city if you are okay with heights!
Have you visited Berlin before? Any recommendations for where else to visit?