Berlin – a full visitor’s guide
The German capital Berlin is an unique city because of its history, in which the wall physically divided the city into two zones for about 28 years. After the Cold War and the reunification of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, Berlin became the capital of Germany in 1990. The beautiful buildings that are dates from before the Second World War, combined with elements from the time of the dichotomy and the modern architecture of the last decades make Berlin a city that is really worth a few days to spend.
How to get there?
Due to its location, Berlin can be reached in several ways. The German capital has two airport that has good city center connections by public transport. From the Tegel International Airport the center can be reached by bus. A drive to the Hauptbahnhof takes about 45 minutes. Low budget airlines often use Schönefeld as airport. From here a train connection the center works best.
Berlin is also easily reachable by train or bus (Flixbus) from various European cities.
When to visit?
A city trip to Berlin is a great getaway year round, though summer is often most popular amongst tourists. Especially the first weeks of August are a good time to visit as the International Bierfestival is taking place during this period. Another great time to visit the German capital is during the holidays, when the many Christmas markets give the city a great atmosphere.
Things to see
At Berlin you almost automatically think of the Berlin Wall, a 3.6 meters high and more than 45 kilometers long concrete partition between West and East Berlin. After the Fall of the Wall in 1989, the construction work was almost completely demolished. In some places in the city you still find a small part of wall. The best place to see what The Wall looked like is at East Side Gallery. Here is another part of 1316 meters wall, painted in 1990 by 118 artists.
The Reichstag building is the parliament building of Germany. This stately building from the nineteenth century has an unique glass dome, which you can walk through as a visitor. The history of Berlin is shown at the bottom of the dome by means of a photo exhibition. From the roof you have a beautiful view of Berlin. Admission to the Reichstag is free, but you must register in advance.
Brandenburger Tor & Unter den Linden
On the Pariser Platz is the much photographed gate of Berlin, the Brandenburger Tor. The very stately gateway that now stands is a second version, which was built in 1788. The gate is at the end of the Unter den Linden paved road. This avenue offers a wealth of beautiful buildings such as the Old Library, the prestigious Adlon Hotel and the Berliner Staatsoper.
During the division of Berlin, there were a few passageways, where you could travel between East and West Berlin. The third passage, Checkpoint Charlie (C is the third letter of the alphabet), is an important sight in Berlin. What you see now is a replica of the original guard house between the American and the Russian zone. You can complete a visit to this place by also visiting the Mauermuseum, which is dedicated to the Wall.
This busy square has always been an important traffic hub in Berlin. During World War II Potsdamer Platz was almost completely destroyed, after which the Wall was built across the square. After the reunification, Potsdamer Platz has been completely reconstructed into the modern designed square that it is now. At Potsdamer Platz you will find a few segments of the Berlin Wall, one of the five remaining watchtowers and modern high-rise buildings including the Sony Center. The Mall of Berlin is a stone’s throw away and is a popular indoor shopping mall.
Berlin’s television tower has become an icon in the German capital. On many panorama pictures of Berlin you see this 368 meter high tower. The beauty is that you can also visit the Fernsehturm. You go with a lift to a height of 203 meters. From there you have a breathtaking view of the city and its surroundings. In clear weather you can see 30 to 40 kilometers far. If you want to enjoy the panorama, you can hardly ever go straight up. You have to buy tickets for a certain time slot. If you do that on the spot, you can only go up hours later. Therefore it is recommended to buy your tickets online in advance.
This square in the heart of Berlin belongs to the nicer squares of Europe. The rectangular shaped square is characterized by three buildings: centrally the Konzerthaus Berlin with two similar churches on either side of the concert hall: the Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom. The view from the stairs of both churches is incredible.
A city full of history and culture means that there are also many museums to be found. If you want to visit all the interesting museums, you can safely take more than a week to do so. Therefore a small selection. You get an insight into life in the former East Berlin in the DDR-Museum. The Currywurst museum is dedicated to the local delicacy of the same name. On the Museum Island are the Altes Museum, the Pergamon museum, the Bode-Museum en the Old National Gallery.
Of all buildings that are located in Berlin, the Berliner Dom may not be the most beautiful, but if you stand in front of the cathedral you have a beautiful photo composition with the characteristic 365 meter high Fernsehturm in the background. Whoever visits the inside of the Dom can reach the roof via some steep stairs.
Where to eat?
If you like good food, fine restaurants, culinary delights and many different cuisines, then you’re at the right place in Berlin. Because this city has so much to offer on a culinary level! The advantage is that food is affordable here and that you can eat out often without breaking your travel budget.
At Bis Yarok they serve Arabic delicacies, Damascus-style. It is a very small place and is almost always jam-packed, but that is not surprising when you consider that you can eat cheap, tasty and fast for a very modest price. Everything is fresh and homemade and there are many vegetarian options. Try the mixed counter once, there you also have a delicious lunch with two people if you are not hungry.
One of the best-known Vietnamese restaurants in Berlin (due to an entry in the Lonely Planet guide) is Monsieur Vuong. The atmosphere is not typical Berlin, rather reminds me of fancy New York or London, but you can eat very nice. They offer three different daily dishes and soups that do not disappoint. A guarantee for always super and good food and it is served quickly.
Augustiner Bräu am Gendarmenmarkt
Yes, the Augustiner is part of a chain. But believe me, you can eat here for a good price. Schnitzel, Obazda, Eisbein or just a beer and a currywurst … The Bavarian cuisine has nothing to do with Berlin, but the hungry monkey is completely at home here. Mahlzeit!
Where to stay?
Where you spend the night in Berlin, should depend on how you want to experience the city. The neighborhood you choose is essential. Do you come for the highlights of Berlin? Then choose a practical location in Mitte, with which you can quickly reach the Brandenburg Gate or Alexanderplatz. Do you want to discover the Berlin nightlife or see the rougher side of Berlin? Then a location in Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg or Neukölln is perfect for you. And if you would like to experience a bit more of the hip and chic side of Berlin, then it is best to stay overnight at the Torstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg. Do you go for cheaper hotels or do you just love shopping? Then you often end up in the old West of Berlin, around the Kurfürstendamm and in Schöneberg.
Hotel Amano – In a quiet side street of the Rosenthaler Strasse in Mitte lies Hotel Amano, a beautiful and luxurious hotel. Here you are very comfortable in a central location in the center of Berlin!
Park Inn Alexanderplatz – This famous 40-storey hotel dates back to DDR times and is fortunately still in use! Meanwhile, it has become a lot more luxurious, with beautiful rooms and a fantastic view of the Fernsehturm. Its location right in the middle of Alexanderplatz makes it an ideal base for your visit to Berlin. From the roof you have a beautiful view of the city.