23 Dec Travel Guide: Berlin, Germany
Walking through the streets of Berlin stirs up mixed feelings- on the one hand the city is very modern and could compete with Amsterdam for the title of most liberal city, but on the other hand it has such a tumultuous past. Everywhere you turn, there is evidence of a much darker history. Looking at Berlin today, it feels strange to think that until the 80s, this city was still divided by one big wall.
One things for sure, Berlin is certainly an incredibly trendy city to visit, with lots of vintage shops, great restaurants and a non-stop party scene. By day you can explore the city’s museums on Museum Island, take a boat cruise along the river, or walk the remaining sections of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery. By night, party in one of Berlin’s ultra cool techno clubs and have a tasty kebab on your way home.
Getting Around Berlin
Berlin is a big city and has a good public transport system, so you can make use of the bus, underground, tram and train services.Getting around Berlin is easy and you can save a bit of money by purchasing a day pass or week pass for zones AB from any of the U-Bahn or S-Bahn ticket stations. A day pass costs €6,30, whilst a 7-day ticket costs €27,20. A ticket is valid for all forms of public transport within the zones you’ve purchased the ticket for- just make sure you remember to validate your ticket at the platform or on the bus, so you don’t end up with a hefty fine.
There are also several tourist cards that allow you unlimited travel in Berlin and discounted access to some of Berlin’s attractions- see the Berlin Transport Services website for more info.
Accommodation & Where to Stay
If you’re on a budget, then Berlin’s hostels are really quite cheap compared to other cities in Europe. Popular hostels include The Circus Hostel and Wombats City Hostel– if you want the ultimate party hostel, I would recommend the latter. If you want to live like a local and enjoy your own private space, another great idea is to check out apartments in Berlin to rent. Apartment rentals are good value for money and offer a lot more space compared to a hotel, offering you a comfortable home away from home. Air BnB and ‘Live Like a German’ have some great apartments that you can book online.
You can get some really cheap eats in Berlin, which is brilliant news for anyone on a budget. Being so multicultural, Berlin seems to have plenty of world cuisine, and on every street corner you’ll find stands selling currywurst ( a sliced sausage with curry powder and ketchup) or a döner kebab shop serving delicious pitas filled with meat, salad and sauce. There are of course some great restaurants too at reasonable prices, and I really enjoyed my Vietnamese meal with cocktails at Good Morning Vietnam.
Things to Do in Berlin
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a 1.3km section of the Berlin Wall, painted with art work from artists all over the globe. This memorial for freedom is the largest open air gallery in the world. Get off the S-Bahn at Warschauer Str., walk along this section of the wall, then get back on at Ostbahnhof.
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate that was commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II. It became a symbol of a divided Germany when it formed part of the Berlin Wall, but after the wall came down, it took on an altogether different meaning, representing the unification of East and West Berlin.
Alexanderplatz is a major public square in the centre of Berlin, and the skyline is dominated by the ‘toothpick’ TV tower. Other major monuments in the square include the World Time Clock and the Fountain of International Friendship. Most of the buildings here were destroyed during the allied bombings in WW2, and after the War when it became the centre of East Berlin, the square was filled with socialist architecture.
Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Although the wall has since come down, the checkpoint remains as a tourist attraction. You can have your photo taken with guards in costume, browse the open air exhibit, and take a look around the museum.
The Holocaust Memorial, called The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, was constructed to remember the Jewish victims of the Holocaust and is located just south of the Brandenburg Gate. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, the memorial consists of a series of concrete slabs of different heights arranged in a grid pattern.
The Berlin Cathedral is the largest church in the city, and it serves as a vital center for the Protestant church of Germany. The cathedral was designed by Julius Raschdorff in an ornate Baroque style. Interesting features of the Cathedral include the Wilhelm Sauer pipe organ, which has more than 7,000 pipes, and the Hohenzollern family tomb.
Nightlife in Berlin
Berlin is well-known for its all-night partying and diverse nightlife. As one of the hippest cities in the world, Berlin has some cool, individual bars and edgy venues. The city is particularly known for its techno clubs, of which Watergate was the most talked about whilst I was there. The district of Mitte is a very popular hotspot, offering a plethora of restaurants, bars and clubs.
Currywurst photo by ::thegoods:: on flickr