Berlin: the home of fresh, tragic history that impacted the world. I do not know anyone who has been to Berlin and not instantly fallen in love with this young city. Surprisingly cheap for a Western Europe city, Berlin has it all: history, food, nightlife and coffee. Much like Copenhagen, there are plenty of free things to do in this city. Here are the top things to do:
- See where East meets West at the Brandenburg Gate:
This impressive, almost Grecian, piece of architecture was previously the gateway between East and West Berlin. It is right next to the famous hotel where Michael Jackson dangled the baby over the balcony.
- Relax at the East Side Gallery:
Known for its artwork, the East Side gallery is the largest piece of the Berlin wall to still standing. Walk the length of the wall and marvel in the political statement artwork that covers it. This also is located along the river, which is a good place to relax and take a picnic and listen to the musicians who play there.
- Cross over to Museum Island:
This UNESCO site is home to many museums, including 5 of the world’s leading. But do not fear, for those who do not want to pay to enter the museums, it’s still a must-see. The architecture in itself is worth the visit.
- Go back in time at Check Point Charlie:
Another gateway between East and West Berlin; where the checkpoint is re-enacted for tourists. The sign “You are now leaving the American sector” is used to show the political differences that occurred between both sides – leaving the freedom of the US to the confinement of East Berlin.
- Continue with politics at the Reichstag:
Home of the German government, which took a beating during WW2 but you’d never know that if you looked at it now. Fully resorted, people can enter the Reichstag and go to the top of the glass dome for amazing views over the city.
- Picnic outside the Berlin Cathedral:
This iconic green-roofed building is jaw dropping. With beautiful garden squares in from of it, it’s the perfect place of a picnic during the spring and summer months.
- Get lost in the memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe:
The big grey blocks that make up this memorial don’t seem like much until you enter between them. Designed to portray feeling of confinement, this emotive design really hits home the effects of WW2 that were felt throughout Europe.
- Find Hitler’s bunker:
Good luck finding this without a tour guide. There aren’t any signs to recognise this fearful place. This is because they do not want it to be a mecca or pilgrimage for sympathisers. It is now actually where the car park of a block of flats now resides.
Things to note:
- Berlin is a big city – public transport is a good option (don’t forget to validate your tickets!)
- It’s Germany so everything runs ON TIME – trains arrive around 2-5 minutes early so they leave not a second late.
- Vegan food is labelled extensively – and everyone knows what the vegan diet is so if you aren’t sure, just ask!