Traveling to the capital city of Germany is an exciting combination of sights, history, shopping, food and culture. I have visited now in every season and I have to say there is always something fun going on. In spring you may happen to stumble upon Easter festivals at different squares, in summer the weather is perfect for a boat tour along the Spree river and enjoying a cocktail outside, in fall Oktoberfest celebrations can be found at Alexanderplatz, and in winter the Weihnachtsmarkts or Christmas Markets are oh so jolly and sparkly everywhere you look.
Berlin is a city that is easy to walk through. With sights on every corner, it is a good idea to explore a bit by foot. Another option is the bus. While you will see many sightseeing buses offering tours for over 20 Euros, a great recommendation is to take the city bus 100. This bus takes the same route through the city as many of the sightseeing ones and costs a fraction of the price. If its not a busy day, grab a seat on the upper level and enjoy the sights from the bus. You can buy a day ticket for around 6 Euros if you want to hop on and off easily. Another option is the S train. This is the above ground train cars that go through the city. This is great if you have a specific location to get to (say your hotel after an entire day of walking and eating) that is not easily within walking distance. And of course you can always take a cab but as this is the most expensive option I only used this when we had a larger group to split the cost.
The gate is located right at the edge of Tiergarten. Visiting the gate will most likely be crowded but it is a great photo op area and you can continue on foot down Unter der Linden. Along the way you will find lots of souvenir shops, cafes, and a popular wax museum, Madame Tussauds. Eventually you will come up along the German history museum for any history buffs in your group.
The next major sight you will come upon will be the Dom or cathedral. It is magnificent, huge and beautiful from every angle. The grassy area in front is another great spot to pose for some photos or relax for a bit.
FERNSEHER TURM (TV TOWER) ALEXANDERPLATZ
Continuing on from the Dom you will come to Alexanderplatz. This tends to be one of my favorite areas to explore. Not only are the sights amazing, but there is always something fun going on in the main square. This is where Oktoberfest will be celebrated in fall and Christmas markets in December, among other festivals. This is also the home of the famous world clock (below) and TV tower. In summer, lots of fun outdoor bars with comfy seating and neon lighting can be found for a great place to relax and enjoy a fun cocktail.
The Siegesaule is a beautiful monument commemorating the win over Denmark in the Prussian War. From the Brandenburg gate it is located straight down the long road at the other end of Tiergarten. It commemorates the win over Denmark in the Prussian War. Take advantage of the great opportunity to climb to the top for only 3 Euros (and get a little workout in) to see the entire city from the best view.
CHURCH AT KURFURSTENDAMM
The Kaiser Wilhelm church is quite unique to see as the top of the spire was badly damaged from bombings in WWII. It was never fully repaired and now remains a memorial landmark on the famous Kurfürstendamm street.
This intricately baroque designed castle was made for Sophie Charlotte, wife of Freidrich II, and named for her after her death in the early 18th century. It is an amazing sight to see and has large, lush gardens in the back to take a relaxing stroll through in spring or summer.
When traveling to Berlin, there is so much history to see here. One of the best known historical sites is the Berlin wall. The East Side Gallery is exciting to see as it is a length of the wall that is still fully in tact and is now covered in political and moving paintings that serve as a memorial of earlier tragedies and show hope for a better future.
Checkpoint Charlie is a great place to learn some important history about Berlin and Germany. The guards standing at the checkpoint today are just actors but it still gives you a good feel for what this area once was. Along the streets are old images with stories about checkpoint and the wall. In addition, the Berlin wall museum is directly across the street. Another great way to learn valuable history about the history starting from before WWII and how Hitler came to power all the way to post war Berlin, is to check out Topography des Terrors just down the road. Berlin is a city that does have a bit of a dark past and I think it is very interesting to learn about the tragedies and have a better understanding for the future.
After a day full of learning history, you might be craving something a bit more tangible. The shopping in Berlin has everything from high end couture to budget fashion stores. Friedrichstrasse (which leads directly down to Checkpoint Charlie) is a great street for shopping. You will find stores like Zara and H&M, as well as Karl Lagerfeld and Galerie Lafayette fashion house with high end brands.
KADEWE on Kurfürstendamm is a fun place to explore Couture fashions. Even if you can’t afford to shop there, it is still a fun place to look at in awe. The shoe salon is to die for and on the very top level is a amazing array of specialty foods from everywhere. They have an American section which for me, not having been in the US now for seven months was fun to discover 🙂 I almost forgot about peanut butter and Milk Duds!! This is also a unique piece of history as it was the main shopping house for the west and unavailable for the East side of Berlin back when the wall was up.
ESSEN (FOOD AND DRINKS)
Germany is well known for its beer and meats and for good reason. My favorite drink to have while in Berlin is a Berliner Kindl beer. The two most popular flavors are red which is raspberry and green which is Waldmeister (its a plant trust me its delicious). They are sweet and oh so yummy! 🙂
As for food, if you are only traveling to Berlin while in Germany, then you must eat at Hofbraü München. It is the brewery based in Munich and you will not beat the beer garden atmosphere and amazing food. On weekends they have live polka band music which transports you to southern Germany and gives you a feel of German Oktoberfest. You’ll even see all the waiters in Lederhosen and Waitresses in Dirndls.
The best dishes to try there are the sampler platter which contains a bit of every German meat, potato, and sauerkraut possible.
In addition, my absolute favorite German dish is Käsespatzle or sometimes called Kasnock. It is cheesy noodely goodness with french fried onions on top. It is certainly not light on calories but I have never tasted anything better!!
Perhaps the most famous food originating in Berlin is the currywurst. A grilled sausage drenched in a delicious sauce topped with a bit of curry powder and served with a side of hot and crispy pommes (french fries). I can say with 100% confidence, this is one of the best simple dishes I’ve ever had! Im not sure if it is because I was hungry from walking all day, but the best currywurst I ever had was at the Checkpoint Charlie beach bar which is in the photo below. You can find it in Breweries or street carts everywhere in Berlin. It has become so popular, there is actually a Currywurst museum also not far from Checkpoint Charlie if you too fall in love with it and want to know all there is about this amazing dish.
In addition, one of the greatest traditions in Germany is afternoon Kaffee und Kuchen(coffee and cake). You will find many cafes in Berlin to stop and enjoy a cappuccino and slice of delicious home made cake. If you see a sign for Konditorei, that would be a great place to stop for cake. We stopped for our Kaffee und Kuchen in the Sony Center at Postdamer Platz at a lovely cafe with delicious cappuccinos.
Berlin is a truly fascinating metropolitan city with so much to offer. I plan to visit again and find more wonderful things to do there. I hope you book a trip there soon and find these tips helpful!! Feel free to share any other fun things you’ve discovered in Berlin!
If you’re looking for some smaller more traditional German cities to visit, stay tuned for my post on Fairytale cities in Germany!!