Berlin is the ultimate combination of glamour, history, culture, architecture and food dating back to the 13th century. Whether you are travelling there to experience the history or are looking to try out Berlin’s world-renowned night life, a visit to Germany’s capital will please everyone.
The Berlin Wall Memorial, often referred to as the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer, marks the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall, one of the most well-known landmarks in Germany. The Wall enclosed West Berlin from 1961 to 1989, cutting a line through the entire city centre. The monument was created in 1998, extends along 1.4 km of the former border strip, and represents the division Germany used to experience. Located in the middle of the capital, this memorial contains the last standing piece of the Berlin Wall and is an exquisite piece of Germany’s history.
The Reichstag is one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. This historic structure is a primary example of Renaissance architecture, especially once it was accentuated with a massive glass dome. However, the buildings’ grandeur was ruined during World War II. It has since been restored and renovated and the Reichstag building now plays centre stage to momentous events in German history, including the official reunification of Germany in 1990. After seeing where the city was divided, experience the site of its reunion at the Reichstag Building.
Museum Island is the name of the northern tip of the Spree Island, and it is also an incredible work of art itself. Museum Island is the home to five world-renowned museums. Since 1999, the museum complex in the city centre of Berlin has been the only architectural and cultural ensemble that is considered part of the UNESCO world heritage. Each museum located on this island is unique and different, and a visit to Museum Island is the perfect way to spend an entire day in the heart of Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate was once the symbol of the division Germany underwent during the Cold War, but today it stands tall as representation of the country’s reunification. The triumphal arch is from the 18th century and is one of the most popular landmarks in Germany. Since the Berlin Wall came down, the Brandenburg Gate has stood as a symbol of the tumultuous history between Europe and Germany, but also of European unity and peace. A tour of this is exquisite piece of German architecture is an ideal way to experience the history of Berlin.
Locals have continually danced the nights away at Clärchens since it opened in 1913. Very little has changed in the ballroom as evident from the pictures that line the walls where visitors first enter. Today, Clärchens is Berlin’s last real dance hall, where guests can spend the evening enjoying themed dance nights, munching on great pizza, and German dishes during the week. However, if you are looking for a truly historic experience, the best time to visit Clärchens is on the weekend so you can attend one of the legendary ‘schwoof’ parties, where there is live music and endless dancing.
Max und Moritz is an authentic, landmarked old Berlin Inn that was established in 1902. Located in the heart of Kreuzberg, and serving some of the most traditional German cuisine, this is the place to go if you want to dine out on some of the most classic German dishes. This ode-to-old-school pub is named after famous German cartoon characters, and since its’ opening it is has packed in the hungry diners and drinkers.
Grill Royal is an elegant eatery located directly on the banks of the Spree. Currently, Grill Royal is the restaurant of stars and celebrities in Berlin, and the great view of the water is a good reason why. Make your pick from either steak or fish dishes, but either choice will not disappoint. Amidst the young and colourful crowed at Grill Royal, any diner is in for an enjoyable eating experience.
A contender for the title of the best currywurst in town, Konnopke’s snack bar in Prenzlauer Berg serves its curry sausages to your liking, and with a generous portion of their characteristic spicy sauce. The simple snack shack is a family-run business, whose relatives started selling their famous sausages at the exact same location in 1930. While there always seems to be a line of people waiting for the wurst, buletten and French fries, the line is definitely worth standing in.
Ideally, the best time to visit Berlin is thought to be from May through September when the weather is perfect for sitting outside and sightseeing, unlike during the winter when the temperatures are known to keep people indoors. Temperatures usually average at 23° to 25°C, making the making the months between May and September perfect for outdoor pastimes. Also, not only are the temperatures enjoyable, but the weather stays relatively dry, unlike autumn, which is known as Germany’s wet season. While visiting during these warmer months is ideal, flights and accommodations can be on the pricier side so be sure to plan your travel budget accordingly and book in advance.
Visas are not required for visitors staying under 90 days, however a valid passport is still needed. Also, many Berlinners speak English and will enjoy practicing with you. However, it is still friendly to learn a few key German phrases before you take your Berlin holiday.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Matthew Bradley.