A City of Constant Change
Renowned for its diversity and tolerance, its alternative culture and night-owl stamina, the best thing about the German capital is the way it reinvents itself and isn't shackled by its mind-numbing history. And the world is catching on – as evidenced by the surge of expatriates and steady increase in out-of-towners coming to see what all the fuss is about. In the midst of it all, students rub shoulders with Russian émigrés, fashion boutiques inhabit monumental GDR buildings, Turkish residents live next door to famous DJs and the nightlife has long left the American sector as edgy clubbers watch the sun rise over the neon-lit Universal Music headquarters in the city's east.
In short, all human life is here, and don't expect to get much sleep.
Did You Know?
- Berlin has more museums than it has rainy days. Everything from the huge Altes or Pergamon, to the DDR Musuem where you can tour an authentic Eastern Berlin apartment, and even a wurst (German sausage) museum!
- Check out the outdoor karaoke and flea market every Sunday in Mauer Park. You never know what you might find.
- One of the most popular snacks in Berlin is the humble doner kebab. With a huge Turkish population your taste-buds will explode once you try one!
1. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Sometimes referred to as the Holocaust Memorial, this is one memorial in Berlin that you simply cannot miss. The site consists of 2711 concrete slabs of varying height arranged in an imperfect grid. There are walkways in between each pillar that can be entered from any side, which creates different perspectives as you move through. Below is an information centre that houses an exhibition that many find emotionally moving and thought provoking.
2. Bernauer Strasse Berlin Wall Memorial / Mauerpark Flea Market
In the north of Mitte there is a short stretch of the wall that has been preserved to show both parallel walls and the death strip lying in between. There is a tower you can climb up that looks out over the memorial to see a great impression of the death strip behind an original stretch of the wall and a document centre that you can look around for free.
Not too far away is the king daddy of flea markets in Berlin that is held each and every Sunday. You can wander around the bric and brac stalls selling everything from vintage bags and shoes, memorabilia and many fabulous new gifts to buy whilst snacking on some tasty food sold there. But the best thing about the markets is the huge park right next door. Mauerpark use to be an old death strip with a section of the wall to the side of the park reminding us of another time. On the wall you can graffiti and leave your mark, or a nice thing to do is to lay in the grass with the locals drinking one of the beers the locals are selling from their shopping trolleys. The perfect place to sit and relax, soaking up the sun and listening to playing music.
During the Communist days, Alexanderplatz was a totally different world set mainly as a housing and former livestock market area. You can still see some of the old sights remaining in the square like the famous World Time Clock, the TV Tower and the Karl Marx Allee leading off from the square. There are also other historical buildings in the square such as the Rotes Rathuis / City Hall and the current reconstruction of the Baroque Stadtschloss / City Palace taking place.
A must do whilst in the square is visiting the TV Tower / Berliner Fernsehturm. It was built by the GDR in the 1960’s and is now a symbol of Berlin visible from most parts of the city. Highly recommended is the journey up the tower that offers 360-degree views of the city that can be enjoyed with a cocktail in your hand from the bar.
4. Unter Den Linden
Named after its Linden (lime) trees that lined each side of the street, Unter den Linden was the fashionable avenue of Berlin until it had many years of neglect during the communist days. Luckily for us the boulevard has been rejuvenated and is now full of a lot of important sights such as Museuminsel with its many museums and art galleries, the Opera House, the University, embassies, the site of the former Stadtschloss (Royal Palace) and the symbol of Berlin the Brandenburg gate. It’s a nice easy walk from one end of the boulevard to the other, crossing over the river spree, to see some of the main sights of the city.
5. Reichstag / Government Building
At the far end of town near the Brandenburg gate you’ll find the seat of the German Parliament known as the Reichstag. It was here that a fire was lit in 1933, allowing Hitler to use the fire to blame the communists and with that became more powerful. The building was heavily destroyed during WWII but was gutted and restored with one new feature, the glass dome built by the famous architect Lord Norman Foster in 1999. Ever since then the city has been allowing visitors to climb up the glass dome for a spectacular view of the city for free upon appointment. Make sure you go online and make an appointment to go up.
Eating and Drinking
Tiergartenquelle is a fabulous German restaurant in Berlin with its old school looking bar and restaurant that sits underneath a S-Bahn train station. They serve huge portions of great German food and cold beer, what more could you want!?!
2. Curry 36
Rumored to be the best place to get a currywurst, Curry 36 is a pretty popular spot with queues starting every day from 9am when it opens, so there must be something behind the rumor. They sell the tasty currywurst, fries and other types of German sausages that are worth the wait.
Not far from Curry36 in the trendy Kreuzberg district is a small kebap stand selling the best kebap you’ll ever have in your life. This is also a very popular spot with queues starting before they even open at 10am, but again it is worth the wait.
4. Café Anna Blume
In Germany, it’s all about having brunch on Sunday (but you can have it any day of the week!) with family and friends. Café Anna Blume is a famous one in town for its very picturesque and tasty brunches. A must try!
5. Brauhaus Lemke
Brauhaus Lemke is situated conveniently in the Mitte district and is a great place to get some traditional German food in a nice atmosphere. They have all the classics such as pork knuckle, salads and spatzle.
1. Cassiopeia (RAW Temple)
Cassiopeia is a super trendy complex with a grungy vibe and awesome street art on all the walls in an abandoned train station area with loads of bars and clubs to choose from. During the day there are sometimes flea markets and food stalls (with something to suit everyone).
2. Kaffee Burger
Kaffee Burger is a small indie club in the Mitte district that has something going on just about every night of the week. Inside there is the original GDR 60’s wallpaper on the walls and an arty bar and club. Perfect for people who love to listen to indie, rock and punk music.
Watergate is a two level club located in the east side of Berlin right near the River Spree with the Oberbaumbrücke in the background. Inside you’ll hear mainly electro, drum & bass and hip-hop music in this cool building that has floor to ceiling windows that is perfect to watch the sunrise from the fantastic lounge area.
4. Stattbad Wedding
Ever wondered what it would be like to go dancing in an old swimming pool? Well you don’t need to wonder, as you can do it in the one-time swimming centre that has been converted into an art and culture space.
BeachMitte is the city’s coolest beach bar that sits along the former Berlin Wall. There’s are plenty of seats for you to sit and enjoy a drink or you can partake in a game of volleyball on one of their many courts, or do some climbing on the Mount Mitte installation, a quirky installation of some cars that are suspended in mid-air.
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It's impossible to get bored in Berlin!"