Berlin Travel Guide

Berlin, Germany’s capital and largest city is a vibrant metropolis, and once you really get to know it, you can easily become addicted to its atmosphere.
Berlin’s cityscape is rather eclectic, due to the city’s turbulent history. You can see an amazing variety of styles side by side here ranging from Prussian Classicism through National Socialist design to Postmodernism. Despite being the capital of the country, it does not have as many impressive skyscrapers as Frankfurt. Recent plans of turning the city center around Alexanderplatz into a “little Manhattan” have been abandoned, and a decision has been made to preserve key Communist-era structures as historical monuments.

Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) with the famous TV tower in the background.

The city is very much conscious of its history and several museums are dedicated to the different phases of its past. Many of them focus on the vicissitudes of the 20th century, including the post-war division of the city. Berlin’s extremely rich museum landscape, however, also includes over 400 excellent art galleries, so it’s a favored destination for art enthusiasts, too.

Berlin has a population of roughly 3.7 million people, including 30% with a migration background. It is a truly multicultural city, as reflected by its diverse enclaves and attractions as well as by its colorful gastronomy. Berlin is also a party capital with great nightlife and many festivals. Those who long for a more quiet form of relaxation will find lots of parks, gardens, and lakes. Green areas cover around one-third of Berlin’s area.

Top things to do and see in Berlin

The Brandenburg Gate

This beautiful gate, which was constructed in the 18th century as a royal city gate and triumphal arch, has become Berlin’s signature landmark. It is an impressive monument with its Doric columns, however, it can’t be fully appreciated without knowing its history. The Brandenburg Gate has witnessed many important moments in Berlin’s history and played a role in the reunification of the divided city, so it is today regarded as a symbol of unity and peace.

Alexanderplatz

Alexanderplatz, or “Alex” as the locals nicknamed it, is the bustling main square of the city. It is surrounded by nice cafes, restaurants, and shops of all sorts. A lot of historical sites are within easy reach from the square. The highlight is the Television Tower (Fernsehturm), which is Berlin’s tallest building at 1207 feet (368 m). From the observation deck, you can enjoy a wonderful 360-degree panoramic view of the city.

The Reichstag

The Reichstag, which is the meeting place of the German Parliament, is another must see in Berlin. The majestic building was reconstructed and got a new dome after the reunification of Berlin. The building is open to the public and can be visited free, but you have to book a timeslot (prepare for some queuing) and you need a passport or other identification to enter. Enjoy a great view of the city from the glass dome!

East Side Gallery

This open-air gallery is actually a 4317 feet (1316 m) long section of the Berlin Wall with great graffiti artwork by various artists from all around the world. The paintings were created in 1990, after the reunification of Berlin. It’s an amazing exhibition where artists have turned a wall that was meant to divide into art that brings people together.

Berliner Dom

The Berlin Cathedral, with its impressive dome, is a beautiful example of early 20th-century architecture. Don’t be content with just taking your photos outside: the interior is gorgeous. Enjoy the stunning space below the dome, watch the informative “kids videos”, and admire the huge organ.

Explore the history of Berlin and Germany in museums

Berlin is a cultural paradise with a stunning choice of museums, which provide a wealth of information on the troubled history of the country. Another piece of good news: many of the museums are free, at least on specific days of the week!

Visiting Reichstag Dome, Germany

Checkpoint Charlie, originally a crossing point between and East and West Germany is perhaps the most well-known of Berlin’s historical museums. You can see the checkpoint pretty much as it was, and the museum also has an exciting exhibition about the history of the Berlin, featuring stories of people who tried to escape from East-Berlin through the Wall.

The Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historical Museum) is a comprehensive exhibition on the history of the country from prehistoric times to our day. Take at least three hours to see it all.

The Holocaust Memorial is a touching tribute to all the Jews who died during the darkest period of Berlin’s history. The plain concrete blocks of the memorial symbolize the victims of the Holocaust. The exhibition underground is a sobering experience, but it should not be missed.

Recharge your batteries in Berlin’s parks and gardens

Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Germany and you can find excellent parks for relaxation. Some of them also have “special features”, such as the Treptower Park, with an abandoned amusement park (Spreepark) within its area and Tempelhof Park, which was a functioning airport until 2008. Tempelhof was an important airport of Nazi Germany and later became famous as the airfield used for the Berlin Airlift.

In 2008 it was opened to the public, but the take-off and landing strips, as well as the original airport buildings, can still be seen. It is a favorite spot of roller skaters, skateboarders, and bikes but it’s perfect for really any outdoor activity.

Pictures of Berlin

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