Out of everywhere that I have visited, Berlin is one of the places that I most want to visit again! The time I spent in the German capital was definitely not long enough, and I know there is so much that I didn’t get to do or see there.
Berlin is a city that has something for everyone to enjoy as 21st century Berlin combines the fascinating and varied history of the area with a cool, modern and fun city. It is also a place that I really think you have to visit to experience as there are so many little details to soak up such as the clear, yet subtle distances that still exist between the East and the West of the city (Ampelmännchen!) which bring the history alive in front of you and the stunning, soaring modernism of the rebuilt parts of the city. I think if there is one word to describe Berlin, it would be cool!
In no particular order, here are some things that I would recommend for a trip to Berlin based on my visit. I should also mention the hostel I stayed in, Amstel House Hostel, which I would definitely recommend.
This museum should be a must for every film fan visiting Berlin. As a film studies graduate (student at the time of my visit), I was always going to love this museum, especially as my main interests lie around European cinemas. However, you don’t have to be a major cinephile to enjoy this museum. There is so much to see from famous film props to an exhibition on the evolution of German cinema to an entire section dedicated to German film star Marlene Dietrich. If you happen to be in Berlin on a rainy day, or are stuck for what to do next, definitely give the film museum a go!
East Side Gallery
Possibly one of the most well known images of modern day Berlin and indeed of post-unification Germany, the East Side gallery is also a lasting reminder of a time when the city, and indeed the country, was divided into two. There are several smaller remaining sections of the wall dotted around Berlin, but you really have to visit the East Side Gallery to experience what the city might have looked like when the wall stood. The preserved section at the East Side Gallery is 1.3 kilometres long but represents so much more than I can explain in words. The famous artworks adorning the Gallery are beautiful, inspiring and rich which socio-political messages and hopes for a brighter future.
Berlin Fernsehturm and Neptunbrunnen
Pretty much every time I visit a new city, I feel the need to see it from high up. I think I have probably climbed up a church spire, skyscraper or other high up vantage point in most cities I have visited and Berlin is no exception . Head to the Fernsehturm or TV tower to get some great views of Berlin. If you can, try to book your tickets in advance, as we were only able to get tickets to go up two hours from when we bought them. Luckily we got to spend that time at the nearby Neptune Fountain which was filed with bubbles when we visited. Frolicking in the fountain in one of my most enduring memories from the entire two week trip, so I would recommend searching it out to have some fun in on a hot day!
I have previously visited another museum built by the same architect as the Berlin Jewish Museum , Daniel Liebeskind, which was a very unique experience and this Museum has a very similar, modern feel. It is very atmospheric and tells the story of the Jewish people, from early historical origins, through to the modern day lives Jews across the world. Among the highlights of the museum I would list the Garden of Exile, the Fallen Leaves permanent exhibition, the information on German-Jewish relations, and an exhibition on household life for Jewish families. One thing I would say, is that you MUST be respectful in this museum owing to some of the subject tone. Don’t laugh and fool about in inappropriate places and in the Fallen Leaves exhibition, do not stand on the faces to get better photographs.
Most cities are best seen by just getting into them and walking about without a particular plan, but I think this can be said more so of some cities. Berlin is definitely somewhere where you will always be surprised by what is around the corner, so I would recommend just taking the time to explore some of the very different areas of the city. Wondeful things which I stumbled on by chance in Berlin include the Siegessäule (which features in one of my favourite films ‘Wings of Desire’), lots of food and clothes markets and an area by the Spree by some railways bridges with bars and cafe’s where we spent an evening watching boats go by on the river until the sun went down, the name of which I sadly cannot remember.
So, to sum up, you should go to Berlin…now!!