Known as Germany’s cultural melting pot, Berlin boasts a creative and urban vibe, some of the best nightlife in Europe and stunning examples of modern architecture to boot. Throw into the mix a trendy café culture that would rival many of its neighbours, a thriving calendar of festivals and a diverse art and museum scene that has tourists flocking to the city in droves, and you’re looking at one of the Europe’s prime travel destinations. Not to mention one of its most historic.
Dividing the city from 1961 until 1989, the Berlin Wall is heralded as the most potent symbol of the Cold War. Once standing 155 kilometres long, these days the wall has all but disappeared. Explore the remains on foot, keeping your camera at the ready to capture the artwork that now covers the remaining sections.
History buffs will revel in a trip to the Holocaust Memorial. Set across 4.7 square acres, this incredible outdoor memorial is made up of 2,711 concrete slabs laid out in a grid. Take some time to wander through the memorial before visiting the information centre, which houses 4 interlinked exhibitions that tell the tragic stories of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Just one block from the Holocaust Memorial sits the Brandenburg Gate, the city’s most iconic landmark. Drawing its inspiration from the Acropolis in Athens, the Gate is a striking example of neoclassical 18th century architecture. Cast your eyes up to take in the Quadriga statue, a horse-drawn chariot carrying the goddess of victory, which takes pride of place at the top of the Gate.
Eat and Drink
The trendy hipster neighbourhood of Kreuzberg is known for culinary diversity and cool coffee shops with lounge chairs that line the sidewalk. Friedrichshain is the place to go for an excellent brunch or afternoon coffee.
If you’re looking to sample some of Berlin’s iconic nightlife, take a stroll from Monbijouplatz to Friedrichstrabe and fully immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of some typical Berlin bars, then take the night to Kollwitzplatz to party until the sun comes up in one of the many clubs.
Where to Stay
The sleeping options in Berlin are as diverse as its eateries, with a range of hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets. If you’re short on time, the ultra-touristy neighbourhood of Mitte is a safe bet due to its proximity to all the major attractions.
But if you’re after a more unique Berlin experience, the oh-so-hip Kreuzberg boasts street food aplenty and some great cocktail bars. Alternatively, Neukolln is the place to find affordable accommodation, cheap bars and a plethora of underground clubs.
Make a beeline for Kurfurstendamm (or Ku’damm to the locals) in the district of Charlottenburg. The longest shopping strip in the city, this boulevard is lined with high-end retailers, designer boutiques and high-street fashion.
For luxury head to the KaDeWe, a distinctly European shopping experience where glitz and glamour are served up in spades and credit cards get a hefty workout. Even if you don’t want to blow your budget it’s worth visiting to take in the stunning architecture and the incredible food hall.
If you’re in the market for something quintessentially ‘Berlin’, start near Hackescher Markt, the central square in the Mitte district, and follow your nose. Independent retailers and pop-up shops are common.
Berlin Like a Local
Take your cue from the locals and follow the cool kids to one of the many open-air cinemas that pop up around the city during summer. On the weekends check out Neue Heimat, a typical Berlin ‘outdoor playground' that offers a mix of music, markets, food and drinks.
Alternatively, check out Markthalle 9 in Kreuzberg on a Friday or a Saturday and while away the afternoon eating organic produce and meandering around the stalls at the bustling farmers’ market.