No capital city in the world feels quite like Berlin. Full of diversity and charm, the place has some special vibe that can hardly be explained.
It was long ago in the 13th century when name Berlin was first mentioned. Throughout the centuries, the city went through good and bad times, until 1871, when it became the capital of the German Empire. But then came the WWII and Berlin found itself under the siege. Many of the city’s most iconic monuments were destroyed, the highlight being the devastation of the infamous Berlin Wall.
But you know how hardworking Germans are?
An entire project was made to rebuild the city and in the shortest time possible, Berlin was alive again. Today, the city is the centre of country’s economic and cultural progress. Place, that offers an eclectic mix of new and classic architecture, dynamic entertainment, shopping, and a wide variety of sports and cultural institutions. A place so magical that will stay in your heart from the first time you step your foot on its streets.
So, wanna know what is there to see in this amazing city?
Here is Berlin bucket list of TOP 10 things you must not miss in the most alternative city in the world.
1. Take a walk in the amazing Grunewald forest
It might come surprisingly, but one of the biggest city green areas in Europe is located right here. On more than 32 square kilometres, you can find a lovely natural area of mixed oak, pine, birch, acacia, and poplar trees, that provides shelter for an abundance of wildlife including birds, deer, and even wild pigs.
Some of the most amazing highlights of the place include more than eight lakes as well as a nine-kilometre stretch of riverbank that offers numerous opportunities for water sports and bathing.
What is cool to know is that place is easily accessible via S-Bahn and it is the perfect picnic destination for the locals. Just pack some food and head down here with friends for a day of tranquil respite from the bustle of the city.
Nothing can relax you like nature does.
Special tip: Look out for Teufelsberg, a man-made hill rising above the woodland, constructed by the Allies after World War II from the city’s rubble. Although there’s no general access to the hill, you can get to the top of the hill by going on a guided tour: English tours start at 1.30pm on Sundays (booking essential).
2. Visit the East Side Gallery
We have all seen this image, right?
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many of the artists immortalized themselves on the wall with a unique art piece, never seen before, making the East Side Gallery, the longest open-air gallery in the world. The famous kiss of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev, as well as more than 100 other artworks, can be seen alongside one kilometre long, still intact original section of the Berlin Wall!
Special tip: Please DON’T destroy the East Side Gallery with your own paintings or by chipping off some little pieces of the wall. Respect the culture.
3. Visit the Brandenburg tor
One of Germany’s most visited landmarks, Brandenburg gate is a place you just cannot afford to miss in Berlin. The place was officially opened to traffic on December 22, 1989, when more than 100,000 people came to celebrate the event.
But, during its more than 300-year rich history, the place has been a part some of the most important events in the entire country. It was a symbol of peace. Symbol of war. Symbol of victory. And even terror!
And it is here on June 12, that Ronald Reagan said his famous words: “Mr Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall”. The speech delivered to West Berliners was also audible on the east side of the Gate and echoed President von Weizsacker’s words which translate as: “The German question is open as long as the Brandenburg Gate is closed”.
Special Tip: To enjoy this place at maximum, come by night! There will be fewer people and you will get a chance for a perfect selfie in front of illuminated Brandenburger Tor. Just like you can do it in Vienna.
4. Embrace some culture at Museum Island
Between the River Spree and the Kupfergraben, lies Museum Island, one of the coolest parts of the city. If you are looking to embrace some culture and see some creative art, don’t look any further.
Many of the city’s oldest and most important museums are located right here, including the Old Museum, New Museum, National Gallery, Bode Museum, as well as the Old National Gallery with its fine collections of 19th-century paintings.
What is amazing is that the entire island is completely traffic free!
Special Tip: If you’re only able to see one or two museums due to time restrictions, make sure one of them is the Pergamon with its spectacular reconstructed historic buildings from the Middle East.
5. Get the feeling of Berlin’s art scene
6. Visit the Olympic Stadium
Olympic games are one of the biggest events on the planet. There is no doubt about it. People from all around the world come to enjoy one of a kind event that happens once every four years. So in 1936, Berlin got a privilege to host the event and as a witness of those games remains the Olympic Stadium.
The games in 1936 were intended to showcase the power of Aryan race. However, the stadium was the spot where black American athlete Jesse Owens won four gold medals, emphatically disproving Hitler’s ideas about racial superiority in front of the world’s media.
The original design of the stadium survived World War II bombs and demolition threats, before undergoing a major refit for the 2006 World Cup.
Special Tip: Visit the place early in the morning when there are almost no people here.
7. Try a Currywurst
When you get hungry in Berlin, make sure you try Currywurst, hot sausage cut in slices with ketchup and curry powder.
The story says that the original Currywurst recipe was invented back in 1949 by a woman named Herta Heuwer. At the time, 36-year-old Herta probably never thought that her recipe will one day become Germany’s most popular fast food when she opened a small food kiosk in West Berlin. If she was alive today, she would be definitely proud to know that a plaque was dedicated to her on the corner where she had her small kiosk.
So, you want to know where will you find the best Currywurst in all Berlin?
Our tip is Konnopke’s in Prenzlauer Berg.
Special tip: If you’re not into fast food go to the Currywurst Museum to feed your culture hunger!
8. Learn some history at Checkpoint Charlie
You might not know it by this name, but Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing point between East and West Berlin. Today, it is a symbol of the Cold War. Place where many citizens escaped from East Berlin and where hope for a better future was created.
After the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 this was the place where the famous standoff between US and Soviet tanks happened. Right beside in the “Mauermuseum (Haus am Checkpoint Charlie)” you can see some of the most spectacular escape vehicles such as the one-man submarine and some other exhibits that document the time during the division.
Special tip: Checkpoint Charlie is frequently featured in spy movies and books. New Tom Hanks movie “Bridge of Spies“ has many cool scenes shot here.
9. Visit the Reichstag building (Parliament)
Another landmark that sums up the drama of the 20th century in Berlin. This Neo-Baroque building was made in 1894, by Paul Wallot and modelled after the Memorial Hall in Philadelphia. The place served as the home of the German parliament until 1933 when the building was badly damaged in a fire.
It was this exact event that marked the end of the Weimar Republic and provided a convenient pretext for Hitler to suppress dissent. Under Nazi dictatorship, the building fell into neglect and was severely damaged during the Second World War. In 1945 it became one of the primary targets for the Red Army due to its perceived propaganda value.
Then, after the war, West Germany’s parliament was relocated to Bonn and the building remains a virtual ruin until 1961 when a partial renovation was undertaken in the shadow of the newly erected Wall. Completed in 1964 this controversial restoration saw the building’s interior and exterior stripped of the majority of its statuary. However, the city made efforts to retain the traces of its more recent history such as the bullet-ridden façade and the graffiti left by the occupying Soviet soldiers.
What happened in later years, we will keep as a secret. We can’t tell you everything about the place. Some things are better to discover on your own.
Special tip: Whether you visit Reichstag during the day or in the evening, be sure to plan ahead. You can no longer just show up and stand in line with crowds of people. For security reasons, all visitors must now go online and make a reservation for a specific date and time.
10. Anthropomorphise at Berlin Zoo
Who here loves animals?
For a family outing or a date to the sound of exotic bird cries, visit the Zoologischer Garten & Aquarium in the Tiergarten. Being one of the most popular zoos in Europe and the oldest one zoo in Germany, Berlin Zoo was opened in 1841 on the site of the King Frederick William IV’s pheasantry.
The entire place is situated in beautifully landscaped gardens with plenty of spots for a picnicking and contains almost 14,000 creatures, among which are some very rare and endangered species.
Special tip: On a rainy afternoon, visit the aquarium, where you’ll find extraordinary sharks, crocodiles, insects and amphibians. The dark corridors and liquid ambience, with colourful illuminated tanks and curious fishes floating by, are as absorbing as an art exhibit.
Aaaaaand that was it guys.
Top 10 things to do in Berlin. Ten cool and fun things that can help you plan your holiday in the German capital. Let us know how you like the city.
Oh. One more thing before we say goodbye.
What is your favourite spot in the most alternative city in the world?
For more information and tips, make sure you download our free travel app. There you will find plenty more about Berlin.