BERLIN: HIGHLIGHTS OF GERMANY’S CAPITAL CITY
Berlin has been one of those destinations that friends, family, bloggers and reasonably priced deals have sold it to me over time and when I found out one of my college friends was living in the city, the necessity to visit became top priority
I have to admit, my only trip to Germany was when I took part in a school exchange back in Year 9 (so definitely many moons ago!) so I wasn’t really sure what I hoped from this trip but I did my research extensively as always and packed in an itenary including spending time with my friend, seeing all the recommended points of interest and noshing in some eateries recommend by locals! So with that in mind, I bring to you my highlights of Germany’s uber dynamic, cosmopolitan capital!
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
We arrived via Berlin Schonefeld Airport (the other being Tegel) and jumped straight into a taxi to our hotel, which took about 30 minutes and cost €42.00. You can just as easily get the underground from either station and it would cost a few euros!
Additionally, we bought underground tickets daily and just as in London, price depends upon zones and whether you will take an underground or over ground train. We typically spent €5-7 per person per day and lasts until 3am the following day once it’s been validated.
THE ART’OTEL KUDAMM
With an array of international chains and small boutique hotels, you will be spoilt for choice. For me location is always key so we opted for the centrally located, Art’otel Kudamm, which had a lovely quirky edge that called out to us. Bearing in mind, we were literally going to use the hotel for sleeping and breakfast, and I loved how each of the 152 rooms showcased Andy Warhol’s pop art.
ietzenburger Str. 85
Tel. +49 30 887777
CHARLOTTENBURG & WEST CITY
This beautiful palace was built by Elector Friedrich III in 1699 for his wife Sophie Charlotte and was used as a summer palace. It is inevitable the largest palace in Berlin and is surrounded by stunningly manicured Baroque styled gardens.
Today Schloss Charlottenburg houses the largest collection of 18th century French paintings outside of France and is open to the public to peruse the well-appointed and restored rooms, apartments and porcelain and silverware collections. Next door to the Palace is the Kleine Orangerie restaurant where you can grab some food and snacks or enjoy a peaceful dining experience. I would add the Palace to your list- I’m sure every girl will wish they were Sophie Charlotte – the ultimate declaration of love for you romantics!
Spandauer Damm 20-24
POTSDAM & SOUTH CITY
In an ideal world, you could spend the entire day here, but I feel Potsdam is worth it. It lies South West of Berlin and is the capital of the federal state of Brandenburg. The main attractions here comprise of 18th and 19th century palaces and royal parks and upon a visit you will understand why this place has been given UNESCO World Heritage status.
One place you cannot miss is the Sanssouci Palace with its vineyard terraces and striking gardens. This was a place that was not really meant to be repaired and only last the lifetime of the owner but lucky for us this wish did not come true and we were able to visit and feel the great sense of peace that it was intended to provide.
Potsdam & City South
POTSDAMER PLATZ & TIERGARTEN
Potsdamer Platz is a thriving bustling neighbourhood filled with shopping centres, nightlife, entertainment and modern architecture! In actual fact since the reunification of Germany it has been transformed from wasteland to its present day what I would call as The Times Square of Berlin! In fact there are still remains of some of the Berlin wall opposite the underground station on the square.
My suggestion, once you’re all shopped out and fed and watered is to take Europe’s fastest lift up to the Panoramapunkt in the Kollhof Tower and enjoy a view of the Berlin skyline
Additionally the Lego Land discovery centre with over 4 million Lego bricks will provide endless hours of entertainment for little people and adults alike!
Potsdamer Platz 10785
A very short walk away from Potsdamer Platz is the Tiergarten Park. I reckon this is Berlin’s answer to Central Park! It’s most definitely centrally located, at the heart of Berlin and border some of Berlin’s major sites. It spreads over 519 hectares and is a fantastic green space to relax in with green lawns and picnic areas.
For Berliners, Tiergarten Park is the city’s green lung – just like New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park. Close to the city centre and bordering such major sights as the Brandenburg Gate or Potsdamer Platz, the forested grounds cover 210 hectares, slightly more than Hyde Park.
Straße des 17 Juni 31
THE VICTORY COLUMN (GROẞERSTERN)
This column is located in the middle of the roundabout, standing 67 metres high, at the top of Tiergarten. You can reach it via a subway from the road joining Tiergraten. You can take a lift up to the top which will give you a fantastic view of the tree lined road that leads up to the Brandenburg Gate.
The Victory Column
This square is best known for its shopping and eating establishments and was named after Tsar Alexander. The area is quite the transport hub as this is where the underground systems S-Bahn and U-Bahn, regional trains trams and buses interchange. It is pretty close to a few points of interest however my must visit for views of the city’s skyline would be the TV Tower and the Panorama terrace which is located at the top of the Park Inn Hotel.
THE PARK INN HOTEL
For a cost of 4 Euros, payable at the lobby check-in desk, you can take a lift up to the 40th floor and get some nice views of the city, however this is not a skybar by any means. You will probably read about it marketed as one but literally there are a few chairs and a hot and cold beverages sold here. However you do get a fantastic view of the city and you are literally beside the TV Tower. It’s a great value way of getting your bearings and seeing the cityscape.
The Park Inn Hotel
Park Inn Tunnel Alexanderplatz. 7
Tel. +49 30 23890
THE TV TOWER (BERLINER FERNSEHTURM)
This building in my opinion is what makes Berlin skyline. It is that one distinguishing building that soars 368m into the sky and has been named Europe’s highest building (368 meters high) which is open to the public. Views from the viewing platform truly are spectacular, with 360 degree panoramas of the entire city, which will be at your disposal via the 40 second trip up in an express elevator. Pre re-unification, the tower was a symbol of East Germany and was classified as a heritage building in 1979.
I thoroughly recommend having a long drink at the Panorama bar or book in for a 3 course meal as we did at the revolving Sphere restaurant, which gives you the ultimate views of the city, especially when you see it at night, perfectly illuminated. A few more details about this a bit further down…
Tel. +49 (0) 30 24 7 57 5 8 75
This is known as Berlin’s Museum Island and in 1999, was given UNESCO Wold Heritage status. Museumsinel is made up of 5 museums:
01 The Pergamon Museum – Art work originating from Roman times and Islamic symmetry.
02 Bode Museum – houses art and medieval artefacts and treasures from the Byzantine art collection
03 Neues Museum – houses collections from Egyptian museum, Papyrus collection and The famous bust of the Ancient Egyptian queen Nefertiti is the showpiece exhibit.
04 Alte Nationalgaerie – showcases paintings and sculptures from the Neoclassical period right up until 1848.
05 Altes Museum – Features pieces from ancient Greece including portrait busts of Caesar and Cleopatra.
Museumsinsel Am Lustgarten
NEUE SYNAGOGE (THE NEW SYNAGOGUE)
This is one of Berlins most significant Jewish landmarks and was built back in 1866. It can seat 3200 people and was a symbol of the large Jewish community in Germany. Berlin really was one of Europe’s largest Judaism hubs with 160, 000 Jewish citizens in the early 1930’s. Set back in a busy street, it really is beautifully constructed and on a bright sunny day the coloured gold domes shine and irradiate pretty kaleidoscopes.
Oranienburger Straße 28-30
Tel: +49 (0)30 88028 300
BRANDENBURG TOR (BRANDENBURG GATE)
For me this is probably the most iconic landmark in not just Berlin but Germany. The Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of the Cold War division of East and West Germany, however today it is a national symbol of peace and unity. It’s a selfie must and a grand neoclassical gesture of cease-fire of a once-divided city.
Pariser Platz 1
This is a pretty special but understandably emotional place. The Jewish memorial was completed in 2005 on a former ‘death strip’ where the Berlin Wall once stood close to the Brandenburg Gate. The memorial is dedicated to the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. It is worth spending some time going to see the underground the centre and reading the stories and accounts which have been displayed around the memorial.
Tel: +49 (0)30 26 39 43 0
HITLERS BUNKER – THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CAR PARK
This is pretty close to the Holocaust Memorial and in fact we stumbled upon it by accident when we were looking to grab a coffee! It literally is a car park and actually quite a famous one as Hitler took refuge in his own bunker here during World War II. IT’s worth a stop if you’re already close-by!
In den Ministergärten
TOPOGRAPHIE DES TORRES
This is one of the most visited museums in Berlin and is on the former ground of the Gestapo headquarters. It comprises 15 stations, one for each place where abhorrent Nazi crimes were committed. Again a very emotional and horrifying reminder of Berlin’s dark past however very informative and houses the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall.
Topographie des Torres
This is the point of the former border crossing during the Cold War and the partition of Berlin. As a child I remember vividly seeing a clip filmed at this point in the 007 movie, Octopussy! Today it is more of a photo opportunity jaunt, where 2 handsomely uniformed soldiers will happily pose with you for snaps (at a small charge of course!) holding US flags.
This is the home of the German Parliament and a stunning neoclassical example of building it may be but tourists flock here to visit the huge glass domes high up inside it. This is one of those places you just have to visit. Make sure you book online to secure a place as prior booking is required and you will have to go through a number of security checks. ID will also be required. In the outer portion of the globe you can get fantastic views of the Brandenburg Gate area. I would suggest a visit around sunset as the Berlin skyline looks magical from up here!
Platz der Republik 1
This is a fantastic place to hang out especially if you go at Christmas time as this is one of the spots where they hold Christmas markets in Germany. The square itself is the place of the German and French Churches but also a elaborate statue taking centre stage.
My actual reason for visiting the square was that it is actually across the road from the famous Berlin based Chocolatier, Fassenbender Rausch Schokoladenhaus. All I’m saying is you will be wowed by what’s on the ground floor! A chocolate lovers paradise. The most fanatically tempered chocolate models of the landmarks of Berlin and lots of tempting choc treats on offer but make sure you book a place at their café on the first floor. I will leave you to look at the pics….mouth wateringly good!
Tel. +49 800 0301918
OTHER PLACES OF INTEREST
THE KAISER WILHELM MEMORIAL CHURCH
BERLIN MAUER GRENZMAUER (BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL)
This commemorates the division of Berlin by the Berlin Wall and the deaths that occurred. The monument was created in 1998 by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Federal State of Berlin and tells the story of what happened at this particular site.This was somewhere that I nearly left out but was so glad we went in the end.
Berlin Wall Memorial
WBernauer Str. 111
Tel. +49 30 467986666
OK, I appreciate this post is getting very long but I can’t go before just adding in something about drinks and eats, so I’ll just do this by pics but if you like what you see then do go explore the details.
Best Bits: The Monkey Bar Looks out onto the monkey enclosure of Berlin Zoo and does the best Mojitos! Good for sundowners!
Budapester Straße 40
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
Tel: +49 30 12022121
Best Bits: The view from the Sphere Restaurant at night and the fine dining experience. Book ahead online.
KADEWE SHOPPING MALL
Best Bits: This is Berlin’s famous shopping centre and is a version of Harrods. Needless to say the food hall is just divine!
Best Bits: Fantastic German dishes such as Schnitzel served in an eclectically decorated laid back environment! Not touristy at all!
Berlin for me was always going to be pretty educational as many moons ago I remember learning about the Holocoast and the plight of millions of Jewish citizens. I felt that story was consolidated in Berlin, the memorials, diaries and images really made it all so much more real and difficult to fathom.
If you would like any further information about Berlin and planning your trip : visitberlin.de
I seriously wouldn’t mind returning to Berlin, I feel like there’s probably a lot more I could do, see and obviously eat! What would be your Highlights for Berlin?