Guten Tag Berlin! An interesting city to say the least. I would have to say that it has been one of our favorite cities to visit. The history everywhere you go, kind people and a liberal revolution that has Hitler spinning in his grave! There are so many things to do in this amazing city and it’s a must visit for anyone going to Germany. Sit down for some currywurst and a beer because you’re in for a wild ride!
Top 5 Things To Do
- Brandenburg Gate – This site leaves you in awe. Absolutely stunning to see, would recommend getting up early and seeing it without the people. The gate is probably the most well known of the Berlin monuments, minus the long stretching Berlin wall. It is a European symbol of unity and peace.
- Reichstag – Visiting the dome at night was a highlight of the trip. What a wonderful capital building. You are required to get a reservation before showing up so make sure to reserve in advance. They will turn you away.
- Bike tour – There is a lot to see in this city and this is the best way to see it efficiently. We highly recommend Fat Tire Bike Tours as we had a wonderful time with them learning about the history of Berlin.
- TV tower – Dinner with a view that I would highly recommend doing on your stay. We got reservations enough in advance to get a seat next to the window. It’s a beautiful view of the city and is the perfect setting for a romantic evening.
- Museum island – Tough to decide on a best for the island but Pergamon, DDR and the Berliner Dom were all amazing to view, even the people watching in the middle! There are many museums to experience and could easily take you two days to get through all of them.
- Checkpoint Charlie
- Holocaust Memorial
- Brandenburg Gate
- Fat Tire Tours
- Mama Cook Restaurant
Flight: I’ve always loved taking the time to visit other countries, especially in Europe, but sometimes I forget the travel involved!We got up bright and early and ready to go for our long trek to Deutschland. I’ve been waiting for this trip for a while now as I have a long history of German heritage on both sides of my family. We had no real situations getting to and from the airport and an easy transition at the airport. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing flying first into Canada as they will often have this at a domestic terminal instead of international.
The flight was long and we were lucky enough to at least get seats with plenty of leg room, in the downside we were also lucky enough to get a screaming baby in the seats across from us. It was a long flight to say the least and both of us were very exhausted getting off of the plane in Berlin.
Our first experience was nice in Berlin. Very quick and easy to switch a SIM card over on the phone, get an Uber and make arrangements for some of our excursions. Luckily they use the Euro in Germany and we still had some extra left over from our previous trip.
We made it to our hotel and I quickly realized that neither of us know German as well as we should, but luckily most people here know English. We got in around 10:30 am, so we had plenty of time before we actually needed to be anywhere.
We walked through the city and took it all in. We stopped and got our first taste of currywurst from a street vendor across from Checkpoint Charlie. It wasn’t too bad, the beer I had with it was better. We had better experiences later on with currywurst.
Checkpoint Charlie: The Checkpoint feels more like a tourist trap than an intriguing story. Regardless, it was actually the final checkpoint before someone transferred over from East Berlin to West Berlin. It was significant when the wall was still up separating this great city. Russia did everything in their power to make sure people didn’t transfer over to West Berlin. Now it has no issue gathering the flocking American tourists in the area!
Holocaust Memorial: We made our way over to the Jewish Holocaust memorial and it was amazing to see the amount of statues that were erected for this place. The interesting fact is that there are the same amount of stones to the Memorial as the amount of pages in the Jewish Text. Every stone was different from the next. As you walk through to the center of the monument, you are in awe of how silent it gets, but it really makes you sad to think on how something like this could happen.
*Brandenburg Gate: We walked over to the Brandenburg gate and watched as droves of people walked around trying to get that most famous Instagram photo with it! It is a stunnning monument and just beautiful to look at. I went back the next day to get some shots of it without the people around. I did get a great shot with a pretzel vendor, which can be iconic for the country that has pretzels everywhere!
Fat Tire Tours: It was now time to head over to Fat Tire Tours. The guide was fantastic and the content was really good. Plus it got us some much needed exercise with all that German beer we were drinking! We went around the city to many of the top sights. We would stop and he would explain the historical significance. He brought us to the bunker where Hitler was found by the Russians after killing himself. I love how Germans make it important that they don’t forget that these things happened but also make sure that they don’t find a way for these things to reoccur. Hitler is probably spinning in his grave knowing that his bunker, where he died is merely a parking lot and not signified in any way, but also the city he was trying to create is no more. It’s known as one of the most liberal cities in the world. Even Angela Merkel, the chancellor now lives in an extremely modest area.
Mama Cook Restaurant: Our final stop before checking into the hotel was a place called Mama cooks and it was an Asian fusion restaurant. We had a nice meal there and then we were out like a light! Almost two days without sleep is a lot! Ready for our next morning of museums!
- Coffee Fellows
- Museum Island
- Pergamon Museum
- Neues Museum
- DDR Museum
- River Boat Tour
- Berliner Dom
- East Side Gallery
- Berliner Republik
Coffee Fellows: After some tossing and turning with my jet lag fully setting in from the night prior, I had a tough time sleeping as usual. I work up often as my body alarm clock was completely confused. I woke up and quickly stopped off for a coffee at the Coffee Fellows. A small coffee shop that looked like a chain here in Berlin. I ordered a curry bagel sandwich and also a espresso to go along with it. Both were delicious. I really need to find the origin to curry in this city as they seem to place it in a lot of their dishes. As we finished breakfast we headed off on the U-train to museum island.
*Museum Island: Museum island is beautiful and it feels like every corner of it is filled with amazing architecture and things to do.
Pergamon Museum: We stopped off first at the Pergamon museum, the newest in the collection of 5 museums on the island. I love that it was simple with only two floors split between Babylonian and Islamic times, but it kept you engrossed in the exhibits. One that was just above amazing was Ishtar gate. To think that this was just a small piece of a much larger fortress is beyond amazing for human beings to accomplish. The beauty, the colors, the ingenuity!
Neues Museum: We moved along quickly after about 1-2 hours and came to the Neues museum. This was mostly Egyptian culture but some Roman and Bronze Age exhibits added in. It was a bit bigger with 4 levels to go through. Of course the most popular exhibit being the sculpture of Nefratitti. The mastery of the contours of her face and colors used are brilliant. The sculpture was a mere template for a future work, which is remarkable in itself.
We decided to take a break from the museums and headed over to a cafe next to the island. We had some beers and some brief snacks, nothing bad, just average food for the most part. It feels like there are mostly two sizes when visiting a restaurant in Germany, .3L and .5L. Which roughly equates to either 10 oz. or 18 oz.
DDR Museum: We moved along to the DDR museum which is specific to the city while it was split between East and West. It was interesting to see how the East lived. I realistically didn’t know a lot about their daily lives going into this. The Nude beaches, the treatment of women, and many more are all experiences you’ll have in store. It was very interactive and you can finish it in little over an hour. Very neat to see a part of history that you might not ever experience unless visiting Berlin.
River boat Tour: As we came out of the museum, we saw a boat tour that was just about to head out. We jumped aboard, ordered some beers and enjoyed the river ride. The ride lasted around an hour and you got some great views of the city. It’s simplistic in the fact that it really just takes you up the river a little past the Reichstag and back. It was nice as always to see the city from a river perspective, but if you have to chose between this or a bike tour, choose the bikes.
Berliner Dom: We got off the boat and were ready for our next excursion. We decided to visit the beautiful Berliner Dom. The architecture again with this church is fantastic and definitely a must see within the city. It was very easy to get into and they do allow you to take photos. The best part about the church is the panoramic views at the top of the dome. Take some time and just take it all in with beautiful city views and the people below.
Next after visiting the Dom, we just enjoyed some people watching in the middle of museum island. What we found out? Anyone will take all of the time in the world to get the perfect selfie! We watched as several people would stop and take picture after picture to make sure they got the perfect candid shot. You have to love people watching! I would have loved to see the photos that they actually posted. It’s interesting to think that people look at these as a perfect shot and why can’t I look like that? Honestly, spend two hours for one photo of yourself, and you probably can!
We decided to do something that we haven’t done on the trip yet, take a stroll on the Lime bikes! We had seen these everywhere and we figured we wanted to go to the East Side gallery but not in a taxi. You download the app first, scan the bar code and it registers everything and you are off! It gets up to 19mph as far as I’ve seen. What a neat and simple way to travel the city! Once you get where you’re going…park it and lock it…that’s it! It was very convenient to use and I would recommend to anyone as a easy form of transportation.
*East Side Gallery: The gallery spans for a long time throughout the street. It’s like going to a free museum in a way. I love the fact that the Berlin people have taken something so somber and made it into an international symbol of peace. I’m so glad that when they tore down the wall, they left something to remember and never forget.
Berliner Republik: We next ate at the Berliner Republik, it was alright food. My fiancé ordered the pork knuckle as it’s extremely popular here in Germany…it was not popular with her! I had my staple of potatoes, cabbage and sausage which I always think is good! We did like the atmosphere of the restaurant and it had a cool concept where beer was like the stock market. The more someone orders a particular beer, the price goes up and vice versa. Kind of gives something different to the feel of the place.
Reichstag: The final stop of the night lead us to a late night visit to the Reichstag building. They are very strict about appointment only, so make sure to get reservations in advance. The security process to get into the capital building is also strict, I thought I was at the airport with how often they wanted verification and passport info! When you get through security and up the escalator, you get to a beautiful view of the city. The clear dome is so neat to look at and has a large stairway that winds up to the top. As you make your way to the top, it takes you through the history of Berlin and the Reichstag. Hitler coming to power, through the split of the city and the building of it. Your audio guide uses a location device so it gives you audio for what you are currently viewing. The views are fantastic and if you get a chance to do the night tour, go for it! This is one of my favorite capital buildings I’ve visited and I love the fact that you can look down through the dome and see the parliament in action. Their thought is that they want to be as transparent to their people as possible. Not sure if you can say that about all government!
- Brandenburg Gate
- Charlottenburg Palace
- Lemke Brewery
- Tier Garten
- TV Tower
*Brandenburg Gate: I woke up early, before the world awoke from their beds and took off on a lime scooter. I wanted to get some shots of the Brandenburg gate without millions of people. I was fortunate enough to get there and find only security guards. I got some great shots of the gate and also made my way to several other areas of the city for photos. It’s so peaceful to be out in the early morning with far less people out.
I came back, grabbed some breakfast at our hotel and we headed off to Charlottenburg palace. We took the metro, which was very easy to locate and understand. We had to get on and off three busses but it was very easy to navigate with the signing at the stations and on the busses.
Charlottenburg Palace: The palace was stunning of course, it’s a palace?! We toured the inside and then went into the garden area. There is a lot of history here and they do a great job with the audio guides and easily getting you the information without complicating things. The gardens weren’t top notch in comparison to some of the other palaces, but still cool to look at and spend some time.
Samowar: After the palace we strolled over to a Russian restaurant right next to it called Samowar. We had some fantastic food and their buffet also looked delicious here. Their wild boar and venison pairing was great along with their take on ravioli stuffed. Would highly recommend if you are in the area.
Lemke Brewery: As we walked back, I was surprised to see my grandparents family name on a brewery sign! We stopped into the Lemke brewery, because it was just neat to experience! They had some pretty solid craft beer here in a country that is not known for their craft beer. They were very nice and also had a great IPA and solid sour ale.
Tier Garten: We took the bus back and headed to the tier garten. We decided again to get the Lime scooters, because they are just so easy to use! We took the scooters through the garten and came upon the victory statue in the middle of the garden. It was well worth it to climb this to the top and get a clear view in all directions of the city. You get to the middle just like the arc de triumph in Paris…it’s underground. We wanted to stop and spend more time in the tier garten, but we had a dinner reservation to make.
TV Tower: Later that evening we made it to our reservation at the tv tower. First off, make sure that you get a reservation in advance and show up at least a half hour early as there is a process to it. As you give your coats to the hostess before taking the elevator up, you then also have to pass through security. This is why it takes some time to get up. It’s an experience to even take the elevator as you can look up and watch as you go up the tower.
I would highly recommend this restaurant on both cases here. Even though they give you the cliche #bestviewinthecity, it really is! You can see the city from all angles and is just beautiful, we went as the sun was setting which made it even better. It’s a revolving restaurant, so you get to see all angles. Not enough to make you nauseous, but enough so that you get a chance to see the entire city. The food was also great. We had the surf and turf and everything was well cooked and delicious. We headed in for the night as we had to get ready for our next city tomorrow.
The city of Berlin is one of the top cities that we have visited so far. There is so much to fall in love with from a historical aspect, but also the culture. A city that has picked itself up from some of the worst tragedies in history, and says screw you to the people involved? That makes for an amazing story of a city that everyone should visit.
*Top people watching spot