The city of Berlin has emerged as a glamorous and cultural city break destination, with plenty going on around the clock. By day there’s top museums and popular art galleries to explore and by night there’s opulent opera performances and a plethora of culinary delights on offer. As the capital city of Germany, Berlin is the new cool trendy destination, with funky young artists, designers and musicians setting up here. Berlin hosted the European Capital of Culture in 1988.
Get a serious museum fix in Berlin
One of the things that make Berlin one of the most popular tourist destinations is its history. Rich in art, war relics and religious artifacts, Berlin’s museums are as enchanting as they are interesting. Visit Berlin’s Museum Island to enjoy the city’s 5 most loved and famous museums; The Altes Museum, The Bode Museum, The Alte Nationalgalerie, The Pergamon Museum and The Neues Museum are internationally renowned institutions and their galleries and exhibition halls are home to Byzantine art, historical architectural structures and the Egyptian bust of Nefertiti! If you are an avid history fan and these five museums just aren’t enough, head to the Dahlem Museums or the Museum of Decorative Arts.
Browse the achingly cool art galleries
No trip to Berlin is complete without indulging in its dynamic and ever growing galleries. Direktorenhaus, VeneKlasen/Werner, DNA and Galerie Max Hetzler are just some of the versatile and happening galleries to visit. Visit these to get a taste of the old and new Berlin, to experience a mixture of the art that is pushing the envelope yet merging with existing culture. If you’re a fan of European artwork head to Berlin’s picture gallery which has quite a diverse collection of European paintings.
A visit to the Brandenburg Gate is a must
The Brandenburg Gate (Tor) is a world famous landmark and has remained architecturally unchanged since it was built in 1791. Built in the Greek Revival style, it’s famous for uniting the two previously divided parts of Berlin city, the Brandenburg Gate marks a classical turn for architecture and has a deep significance for Berlin. The gate is made up of 12 Doric columns and is a symbol of peace and pride for Berlin. Visitors to the Brandenburg Gate are awed by its splendid design and architecture and absorbed into the many roles it has played for its city including the setting for various presidential speeches, World Cup football matches and rock concerts.
Take a moment to reflect at the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall needs no introduction and if there was only one place you could visit in Berlin, it has got to be this world famous wall. Built in 1961 to separate West Berlin from East Berlin and East Germany. It spanned 155 km (96 mi) in total and many people of a certain age remember where they were when the wall was toppled on 9 November 1989. Take a bike tour of this wall and hear the many stories that still haunt this wall that once divided the world. Parts of the reconstructed wall have been converted into an art memorial while others have been left as they were. Get a tour guide to brief you on the war history or just take in the structure and read the many messaged drawn and written on the wall.
Check out Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie is an ex-United States controlled check point that divided East and West Berlin during the cold war. The check point was recreated, complete with its “actor” soldiers and history boards for visitors to enjoy. There is even a replica of the checkpoint guard house and the wall records the different accounts of the people that tried to escape the war in the east. While Checkpoint Charlie might seem odd today, this was the site where the Soviet Union and American tanks had a go at each other during the war. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum also features many exhibits from the Cold War era.
Bundestag and observation decks
Bundestag and its observation decks should definitely make it to the list of top things to do in Berlin. While Berlin does not really have too many contemporary buildings, the Bundestag or The Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany definitely offers a breath taking view of the city from its beautiful and sunlit observation decks. This Parliament building is one of the most visited parliaments in the whole world and its history goes back to the 19th century. From art exhibitions to film and light projection, to a memorial wall, this Parliament is quite far from boring. Enjoy being at the top of the building and take in the city from within the glass dome. While Bundestag is a great place to visit, wear comfortable clothes and shoes as there are always long lines here because of intense security checks.
Berlin together with Potsdam (the capital of neighbouring Brandenburg) is a collective UNESCO site praised for their palaces and parks. There is over 500 hectares of parklands and some 150 buildings that make up the World Heritage List, which was first inscribed on 1990. Potsdam dates back to the 10th century and notable parks include the sprawling Sanssouci Park with its vineyards and the intricately ornate rococo palace of Castle Sanssouci (Schloss) which srved as the summer palace of Frederick the Great. Explore the beautiful Babelsberg Park which contains a castle built in gothic style and the New Garden which is home to the Marmorpalais and also the Palace Cecilienhof. There are also several notable museums in Potsdam including the Museum of Natural History, movie themepark Babelsberg and the Gemäldegaleria art museum.
By Julie Bowman