Last month was my second visit to Berlin. I went back in 2015 as part of a work trip so had limited time to see very much, but I knew I really liked this city. So when I got an opportunity to go back, I jumped at the chance to explore Berlin a bit more!
I actually managed to do quite a lot, especially considering I was in town to go to Lollapalooza Festival, so I thought I’d combine both trip experiences and give you a lil list of my favourite things to do when in Berlin.
See The Brandenburger Tor
Although I like to discover some hidden gems in new cities, I like to start things off by seeing something iconic in the city skyline. Y’know like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or Big Ben in London; I just think they set the tone for the trip. And in Berlin, it’s the Brandenburger Tor you need to see.
It was built in the 18th century on the site of the former city gate and has become a symbol of the city. Try to go early to avoid the crowds though.
Discover The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Yeah it doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but this holocaust memorial, not far from the Brandenburger Tor is definitely a must-see in Berlin.
The installation comprises of 2,711 concrete rectangles, with a wavy floor, forming a unique grid-like maze. It’s such a strange memorial as a few steps into it you suddenly feel very far away from the outside world and quite disorientated. For a structure so simple in design, I thought it was very powerful and eerie and definitely urge you to go visit it.
Although beware, you will see tourists running around taking selfies and it will infuriate you. This is not where you do that, babes.
You gotta eat currywurst in Berlin. You’ll see little kiosks dotted around the city, but my favourite is that one at Checkpoint Charlie called Checkpoint Curry 207. Delish. But literally every time I’ve had it it’s been great, no matter where from (even the van at Lollapalooza festival pictured below).
And the best thing is that it’s pretty much the cheapest meal you can get in the city at 2.50 EUR a pop! Definitely backpacker budget-friendly y’all.
See The Topographie Des Terrors
Aptly named, the Topography of Terrors is a free outdoor exhibition on the site of the Gestapo HQ. Throughout Berlin you see small sections of the Berlin Wall, but there is quite a large section here complete with information and anecdotes from WWII and Nazi rule.
It’s quite eye-opening and can be upsetting, but I feel like that’s the case with a lot of these WWII-based sights. Just don’t do them all in one go, it’s too much.
Try The Best Burger Ever At Burgermeister
Yes that is a bold statement, but Burgermeister is definitely up there in my list of best ever burgers. It was completely packed when I visited and I had to share a booth with strangers to be able to sit down, but I’m glad I stuck around because it was delicious! The chilli cheese fries are also to die for. Seriously, you need to go to this place. Like, ASAP.
Stroll Through Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is another place with sections of the Berlin Wall, but here it’s been graffitied and covered in chewing gum (I don’t get the chewing gum thing, is it meant to mean something??).
But it’s good to stop by if you’re in the area as there are a lot of plaques that give you a good intro to the Berlin Wall. Plus, it’s free so there’s that.
Go To The Charlie Checkpoint Museum
Charlie Checkpoint was the gate between East and West Berlin when the wall still stood. So it’s a place that so many people tried to use as an escape route. The Charlie Checkpoint museum tells lots of these stories (both failed and successful) so is worth a look if you’re interested in that perspective.
Check Out Charlie’s Beach
Nearby there’s also Charlie’s Beach which is quite a cool little gem of a place in the summer. Grab dinner from a food truck, settle down into a deck chair and enjoy an ice-cream on the faux-beach. It’s a really nice spot in the evenings when it’s hot and even sometimes has live music.
Coffee at West Berlin
On my latest visit, Ellie found us an amazing coffee shop to seek refuge from the rain in. West Berlin is scandi-chic-hipster-cool with delicious coffee, lots of healthy food options, free Wi-Fi and large desks at the back if you’re looking for somewhere to work remotely. I could literally spend all day in this place.
View The East Side Gallery
Another infamous Berlin sight is the East Side Gallery. This is a 1.3km stretch of the Berlin wall that’s been covered in beautiful street art. Some of it is quite political, some of it is about Berlin’s turbulent history, but even if you’re not a massive art-lover, it’s definitely a sight to behold.
Pretend You’re At Oktoberfest
Yeah I know we’re not in Oktoberfest’s hometown of Munich, but when in Germany, you gotta drink beer out of steins, right?
A trip to Hofbrau Munchen biergarten definitely gives you all of the Oktoberfest feels with waitresses in lederhosen and traditional polka bands playing whilst you eat bratwurst. Yes it’s tacky and a bit Disney-esque but I really loved it. Nothing wrong with a bit of tack.
Explore Kreutzberg’s Bars & Cafes
Kreutzberg is one of my favourite areas of Berlin, and for good reason because it’s filled to the brim with cool bars and cafes and vintage shops. I’ve already mentioned a couple of individual places to visit but I figured that as a general tip you should wander through this district. There are cool people and lots of street art and lots of buildings with fairy lights. And isn’t that what we all want?
Eat Zola Pizza
I know this is Germany and all, and I should be focusing on the best places for authentic German food. But actually this pizza place is the dog’s bollocks. It tastes just like you’re in Italy with lots of fresh ingredients and all pizzas are cooked Neapolitan style. Seriously recommend Zola for a lunchtime stop.
Plus, it’s right on the river for a lovely stroll to/from Kreutzberg.
Go To Lollapalooza Festival Berlin
If you visit Berlin in September try to coinside it with the Lollapalooza festival! I had a whale of a time and would totally recommend going. Head over here for all the deets on the festival!
Visit Museum Island
To make life easier, most of Berlin’s museums are in one place. On Museum Island. Here you’ll find 5 museums revolving around work from Berlin, Ancient Egypt and Byzantium, including the bust of Nefertiti and the Pergamon Altar.
This is a great place to come if you have bad weather in Berlin, but be prepared for queues, everyone has the same idea!
Shop At Mauerpark Fleamarket
I mentioned this in my last Berlin post, but part of my recent trip with LastMinute.com was to try out their #MusicMakesYouTravel map which matches city sights to your music tastes (more info here). And it inspired Ellie and I to head over to the recommended Mauerpark Fleamarket.
It was such a cute way to spend a Sunday, looking through vintage stalls, drinking delicious coffee from The Coffee Ape van and generally enjoying the atmosphere, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s also a great shout for unusual souvenirs!
Also, not too far away there’s another lovely coffee shop called Impala Coffee where you can sit out on the pavement watching the world go by. Dreamy.
See The TV Tower
It’s iconic in the Berlin skyline, so the TV Tower is cool to see. I don’t think it’s essential to go up it (there’s a revolving restaurant at the top much like the one I visited in Sydney), but it’s just nice to walk through Alexanderplatz and get a feel for this part of the city. Oh and at the bottom of the TV Tower there are trampolines you can go on. So there’s that.
There you have it, lots of fabulous things to do in the cool city of Berlin, Germany. Have a fab trip!
Let me know if there’s anything else you’d recommend to do in Berlin in the comments below, or tweet me @HeelsInBackpack!