As a student of German whose only first-hand experience of the culture was a short trip to Stuttgart at the age of fourteen, Berlin had always been on my list of places to visit. The city did not fail to impress; there were so many things to do that there was physically not enough time to see everything! The people were so welcoming and keen to show off everything that their city has to offer.
If you would like to find out how a few days in Berlin might look, read on to discover my experience of the beautiful German capital…
After arriving in Berlin, the first thing to do was to visit both of the so-called ‘main’ attractions i.e the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) and the Reichstag. They were both just as impressive as the photos suggest and it was fascinating to imagine where the Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer) would have stood in relation to the gate, splitting the now-unified city into two distinct areas. Situated in front of the gate is the Parisier Platz, home to a seemingly endless supply of grand buildings, including both the US and French embassies. This square was also where I tasted my first Berliner Currywurst; a traditional German sausage completely drenched in ketchup and curry powder. I was a bit dubious at first but the flavours worked well together and I can see why it is such a popular dish.
On the way back to my hotel, I passed many more of the foreign embassies (an attraction in themselves thanks to their colourful designs and decorations) and the Holocaust Memorial (Holocaust-Mahnmal). This is a huge structure made up of hundreds of concrete slabs. It is very moving but definitely worth a visit.
My second morning in Berlin was dedicated to visiting the DDR Museum; an interactive attraction showcasing what life was like whilst Germany was split into two separate states; the Deutsche Demokratische Republik in the east and the Bundesrepublik (BRD) in the west. The interactive games and memorabilia were a fun, alternative way of communicating just how basic and restricted life in the communist state was in comparison with the modern, capitalist BRD.
My afternoon was spent exploring the nearby area which included the stunning Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) and Alexanderplatz. This square has both historical and cultural attractions. It is an important place in terms of the protests that helped to bring about the fall of the wall in 1989. It is also home to the Weltzeituhr; a unique clock that shows every time zone in the world, as well as a wonderful view of the Fernsehturm; a television tower and the tallest structure in Germany.
For those tourists who prefer to shop, the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) is the perfect attraction. It is the largest department store in continental Europe and has practically everything you could ever want or need! For me, the food and drink floor was the most exciting, offering traditional German meats, cheese, wine, chocolate and more.
After all the modernity of the KaDeWe, I decided to venture back to the other side of Berlin and visit the Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg). Most of it had been destroyed during the war and has since been reconstructed but it is an enormous, beautiful building with huge gardens for guests to explore.
Given the opportunity, I would have stayed in Berlin even longer and seen as much as possible. Other attractions include Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Zoo, for example. Of course, this is just my personal experience of the German capital and I hope it will encourage you to pack your bags and discover the wonders for yourself.
If you have been to Berlin and want to share your own stories from your trip, please leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you 🙂