In my previous post on Germany, I gushed a little about how awesome Berlin’s museums are. Again, yes, they are awesome. But of course you want to check out other things in the city. Maybe it’s nice out. Maybe you need a break from museums, or maybe you just don’t like them at all. Whatever the case, here are some other things you can check out while you’re there (and you can check out this post for how David and I mixed things up during our trip).
First though let’s discuss how you can get to all these places.
How to Get Around in Berlin
Berlin is easily walkable. Unter den Linden in particular is a major street that will take you from Brandenburg Gate in the west through Museum Island and to the Berlin TV Tower.
For those sights outside of that immediate area, do not fear — Berlin has an amazing rail system. There are two different networks that together cover most of the city: the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn. Both are very easy to use. Just buy your tickets at the ticket machine at the train station (note that you will need cash or change for this) and you will need to validate them before use by slipping it into the machine before entering a certain area.
There are many routes, but if you get yourself a map of the rail systems, you should find it easy enough to locate a station near you. Connecting between the two lines is fairly painless as well. The stations that have tourist destinations nearby will call those destinations out and the signage will usually point you to the exit you need.
Things to See in Berlin
Our hotel was right by Tiergarten, so we cheated a little bit… we had to walk through it on the way to many of the sights in Berlin. It’s worth a visit though if being around all the buildings and monuments gets too much for you. Tiergarten is a lovely green space, a park with bike and walking paths. There are monuments around here as well, notably the Soviet War Memorial and the Victory Monument. The east end of Tiergarten leads to Brandenburg Gate.
On one of the days on our trip, we were walking through the park to Brandenburg when we came out to find Strasse des 17 Juni, the street that runs through the middle of Tiergarten, lined with booths all the way from the Soviet War Memorial to Brandenburg. It turns out that we came across a May Day celebration of some sort (at least, we hope that’s what it was, and that we didn’t inadvertently join something else entirely). I had currywurst, crepes and sangria for breakfast. Thanks Berlin!
One of the most easily identifiable emblems of Berlin (and of Germany), Brandenburg also symbolized the division and subsequent reunification of Germany. You can still see on the street nearby the marks where the wall used to be.
It’s striking in the daylight, but even more beautiful at night.
If you’re interested in German government, definitely check out the Reichstag. We didn’t go inside, but the building is impressive. They also give out pamphlets outside so you can still learn about the Bundestag (German parliamentary). Finally, there is a dome that supposedly offers quite a nice view of the surrounding area.
In front of it is a large lawn where people can sit and enjoy a nice, sunny day.
Berlin TV Tower
Every city has a high point from which you can view the surroundings. Berlin’s is a tower called the Fernsehturm, the tallest structure in Germany. It’s pretty, needle-like, and is a good way to orient yourself in the area as well.
The sphere in the middle contains a viewing platform and a revolving restaurant. The Fernsehturm is very popular, so I suggest that you get your tickets (they will give you a time when you can ascend to the viewing platform) and then explore near the tower until it’s your turn.
We walked ourselves over to a nearby store and bought some drinks. Because, you know, in Berlin you can drink anywhere. Also, not once was I carded. Ahh Germany, sometimes you have definitely got it right.
East Side Gallery
For those at all interested in the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery is a must. The gallery showcases what remains of the Wall, decorated with the work of many artists. Unfortunately, some of this wall has been painted over with graffiti and other things, and there was a conflict regarding its restoration as well.
Still, it’s interesting to see the artists’ ideas of freedom, hope and political criticism.
Other Things to Do in Berlin
If you check out all the places above, and all the museums you’re interested in, you should have a pretty packed itinerary. There’s always more to discover in Berlin though; any quick search should bring up something of note that I haven’t covered.
More importantly though, chill, hang out and just wander! We loved people watching as we sat at cafes or rode the trains. We made a game out of spotting Buddy Bears. We ate our way through Berlin and sampled all kinds of German food, some of which I’ve shown you here. Enjoy and let me know how your travels go!