A Berliner’s Guide to Berlin
Marco de Martino from Travelzoo’s team in Berlin guides us through the must-see attractions in one of Europe’s most exciting cities
Walk along former borders and see how two cities have become one
The Berlin Wall is still there – but instead of being a border, it has become a symbol for freedom and unity. It’s also a focal point for the thriving street-art scene of the German capital. The so-called Eastside Gallery shows graffiti left on the wall right after the borders were torn down. Take a walk between the Spree River and the Wall from Ostbahnhof down to Warschauer Straße – on the way, you’ll pass some of the city’s old and new landmarks, including the historic Oberbaum Bridge and the modern Mercedes Benz Arena.
For another chance to see a blend of the old and new, head to the Reichstag, which was completely modernized and reopened in 1999, and returned to its original purpose as Germany’s seat of parliament. A massive new glass dome was fitted to the roof, but the graffiti left by Soviet soldiers in the first days of Berlin’s occupation was preserved. A visit to the Reichstag is a must – even if it’s just for the panoramic view from the dome.
Discover the remnants of the rule of fear
For more than 40 years, Berlin was a city between freedom and dictatorship, between East and West. One less heralded sight that serves as a reminder of this very special history is the Soviet War Memorial and Military Cemetary (left) in the Eastern district of Treptow.
Here you’ll find huge stone carvings, murals and statues, all of which aimed to underscore the might of the Soviet Union, right in the capital of the former enemy they defeated. Situated in Treptow Park, this is a simultaneously beautiful and bizarre place.
Like many similar monuments, the Soviet War Memorial was not destroyed after the fall of the wall. And others were even purposely erected. The Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe (left) is maybe the most impressive example of how a city – and a whole nation – tries to deal with its past. “Ugly”, “big”, “disturbing” is how most visitors describe it. And that is exactly what the monument is trying to depict.
Experience a cultural melting pot at its best
Few districts in the city symbolise Berlin’s modern standing as a multicultural hub better than trendy Kreuzberg. The area’s distinct Arab and Turkish influence is clearly evident in the mix of traditional barber shops, halal butcheries and kebab houses on Adalbertstraße, but that only tells half the story.
Amongst this, you’ll also find an array of hip fashion boutiques, galleries and restaurants that have helped forge Kreuzberg’s reputation as a magnet for the young and trendy.
Get a taste of Germany’s culinary capital
An influx of nationalities over the last 60 years has resulted in an incredible variety of food. Berliners love to eat out because food here is very affordable, and this is the case for street food and fine dining alike.
For something a little bit special, check out Richard’s on Köpenicker Straße in Kreuzberg – the 9-course taster menu, with perfectly matched wines for each course, is an absolute must.
Party like a true Berliner
Curfew is a word unknown to Berliners. The party is over when the last guest leaves – and that rarely happens. Concert halls such as Arena Berlin, Columbiahalle, Mercedes-Benz Arena or the 100-year old Postbahnhof, regularly host underground and world-class bands alike.