A Guide to the Historical Destination of Berlin

Wilhelmstrasse Berlin Sign

Berlin is one of the most unique cities in the world. Even if nothing had ever 'happened' in Berlin, it would still be an interesting city to visit and is worthy of any traveller's attention.

Why Go To Berlin?

The minimalistic architecture appeals to the streamlined, there is a surprising amount of open space for such a large city (although it is not green – who ever thought of gravel parks?), and around every corner there is a curious statue or quirk. Another plus: they have those cute little Berlin bears spread throughout the city.

A City With Real History

Berlin Street Sign

The thing is, you cannot separate Berlin from its history. The history of the Holocaust is present around every corner. From the pieces of the Berlin Wall on display, to the hidden entrance of Hitler’s Bunker below an ordinary apartment block; Berlin does not pretend that terrible things happened. Berliners have simply moved on without forgetting.

Where to Stay in Berlin?

If you are looking for a great place to stay in Berlin, consider the Cityhostel Berlin. The location is great, just a short walk to Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall.

A Cheap European Destination

Berlin Wall Tourist

Berlin is one of the cheapest cities to stay in. The hostels and hotels are so reasonably priced that you can even afford to upgrade a bit. You can actually get a private room and spend less money than you would on dorm rooms in other cities! Plus, a decent breakfast is included in the price of the room, as well as free wireless Internet.

Where to Eat in Berlin?

Let’s be honest – German food is simple and filling. Now, it is possible to screw it up, but even I can cook some great German food. As a result, pretty much every bar in Berlin can serve you a great piece of 'wurst' and potatoes. My recommendation is to try some 'currywurst' – it’s spicy and filling.

Meat and potatoes are not the only things to eat in Berlin, though. You cannot leave without having a pretzel, good from any stand or metro station. 'Streusel' is also mandatory – apple is a good option, of course, but you must try the raspberry version.

Since you really cannot get great pretzels or streusel outside of Germany, feel free to live on it for the duration of your trip. Do not forget the meat and potatoes though. Maybe schedule this after your beach trip too… Just a thought.

What To Do in Berlin?

German Berlin Pretzel

Hitler to Holocaust to German Beer You can always walk around Berlin and look at the nice streamlined buildings. However, there are a number of must-see attractions. If you are on a time-budget, you could run around and see everything in one day. If you can afford an extra couple of days, it would certainly make your vacation in Berlin much more relaxed.

If you have just one day in Berlin you must see the following:

Checkpoint Charlie

Make your first stop at Checkpoint Charlie. Now, at first glance it may not seem like something too special. However, take the time to read the display leading up to Checkpoint Charlie. It explains how things arrived at the point where Checkpoint Charlie was 'necessary' in the first place. Not a cheerful spot to visit, but few of the must-see spots in Berlin are cheerful.

Berlin Wall

Next stop is the Berlin Wall. Walk up to it and admire the graffiti. Try and imagine this wall extending further into the distance each way, dividing families and loved ones. Again, you should be in a really great mood.

Jewish Memorial

Wander off toward the Jewish Memorial. On the way, you may notice the street 'Gertrud-Kolmar-Straße.' Go down the street, heading towards the Jewish Memorial. On your right you may notice a map. Stop and take a look at it...

Hitler's Bunker

Statue Berlin Germany Monument

You are now standing and staring at the entrance to Hitler’s Bunker, the bunker where Hitler reportedly committed suicide. Now, all you see is a few white posts in front of an ordinary apartment building, but below your feet is one of the places where the Holocaust was orchestrated. Spooky, but true.

Having seen where Hitler worked out the details of the Holocaust, wander down the street to see one of the most hauntingly simplistic memorials ever designed. On a previous tour of Berlin the guide explained what was meant by the Jewish Memorial:

As you start walking through the site, you notice that the ground is even with the sidewalk. Walking further into the site the ground beneath you gets shaky and uneven; the concrete blocks get higher until you cannot see anything but concrete and grey sky. This is how holocausts develop. At first everything seems fine, until you are suddenly in above your head. It’s a fantastic metaphor, and a striking memorial.

Brandenburg Gate and Alexanderplatz

Afterwards you should wander off to see the Brandenburg Gate, and maybe visit Alexanderplatz for a little shopping and people-watching. Once you get tired of sightseeing, fall into the nearest bar and enjoy the best of Germany’s beers.

Anything Else to See in Berlin?

Of course, if you can take the extra days, there is always the Jewish Museum Berlin. Perhaps you could visit the Berlin Zoo (they have the cutest penguins), or check out the Museum for Communication. Do not forget your umbrella though, every time I visit Berlin it rains at least once.

Day Trips from Berlin?

Architecture Monuments Berlin Streets

Berlin is city enough for me, but there is one quick day trip outside the city which cannot be missed. For the brave at heart, you should not skip a trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp – the only one built in Germany.