Berlin, often referred to as a “poor, but sexy” city is the political and cultural capital of Germany. Although it attracts a steady stream of artists, writers, and intellectuals, there is something for all tastes, interests, and budgets. After twenty years of the fall of the Berlin Wall, remnants of a bruised past continue to reverberate throughout the city and are harmonized with the onset of a new era. The entire city can be covered in 2 days with a little bit of time management coupled with proper guidance.
1) Start off the day with an authentic German breakfast/brunch at “Plus Minus Null” in the eastern borough of Friedrichshain. Head to the formerly socialist avenue, Karl-Marx-Allee to catch a glimpse of architectural facades of the Stalinist era. Don’t miss the East Side Gallery, where you can view the 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall that has been converted into an open air art gallery and serves as a memorial of freedom.
2) Alexanderplatz, a huge public square in the heart of Mitte and the Fernsehturm (TV Tower), the tallest structure in Germany cannot be missed. As a midday snack, a bratwurst/currywurst is recommended as a sample of true German street food.
3) For your shopping needs, KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens, or “Department Store of the West”) is a great place to start. Nestled in the heart of the swanky Charlottenburg district, it is not only a commercial complex, but a historical emblem of material prosperity of West Germany. It is the second largest department store in Europe, trailing behind Harrods in London. Minutes away from KaDeWe is Kurfurstendamm, or otherwise known as Ku’Damm – the Champs-Élysées of Berlin.
4) Stroll down the world-famous boulevard, Unter den Linden. Drink a cup of coffee at Einstein Café. Marvel at the iconic Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) at one end and gaze at the beautiful architecture of the Berliner Dom, Humboldt University, and the Deutsche Oper at the other end.
5) Visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (the Holocaust Memorial), an outdoor field of uneven concrete slabs that you walk through.
6) Located behind the Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag, home of the German Parliament. Be sure to visit the rooftop terrace for stunning panoramic views of the city.
7) End the night by dancing at the chic club, 40seconds or keep it more low-key with a cocktail at the Saphire Cocktail Bar.
1) Begin your jam-packed day with an energizing meal at “Keyser Soze.” Saunter down Oranienburger Strasse and soak up the architectural splendor of the Neue Synagogue, a monumental Jewish establishment of Berlin.
2) Vestiges of East Berlin are limited; however, you can see an intact segment of the Berlin Wall at the Topography of Terror, an outdoor museum and the former venue of the Gestapo and SS headquarters.
3) Walk around the famous Potsdamer Platz area and visit the Sony Center to witness the striking dissimilarities between East and West Berlin.
4) Relax and revive your energy with a classic high tea at the Ritz Carlton. It is the perfect oasis of tranquility amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city.
5) Prioritize your museum visits as there are so many. Located on the River Spree, Museum Island (Museuminsel) houses 5 internationally-renowned museums. Two other museums worth visiting are the Judisches Museum and the DDR Museum.
6) Walk down Friedrichstrasse, a major cultural and shopping street that was formerly bisected by the Berlin Wall. Today, it is lined with corporate offices and shopping boutiques. Down the street is Checkpoint Charlie, a former crossing point between East and West Berlin, and the very end of the street, you’ll find yourself in the Turkish enclave, Kreuzberg. A visit to Berlin is incomplete without a Turkish meal, so prepare yourself for a Mediterranean feast at Hasir Restaurant.
7) Drink a strawberry beer at Erdbeer Bar or head to Prenzlauer Berg, a district in the northwest that hosts a warren of both trendy and traditional bars/pubs.
Berlin is a historical gem that is not to be missed!