Berlin, ich liebe dich.
Oh how I love Berlin. In the summer of 2012 I worked for a Digital Marketing company in Berlin Mitte. I try to go back 2 or 3 times a year because this city is so vibrant and relatively close to my home. This city has memories of WWII literally on every street corner and there is no other city in the world that shows you the differences between East- and West Europe so well.
When booking a hotel or hostel I can recommend you to find a place in East Berlin. The district Friedrichshain and Kreuzburg are very hip at the moment. I stayed in the NHOW Berlin the first time I got there, The NHOW is a trendy music hotel. In East Berlin you will find a lot of great and surprisingly affordable restaurants, here and there a Biergarten and the best food can be found in the old Toilet buildings. Burgermeister for example, best burgers in town, can be found at Metro stop Slesisches Tor. The U1 train will get you there.
When you get to Berlin buy a ticket for the public transport for your entire stay, you’re going to need it. The public transport in Berlin is very efficient and is separated in a S-Bahn and U-Bahn. Do you want to be a tourist for one day and a local for the rest of your stay? Follow my tour, as I have done every time friends and family came over, and you’ll see all the highlights in just one day.
Start off at Potsdammer Platz: When you exit the station walk over to the Sony-Centre, have a quick peek inside and find your way on top of the Kollhoff-Tower. Here you’ll find the fastest elevator in Europe, taking you to the 24th and 25th floor in 8 seconds. You have a great view over the entire city and the cost is only 4euro. No waiting in line, like when you want the view from the Fernsehturm on the Alexanderplatz. From the Postsdammer Platz continue walking north until you reach the Holocaust monument. Below this monument is a museum with incredible and impressive stories from survivors of the holocaust. The construction of this monument has been delayed for a while because the manufacturer of the anti graffiti layer on the monument was the same manufacturer for Zyclon B. Zyclon B was used in the gas chambers in many concentration camps.
Continue walking north and you will find the icon of Berlin, the Brandenburger Tor. On the other side many tourists are waiting to take a picture with a random guy dressed up as a Sovjet-, American- or German soldier. I’d say take a photo of the building and continue to the Reichstag. You can go up the Reichstag but I will advise you to make a reservation up to 3 days in advance. Otherwise you may be denied access and if you make a reservation you hardly have to wait.
From the Reichstag you can continue your stroll north towards Hauptbahnhof. This modern building, to me looks like an airport building, was one of the biggest investments for Berlin to reunite East and West. In summertime you will pass one of the many city beaches of Berlin.
From Hauptbahnhof you can take the train to Alexanderplatz, this is where the Fernsehturm is situated. This building was constructed during the cold war so the Sovjet Union could show Amerika what they were capable off. From here it’s just a short walk to Museum Insel, where you can find many Museum, naturally. Alexanderplatz is also the place where many ‘free’ tours start. Read more here.
Two S-bahn stops in the same direction take you to the East Side Gallery. This is a part of the Berlin wall where local and international artists could express their opinion about freedom. At the end of the East Side Gallery you can take the U1 train to Checkpoint Charly. In my eyes a very overrated tourist site, but important because a lot of things happened here during the cold war. From Checkpoint Charly you can take the U2 train towards West Berlin and get off at the Zoologischer Garten. This is the ‘center’ of West Berlin. Fashionista’s eat your heart out because this is the stop near the KaDeWe, one of the first mall’s in Europe. Check out the Willhelmkirche, this church was bombed during the final days of WWII but was left that way.