**Updated : October 2023**
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What is Berlin Like to Visit?
If you're exploring any other cities in Germany, then chances are Berlin will be a little different. Most tourist cities like Munich and Nuremberg are located in Bavaria - which are filled with the idyllic "traditional" homes and buildings you see when you picture the seasonal Christmas Markets dotted throughout Europe. Well, Berlin is not in Bavaria, meaning a visit to this famous city might feel a little different than the rest of your trip. Berlin is nearly synonymous with the Berlin Wall, and as a city steeped in recent history we truly believe a stop in Berlin should be on everyone's itinerary when visiting Germany. With museums and memorials around nearly every corner, not to mention a slew of techno clubs like this one called the KitKat Club, to us Berlin felt much more similar to other European cities like Budapest and Prague, than to cities like Nuremberg in Bavaria - and not just because of the architecture. If you do decide to visit Berlin, we recommend staying aware of your belongings, planning ahead, and preparing to be surrounded by crowds at most of the top sights. We also recommend taking it slow, with so much history and so much to learn - it can be tough to take it all in if you're in a rush - so it's better to plan just a few things than to try and jam-pack your days. We spent just 2 days exploring everything we've listed below, but truthfully I would recommend spreading these items out over 3-4 days.
Finding a hotel in Berlin can be hard, trust us. We would recommend Hilton Berlin, Berlin Marriott Hotel, or Grand Hyatt Berlin to avoid sketchy management and bed bugs.
7 Sights You Shouldn't Miss
1. Self Drive Trabi Tour with Trabi World
Expected Time : 1-2 Hours
This was hands down the most exciting thing we did while in Berlin - driving a traditional old Trabant Car through the streets of Berlin for 2 hours. Not only can you watch our entire experience below, but the itinerary goes by most of the top sights in Berlin (like the Berlin Wall, East Side Gallery Paintings, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, etc.) so it's perfect if you're short on time. Although most the Trabi cars are manuals, if you don't know how to drive a stick shift it's really no problem since they also have Trabi e-cars on site. They have 1 hour and 2 hour itineraries and we would 100% recommend the 2 hour tour - this way you actually have time to get used to driving the car and are able to enjoy the views.
2. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Expected Time : 2-3 hours
Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe officially opened in 2005 as a place of remembrance to the nearly 6 million victims of the Holocaust. Although the Field of Stelae is open at all times, there is also an exhibit located underneath the memorial that is open from 10am to 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. We recommend stopping at both, which are free to enter, and ask that you please be respectful when visiting. Standing in the middle of Field of Stelae and taking in all the information from the exhibit is quite sobering, and we ask that you be please be respectful towards guests and visitors that may need a moment to themselves.
3. The Berlin Wall
Expected Time : 1-2 hours
Arguably Berlin's top attraction, the Berlin Wall is one sight you truly need to see. Construction on the wall began in 1961, and demolition of the wall began in 1989. Essentially, the wall was built to keep people in East Berlin, even though the wall surrounded West Berlin. West Berlin was controlled by the US/UK/France, and so once people escaped into this surrounded area, they would then be able to catch a flight into other territories controlled by the US/UK/France. We highly recommend stopping by the Berlin Wall Memorial so that you can see a replica of how the wall was set up when in use, with alarms and wire triggers and automatic shrapnel shooters. If you're looking for a bit of a "not as intense" visit to the Berlin Wall, there are plenty of places throughout the city to see it, including at the East Side Gallery.
4. East Side Gallery
Expected Time : 1-2 hours
The Eastside Gallery is a collection of 105 murals from artists all over the world that were painted onto the East Side of the Berlin Wall, just one year after it began to be taken down. Although we drove by on our Trabi Tour, we really wanted to see the paintings up close, and I would say the best way to experience the East Side Gallery is by walking along the wall itself. Some of the most famous murals along the East Side Gallery include "The Mortal Kiss" and Birgit Kinder's Trabant smashing through the wall - both of which are shown above. Although we wouldn't stay in this area too late at night, there is a nice riverfront area near "Zola East Side" eatery which is perfect to enjoy the sunset.
5. Checkpoint Charlie
Expected Time : 30 minutes
Checkpoint Charlie was one of three checkpoints for those crossing over into East/West Berlin. Now merely a memorial next to a McDonalds, the site was very interesting to see. With a sign mentioning if you are entering or leaving "the American Sector", there is nothing more than a small booth there, a museum in one corner, and locals offering to take your picture for a small price. Although we do recommend stopping, this spot can get extra crowded and busy, and we recommend paying extra attention to your belongings and pockets here. P.s. - If you stop here and are feeling a bit hungry, we had an excellent lunch at Tapas Mundo just a block away!
6. Topography of Terror
Expected Time : 2-3 hours
The Topography of Terror is an outdoor museum that stands on the grounds of previous Reich and SS offices and interrogation sites. Before visiting Berlin, we didn't know it existed, and only found it because it was across the street from Trabi World. As a free outdoor exhibit, this is an excellent spot to spend a few hours reading about the entire history of Berlin and Germany - at least as it pertains to the Holocaust and Hilter. The exhibition is incredible, and shares many details we previously never knew about, as well as photos and personal stories. Even if you're not into history or museums, this is one spot you won't want to miss. It's also worth noting that it can get particularly hot here in the sun, so we recommend going early in the morning. Also, there are a few signs here warning of pickpockets, so make sure to keep your belongings in front of you while you're busy reading the exhibition signs. (Note - The Topography of Terror is not pictured above, rather, this is the Reichstag Building which is located nearby and used for parliament.)
7. Brandenburg Gate
Expected Time : 20 minutes
The Brandenburg Gate was started in 1788, and although at the time was built as an entrance to the Prussian Palace, it's now one of the most visited attractions in Germany. Having survived heavy damage from World War 2, both sides of Berlin actually helped restore it before the Berlin Wall was built. It now stands to serve as a reminder of peace and unity, and we recommend giving it a short stop while you're in Berlin.
Bonus : Local Foods!
Expected Time : N/A (as much or as little as you like haha)
Berlin is known for a variety of foods - mainly, their currywurst. I'll be honest this dish isn't my favorite, but Tyler didn't mind it! Basically, it's a mix of sausage in a curry powder/dressing. The flavor is different, but according to Tyler "it grows on you". Another famous food item to keep your eyes out for is a Berliner - a German donut filled with jam! Definately way more up my alley. We had a great Berliner at Konrad Bakery, right across the street from Trabi World!
Watch our Adventures in Berlin!
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
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