Berlin is a city overflowing with intense history. Every design, attraction and characteristic screams out in the need of healing from a disastrous up-bringing. Today's modern Berlin has many intriguing things to do and see, with something to satisfy every interest! I felt the city had a very masculine aura to it, with no more than greys and straight lines being the decoration of choice. Not a city to be adored for its looks, it's a city constantly in motion, adding bits here and there, telling its story. We had a single day to enjoy all of the cities wonders. Here's 21 things to do in Berlin next time you visit.
21 Things To Do In Berlin
#1 Take A Guided Walking tour
This way, most of the sites/activities in this list will be checked off thoroughly and you'll get the most out of your time. A bit of insider knowledge goes a long way! It's great to see something, but getting those cheeky one-liner facts and a more detailed view of the attractions, make them come alive! No longer simply a pile of concrete - it will dance, burst into colour and evoke emotion. We tried to do this in most European Cities and loved them every time!
#2 Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe
A large expanse of grey concrete will greet you as you come along the path. Many many interpretations can be conceived from this monument:
Every block is a unique shape and size - no 2 are alike. It's a random, seemingly unimportant number of blocks, possibly indicating it really doesn't matter the exact number of lives lost during this time, it was simply tragic. Jewish Cemeteries have generations buried on top of each other - possibly the reason for some blocks being very tall, representing the incredible number of whole families and bloodlines wiped out. It looks a bit like an abandoned city - still structurally sound but empty, haunting.
Shocking Fact of the Memorial for Murdered Jews in Europe: The same company that was contracted to coat these blocks with graffiti proof paint, was the same company who supplied Zyklon B to the Nazi's... obviously a big blunder in it's production and a horrible stain on its intended purpose of respect, reflection and closure. Read More >>
When visiting this site, take what you feel and see as yours. This site is meant to make you think and evaluate your morals and values. Be respectful and do not climb or walk on the blocks.
#3 Hitler's Death Site
A carpark not too far from the Jewish Memorial, is the theorised site of Hitler's death. Though there is no proof or record of his death or the place it happened, this is where many people believe he took his life. There is no memorial, statue or glamorised exaggeration of this site, but instead a simple carpark has been laid down.
#4 Trabi World
Check out the car that was founded in Eastern Berlin and gave hope to the people of those hard times. Rent a piece of history and take a journey around the city!
#5 US Army Checkpoint
A marker of the original 'Checkpoint Charlie' while the wall was in place. Actors portraying Generals and guards can be found at the box, ready for a photo op. Personally I found the entire show, well, just that. Very fraudulent and insensitive. Something that may have been a tourist attraction in the 80's but now needs to move aside for the fresh Berlin of today. Good as a marker when getting an understanding of the cities history, but it could certainly be executed much better.
#6 Follow the Old Wall Line Around The City.
Distinct bricks and Tiles are laid around the city, following the original line of the Berlin Wall. You can easily follow this, ticking off many of the major checkpoints and museums along the way. Plaques lay along the line and indicate which direction you're facing. If you're reading a plaque you are facing East.
#7 Topographic Des Terrors
This large museum has an outside timeline of the events within Berlin. From the beginning to the demise of Hitler's 'career' and all that occurred in between. A full documentation of graphics, letters, newspaper clippings and first-hand descriptions run along a timeline with remnants of the Berlin Wall as background. The interesting fact that hung in my mind while walking this timeline, and that still stays with me today, are how similar these events are to some of today's headliners. How much have we learned and grown?
Home of the fastest elevator in Europe! Take a ride for the best 360 views of the city! With a nice little cafe at the top, grab a coffee and enjoy the view! You do have to pay to go up and if your on a budget, it's probably not worth it. Like I said, it isn't the prettiest city, so I did feel like I was basically taking photos of nothing.
#9 Brandenburg Gate
A monument dripping in history, tales and controversy. Tick this one off your bucket list and enjoy the walk around it. Open plans with cafes and landmarks all around. The French Embassy cheekily sitting close by, keeping a watchful eye on its prize.
#10 Find the Buddy Bears
This list of 21 things to do in Berlin, would not be complete without some street art! The Buddy Bears in Berlin were created as a tasteful way to bring street art to the city, instead of traditional graffiti. Dotted all over the city, see how many you can find!
#11 Book-Burning Memorial at Bebelplatz
In front of the University you will find many people standing around staring at the ground. As you get closer you'll see a window into the earth. Below your feet is a library with empty shelves commemorating the book-burning at Bebelplatz.
#12 Berlin Cathedral
The short name for the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church. An impressive contrasting piece of architecture, complete with pristine gardens and wifi hotspots. Because this monument is really the only major piece kept intact in the city throughout all the wars, my list of 21 things to do in Berlin would not be complete without checking it out! It's give you a good sense of just how damaging the wars have been. This is a great pit stop to grab some lunch and give your legs a rest.
#13 The Fernsehturm (Television Tower)
Dubbed Berlins Toothpick, you can't miss this futuristic tower. Once again, controversy surrounds this building with it's design. Much of the Old City was torn down to make way for this tower. All religion was banned and strict regimes were in place on the Eastern side of the wall. The designers are said to have cheekily protested this in the towers curve. As the sun shines on the silver ball at the top, it seems to portray a cross. This detail also making way for the nickname of 'The Pope's Revenge'.
I found this fountain strikingly beautiful, having the spaceshippy Toothpick as its background. Enjoy the sound of the water on a beautiful sunny day.
#15 Look Up!
Check out the coloured pipes lining the city streets. I still can't work out if i liked the look of them or not but it's a quirky feature that gives the city character. Berlin is built on swampy marsh land. Therefore as the city was built, water and soggy ground had to be siphoned out of construction sites. Because of the expanse of development, these pipes were put in place to move the huge quantity of slosh and have now been left behind to tell the tale.
#16 Berlin Victory Column
Impressive in size, this Column stands for many things today. Checkout the bullet holes all around its base from World War 2. A Beautiful reminder of Germany's history of resilience.
This large inner-city park has it all! Scurrying squirrels run through the trees as the shade gives the skin a break from a full day of exploring in the sun. Enjoy the hug from nature and relax at any of the many cafes inside. It was a wonderful afternoon stroll as we wound down from a massive day of sight-seeing! The most relaxing option of our 21 things to do in Berlin.
#18 The Wall Museum
Probably the most popular museum in the Berlin, this highlights everything surrounding the Berlin Wall. Large sections of the wall are on display outside the museum itself. Each section has been decorated by individual artists to try and bring happiness and beauty to so much pain and suffering.
#19 The Molecule Men
A large aluminium structure, built to unify the city.
“[The sculpture is to remind] of the fact that both people and molecules exist in a world governed by probability, and that the objective of all creative and scientific traditions is finding wholeness and unity within the world.” – Jonathan Borofsky
#20 Oberbaum Bridge
Literally just a funky old bridge. But I had to add it to my 21 things to do in Berlin because I thought it was just the oddest thing to see in amongst it's modern surroundings. Built in the late 1800's, it has stood the test of time and patience in such a devastating environment.
#21 Check out the Ampelmännchen
We've made it to the end of our list of 21 things to do in Berlin! Created as a way to bring joy to the humble pedestrian crossing, this little character has become a symbol of Berlin itself. Check him out as you cross the streets. Head to an Ampelman store to find anything you can think of made into the shape of the walking man.
What's your favourite part of this incredible city? Let me know in the comments.