A few years ago I visited a British friend of mine who was living in Berlin and I absolutely fell in love with the city. People say New York is the city that never sleeps but i beg to differ. Berlin is hands down one of the most vibrant, entertaining and culturally stimulating cities I have ever been to.
I went during the winter months and to say the weather was chilly is an understatement- might as well have called myself Elsa cuz dis b**** was FROZEN. If you’re planning to visit Berlin in the Winter, then it will be COLD and there probably will be SNOW so make sure you bring every piece of warm clothing you own, including thermal underwear- not sexy i know but dribbling in public because you can no longer control your face or mouth muscles isn’t exactly hot either either.
With so much to do in Berlin it was quite difficult for me to narrow it down to a handful of activities but these are the things I remember enjoying the most and hopefully (if you go to Berlin) you will too.
So, here are my 5 favourite things to do in Berlin:
Look at all zee historical buildings
Berlin has SO much to offer in terms of culture and history, despite the fact that it was virtually all but destroyed during the second world war. Die Berliner Mauer a.k.a The Berlin wall (that big long walk that divided East and West berlin) is bloody massive and boasts some amazing art work/grafitti-whichever way you look at it. The Holocaust memorial is, for obvious reasons, slightly more down-beat but I would highly recommend you go there. Hearing and seeing the stories of survivors and victims is incredibly heartbreaking and you will most likely cry- or feel slightly lost for words- at just how devastating the effects of Hitler’s anti semitism regime was for these innocent people. The jüdisches museum is another great place to visit if you’re a history enthusiast/geek like me. Checkpoint charlie- the best-known crossing point between former east and west Berlin-, the brandenburg gate and the Reichstag are also highly recommended.
Germans and beer notoriously go hand in hand like Boris johnson and dodgy hair styles- somehow it just seems natural. Unlike the majority of us brits, the Germans like to take their time drinking beer whilst having a nice chat with their friends and family as opposed to knocking back 10 pints in an hour then staggering around the streets at midnight to find a turkish-looking place where we can order £30 worth of kebab.
I, myself am not actually a big fan of beer mainly because it looks like urine, smells like urine, tastes and I’m still unconvinced that it isn’t urine. But for cheap alcohol and Beer I love Eschenbraue and Hops and barley bar. The atmosphere in these pubs/restaurants are so relaxed and cosy and during the summer evenings they have cute little fairly lights outside- awwww so süß! Prater Garten is also the oldest beer garden in town and serves its own brand of beer so is worth checking out.
Buy zee clothes und zee food, ja?
The flea market at mauer park is normally rammed full of locals and tourists on a Sunday so you might find yourself adopting the general German mannerism of not moving out of the way for annnnnnyyyyone. However the atmosphere is buzzing and the smells, OH MY GOD THE SMELLS. The market offers up international food from everywhere, from typical german pretzels and bratwurst, hearty Spanish paella to sweet smelling turkish deserts. If you want to make the most of this place then I suggest you don’t eat for three days before then go all buffet city on that s***. Other than food, you will also find an abundance of discounted clothes, furniture and vintage (I’m gonna say most likely stolen) bicycles if you wheeeely want a bicycle tehehe. They also do karaoke between 1.30pm and 5pm so if you ever wanted to see an old German man belting out ‘I VILL SURVIVE, I VILL SURVIVE’, then get there in good time!
Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz or Freiluftkino Friedrichshain Open Air Cinemas are great places to go and watch a film in the evening. Obviously being situated out doors, it is preferable to go during the summer time when the weather is beautiful and the ambience of the cinema is great. Think old-style 1950’s vibes but surrounded by families, couples and groups of friends with massive picnic hampers full of bread and kartoffelsalat… mmmmmmmm kartoffelsalat (no one makes potato salad like the germans). Check out www.visitberlin.de/en/keyword/open-air-cinemas for events and film times and make sure you get there early to get the best seats, Germans and open air cinemas are very similar to Germans and sun loungers if you know what I mean..
Visiting a concentration camp is not exactly what you would describe as a ‘fun day out’ but nonetheless I feel it is something everyone needs to do at least once in their lives. I went to Sachsenhausen which is located just outside of Berlin. This camp was the centre for the Nazi concentration camp system and also one of the first to be opened for public viewing. There are honestly no words to describe the heavy feeling of sadness that will accompany you whilst walking around this place. Seeing the chicken-pen style sleeping quarters and the cold and sinister gas chambers reduced even full-grown men to tears. How some of these people managed to work 24 hours a day under such brutal conditions with little food, water and sleep and still survived is beyond me. This camp, for all its abuse and wrong-goings is ultimately a tribute to the strength and bravery encased in the jewish community at that time. I can’t recommend enough that you take a tour of this camp.