Things to do:
- Visit all of the monuments in the centre of Berlin
- Take a trip to the various Schloss (castles) in and around Berlin
- Go to the top of the Dome in the German Parliament Building- the Bundestag
- Visit the Olympic Stadium- which has a lot of history, and some great views of the city
- Head over to the East Side Gallery to see remnants of the Berlin Wall
How could I write a post about Berlin and not start with this famous speech?! Berlin is in the east of Germany, and with so much modern history to its name, I would recommend doing a little reading up about the city before you visit, as I did!
Map of Germany
So I took a little trip to Berlin in the summer. I took the TGV from Lyon to Paris, then flew with Air Berlin. I’ve got to say, I was very impressed with Air Berlin- a free snack and soft drink, and I even got to watch the Looney Tunes (it seems rare nowadays to have TV’s on such short flights!).
Something that hit me immediately- the prices of everything- so cheap! Arriving in Berlin was a bit of a shock: 2,40€ from Tegel Airport to the city centre via public transport. Drinks in bars were incredibly cheap- 2€ for a pint of beer. We ate out for less than 10€ every night. It was great!
So packing a huge city like Berlin into a 4 day trip- is it possible? Most certainly. Although the transport system in Berlin is very good and efficient, I decided to make the most of the sunshine, put my trainers on, and walk around the city to see all of the monuments.
Starting point: Alexander-platz. It is the first building I noticed- the tallest structure in Berlin. It is also central- and so easy to walk to many other monuments from here.
From Alexander-platz, we took a stroll down to Museumsinsel (Museum Island). And it is exactly what it says on the tin- a very small island full of museums. The buildings were all striking- very old but all very grand.
However one thing that I was very quick to notice- the buildings all seemed dirty and unkept. In Lyon, often buildings will have scaffolding up for a few weeks during the year to clean the front and make the building look very clean, so perhaps this is why these buildings appeared run-down to me.
Next, we headed to the Tiergarten area: Berlin’s biggest park, situated right in the centre of the city. The Bundestag is the German Parliament building, and it really is huge!
If you get the chance, book up early to go to the dome inside the Bundestag, it’s a great view! There are visits to see inside the actual parliament building itself, I was just unfortunate enough to be there in the only week that it was closed!
A 2 minute walk from here was the world famous Brandenburg Gate, or, as someone kept insisting I say- Das Brandenburger Tor.
Das Brandenburger Tor
Next, something that my friends from Berlin told me that many people miss, or are simply oblivious to: A memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. I guess in a way it is a very simple memorial, but so powerful and effective as well. I would describe it as a maze- and it would be very easy to get lost in here! You just don’t realise how high the monuments rise, or how low the ground goes.
Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas
Continuing down this road took us exactly along where the Berlin wall had been- separating East and West Berlin. We evntually reached Potsdamer Platz, which shows off how far Berlin has come since the communist era. The huge modern skyscrapers are a symbol of capitalism and modern Germany, as can be seen in the background of the photo above.
Further into the centre of the Tiergarten Park are a couple more striking monuments. First of all is the Siegessäule (Victory Tower). Please note: Don’t be stupid and run across the very busy roundabout like we did- best to use the underpasses!
The Bundespräsidialamt (Office of the Federal President) is a short walk from here, and worth a look, it is a very beautiful building. The actual mansion is called Bellevue.
A final recommendation would be to visit the Olympiastadion. The Olympic Stadium was home to the famous 100 and 200 metre wins by Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics. It was renovated for the 2006 Football World Cup. It is absolutely imperative to go to the bell tower, for an incredible view of the stadium with the city glowing in the background
So these were the main sites that I visited in 2 days in Berlin. Whilst it felt rushed getting around the city, it was relaxing enough to appreciate each place I went to.
There will be more posts coming with the other things I got up to in Berlin. We visited a couple of castles where I took a lot of beautiful pictures. There is also the East Side Gallery, an old part of the Berlin wall which remains, with many hundreds of art murals. I think this deserves its own post as I took so many photos! Here are a couple of teasers to bring you back next time 😉
Schloss Sans Souci