Since the Iron Curtain came down, Berlin has been bustling as one of Europe’s most popular capital cities to visit. It’s got history, alternative culture, architecture and great restaurants. Berlin is bicycle friendly and has is bursting with foreigners. What btter way to explore the city than with a local?
The city has thrived since being reunited and undergone major developments. It is a capital city that attracts history buffs, artists and families looking for a cheap holiday destination with a lot to offer. Prices in Berlin, especially in certain neighbourhoods can’t be beat compared to other cities in former West Germany. What’s more, there are great cheap flights to Berlin from all over Europe, thanks to low cost airlines like Air Berlin and Germanwings.
What to do?
- Treptower Park (Pushkinallee) – one of the biggest green areas in Berlin, both locals and tourists enjoy spending the afternoon picnicking in the open fields, cycling or jogging the trails or strolling under the trees while catching up with friends. There is a Soviet war memorial on the south side of the park, marking the graves of thousands of soldiers.
- TrashArt Museum (Berliner Strasse 17) – Founded in 2008, this museum concentrates on sustainable art making and runs workshops and an artist in residence program. It is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays. Entrance: Free
- DDR Museum (Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1) – Forty years of history are packed into this small museum which puts daily life in the DDR in new light. Play housewife in an authentic East German kitchen and experience what it was life first-hand to be spied on by the Stasi. Entrance: 5 Euro
Where to eat?
Berlin offers the cream of the crop from every culture and at a great price too if you know where to go. Some of the best places to eat are in Prenzlauer Berg. Either sit down for a meal or grab a currywurst on the go.
- Café Datscha (Gabriel-Max-Strasse 1 / Friedrichshain) – Open daily from 10:00, this place exudes Babushka-ness with high ceilings, creaky wooden furniture, coloured glass doors and tiny framed pictures and photographs hanging on the walls. It serves every Russian and Ukrainian delight you can imagine.
- I Due Forni (Schönhauser Allee 12 / Prenzlauer Berg) – This Italian pizza joint is far from conventional. The pizza itself is delicious and the setting is strictly punk: anarchist slogans spray painted on the walls, concert posters and brick showing from behind the yellow paint. Guaranteed a great value meal in good company.
- The Bird (Am Falkplatz 5 / Prenslauer Berg) – This New York-style eatery serves up fresh burgers and steaks. It’s very clear that beef is king here and vegetarians should beware, unless the Caesar salad will satisfy. The place is real laid back and during happy hour (18:00-20:00) you can buy one beer get one free.
History hot spots:
- Berlin Wall - Follow the cobblestone markers in the street that show where teh Berlin Wall once stood. The East Side Gallery is the only remaining part of the wall still standing in its original position.
- Holocaust Memorial -designed by peter Eisenman, this 19 000 square metre site is covered in more than 2700 concrete slabs. The space is designed to create and uneasy, confusing and claustrophobic experience for those who walk between the slabs. Located at the corner of Ebertstrasse and Behrenstrasse.
- Potsdamer Platz – just 1km from the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, this main intersection was completely destroyed during WWII and wasn’t built up again until the German reunification. Now it is bustling with development.
- Checkpoint Charlie - although highly touristy, this spot marks the famous border crossing and is essential to anyone interested in the city’s history. There is information displayed on Zimmerstrasse and Friedrichstrasse.
Img: sashafatcat / flickr cc