Germany has been a country we’ve wanted to visit for a long time, and we knew if we ever made it there Berlin would be on the top of our list of cities to see. The capital of Germany is filled with history, and it’s all of that history, both good and bad, that has transformed Berlin into the city it is today. We were originally only going to spend three days there, but we quickly realized three days was not enough time to fully appreciate everything Berlin has to offer, so we extended our stay an extra few days to get a better feel for the German capital.

Brandenburg Gate

Getting Around:

Like most cities, we stuck to public transportation in Berlin. Throughout the city there is an easy to use network of S-Bahn, U-Bahn, and Trams (all are essentially different types of trains). You can purchase one ticket to use all three modes of transportation and it’s fairly easy to navigate your way through the city. Unlike most cities we’ve been to, Berlin doesn’t have a great app for their train lines so we stuck to Google Maps when trying to figure out how to get to specific destinations.

Top Attractions: Our Favorite Things to See and Do:

1. Free Walking Tour:

To familiarize ourselves with a new city we typically like to start off with a walking tour. It’s a great way to see all the main tourist attractions and learn a bit of the history while getting to know the area. In Berlin we did our free walking tour with SANDMAN’s New Europe (we’ve used this company in other cities and they always have a great tour!). Their free tour starts at Brandenburg Gate and makes it’s way through some of Berlin’s most important sites such as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site of Hitler’s former bunker, Humboldt University, Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. We also learned a lot about Germany’s pre-world war history in which it was considered one of the most accepting and progressive countries in the world. While on this tour we came to realize that Berlin is filled with so much history, thought provoking memorials and interesting neighborhoods.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie

2. East Side Gallery:

Part of the Berlin Wall known as the East Side Gallery, is a 1.3 km-long area covered with amazing graffiti artwork! After the Wall came down in 1989, hundreds of artists came to redefine this part of the Berlin. It’s the largest open air gallery, with more than 100 paintings all with a different statement.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery

3. Berliner Dom & Museum Island:

Located in the Mitte neighborhood, the Berliner Dom sits on what is know as Museum Island in Berlin. The Berliner Dom (The Cathedral of Berlin) is the largest church in the city and is easy to spot with its impressive dome. Visitors can also go to the top of the dome to get a birds-eye view of Berlin! After taking in the beauty of the Berliner Dom, visitors can then get museum crazy on Museum Island. There are five museums that can be visited: Altes Museum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Pergamon Museum. For those looking to take full advantage of this part of Berlin, there is a 3-Day Museum pass that is sold to see the museums listed above plus more.

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom lit up for Festival of Lights

4. Berliner Trodel Markt:

If you’re on the hunt for antiques and interesting nicknacks, the Berliner Trodel Markt is the place to go. It runs every Saturday and Sunday from 10am till 5pm and can reached by taking the S-Bahn to the Tiergarten stop. For those looking to pick up a one-of-a-kind beer steins, this is the place to go. We saw 100’s of steins all with their own story and many are a lot cheaper than those sold in the tourist souvenir stores.

Berliner Trodel Markt

5. Hackescher Markt:

Located outside the S-Bahn station Hackescher Markt, this area of Berlin is home to multiple cafes and unique shops. Once you get off the S-Bahn we’d suggest walking around this area and seeing what you can find.

Hackescher Markt

6. Day Trip to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp:

Located about an hour train ride from the Brandenberg Gate, Sachsenhausen is a former concentration camp that was used by the Nazi’s during WWII and then the Soviets afterwards. We’ve all learned about World War II in our history classes and have heard about the in-humane treatment of concentration camp victims, but it’s one thing to read about it in a book and another entirely to see the facilities where thousands of people were mistreated, tortured and murdered. While it’s hard to get excited about visiting such a grim place (and rightfully so), Sachsenhausen was definitely an experience and important reminder to the horrific things that have happened in the fairly recent past. The events that took place throughout Europe during World War II can be argued to be some of humanities darkest days, and as our guide said, it is important we remember and learn from these events to ensure they are not repeated.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp

7. Explore the different neighborhoods:

One thing that we noticed while in Berlin is the size of this city. It’s HUGE! Speaking with people who have lived their whole lives in Berlin, we found that there are areas they’ve never explored, so for us to have seen everything in just 6 days was an impossible feat but we like to think we made a pretty good dent. That said, below is a list of some of our favorite neighborhoods we were able to explore during our time in Berlin.

  • Mitte
  • Prenzlauer Berg
  • Charlottenburg
  • Kreuzberg

Places to Eat:

1. Konnopke-Imbiss: What is currywurst? We weren’t sure until we made our way to Konnopke-Imbiss. Located in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood beneath the elevated rail lines, Konnopke-Imbiss stared selling currywurst in the 1960’s and was actually the first place to sell currywurst in East Berlin. So how has a sausage seasoned with curry ketchup become one of Berlin’s most famous dishes? We’re not entirely sure, but we didn’t hate it!

Konnopke-Imbiss

Konnopke-Imbiss

2. Brot und Salz: Keeping it in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, Brot und Salz is also another great restaurant to get an elegant twist to Bavarian classic dishes. We stumbled across this place while exploring this part of Berlin and would go back again and again! The menu wasn’t in English (obviously a good sign), so we were at the mercy of the waitress who helped us order one of the most delicious dinners.

Brot und Salz

3. Markthalle Neun: Need to get your street food fix in Berlin? Head over to Markthalle Nuen on Thursday’s. Known as “Street Food Thursday“, this is the spot to go and witness first hand the culinary creativity that is happening throughout Berlin. Markthalle’s interior reminded us of London’s Borough Market, with it’s high ceilings, green iron frame and columns found through out the building. Within Markhalle you can find small stands serving up dishes from around the world. It’s definitely a unique culinary experience for those looking to see a different side of Berlin.

Markthalle Neun

Accommodation:

While in Berlin we stayed at the Hollywood Media Hotel. Located in the Charlottenburg district of West Berlin, this hotel is bringing back golden age of the film industry. The hotels decor pays tribute to hundreds of former international actors, actresses, directors and movies. And just like the classics, the hotel showcases all these great works in highest quality without being over the top, straying away from the typically idea of “themed hotel”.

Hollywood Media Hotel Berlin

While walking around we found ourselves catching glimpses into another era with photos of John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Steven McQueen and other international stars from Europe and Britain. In fact, the 182 room hotel has dedicated each room to either a former actor or classic movie. Depending on what floor you stay on you could be sharing a room with one of the greats!

Hollywood Media Hotel Berlin

Hollywood Media Hotel Berlin

We were fortunate to have stayed in the West Side Story room, where we rubbed elbows with Maria and the boys. The entire 6th floor is dedicated to classic movies, and each room has a beautifully hand painted mural depicting one of the movies most famous scenes. Other classic movie suites includes King Kong, Titanic, My Fair Lady, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Casablanca and a few other favorites! Just think about it, you could be yelling, “I’ll never let go Jack!”, in the Titanic themed room or use Humphrey Bogart famous line, “Here’s looking at you kid” in the Casablanca room. Also on the 6th floor, guests can take a short trip to Egypt in the Cleopatra Spa by relaxing in the sauna or steam bath.

Hollywood Media Hotel Berlin

The owner, Artur Brauner, a very accomplished German film producer, has taken his passion for the film industry and turned it into a tangible way to pay homage to the people that laid the foundation of what the film industry has become today. 

Thank you Hollywood Media Hotel for hosting us during our stay in Berlin.

As always, our opinions are our own as we Talk Travel.

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