With historical sites, museums, street art, communist era souvenirs and a vibrant nightlife, Berlin is a city with diverse flavours.
The German capital city Berlin tops the list of European capitals that are popular tourist destinations from across the world. Known for its raging nightlife, techno music, vibrant street art, hip off-beat fashion, monuments and architecture, Berlin has something for every kind of traveller. Once reduced to ashes and torn by historical forces, a city that was divided physically, on ideological grounds, Berlin today is a multicultural city that has its own, unique character that is fascinating, engaging and energising. Here are five things to do in Berlin, among the hundreds.
Mitte district – Monumental hub
Undoubtedly, the first suggestion that comes up for visitors to Berlin is an exploration of the Mitte district of the city, known popularly as the historical heart of the city. As the centre of the vast and large city, Mitte offers a lesson in the turbulent and eventful history of the city through the monuments that can be found here. A Holocaust memorial, alongside the Brandenburg Gate, several churches and the Reichstag, a building housing the German Parliament now known as Bundestag are among the numerous sites to be found here. The Alexanderplatz station, which leads to several squares and views of the “Television tower” is also in this district, which is an iconic Berlin monument. One can wander around the monuments in Mitte Distict for days and it may not be enough!
Museum Island – Knowing about the arts
Museuminsel or the Museum Island, in the Mitte District of Berlin is home to five exquisite museums with a focus on art and archaeology. An architecturally interesting space, the Museum Island finds inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Antiquities and Islamic art in Pergamon Museum; historical Egyptian collections at the Neues Museum, followed by sculpture, art by masters in the Neues Museum and Alte Nationalgalerie; the visit to Museum Island can be rounded up at Bode Museum, which is popular for its collection of Byzantine art as well as its coin cabinet. Since museum timings are strict and limited, it is a possibility you may end up furthering your stay in Berlin to complete the museum exploration at the Museum Island!
Checkpoint Charlie – Souvenirs from red times
As a significant part of what we see as Berlin today was once the former German Democratic Republic, the city’s tryst with communism has become somewhat of a spectacle for visitors. One can find fake stamps for passports available at the East Side Gallery (the part of the Berlin wall that remains today) and numerous stalls near tourist spots selling badges, belts and uniforms of the old army. The extremely popular Checkpoint Charlie – once a crucial security checkpoint – has now become a choicest place of visit for tourists who want to get a feel of how things were when the city was divided. If you’re looking to stack up on some souvenirs of the by-gone times of communism in the city, Checkpoint Charlie is a good place to head to, where the bylanes are dotted with vendors who speak in heavy tones and offer even heavier bargains on the offbeat souvenirs.
Walls of the city – Street art all around
The love for street art, or graffiti will inevitably lead a traveller to make a pilgrimage to Berlin, as the city showcases some of the best of this art form on its wall. A popular tourist spot – the Berlin Wall, called the East Side Gallery, is a must-see site of the city. Some parts of the wall have been secured by fences to prevent artists from spray painting over some existing art yet one can see a variety of styles of graffiti coming together. The Wall, which fell in 1989 is now a painted canvas for artists from all over the world, with several symbolic images and text that speaks volumes. Apart from the iconic East Side Gallery, all of Berlin has pockets where graffiti colours walls, with areas such as the Mitte district and Kreuzberg as leading spaces.
Clubs and pubs – Famed nightlife
Berlin is known to be extremely vibrant by night and as the sun goes down a different side to the city emerges. Pubs, clubs and the Berlin-sound techno marks the coming of night and even as this has become a cliché as an image, the experience of the same can be quite interesting. Tresor and Berghain, are among the top nightclubs in the world and notoriously difficult to gain entry to with long queues of waiting, however, they are still worth a try, along with Arena, Kit Kat and others. However, most Berlin clubs are not for the faint of heart or those who look for glitz and glamour. Even the pubs have a rather relaxed and no-frills vibe, with Weserstrasse in the hip Neukölln area as a nice space to hangout.