How many cities can you name that have been split down the middle with a wall, house one of the most stunning and disquieting Holocaust memorials, and some of the coolest nightclubs you’ve ever been to? The sprawling metropolis of Berlin is a city where you can find fields, lakes and grass as well as Soviet era memorials, coffee houses, and art museums. When visiting this charmer, it’s easy to understand why people end up sticking around for much longer than they ever intended. Because there is almost too much to see and do in Berlin, we’ve compiled a humble list of some of the more interesting things to add to your itinerary:
1. Visit an abandoned amusement park
Spreepark is now a wasteland of broken rides, abandoned Ferris wheels, and weather beaten statues of Dinosaurs, and was the only permanent amusement park in the GDR (East Germany). It was built in 1969, and has been shut down and out of working order since 2001. It affords an interesting look into the history of Berlin, and will also allow you some of the weirdest/spookiest/most original holiday snapshots. One big plus as well… it’s free!
2. See the Brandenburger Tor at night!
The Brandenburger Tor (or Brandenburg Gate) is one of the most popular sites in Berlin for tourists, much like L’Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Since 1989, the Brandenburger Tor has stood for the reunification of Germany, and if you go there at night you’ll find two major perks: the first is that there are less people, and the second is the amazing photo opportunities (you’ll need a tripod or a steady hand) to be had.
3. Go for a swim in the Badeschiff.
It’s one of the more unusual swimming pools you may get the opportunity to swim in. The Badeschiff (meaning bathing ship) was created by Susanne Lorenz and was made out of an old river cargo container. It now acts as a swimming pool nestled in the river Spree. It’s a little bit like a strange infinity pool, and in the summer it turns into a pretty hip place to frequent, with DJs and people relaxing on the wooden boardwalks around it. In the winter it’s covered with three translucent shells and becomes a sort of health spa with saunas and the works. Careful though, if you go in the winter, you’ll be expected to bare all.
4. Drink a couple of delicious beers at Berlin’s growing microbrewery scene.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t need an excuse to drink beer in Germany, but Berlin’s microbrewery scene is certainly becoming a force to be reckoned with. For fantastic beers, full of flavor and brewed on site go to Brauhaus Lemke. It has two locations, one near the Schloss (castle). Their website is pretty comprehensive (and has a translated version in English) and lists their food menu in addition to their beer selection. One of the tastiest is the Pils, though I’ve never had a Weiz(en) beer I haven’t fallen in love with in Germany. Check out more about them here.
5. Pick up all the ingredients for a picnic by the Spree at an old market hall.
Of the two surviving market halls in Berlin (there used to be 13), market hall number 9 in Kreuzberg has a weekly farmers market. The market itself dates back to 1891, and has lovely regional food, fresh produce and tasty goodies cooked by the locals. Organic lunches are on offer every day, and there are special markets held there on Sundays where you can buy local crafts. If you’re not sold on that alone, there’s a microbrewery there too, with a terrace.
6. Talk a walk through the East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery is an open air gallery and many could argue one of the most original and interestingly historical art galleries you may ever visit. It is the world’s longest open air gallery and walking through it you can see over 100 pieces of art, on the actual remains of the Berlin wall. If you come here, make sure you bring your camera as you’ll be able to snag photos of some of the most politically charged paintings of the day. Yes, you can touch them but no, you shouldn’t: the same goes for chipping off a piece of the wall for a unique souvenir or adding your own graffiti.