Just over 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital has become an amalgam of traditional elegance and alternative culture. It offers an abundance of world-class museums and galleries, opera and underground clubs, luxurious temples of gastronomy and ethnic snack bars. Whether you are high-class, a yuppie or a hipster, you will find what you are looking for in Berlin.
In addition, although hectic like most capitals, Berlin retains a human dimension. Traffic jams are rare, public transport generally works reasonably well, the city remains safe after dark, clubs bouncers have little attitude, and food and drinks remain affordable.
Berlin never sleeps and never stops living – so let the city’s energy, eccentricity and joy seduce you. Here are nine of the best things to do in Berlin which first time visitors shouldn’t miss.
Able to generate more flashbacks to your high school years than any other monument in Berlin, this magnificent historic edifice by Paul Wallot (1894) is the spot where the parliament, the Bundestag, has been producing policies since 1999. It went through an entire transformation by Lord Norman Foster, who protected the edifice’s historical exterior merely while attaching the remarkable glass arched roof, which is possible to visit by lift.
During the ’80s, world-famous singers and bands like David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Michael Jackson gave concerts in the yard of the Reichstag that stood against at the very edge of the western side of the Berlin Wall – with many East Germans attempting to listen to the concert from the other side of the Wall.
Going back into history at the Pergamon Museum
The Pergamon Museum, constructed at the Museum Island (Museumsinsel) in 1930 is an astonishing starting point in getting to know the city. Enter the museum, and you will find yourself immersed into an Aladdin’s cave. Let your inner child free while strolling around miraculous sculptures and monuments from ancient Greece, Rome, Babylon, and the Middle East. German archaeologists from the beginning of the 20th century discovered the most of it and brought it to Berlin.
Feeling royal at Schloss Charlottenburg
A splendid baroque palace, Schloss Charlottenburg will take you straight to the high time of the Prussian nobility. It is especially charming in summer when you can start with an easy stroll, enjoy a sunbath and treat yourself with a picnic in the luscious park before admiring the royal treasures.
Kitsch and haute-couture in the Scheunenviertel
The Scheunenviertel is probably the best shopping area for free minds will find in Berlin. The stores here are avant-garde, chic and definitely a far cry from high-street traditions. From haute-couture to casual, home ornamentations to connoisseur foods, supplements for art, you are going to discover a rich variety of selection and products that are produced mostly locally in the maze of roads that resemble those in a village.
Discovering the history of Jewish life at the Jewish Museum
Berlin’s Jewish Museum (Jüdisches Museum) is an enlightening, sentimental, deeply moving and educational trip in 2,000 years of the Jewish past in Germany, and not merely the 12 years of Nazi terror that similar exhibitions often center on. This display skillfully travels through whole important historical epochs, stretching from the Roman period to the contemporary reawakening of the community, covering also the Middle Ages and the Enlightenment.
Meet the great masters at the Gemäldegalerie
The gallery is a home of nearly 1,500 works, and visit to it will make you familiar with the worldview of artists who were living and creating their masterpieces between the 13th and 18th centuries. Don’t miss the unique opportunity to see with your own eyes the main works of Rembrandt, Titian, Goya, Botticelli, Holbein, Gainsborough, Canaletto, Hals, Rubens, Vermeer and many others.
Losing your mind and disappearing into Berlin’s limitless nightlife
Berlin’s fame for fervent and infatuated nightlife goes back to the debauched 1920s when Marlene Dietrich and Christopher Isherwood partied wildly. Its club scene has been in bloom since the unification of East and West Germany, and clubs are found in the most unexpected, dim and deserted places. Abandoned bunkers, factories, power stations, and postal office host fascinating events. Hard-edged techno emerged in such places, concurrently with the boom of rave in the UK and the heyday of ecstasy.
Wandering or cruising through the Tiergarten
Once upon a time, Berlin’s nobility used to come here to hunt boar and pheasants. It was before genius landscape architect Peter Lenné designed one of the biggest public city parks in the world. Today the Tiergarten is famous for its marvelous lakes, streams, grassy fields, hidden paths, and enormous lush trees. Locals as well as tourists come here to refresh themselves from the city noise and enjoy picnicking, barbecuing, outdoor sports, jogging, and gay cruising around Löwenbrücke.
Indulging into a German food fest
There are lots of restaurants in Berlin where you can taste and experience some fabulous, traditional German(ic) food. Cafe Louis in Neukoelln has the biggest Schnitzel in town, and Rogacki Restaurant is a place to be for gastronomic delights and a memorable gustatory experience. Numerous eateries will also serve you there traditional Currywurst – and if you still haven’t seen enough musems, why not check out the Deutsches Currywurst Museum?