Germany’s once-divided capital city is now a multicultural melting pot of vibrant music, international cuisine, and progressive attitudes. Home to a vast collection of art and antiquities from across the world, Berlin boasts a rich fusion of creativity and culture. When the sun begins to set, the city welcomes visitors from across the globe with its offering of live music, bustling bars and lively dance clubs.
Fascinating and solemn reminders of Nazi rule remain scattered across the landscape. From Checkpoint Charlie to the Holocaust Museum, Berlin’s historical notes are sobering evidence of the city’s tumultuous past. Today, the capital boasts a distinctly urban feel and plenty to discover.
Things to do
Berlin city breaks boast things to do for one and all: the art-lover, the foodie, and the party animal. Explore the past on a guided tour of its historical architecture and diverse neighbourhoods before sampling the exquisite cuisine on offer. To avoid getting lost in the sprawling metropolis, be sure to have a game plan before you head out.
The city is home to several exciting landmarks. From the iconic Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of hope and unity, to the Reichstag, the home of Germany’s parliament, Berlin boasts historical points of interest that are sure to captivate you. Remember to take your camera when you go up the Berlin Television Tower, which offers stunning views across the city, or when you go for a relaxing stroll in the Tiergarten Park.
History and culture
Berlin’s history is, of course, intertwined with the two world wars, and there are poignant reminders of this across the city. A visit to the Berlin War Memorial is a must while you’re in town as it’s the last part of the infamous wall still standing. The Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte, is a touching tribute to Jewish victims of the Nazi regime.
Not all of Berlin’s museums are sombre. The city is also home to various iconic galleries that deserve a visit. Museum Island offers many options. The Gemäldegalerie that celebrates art from the 13th century to the 18th century is a must-visit. For fans of modern art, head to Neue Nationalgalerie, where you can witness exquisite pieces from the 20th century. After your dose of culture, sample local delicacies, sip some of Berlin’s famous beer and party the night away at an all-night techno club.
Food and drink
A city break to Berlin is a real treat for food-lovers. Home to Michelinstarred restaurants and a renowned sustainable eating scene, Germany’s capital boasts varied cuisine to satisfy all tastes. While the city offers a rich plant-based dining experience popular among vegan gourmets, tourists are always delighted by the many options for meat-eaters too.
Considered nothing less than a national pride by locals across the city, ‘Currywurst’ is one of the most popular foods to try. This humble grilled-sausage dish is so well-loved that it even has a museum dedicated to it – the Deutsches Currywurst Museum. Made up of a traditional German sausage topped with tomato sauce and curry powder, ‘Currywurst’ is warming, hearty, and delicious. Other traditional foods include ‘Spätzle’, a vegetarian dish consisting of egg-based pasta, and ‘Apfelstrudel’, a mouthwatering Austrian dessert dish.
Those looking to enjoy traditional German beer should head to Berlin during Oktoberfest. Set over two weeks in October, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and an essential aspect of Bavarian culture. During this unique event, a significant quantity of Oktoberfest beer is consumed. Visitors come dressed in traditional Bavarian attire to enjoy colourful parades, exciting funfair rides and a cheerful atmosphere.
Home to countless bars, lively events, and one of the best club scenes in the world, Berlin’s nightlife is hard to beat. Nestled in the city’s nooks and crannies, the bars are bursting with creativity and offer the perfect place for a drink or two. Look closely, and you’ll discover funky beach bars with strategically designed interiors made to imitate a beachlike atmosphere. From Capital Beach to YAAM, these venues will make you feel like you’re enjoying a relaxing tipple at the seaside.
Berlin’s club scene can be described as avant-garde and progressive, with indie and rock-pop venues open to partygoers every day of the week. In this unique city that never seems to sleep, clubs don’t get busy until around 2am. Head to the neighbourhood of Mitte in the city centre to sample the best of Berlin’s nightlife.
For stunning panoramic views of the city and a bustling rooftop terrace, check out The House of Weekend in the centre of Berlin. Sisyphos Nightclub is another popular haunt, boasting a lively festival atmosphere and large outdoor area. For fans of live music, wander over to Hangar 49 club, where you can enjoy everything from heavy metal to indie rock while taking in breathtaking views of the Spree River.
East and West
The city of Berlin has a long history of being divided into two parts: East and West. A few years after the Second World War, large numbers of skilled workers began heading away from Soviet-ruled East Berlin to West Germany in search of better job opportunities. In response to this, the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to prohibit entry into West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood until 1989 when it was torn down by ecstatic crowds responding to the news that citizens of the GDR (German Demographic Republic) could once again cross the border freely.
Since the Berlin Wall fell over 30 years ago, the city has slowly come back together. However, some evidence that Berlin was once divided still remains today. If you happen to spot a tram, you’ll know that you’re standing in the former Eastern part of the capital. However, while the streetcar system almost wholly vanished in West Berlin at one stage, tram lines have extended into that part of the city in recent years.
And if you come across an ‘Ampelmännchen’ figure (meaning little traffic light man), you’ll know that you’re in former East Berlin. This famous green icon was historically used to instruct citizens on when to cross the street and has since become a tourist-favourite character. Over in West Berlin, a more sombre-looking counterpart was traditionally incorporated into the traffic light system.