City Breaks in Berlin

Looking for ideas of where to visit next? How does a city break in the cosmopolitan city of Berlin sound?

The main pull factor for many tourists who visit Berlin is the history of the city. There’s so much there to see and do, and I’m not just talking about the monuments. Ask anyone who’s been and I’m sure you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t recommend visiting this city.

Travelling around

Berlin is a BIG city so it’s safe to say, you can’t go everywhere on foot. A good map should be your best friend, particularly one with a complete street listing!

The transport system for the city is split up into zones, but normally tourists only need to go into zones A and B. The U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Bus and tram all use a common ticket so you don’t have to worry about changing tickets etc. If you’re just relying on single tickets (€2,10) then make sure you plan where you want to go in advance to avoid making unnecessary trips and wasting your money. There are however multiple ticket options that will give you unlimited travel opportunities: great if you’re not a particularly decisive person!

  • A Tageskarte – this is a day card giving you unlimited travel for one day
  • The BerlinCityTour Card – this card gives you transport in the city centre, Potsdam and the surrounding areas, as well as discount into museums and attractions. You can choose between 48 hours, 72 hours or 5 days.
  • The Berlin CityTourCard Museumsinsel – this card is valid for 72 hours for transport in zones A and B, plus it also gives you free admission to all museums on the Museumsinsel of Berlin which includes: Old National Gallery, Old Museum, Bode Museum, New Museum and Pergamon Museum. You’ll also get an inner city map with U-Bahn and S-Bahn maps, in total costing you €29.90.
  • Weekly pass – does exactly as it says on the tin: gives you unlimited travel on the transport system for 7 days and costs €26,20.
  • Friedrichstrasse U-bahn

    Friedrichstrasse U-bahn

    A great way to travel around and see Berlin is on a bike. The city has many bike paths and combined bike/bus or bike/pedestrian lanes. Cycling is a popular way for locals to get around, so there will always be a certain amount of bike traffic about, but don’t let that put you off. You can hire bikes from various points around the city, normal prices per day are around the €7,50 mark. Alternatively you could do a Berlin Bike tour, with a guide that takes you round and shows you the sights: particularly helpful if you’re not great at finding your way around easily.

    Attractions

  • Brandenburg gate – one of Europe’s most famous landmarks, this is a former city gate that through which was once one of the only ways to enter the city of Berlin. During the war the gate suffered substantial damage, and was closed for passage for almost 30 years during the cold war. After the wall fell the gate was reopened, but now after much restoration it is only open to pedestrians.
  • Brandenburg Gate

    Brandenburg Gate

  • Muesuminsel – this is an area where many of Berlin’s museums are located. Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1990, 5 internationally renowned museums belong to the Museuminsel: Pergamon museum – contains reconstructed historically significant buildings, for example the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. The Old Museum (Altes Museum) – holds the antique collection from the Berlin State Museums. Egyptian Museum of Berlin – home to one of the worlds most important collections of Egyptian artefacts. The Old National Gallery (Alte Nationalgallerie) – displays a collection of 19th century art. The Bode Museum – displays late antique and Byzantine art, as well as various sculpture collections.
  • Reichstag – this building is home to the German parliament. It was previously used for this purpose from its construction in 1894 until in 1933 a fire severely damaged the building. It wasn’t used during the Nazi era, and then after the Second World War it fell into disuse as there was no united parliament. It underwent major reconstruction in 1990 led by British architect Norman Foster, and since 1999 has been used again as the meeting place of the German parliament.
  • The Reichstag

    The Reichstag

  • Berlin Wall – during the cold war the Berlin Wall was constructed and divided the city until 1989 when the wall fell, paving the way for reunification. Little remains of the original wall as most of it was torn down, however there are 3 stretches of wall that still stand: One at the Topography of Terror open air museum, another nicknamed East Side Gallery along the river Spree, and the third partly reconstructed at Bernauer Strasse which was turned into a memorial in 1999. Other parts of the wall such as watchtowers still exist throughout the city.
  • Memories of the Berlin Wall

    Memories of the Berlin Wall

  • Potsdamer Platz – this square is named after the city that lies 25km south of Berlin. It was once one of the busiest squares in Europe with many roads and train lines intersecting there, but was heavily damaged during World War Two and became part of the border between East and West Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall the space became usable again and attracted many investors. Nowadays it is once again on of the central hubs of Berlin with a wide variety of shops, cinemas and restaurants as well as an underground station built in the 1990´s.
  • Checkpoint Charlie – this is the nickname given to the best known border crossing point between East and West Berlin during the cold war. It became a symbol of the cold war, as well as a gateway to freedom for some East Germans. After the reunification, the building at the crossing became a tourist attraction, and is now located in the Allied Museum.
  • Food

    “Currywurst” is a german fast food. It’s a grilled pork sausage cut into strips, covered with ketchup and curry sauce. It’s usually accompanied by chips or a bread roll, and you can find it at any fast food stall throughout the city.

    Currywurst

    Currywurst

    “Eisbein mit Sauerkraut” is a heavily marbled meat covered in a thick layer of crispy fat. The meat is tender inside, but needs to be braised or cooked for a long time, and is often accompanied by “Berliner Weisse”, a light, fruity beer.

    The “Berliner” is a doughnut made from sweet dough fried in fat or oil, filled with jam or marmalade and covered in icing sugar, sugar or icing. It’s a popular snack in the afternoon and is sold in most bakeries, and is also a must-eat on New Years Eve and at Carnival time.

    “Berliner Potato Soup” is a smooth creamy soup made from potatoes, carrots and herbs. Various chunks of meat are also added to the soup, and it’s topped with pieces of roast onion and served with rye bread.

    “Boulette” – not too dissimilar to a burger, this is a traditional Berliner fried meatball made with ground beef meat, and usually served in a bread roll (hence the burger similarity). Traditionally it comes with mustard, pickled eggs and gherkins, is very filling and is considered by the locals as a great snack to accompany a large beer!

    So what do you think? Is Berlin now on your list of places to see in the near future? Or have you been already and want to share some tips? Let us know and leave a comment below!

    Photo credits

  • Currywurst – www.gutefrage.net
  • Berlin Wall plaque – www.travelpod.com
  • U-bahn – www.atlasobsucra.com
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