Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 no European city has experienced change at such a rapid pace than Berlin. A hub for creativity, entertainment and shopping, Berlin has become one of the of the most visited cities in Europe, underpinned by a colourful history. Earth Uncovered brings you the best of Berlin.
What to visit
Alexanderplatz – Architecturally, little has changed in Alexanderplatz since the fall of the GDR in Berlin. Prior to the war, Alexanderplatz was “the place” to be, with its majestic buildings and awe inspiring architecture. Following WWII, Alexanderplatz was rebuilt by the Soviets in to the grey stone clad buildings which are evident today. Nonetheless, it’s a great shopping hub and great place from which start exploring East Berlin with its exceptional transport links.
Alexanderplatz TV Tower – This iconic building can be seen from pretty much anywhere in the city. Built by the GDR in 1969, the large sphere houses a café, revolving restaurant and viewing platform. If there is a long waiting time check out the viewing gallery of the nearby Park Inn Hotel for an equally impressive view.
Berlin Zoo and Aquarium: One of my favourite zoos in Europe and one of Berlin’s main attractions. Set adjacent to the large expanse of Großer Tiergarten, Berlin Zoo and the adjacent aquarium hosts a large selection of animals from all over the world. The pavilions provide an expanse of indoor space, meaning come rain or shine you can enjoy your visit. Head to the ground floor of the nearby concept mall Bikini Berlin for a peek of the baboons in the zoo.
Brandenburg Gate: Perhaps Berlin’s most iconic building. This neoclassical triumphal arch has stood witness to the good and bad moments in Berlin’s (and indeed wider Germany’s) tumultuous history. Fully restored between 2000 and 2002, the Brandenburg Gate now stands as the backdrop to festivals, special events and numerous tourist photos.
Checkpoint Charlie: A large sign “you are leaving the American sector” will greet you as you get to Checkpoint Charlie. During the division of Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie was the main crossing between East and West Berlin. It was also where Soviet and US tanks came face to face at the peak of tensions in 1961. Check out the nearby Checkpoint Charlie Museum to learn about a divided Germany in more detail.
East Side Gallery: Walking around Berlin you may pass pieces of the Berlin Wall. Head to the East Side Gallery where the artists from 21 countries decorated a 1 mile stretch of the Berlin wall in 1990.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – Take a moment out from the nearby hustle and bustle and visit this memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Wonder through some the 2,711 concrete blocks towards the exhibition at the Information Centre which documents Jewish persecution throughout Nazi rule.
Museum Island – Located on the northern tip of Spree Island, Museum Island is home to five world renowned museums which have collectively gained UNESCO World Heritage site status. On the northern part of the island is the beautiful Berlin Cathedral.
Reichstag: Just a stone’s throw from the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag stands in all its magnificence. Home to the German Parliament, visitors have the chance to climb the glass cupola to witness amazing panoramic views of Berlin. Look down, and you may even see Angela Merkel in one of the parliamentary sessions taking place. Bookings must be made in advance.
Tempelhof Airport: Tempelhof was formerly the main airport of Berlin until services moved to Tegel (soon to move to Berlin-Brandenburg Airport). Nowadays, the airfield is a public park with 6km of runways used for a variety of different recreational activities from skating to jogging. Sign up to one of the weekend tours for the chance to see inside this abandoned airport.
Topographie des Terrors (Topography of Terrors): Housed on the former site of the SS Headquarters, this Museum now contains a permanent exhibition on the Nazi institutions of terror in Berlin and wider Germany. A portion of the Berlin Wall runs along the outside of the exhibition grounds which are also worth a visit.
Kurfürstendamm: This long boulevard is considered to be Berlin’s equivalent of the Champs-Élysée in Paris. With hundreds of high street stores, designer shops and luxury boutiques you won’t be spoiled for choice when taking a stroll down the Kurfürstendamm.
KaDeWe: Close to Wittenburgplatz, Kaufhaus des Westens abbreviated to KaDeWe is the largest department store in continental Europe. Spread over 8 floors, KaDeWe brings you the latest trends in fashion, home design and consumer electronics. Check out the 6th floor food hall and 7th floor restaurant overlooking Wittenburgplatz.
Parfumsalon Berlin Hair and Cosmetics: Located just off the Kurfürstendamm on Uhlandstraße, this luxury perfume shop has over exclusive 1000 fragrances by brands such as Caron, Maison des Rêve and The Different Company. Head next door to the Heinz Schlicht hair salon for a new style.
Galeries Lafayette: The famous French brand has been in Berlin since 1996. Spread out over five floors Galeries Lafayette offers the latest in French and international fashion, cosmetics and gourmet products.
Mall of Berlin: The Mall of Berlin due to open in April 2015 will feature 270 shops, apartments, a hotel, gym and offices. With brands such as Nike, Zara, Hugo Boss, Lacoste and Ralph Lauren, Berlin’s newest shopping mall is guaranteed not to disappoint.
Flohmarkt im Mauerpark: Want a slightly different shopping experience? Head down to hipster Prenzlauer Berg where Mauerpark hosts a flea market every Sunday. Explore the hidden gems of the market or sample the gourmet delicacies on offer.
- Dolores (Mexican)
- Miss Saigon (Vietnamese)
- Vapiano (Italian).
- Hard Rock Café (American)
- Cookies Cream (vegetarian)
- Heising (French)
- Romanisches Café (coffee and cakes)
- Neni Berlin/Monkey Bar (Middle Eastern, Israeli/bar)