What to do with 3 days in this beautiful City?
We visited Berlin at the end of November, which was a great time to not only soak up the sights, culture and beauty of this city, but to also experience the wondrous Christmas markets! Although it is rather chilly this time of year, so definitely wear boots, coats, scarfs, gloves and hats!
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- Visa – Visitors arriving at a Berlin airport from a foreign country need a passport. EU nationals do not need a visa, others may need one depending on length, frequency and purpose of their stays. For more information please visit www.berlin.de
- Immunisations – some are required – check out my go to website for up to date information: www.nathnac.net
- Safety – always keep up to date with your local foreign travel advice service for relevant news and information. I felt completely safe in Berlin, although adopted usual common sense when in any major city, being mindful of my belongings and wherabouts.
- Currency – Euro
- Language – German
We opted for a low-cost airline, as we wanted to visit Berlin on a budget with the approach of the festive season. We decided to fly with Ryan Air after checking flight prices using Sky Scanner. I highly recommend always double checking prices using a price comparison website. Sky Scanner is able to check a range of airlines with the ability to filter and sort searches depending on dates, times, cost etc.
Travelling in to Berlin City Centre, from the airport was also very straightforward by train. Once we arrived at Shoenefeld Airport from London , we took the RE7 train towards Dessau, and arrived in Hauptbahnhof. The journey was approximately 30 mins and only cost around 3 Euros.
Where to Stay
Budget conscious as we were, we also decided to stay in a Hostel, which was one of the nicest, cleanest easiest hostels I’ve ever stayed in. MEININGER Hotel Berlin Hauptbahnhof, was extremely easy to get to and was situated right next to the Hauptbahnhof train station, which was ideal to travel to and from the airport, as well as serving as a landmark when getting around.
Berlin is an easy city to walk and wander around, and I would go further to say that you will be able to soak up a lot more of this city by strolling along its streets. As well as wandering by foot, we took the train (also known as the Auto Bahn) to access some particular sites which was extremely easy.
The Berlin Wall first constructed in 1961, was was built to serve as a physical and ideological divide between East and West Germany. It came to symbolise physically the “Iron Curtain” that separated Western Europe and the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. Only in 1989, following a series of revolutions across Europe did the East German Government announce that there would be freedom of movement across the border for all East and West Germans. Thats a staggering 28 years for the families, friends and communities which were segregated. Once this barrier was finally broken artists from all over the world used it as a blank canvas, both on the east and west sides. Beautiful murals depicting the tragedies which occurred during this period, as well as celebrations of peace of love. It continues to be one of the most famous landmarks in Berlin and definitely worth a visit!
Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947–1991). It is Located at the junction of Friedrichstraße with Zimmerstraße and Mauerstraße within the Friedrichstadt neighbourhood. The original checkpoint was removed in 1990 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the original building now sits on display at the Allied Museum in Berlin, and a replica was constructed and is now one of the most famous tourist attractions. Go along to visit the checkpoint and have a photo taken with one of the many actors dressed in military costume. We also went to the Museum Checkpoint Charlie which provides more detailed information around what life was like during the time the checkpoint was a landmark for foreign visitors and allied forces. Adult tickets are priced at 12.50 Euros and the museum is open between 9:00AM and 10:00PM.
Fernsehturm, (television tower) is situated close to Alexanderplatz in Berlin-Mitte, and was constructed between 1965-69 by the German Democratic Republic (GDR). With its height of 368 metres (including antenna) it is the tallest structure in Germany, and the third-tallest structure in the European Union. The Fernsehturm also serves as a viewing tower with observation deck including a bar at a height of 203 metres, as well as a rotating restaurant. During this trip we decided not to visit the inside of the tower, instead opting to priorities visiting other sights, however if you have more time and would like to, tickets can be purchased online from 19.50 euros, visit www.tv-turm.de. for more information.
The Brandenburg gate is another famous landmark in Berlin. Originally built in the 18th Century by Prussian King Frederick William II as a key entry point to the city of Berlin, Brandenburg Gate was topped off with a statue known as the “Quadriga,” which depicted a statue of the goddess of victory driving a chariot pulled by four horses.
The Reichstag building is the meeting place of the Bundestag (“Federal Assembly”), the lower house of Germany’s national legislature. It is situated at the northern end of the Ebertstrasse and near the south bank of the Spree River. Tiergarten Park is directly west of the building, and the Brandenburg Gate is to the south. In 1990, it was a busy time during Berlin for architectural changes, renovations also took place in the original Reichstag building. The monumental glass dome was designed by architect Norman Foster. An interior ramp spirals to the top of the dome, affording excellent views of the surrounding city.
Advanced registration is required to visit the Reichstag and can be completed online only. Please visit www.bundestag.de for further information around registering, getting there and ticket prices. I would also highly recommend getting one of the audio tours to accompany your visit to get a better understanding of the history of this beautiful building.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000-square-metre (200,000 sq ft) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The memorial was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public two days later. It is located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the Mitte neighborhood.
The memorial is breathtaking and there is a stillness when visiting this site, for even more insight, visit the exhibition at the Information Centre situated underneath the memorial, which documents the persecution and extermination of European Jews as well as the historic sites of the crimes. It was designed by Dagmar von Wilcken. The focal points of the exhibition are the personalisation of the victims and the geographical dimension of the Holocaust. The information is free to enter and opening times can be found at: www.museumsportal-berlin.de.
Eat Curry-wurst and drink German Beer
Ok so this was before the days I was vegan but the curry-wurst we had in Berlin was A-Mazing! Not everyone in our group was a fan but currywurst is a powerful flavour combination. Definitely worth a try, although now I am vegan I would urge you to consider tracking down some vegan curry-wurst instead! Check out www.livekindly.co for some awesome suggestions for where to go! As well as curry-wurst, you can’t go to Germany without trying German beer! There’s a huge selection to try from – here’s some ideas for you to try along with some great bratwurst recipes from www.livekindly.co
For some alternative nightlife to German beer and Bratwurst – or curry wurst check out some hidden bars. We opted to try ‘The Green Door’ and ‘Stagger Lee’. The Green Door, can be found along Winterfeldtstraße in Schoeneberg, Berlin, behind a Green door. Ring the door bell and enter into a 70’s kitsch intimate bar, with a great cocktail menu and cosy atmosphere. Another great hidden bar – Stagger Lee is situated on Nollendorfstraße also in Schoeneberg, and is a styled in a prohibition era style speakeasy. Another stylish bar with a great menu not to miss. Do call ahead to make reservations if you plan on visiting during busier periods to make sure you get a seat!
Last but not least Christmas Markets! If you go during the festive season you have to take a trip to one of the many Christmas markets in Berlin. They do it well, with great beers, apple strudel, and Bratwurst and the decorations are beautiful. We visited Welhnachts Zauber Gendarmenmarkt, during the evening, and enjoyed great drinks, food and atmosphere. There’s plenty of stalls with handmade items, so it’s a great souvenir opportunity – especially to support local businesses. The Market often provides entertainment such as signing, dancing, shows, check out their website for a full programme and further information www.weihnachtsmarkt-berlin.de
During the day we decided to visit the Christmas markets near the Alexander Platz – theres a few different markets, with different offerings, including food and drink, rides and activities – great for children as well as lots of great stalls with Christmas tree decorations and handmade gifts! Check out www.berlinerweihnachtszeit.de for more information on how to get there and what’s on.
For more detailed information and advice why not check out these useful guides and books – Lonely Planet Berlin, Time Out Berlin City Guide, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Berlin or The Rough Guide to Berlin.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my experience in Berlin. I’d love to go back during the summer months in Berlin, visit the inside of the Fernsehturm, (television tower), track down some vegan German food, and discover the beautiful parks and gardens.
What have been your experiences so far? What’s the best things you’ve seen and done in this beautiful part of the world, share your experiences in the comments section below I’d love to hear about them!
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