Berlin you have my heart
I have been to Berlin several times before (both pleasure and business), but always for a very short time, which only gave me the chance to see the most obvious spots (e.g. Brandenburger Tor). This was the first time, I had a whole day and a half to discover and wander around the center of Berlin – and yes Berlin you have my heart! For everyone visiting Berlin for the first time, here are my favorite spots, food tips and attractions:
The Tiergarten (big tiergarten) is a huge garden located directly in the city center. It is the third biggest garden in Germany besides the English Garden in Munich (biggest) and the Tempelhof Park (old airport field) in Berlin as well. The name Tiergarten (translates into animal garden) still remains from its early days in the 16th century, when it was used as a hunting ground for the elector. It is now used as a recreation area in Berlin, located right in the city center, close to the main attractions like the Brandenburger Tor, Potsdamer Platz and the government district. Especially when it’s really warm or you just want to escape the hustle for a while, it is the perfect place to sit down, relax and maybe enjoy a little picnic. If you want to see something cool, check out the “Global Stone Project”, which is a worldwide peace project. If you want to know more about it, please check out the website (not my content): http://www.globalstone.de/e_about.htm
Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburger Gate)
I know, this is not new but let’s face it: if you are going to Berlin, there a several places you have to visit as a tourist, and the Brandenburger Gate is one of them. It is a neoclassical monument built in the late 18th century. The gate is located in the city center and was part of West Berlin after the war. Over the years it was a place for historical moments from the past but also symbolizes freedom, especially after Germany was reunited in 1989. Today it might be the most popular photo spot for tourists from all over the world. If you go through the gate from the Tiergarten, you will walk down the famous “Unter den Linden” street, which is named after the linden (lime) trees on each side of the road (the trees, that you will find there nowadays where planted around 1950). This is also where the famous Adlon Hotel is located, which was (or still is) one of the most famous hotels in Europe. You can just walk down the street and you will pass a lot of Embassies as well as some iconic landmarks.
The Government District is also located in the center of Berlin right next to the two spots mentioned above. Since Berlin was announced the new/old capital of Germany, the district is home of all important departments as well as several foreign embassies. The heart of the district is the Reichstag (parliament). The building was built in the late 1800s and had to be rebuilt after the war. Since 1999 it (again) is home of the German Parliament. If you want to go inside the Reichstag you have to take a guided tour as well as register online. It is also possible to go inside the dome, but only if you have registered and booked it online in advance. I’ve personally never been inside, but it is supposed to be really nice and you have a fantastic view from the top of the dome. Next time I’m going to Berlin, I will definitely do this (there is always a reason to come back 😉 .
The Potsdamer Platz and especially the Sony Center are my favorite places in Berlin. After the war and the separation into West and East Berlin, the Potsdamer Platz was divided into two. After Germany, and therefore also Berlin, was reunited the Potsdamer Platz was the first crossing between the two parts of Berlin. Since then it has faced major reconstruction: it is now home of the DB (Deutsche Bahn – German Railway) headquarter, residential buildings, the Ritz-Carlton and the Sony Center. The Sony Center is not only home to Sony’s headquarter but also to shops, restaurants, businesses, luxury apartments and the CineStar, which is the cinema where most of the Berlin Premiers are taken place. My most favorite restaurant, the Corroboree, is also located there. Right in front of the entrance to the underground there are some parts of the Berlin Wall displaced.
Alexander Platz is also one of these things you have to visit if you are in Berlin. It was also part of East Berlin. In the newer days it is most famous for the TV Tower and the World Time Clock, as well as the nightlife. The TV Tower is one of the tallest towers in Europe and you can take the elevator up to get an overview over the whole city. Since there was a waiting time of at least one hour and it is rather expensive to go up (15.50 €), we decided not to do it. There is also a bar and a restaurant located on the upper levels which has a 360 degree rotation so you can enjoy the view while eating. If you want to go up, I strongly recommend booking the ticket online in advance to avoid waiting time. The World Time Clock shows the current time of over 140 major cities via rotation.
Spree River Cruise
If you want to get an exclusive view on Berlin from a different perspective, I can recommend you taking a cruise on the River Spree. There are several companies offering cruises, and there are also themed cruised available (e.g. Crime Dinner Cruise). Whether you just want to take a short 1 hour tour through the city center and take a look at the government district from the boat or want to take a 2.5 hours tour through Berlin and the surrounding areas, you will find plenty of companies and starting points to choose from. Since we only had one full day in Berlin, we choose to take the 1 hour tour, which took us through the center and the government district (it was 15 € per adult). It also included a guide, who told us about the most important buildings and their history, as well as answering questions.
Walking or driving through Berlin makes us (and probably every one else as well), super hungry. These two following restaurants are my favorites – and yes, I know, they don’t serve the traditional German or Berlin food, but still my top two.
I first “discovered” the Corroboree during a business trip a few years ago and totally fell in love with it. It is an Australian Restaurant located inside the Sony Center (Sony Center, Bellevuestraße 5, 10785 Berlin) at Potsdamer Platz. They basically have everything you can dream of: burgers, wraps, salads, finger food and desserts. I can totally recommend the Asian chicken fingers, the macadamia bruschetta, the Caesar salad and my personal favorite “the Australian” burger and the apple crumble. They also mix delicious cocktails. You can either sit inside or outside in the Sony Center “terrace” which gives you an amazing view of the ceiling and the fountain which are both illuminated at night. So if you want to have really good food and enjoy some drinks, the Corroboree is the right place to go.
Since we intentionally visited Berlin due to the German Cup Final (DFB Pokal), we found this awesome Italian Restaurant right after the football match on the “Ku’damm” (Kurfürstendamm) right next to the “Gedächtniskirche” (Memorial Church). It was one of the only ones in the area which was still open at 11 pm and it was a really good choice to go there. They also have seats inside and outside and the food is delicious. So if you are in the area and have a craving for awesome Italian food, the Ferris is the place to go (Rankestraße 1, 10789 Berlin).
The KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) is located next to the “Ku’damm” and is the most famous shopping mall in Germany. You can not only buy any kind of luxury goods but also check out the gourmet food corner on the top floor. You will find food from all over the world. It is perfect to go there with a group when can’t decide what to eat, since you can just go, everyone can choose whatever they want and still eat together in one place (Tauentzienstraße 21-24, 10789 Berlin).
We were able to see all the above mentioned sites by foot since we had a hotel right next to the “Kudamm”, but Berlin also has a very good public transportation system which gets you wherever you want to go.
If you have any questions or feedback please comment down below or contact me, I’m always looking forward to hearing other people’s experiences or answer questions. If you want to see more pictures, please check out my Instagram Account as well.