Berlin, Germany’s capital city, merges a rich history with a modern, artistic edge and has an endless amount of things to do. I never once felt bored during my stay here, far from it in fact. Here are seven places I went to in Berlin that you should definitely check out during your visit!
Alexanderplatz is a major square and and transportation hub in Berlin, as well as one of its most famous sights. If you’re in Berlin, you’ll probably end up at Alexanderplatz whether you planned to or not, since its a convenient central place for shopping and getting around. I was there every day during my time in Berlin, whether it was to exchange currency, shop for new clothes (the H&M there is amazing), transfer trains, or even grab one of those delicious German sausages. It may not seem like it, since Alexanderplatz appears very commercial now, but it is also a place that holds a lot of history. Alexanderplatz was actually a market during the Middle Ages and most of it was destroyed as a result of a bombing in World War 2. The square was rebuilt and Berlin’s famous TV-tower, Fernsehturm, was one of the results.
Berlin Zoological Garden
I’m an animal lover, so of course I was excited to check out the Berlin Zoological Garden and I highly recommend it! It’s the oldest zoo in Germany and like many buildings in Berlin, had been destroyed during World War 2, but completely rebuilt again. It’s a unique zoo because of its wide open spaces, beautiful scenery, and an impressive variety of animals. They probably have your favorite animal at this zoo since they have nearly everything, from elephants and lions to penguins and pandas, a petting zoo and even an aquarium. So many baby animals too! I couldn’t get enough of watching all of these amazing animals, many of which had huge habitats that were an accurate replica of their natural habitats. If you love animals, this zoo a must.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
I actually went here out of curiosity without knowing exactly what it was and I’m glad I did. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church has been preserved as an anti-war memorial representing peace. It has a damaged appearance as a result of being heavily bombed in World War 2. Inside is a mini museum, taking you through the church’s history. I didn’t know anything about this place before going inside and was in awe that I was standing in yet another piece of history. Right next to the ruins is the new church where services take place. It’s a modern style building with blue shimmering light coming from the inside. A service was going to take place shortly after we stumbled upon the church, so we decided it wouldn’t hurt to experience it. Everyone is welcome to join in. Whether you’re religious or not, it’s just one of those experiences that make you feel like you’re witnessing something meaningful. The service took place completely in German and since I know very little of it, I didn’t stay for the entire thing, but it’s worth at least a peek inside.
Berlin Wall East Side Gallery
How can you go to Berlin without seeing the Berlin Wall? This was one of the places I had looked forward to seeing most and it did not disappoint. Art has always fascinated me and the street art on the Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is incredible. So many ideas are represented on these walls, from pop culture inspired pieces to political statements. The Berlin Wall East Side Gallery is much more than an art gallery though, it’s an important piece of history (can you tell that this is the case with pretty much everything in Berlin?). The Berlin Wall once served as a barrier that divided the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and the Federal Republic (West Germany) from 1961 to 1989. Its purpose was to prevent East Germans from fleeing to West Berlin, but more than 5,000 people were able to cross anyway. About 3,200 were arrested at the border and more than 160 were killed. The wall was taken down in 1989 to symbolize Germany’s unification and the East Side Gallery is what has been preserved from it.
This was one of my favorite places in all of Berlin! Museum Island is what it sounds like; the northern part of an island in the Spree river located in central Berlin, home to five world famous museums, plus the Berlin Cathedral and a gigantic bookstore. The five museums are the Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Altes Museum. The Berlin Cathedral is a stunning church building both inside and out. If you pay to go inside (don’t forget your student ID for a discount), you can walk all the way up to the top for a stunning view of Berlin. Also in Museum Island is Buchhandlung Walther Konig, a bookstore that’s much bigger than it looks on the surface. You can’t tell as soon as you walk in, but if you simply keep walking further and further into the store you’ll realize that it’s actually huge with an overwhelming amount of books. Many are in German, but there are plenty in English and even some in other languages like Japanese. They cover a vast amount of topics such as art, photography, politics, different countries, and even just life advice. Museum Island is a breath of fresh air for any artist or art lover.
The Brandenburg Gate is the symbol of Berlin. From gift shops to designs shaped like the Brandenburg Gate decorating the trains, it’s pretty obvious that this is an important part of what makes up Berlin. The gate was erected between 1788 and 1791 as a masterpiece inspired by the Propylaea in Athens. The gate has taken on many meanings from when it was originally commissioned as a symbol of peace to being used as a political party symbol to today being used as one of Berlin’s symbols of unification. Of course, like all great landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate is usually incredibly crowded. Tourists from all over the world come to see it, so odds are you’ll end up with either a crowd of people in any pictures you take or you’ll have to wait around for a long time for the crowds to start dissipating. Regardless, this is a must-see in Berlin.
Last Cathedral Horror Rock Bar
Last but certainly not least is a much more local place to go to in Berlin, The Last Cathedral Horror Rock Bar. I noticed it because it just happened to be right next to the apartment I was staying in during my visit (which was super exciting for me). Loud rock and heavy metal music blasts from the bar every night until about four in the morning and all types of alternative fashioned (leather jackets, piercings, dyed hair and all) Berliners spend their time there, dancing and drinking. The inside of the bar is full of skulls, creepy old fashioned art, and even tables shaped like coffins. Even the bathrooms are edgy and filled with graffiti. All of the drinks are horror themed, like the one pictured below called The Zombie. I never thought that a rock horror bar was a real thing, but it’s the coolest bar I’ve been to and if I lived in Berlin, this would be my number one hangout spot. This isn’t a typical tourist stop though, so don’t expect the people going to the bar or the bartenders to understand you unless you speak German!