10 things to do in Berlin
Amidst the quintessential chaos of a sought-after city, Berlin shines as bright as the midday sun. Once a war-torn capital speaks volumes to all those who listen.
Averse to cities? Berlin, infused with so much history, culture and art scene will make you think differently about cities.
Located on the banks of the river Spree and Havel, it is also the second most populous city in the EU, preceded by London. A melting pot of cultures and creativity the metropolitan city makes everyone feel at home.
With all the lively festivals, quirky museums, open-air galleries, high-end shopping avenues, and top-class nightlife to savour, you can never get your fill of the old historic city even if you’re visiting it for the Nth time.
Here are my favourite 10 things to do in Berlin
1. Eastside Gallery especially because of the Indian artist
Eastside Gallery is one of the world’s largest and perhaps the longest-enduring open air galleries. From a distance, it looks like just another wall subjected to graffiti artists’ thought provoking views of the world and other things. Only upon close observation, the wall reveals, literally, its true colours.
I enjoyed visiting the gallery especially because of the painting by Narendra Kumar Jain entitled SIEBEN STUFEN DER ERLEUCHTUNG (SEVEN STAGES OF ENLIGHTENMENT). It is incredible to see that he made it the list of 118 artists from 21 countries to paint the Berlin Wall, to celebrate the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990.
See some more pictures of the wall here.
2. Brandenburg Gate
One of the iconic landmarks of Germany erected in the 18th century, the gateway, a neo-classic stone masonry, was inspired by the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens. The gate witnessed two centuries of tumultuous history of Europe. It also symbolises reunified Berlin and Berlin’s way of life, for all the huge events, New Year’s Eve, Berlin’s version of Oktoberfest, music festival, among others, take place at the gate.
3. Holocaust Memorial
Not far from the Brandenburg Gate is one of a kind architecture dedicated as a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Architecture enthusiasts will enjoy interpreting the meaning of the structure while history mavens will add to their database of WWII horrors at the “Place of Information”.
4. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The church was built in the 1890s and it was damaged in a bombing raid in 1943 during the World War II. It has not been rebuilt as a war and destruction memorial and that’s the beauty of it.
There are bombed churches in other parts of Germany too that are not rebuilt as a poignant reminder of the war-time.
Right under the church is the perfect spot to meditate on atrocities of war or perhaps even to review your shopping list, for the high-end shopping boulevard, Kurfürstendamm, is stone’s throw from the church.
5. Berlin Zoo
Berlin Zoo is the 4th best zoo in the world with a diverse collection of species, also where the animals look as happy as the visitors. It’s so huge that you can’t possibly explore the entire zoo in a day.
The zoo houses Polar Bears, Penguins, California sea lions, Red Kangaroos, Capybaras, among others. Do you need more reasons to visit?
The zoo also has an aquarium on its premises which includes reptile department. However, you must bear in mind that one day is not enough to visit both zoo and aquarium.
6. Museum Ritter
Ritter Sport is a famous German brand of chocolate. For chocoholics, the chocolate museum is a must visit. Three floors of the museum stacked with the elixir of joy is not something you can enjoy every day. You can find Ritter Sport chocolate in over 40 flavours, or get creative and invent your own flavour at the museum. And the chocolate fondue at the museum’s café transports you to a chocolate heaven.
7. Helmut Newton Photography Museum
Every time I’m in Berlin I visit the Helmut Newton Photography Museum for some inspiration. The museum exhibits works of various artist across the globe. Here’s where I discover that India was one of the favourite destinations of photographers of all genres. Most artists have at least a few images from India ranging from smoking Sadhus from Kumbh Mela to farmers tilling the soil to mendicants to dramatic portraits of women.
8. Museum Island in the Spree River
The name says it. The Island hosts a variety of Museums including Old National Gallery and Museum of Asian Art. The stairs of the Altes Museum serves as a spot for rendezvous with friends, as well as a vantage point to admire the landscape that includes a stunning view of Berlin Cathedral and Lustgarten (Pleasure Garden). Or you could just dismiss the overwhelming views and just read a book. Also, the iconic TV tower, a symbol of the city is walking distance from the Museum.
9. Reichstag Parliament building
The home of German Parliament with a magnificent Dome, breathtaking panorama and it’s free to visit, need I say more? Be sure to book the free guided tours well in advance.
10. Schloss Charlottenburg Palace
For history buffs, especially Prussian history, this is a place to visit. Berlin’s largest palace was once a summer residence of the Royals. With beautiful facades and stunning gardens, it’s also a place to soak in some serenity and relax.
Some more inspiration