Berlin, Germany was another one of the shorter stops during our three week Epic European Adventure I was on last year. My travel partner and I were there for two nights (only one full day), and the hotel our travel agent booked for us was by far my favorite out of all of the ones we went to during our trip. We stayed at the Riu Berlin, and I would consider it the “fanciest” abode we stayed at. (I loved it so much that I didn’t hesitate to book my stay in Cabo at a Riu resort!) It was, however, a bit of a trek from the main downtown area, but public transportation in Berlin is super cheap and easy to navigate - so I would highly recommend this hotel if you’re looking to spend some time in Berlin. The bathroom floors were even heated! But the hotel was only the beginning of a wonderful 2 days in Germany’s capital city!
Since I am 25% German, I was pretty excited to visit Berlin, but to be honest I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get out of my stay. Before leaving the U.S., we sat down one day and booked all of our day trips, museum admissions, excursions, etc. ahead of time. When it came to plan out our time in Berlin, we knew we had to be efficient. We had to pack in as much of Germany in basically our one full day there, so we used Viator.com to book a bike tour of the city; we booked it through Fat Tire Tours, and it was such a wonderful experience! On the morning of the tour, we met our guide and the rest of the group by the Berliner Fernsehturm (Berlin Tower) in Alexanderplatz. After picking out our bikes (mine was named the ‘Colonial Viper’) and getting a quick list of instructions for not getting lost or left behind (or hit by a car!) along the way, all 15ish of us in the group started cruising around the city.
Berlin is rich in culture and war history, and our tour guide was very knowledgeable (and entertaining!). Among all the historical facts I learned about Berlin during our bike tour, two interesting facts that really stuck with me were: Berlin is not the most wealthy of cities, and much of it is still being restored and rebuilt since WWII. The tour lasted about half of the day and included a stop for lunch at a biergarten in Berlin’s largest and oldest park. Here are some of the other memorable stops and historical landmarks we saw along the way, as well as where we went on our own while in Berlin:
Checkpoint Charlie: One of the more famous crossing points from East Berlin to West Berlin during the Cold War
Brandenburg Gate: One of Germany’s best-known monuments
Bebelplatz: This was the sight of the infamous Nazi book burning, when 20,000 books were destroyed. This was one of the three monuments in the square to commemorate the historical and tragic event, and the quote on it is something I think about often: “This was only the prelude; Where they burn books, they will soon burn people.”
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe: Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, it’s dedicated to all of the Jewish victims who suffered during the Holocaust. It was a bittersweet sight to observe.
Museum Island: An island in the middle of the Spree River - it’s home to six out of 17 of the Berlin State Museums.
Hitler’s Bunker Location: There was nothing sweeter on this tour than seeing that where the Nazi Leader once hid and was stationed in has been reduced to nothing more than a pathetic-looking parking lot.
Biergartens: This was on my must-do list for Germany, and we were lucky enough to experience two while we were in Berlin! The first biergarten we went to was for lunch during our bike tour, and we had to pass by the Berlin Victory Column to get to it. It was in the middle of Berlin’s biggest tiergarten (park), and it’s where I tried some authentic schnitzel! The second biergarten was located on the Spree River and it’s where we went to cool off with a beer and a soft bavarian pretzel after biking around all of Berlin. (include schnitzel and pretzel)
Berlin Lacht Festival: This was something we stumbles upon accidently. As we were making it back to Alexanderplatz to head back to our hotel after the bike tour day, we came across the Berlin Lacht Festival. The square was alive with music, live performances, street vendors, and food! This is where I tried a deliciously famous Berlin currywurst (Apparently Berlin is the second-biggest consumer of Turkish foods - who knew?!)
Berlin Wall Remains/East Side Gallery: On the bike tour we learned that there are only three sections of the Berlin Wall that still stand today. We saw one of the sections on the actual bike tour, and another section on our own before we caught our flight out of Berlin. The section we saw on our own was the East Side Gallery. The Gallery is the original Berlin Wall painted brightly with inspiring, symbolic, and eye-opening graffiti art. Below are some of my favorite pieces we saw while strolling along it. And I ended my Berlin, Germany experience by getting a bratwurst from a stand near the Wall. (include bratwurst from stand)
My ultimate recommendations for a short stay in Berlin?
1. Stay at the Riu Berlin
2. Figure out public transportation
3. Join a Fat Tire bike tour to see as much as possible!
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Have you been to Germany before? Let me know where you stayed and what you did!
As always, thanks for reading!