Once united Berlin is rapidly recovering its former glory as the swinging, liberal cosmopolitan city and cultural hot spot, where everything is possible. Hundred years ago Berlin had the busiest traffic centre in Europe and a thriving film industry to rival Hollywood, this was the place to be and where everything was happening and Berlin is surely going back there again. Here you find some of the world’s trendiest bars, cafes and nightclubs, but you will also find some of the world’s best museums and interesting architecture.
1. Brandenburger Tor
Brandenburger Tor is perhaps the most well known Berliner icon located in the Parizer Platz. It was originally commissioned by Friedrich Wilhelm II in the late 1700’s to represent peace. Napoleon marched through it, the Nazis used it as their symbol but finally it has regained its status as a symbol for peace and unification after the eastern European revolutions in 1989. Today you can freely pass under it to enjoy Berlin’s big parade street Unter den Linden. Close to the Brandenburger Tor you find the Hotel Adlon, one of the most famous hotels in Europe between the two World Wars that hosted celebrities like Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Josephine Baker and Marlene Dietrich.
Since the redesign 1997-1999, by Sir Norman Foster this potent symbol of Germany’s history has quickly become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Berlin with its spherical glass dome where you get a fabulous 360 degree view of Berlin. A spiral walk way will take you to the top of the glass dome, which construction make you feel you are inside a giant light house prism, reflecting the natural light back into the Reichstag in an eco friendly manner.
The Reichstag also has a rooftop restaurant east of the dome, open daily from 09.00 to 16.30 hrs and from 18.30 hrs to midnight.
Admission is free; advance registration required.
Location: Platz der Republik
3. Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is one of Berlin’s main boulevards acting as a central axis. Many of Berlin’s important historic buildings are assembled here, rebuilt since it’s destruction during the Second World War. Unter den Linden runs from east to west, from the site of the former royal palace at the Lustgarten park, where the demolished Palast der Republik(the parliament of the German Democratic Republic) used to be, to Pariser Platz and Brandenburg Gate. The boulevard got its name from the lime (linden) trees, that line the grassed pedestrian mall between the two carriageways.
4. Potsdamer Platz
Once again Potsdamer Platz is becoming the beating heart of Berlin. Some of the history of Potsdamer Platz needs to be mentioned here. In the 1920s and 1930s the Potzdamer Plats had the busiest traffic centre in the whole of Europe, with Europe’s first traffic lights, making Potzdamer Platz an equal to Times Square and Piccadilly Circus. It was also the centre of Berlin’s infamous night life. Today you will find exiting modern buildings like the Sony Centre, restaurants, cinemas and shops striving to become the futuristic centre of commerce in Europe’s youngest capital city.
5. Kurfursten Damm
Kurfursten Damm is by many considered the equivalent to Paris’s Champs Elysees and is Berlins number one shopping and strolling street with hotels and restaurants, fashion designers, and show rooms. Along Kurfursten Damm, in the centre of the Breitscheid platz, you find the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church as an eerie reminder of the Second World War.
6. Berliner Fernsehturm
Germany’s highest building constructed in 1965 by former eastern Germany as a symbol of Berlin. The tower has a breathtaking 360 panorama view over the city, where you among other things can see the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the main railway station, Olympic Stadium, Museum Island and Potsdamer Platz.
The tower also sports a revolving restaurant, “the Sphere”, at the observation deck to give you the 360 experience while enjoying a dinner.
Location: Panoramastr. 1A
7. Museum insel
Museum insel is an area with museums with the Pergamon museum being the best known housing an extensive collection of ancient Greek, ancient Middle-Eastern and Islamic art and architecture. Here you find the famous Hellenistic Pergamon Altar. In the area is also the Neues Museum, which once again since the Second World War houses the bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti, regarded as the blue print of feminine beauty.
Location: Central Mitte district of Berlin
“Mercedez can doch jemand haben” used to be a sticker some people put on their Eastern German cult cars Trabant and translates to “Anybody can have a Mercedes”. Now you have the chance to drive your own Trabant and splutter around Berlin in a two-stroke, 26 horse power engine, enjoying the sights of Berlin with or without a guide.
Location: Zimmerstr. 97 / corner of Wilhelmstrasse.
9. Arena Badeshiff Berlin
One of the coolest places in Berlin is the floating swimming pool in the middle of the River Spree, together with a sandy beach. Being in the open air it has become a landmark of the new, creative Berlin and keeps getting constant crowds every year. Have a drink in the pool and party on to the their DJ until late.
10. East side Gallery the Berlin Wall
This part of the wall is an international memorial for freedom and a reminder of how things once used to be in the divided Berlin. After the wall came down in 1989 artists from all over the world flocked to create artworks on this section of the wall and it is arguably the world’s largest open air gallery. Maybe the most famous painting is “Bruderkuss” depicting a kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Eric Honecker, painted by Dmitri Vrubel.