Read a first-person account of visiting modern-day Berlin with its blend of past, present and future, and get Berlin travel tips from our Enchanting expert Nurit Hod.
We are passionate about the destinations that we offer, having traveled to all of them and, as with many of our team members, having lived there too! Here is a first-person account of what it’s like to visit Berlin, Germany and some great Berlin travel tips from our Enchanting expert Nurit Hod.
First Impressions of Berlin
Growing up I had mixed feelings about Berlin. I inherited the holocaust traumas from my grandparents on one hand, and yet, I was always curious to experience the city that was the birthplace of Bauhaus design, the backdrop to Erich Kästner’s books, and the city of Cabaret.
In spring 1987, I participated in a high school exchange program with Germany and had my first opportunity to visit Berlin. The Berlin Wall was right behind the old Reichstag, the historic legislative building. And Checkpoint Charlie — the best known crossing point between East and West Berlin — was not a photo-op location for tourists but the sad reality Berliners lived through. At that time, Berlin seemed gray and depressing, just like in the 1981 film ‘Christiane F’, a biographical drama set in 1970s West Berlin.
A Modern Renaissance in Berlin
Fast forward to a few decades later and my return to Berlin was a completely different experience.
Berlin’s heavy yet rich history is apparent everywhere, right next to some of the world’s best art and culture, architecture, cuisine and more.
I found that Berlin has been going through a modern renaissance, even though I often felt that I was going back in time. Berlin’s heavy yet rich history is apparent everywhere, right next to some of the world’s best museums, classic and modern architecture, a vibrant art scene, eclectic culinary experiences, and endless nightlife choices. Truly, Berlin’s appeal lies in its successful blend of past, present and future.
If you’re in Berlin, don’t miss the Brandenburg Gate (photo above), Museum Island, markets, museums, parks and beer gardens and pubs.
Besides these must see tourist attractions, here are my top Berlin travel tips.
1. Walk along the East Side Gallery on the banks of the Spree River in Friedrichshain; it’s a wonderful symbol of Berlin’s enduring spirit and resilience.
2. Explore the trendy Kreuzberg, Mitte and Friedrichshain central districts (do take a peek at the beautiful hidden courtyards).
3. Visit The Topography of Terror museum, an indoor and outdoor history museum which was once the central location of the Nazi regime.
4. Spend Sunday at Mauerpark, a peaceful set on the land that once separated the walls of East and West Berlin.
5. Enjoy a leisurely walk in Charlottenburg, past beautiful pre-war buildings and chic boutiques.
6. Take a day tour to Potsdam, known for its grand UNESCO-listed historical structures and idyllic open spaces.
7. Enjoy the Tiergarten’s biergartens, with leafy outdoor areas by the canal or lakeside where you can sit down and enjoy beer and wine.
8. Watch a cabaret show to witness a fantastic blend of music, art and satire unfold in a uniquely Berliner way.
9. Embark on a nostalgic culinary journey with East German food at Volkskammer, where authentic flavors offer a taste of Berlin’s history.
10. Drink a refreshing glass of Berliner Weisse “rot” or “grün” (red or green), a traditional German wheat beer originating in Berlin.
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”Berlin is a multifaceted European capital: fascinating, beautiful, cultured, creative, artsy, quirky, modern, stylish, and cool!” – Nurit Hod, Travel Consultant
Recommended Tours in Berlin
Explore Berlin’s Alternative Cultural Scene by Bike
This bike tour takes you across some of the most iconic districts in the city, starting from Kulturbrauerei in Prenzlauer Berg. Armed with a local guide, you ride through Mauerpark with its renowned flea market and amphitheater. From the vibrant central district of Friedrichshain, you will cross the river and head to the sprawling neighborhood of Kreuzberg, known for its laid back cafes, thrift shops and street art. An expert in all things Berlin, your guide shares information and anecdotes about this dynamic city while you learn how its cultural scene has been shaped through the years.
See Berlin’s Street Art on Foot
Discover one of the most beloved aspects of Berlin’s cultural scene – street art! This city has a lot to offer – from installations to giant murals, hidden stencils, stickers and more, which have put Berlin’s street art scene on the world map. On this walking tour with a local guide and art enthusiast, you start at the Berlin Wall, by the iconic murals of the East Side Gallery. You can also take the U-Bahn to discover alternative and underground venues, and gain insight into Berlin’s rich cultural heritage, showcasing how street art has become an integral part of the city’s identity.
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Where To Stay in Berlin
The Regent Berlin – Set in the bustling Mitte district at the heart of historic Berlin, this grand hotel is only a few steps away from attractions such as Brandenburg Gate, the Opera House and Reichstag. Part of the InterContinental group, rooms here are elegantly designed with plush furnishings, and several offer panoramic views of Berlin. Amenities include a spa and sauna, as well as several dining options such as a contemporary restaurant, courtyard terrace and a bar.
Angleterre – Located next to Checkpoint Charlie in a historic building, this refurbished boutique property offers stylish rooms fitted with modern amenities. Apart from a 24-hour front desk, room service, and concierge, the hotel also offers a spa and sauna. There is also a restaurant on the premises that serves Italian cuisine, as well as contemporary bar. The Angleterre’s convenient location make it an ideal base to explore attractions such as Potsdamer Platz and Brandenburg Gate.
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