It’s been 30 years since the Berlin Wall fell, which makes it an especially apropos time to visit the dynamic city. The capital of Germany is home to some of the country’s top universities, museums, and entertainment venues — not to mention graffiti worthy of its own sightseeing tours — plus 2,500 parks and gardens. Highlights of a visit to Berlin include iconic sights the monumental Brandenburg Gate, Sanssouci Palace, and the Alexanderplatz square.
Berlin Wall History Mile
In its modern state, it’s sometimes hard to remember that, just a few short decades this, Berlin was divided by a hard physical barrier that acted as a prison wall for those living on its eastern (communist) side. Walk in the steps of history with a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial, which is embedded with pieces of the original wall. Follow the historical signposts of the History Mile through Central Berlin. Stop at Checkpoint Charlie to learn about those who tried to escape to freedom.
Berlin is as full of museums as its bars are filled with beer. There are more than 170 options that focus on everything from the photography of Helmet Newtown to the Bauhaus movement. For a taste of the city’s most illustrious options, head to Museum Island, where five premier museums sit in an oasis of culture. Highlights include The Neues Museum, which is is famed for its works from antiquity, including a bust of Nefertiti and scrolls of the Book of the Dead; The Pergamon Museum for its reconstruction of the Gates of Babylon; and The Bode Museum, where you'll find an array of to find impressive sculptures.
The home of German parliament and one of the most recognizable landmarks in Berlin, the Reichstag’s palatial exterior may be intimidating to visitors, but its gorgeous glass-and-steel dome is free and open to the public (audio guides are complimentary, too). Once inside, you’ll have the perfect perch to view the city’s highlights, including the Brandenburg Gate.
Berlin is a 24-hour city. Unlike other parts of Germany, there is no closing time for bars here, and the nightlife scene is one of the most vibrant and edgy in Europe. If DJs and dance clubs are your scene, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained around Potsdamer Platz, where Tresor, a three-story techno nightclub is located. Alternatively, head to Berghain and Watergate, two other popular nightclubs, to join in the local obsession with techno. Not all entertainment is electronic thumping beats. Live performances rock stages and jazz clubs offer a sophisticated spin to the night. Bar hopping in the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood is another popular evening diversion. You’ll also find outdoor cafés, cocktail bars, casinos, and cabarets, offering tons of options to entertain you throughout the night.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Almodóvar Hotel: A tasteful, wellness-conscious property (that's environmentally friendly to boot) in the fun and funky Friedrichshain neighborhood. Rates from $92 per night, depending on the season. Read our review here.
COSMO: This hotel has a modern feel, with clean lines and earth tone colors. It's modern and chic, with a very pleasing price tag and a central location in the heart of the Mitte district. Rates from $97 per night, depending on the season.
The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin: If it's luxury you crave, then you’ll want to head straight to this Art Deco property. Thanks to its convenient location on Potsdamer Platz, guests are within walking distance to many of Berlin's best sights. Rates from $230 per night, depending on the season.
Ostel Hostel Berlin: This '70s-inspired, budget-friendly hotel is furnished with original Communist-era knick-knacks and portraits of former communist leaders. Despite having "hostel" in its name, all accommodations are in single or double rooms (though the cheapest have shared bathrooms). Rates from $48 per night, depending on the season.