Berlin was the first stop on my girl’s trip to Europe in 2015 and it did not disappoint. Berlin doesn’t disappoint when it comes to history or culture. Check out this post about our favorite spots in Berlin!
A Girl’s Guide to Berlin
If you have already read our blog on Prague, you can skip the intro below and get busy with our recommendations for Berlin!
Immediately after visiting Italy with Johnny, I knew I had to get abroad again ASAP. So, I hit up all my teacher friends who would also be off for the summer to see who was ready for a girl’s trip. My friend, Karyn, was all in. We planned a ten-day girls only trip to Berlin and Prague. Karyn is a badass traveler who has taken on several awesome trips solo. You can check out her travels by following her on Instagram, @karyntravels. Johnny and I have both been lucky enough to find friends who are not only down for drinks and karaoke in Chicago, but also down to see the world together.
Here are some of our favorite take-aways from our girl’s trip to Berlin!
Check out our Prague recommendations by clicking here.
- Enjoy Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg
I love food. The food scene in Berlin is awesome. Thus, I love Berlin. If you are traveling to Berlin, make sure to schedule your trip over a Thursday for Street Food Thursday at Markthalle Neun in the Kreuzberg neighborhood. If you don’t love this food market, we can’t be friends….JK, but really, it’s the best! The Markthalle Neun features rotating food vendors, wine bars, and craft beer. We grabbed a bottle of Prosecco and enjoyed a variety of beef balls. Be sure to climb up the “stage” in the middle of the market to enjoy overhead views of this eating and drinking heaven.
- See Berlin by Bus and Foot
We found that the bus system got us pretty much anywhere we wanted to go in Berlin. Our hotel, Hotel Alex (I’d recommend this hotel for cheap and clean place to stay!), was conveniently located around the corner from a bus stop in Prenzlauer Berg. Using Google Maps and a city map, we were able to navigate our way around the city. Side note, everything in Berlin ends with “berg” or “strab” so determining when the bus arrived at the correct “berg” or “strab” proved to be exciting, but made for a fun way to explore new neighborhoods when we got off at the wrong place. The link below gives you information on all the stops you can make by taking 100 bus in Berlin!
Once off the bus, we felt totally safe exploring different parts of the city by foot. You can Google the tourist stops in Berlin, but here’s some quick information about our favorite stops in the city.
Potsdamer Platz: This city square lies in between East and West Berlin and holds a ton of history. You can see remnants of the Berlin Wall in stark contrast to the new construction of the happening square. This square is a great to pop through as you explore Berlin.
Potsdamer Platz, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Brandenburg Gate: This monument is one of the best-known landmarks in Germany and shouldn’t be missed. The gate is beautiful and solemn all at once as it symbolizes the challenging history of Germany. Take a step out of the past, grab some coffee at the Starbucks (I know, I know…super American of me) and get your caffeine fix while overlooking the gate. Then, walk under the gate to continue seeing Berlin by foot.
Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Typography of Terror: Between 1933 and 1945 the headquarters of the Secret State Police were located on what is now the Typography of Terror. The Typography of Terror takes you through exhibits describing the institutions of the “Third Reich” and their impact on Europe. You can also see some of the last original remnants of the Berlin Wall outside of the Typography of Terror. This stop is eye opening and sad, but a great way to learn about the history of Berlin.
Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Checkpoint Charlie: This stop served as the crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. There is a replica of the guardhouse and signs that originally stood at Checkpoint Charlie or “Checkpoint C”. We made sure to stop here because Karyn comes from a military family and her mom passed through similar checkpoints in Berlin as a child. This spot is definitely touristy, but worth seeing as it gives you perspective on the deep division between East and West Berlin.
Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial): This memorial is made up of 2,711 concrete slabs in honor of the victims of the Holocaust. This monument can be entered from all sides and you can walk through the rows of slabs, which is symbolically and literally confining. Make sure to head to the east side of the memorial and check out the information center below the memorial. This underground center takes you on an emotional ride through the experiences of various families during the Holocaust.
Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Victory Column: This is another monument that symbolizes the Prussian military victory in the 19th century, but today’s draw (in my opinion) is that it is a picturesque statue. You can pay a fee to go to the stop of the monument to take in a view of Berlin, which we skipped. We opted to go just across the street to Café Victoria where we took in the view of Victory Column with a glass of wine.
Großer Stern, 10557 Berlin, Germany
- Catch a Street Festival
We were lucky enough to be in Berlin during the Christopher Street Day celebrations. We spent a day at the Pride Parade and enjoying “Pride Village”, a street festival in front of Brandenburg Gate. We took down lots of boozy punch, food from street vendors, and danced to DJs. Talk about a #dreamday!
If your trip to Berlin doesn’t happen to fall during Christopher Street Day check out this website for the schedule of Berlin Street Festivals: http://www.visitberlin.de/en/keyword/open-air-events-festivals
- Connect with the Past at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp
Sachsenhausen concentration camp was the main camp for the Berlin areas. Visiting Sachsenhausen gives you a sobering look at the terror of concentration camps. We definitely recommend paying for the audio tour and taking the time to follow all of the stops on the tour.
Address: Strasse der Nationen 22, 16515 Oranienburg
Sachsenhausen Memorial is located north of Berlin in Oranienburg. We recommend taking the train by buying an ABC ticket for the Berlin subway (one way 3 euros). Take the RE 5 or S-Bahn SI to Oranienburg station. Then, it is a 20-minute walk through a charming town to the camp. You can stop at one of the small cafes by the train stop for refreshments. It will take around one hour to get from Berlin to the Memorial Site.
- Eat Global Fare in Prenzlauer Berg
The streets of the Berlin neighborhood Prenzlauer Berg are filled with adorable restaurants, bars, and shops. We spent hours strolling along these streets and popping into random restaurants and bars. You can eat food from around the world on outdoor patios strung with lights. We enjoyed Mexican and Spanish tapas while in Prenzlauer Berg. We definitely recommend letting go of your plans and wandering into places that jump out to you while in this neighborhood. Go on girl, live a little!
- Stand in East and West Berlin
As you’re touring around Berlin, walk through the Brandenburg Gate and look for bricks in the street symbolizing where the Berlin Wall once stood. As you look down the line of bricks you can see the division of buildings down the wall. Then, have your travel partner hold your Starbucks, throw a foot on each side of the line, and pose for you Instagram shot. #basicandproud
- Take a Stroll in Tiergarten
After you take your Instashot standing in East and West Berlin keep walking west and check out Tiergarten. This urban park is a great break from the urban nature of Berlin. You can debrief about the many history lessons you have gotten in Berlin or check out the Berlin Zoo. If you’re like me, and need a beverage stop every couple of hours, Tiergarten is home to two beer gardens. Tiergarten’s Beirgartens, it rhymes!! Grab a beer or glass of wine at Schleusenkrug on the canal and/or (I suggest and**) Café am Neuen See. To hit up both biergartens, walk along the Gartenufer. Prost!!