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What not to miss in Berlin

We are doing the RS Germany tour in Oct 2019. What should we not miss in Berlin after tour ends,

Posted by
11154 posts

Berlin is like New York or London - there are many days' worth of top sights, and which ones you should see depends on your interests, as well as how much time you will have.

For me, some highlights are the Berlin Wall exhibits in the Nordbahnhof and nearby Bernauer Strasse, the DDR Museum, the aquarium (which I liked better than the more famous zoo), a walking tour (very important in this city with so much 20th century history under your feet), the German Historical Museum (I could have spent an entire day here), walking around Prenzlauer Berg (among many other interesting neighborhoods), and the New Synagogue. Again, those are just some from the top of my head - there's plenty more, including museums of all kinds. For nighttime entertainment, there are often Broadway shows being performed in German; if you're familiar with the show, you can enjoy it even without understanding all the words. Then there are the three opera houses...

You get the idea. Look at some guidebooks, and see what grabs you.

Posted by
7645 posts

Having been to Berlin 7 times so far, this is what interests me. The many museums. Spent 6 hours in the historical museum. Got a thrill out of seeing Nefertiti in the Pergamon. The Olympic Stadium, Track 17, Wannsee Villa, Topography of Terror, and the Jewish Museum. Took day trips to Sachsenhausen and Ravensbruck Concentration Camps as well as to Potsdam twice spending 2 days there my 2nd visit.
I go on themed walking tours with Insider Tours to make the most efficient use of my time and to learn the history of what I am seeing as well as what is no longer there.

Next visit, planning on going to the Allied Museum, the Stasi Museum, and Berlin Underground tour.

Posted by
1949 posts

Berlin is like New York or London - there are many days worth of top
sights, and which ones you should see depends on your interests, as
well as how much time you will have.

I couldn't agree more. Obscure sites like the Bonhoeffer House and the Plötzensee Memorial were "must see" for me on my first trip to Berlin to honor a couple of Germans whose histories I have extensively studied, but they are "never see" for most travelers to Berlin. Many, many visitors, like Ms Jo, find the Nefertiti thrilling, but it doesn't hold much interest for me, so I haven't made it to see it yet despite 27 nights spent in Berlin over the last 3 years. That's not a knock on the Nefertiti (or Ms. Jo); it's just a function of different interests. If you have a particular interest, google it and you might find something obscure in Berlin that becomes a must see for you.

More generally... It looks like your trip will include a walking tour of the main central sites on the final full day. That will give you a look at many things that are considered "must sees." Things that I find interesting in Berlin that have not yet been mentioned:

  1. The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park. An enormous memorial that gives insight into so many things... from the importance of the military to the Soviet view of its relationship with Germany.
  2. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. A church left in ruins to remind of the devastation of war. (A walk-by is enough; I've never gone inside)
  3. Classical Music. A performance by the Berlin Philharmonic is quite special (2019-2020 schedule to be released April 29). Konzerthaus Berlin has a beautiful performance hall that also offers top-notch classical concerts.
  4. Smaller music venues. Jazz. Pop. Rock. Electronica. Something for everyone.
  5. Walk through parks. Berlin has wonderful parks. My personal favorite is Volkspark Friedrichshain. It's a great place to see Berliners being Berliners, plus it has the Märchenbrunnen (the fountain of fairy tales), two hills made from war debris, playgrounds, more fountains, sports courts, and the Memorial to Polish Soldiers and German Anti-Fascists (dedicated 1972).
Posted by
1507 posts

The behind the scenes tour of the Bundestag (must make reservations) was super, and includes the dome. Not open when parliament is in session, so check dates (reservations open about 3 months ahead). I really enjoyed the Berlin wall memorial and the Tränenpalast museum. I also ditto the suggestion for a walking tour (I took one from Insider) to get the lay of the land. A walk through the East Side Gallery is a must. I also did a "free" Alternative Berlin walking tour of street art and off the grid places - worth the time if you have it (but I'd focus on other things if you don't).

Posted by
11154 posts

Dave and Ms. Jo just proved my point. Notice how none of our lists have any duplication - there's just so much to see in Berlin, and such a variety as well.

I just was able to find something I wrote in 2012, after I went to Berlin with my mother (her first trip, my third). These were things that surprised one or both of us about the city:

1) It's very low rise. Yes, there's some new skyscrapers, and some older buildings that got called "skyscrapers" but aren't really that big (I'm talking about the Europa Center, all of 21 stories but described by some as though it were 121 stories). But most of the buildings are only a few stories tall.

2.) It's very spread out and spacious feeling. It has over 3 million people, but they're spread out over an area 8 times the size of Paris (or so I've read). It certainly doesn't feel as dense as Paris or New York.

3) It's very green. I've read that 1/3 of the city is some form of "greenery" (parks, water, etc), and this certainly seems true. Moreover, tree-lined streets are the rule rather than the exception.

4) Many old buildings, of various vintages, are either still standing or reconstructed to look as they did before the war, and are then intermingled with new buildings. It's not done in a "theme park" way either, but the mix of old and new feels "authentic" (I realize these are all very loaded words; what I mean is, it feels neither like "Berlin land at EPCOT" old nor "Blade Runner" new).

5) It's very mellow. This was the biggest and most delightful surprise to my mother. The combination of space, low buildings, trees, and a helpful and polite populace all combined to make a big city that was not nearly as frenetic or "busy" as New York or Philadelphia (her points of reference). She loved the laid-back attitudes. Now, for those from small cities or towns, this distinction may be lost (we met people who were quite frazzled by Berlin), but we found it relaxing.

In case you haven't guessed, it's one of my favorite places; just re-reading all that makes me want to go back!

Edit: cross posting with CL, who again has a different list!

Posted by
12099 posts

I recommend the Soviet memorial in Treptow too, saw it in 1984 as part of an East Berlin tour. In Berlin there are 3 Soviet memorials on WW2.

What are your specific interests historically? Numerous sites on Prussian history aside from those on WW2 and the Nazi period.

I also suggest the areas of Spandau, Köpenick, Zehlendorf, Karlshorst, Pankow,...don't just limit yourself to Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg.