Berlin

Hi,
In late May, my wife and I are going to Paris for 5 nights, a "city to be determined" for 3 nights, and then Stockholm for 4 nights. We are deciding between Berlin and Barcelona. I am pushing for Berlin, she for Barcelona. I feel that in addition to Berlin being a midpoint between Paris and Stockholm and having cheaper flight/lodging options, it seems like an equally beautiful and exciting city. However, some reviews make it seem rather dreary or even skippable, which has me a bit worried. I guess I am a bit confused as to what we should truly expect. She would likely have a bit of a "told you so" attitude if Berlin is not as vibrant, outdoorsy, and fascinating as I have been describing it, so I am nervous about pushing the agenda. We enjoy walking (or biking, if very safe) a lot, people-watching, parks, and fun dining/drinking options (but won't be staying out all night). I am sure we will visit historical sights wherever we go, but it's not a must, especially if we are enjoying cruising aimlessly. She cares a bit more about weather, but I assume either will be pleasant then. Does Berlin fit the bill or am I better off playing it safe by going to Barcelona? Thank You!

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1466 posts

There is a lot to see and do in Berlin. It's a big city not easily walkable (like Prague or Vienna) but it has excellent public transport. It's not as visually stunning like Paris, Prague, Vienna, Budapest. It was practically destroyed in WWII so what you see is a lot of new mixed with old. Barcelona I think is probably more of eye candy but cannot say for sure because I've never been there. Some cities you can see. Berlin you have to experience. Barcelona is more likely to have nice weather than Berlin.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

Wondering where you are reading reviews that say that Berlin is dreary and skippable. That is the first time I have ever heard Berlin described in such a fashion. This is a world capital, chock full of things to do and see, and one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe right now. Lots of parks as well as historic sites. Some of it you may find beautiful, but that is always a personal opinion. I find much of the architecture to be exciting, creative and certainly well worth seeing. If you want to be in a city that is fun, lively, as well as very affordable, you can't go wrong with Berlin. Have been there 3 times and still haven't gotten around to even a fraction of the places I want to visit. Can't wait to go back. The weather in May could be gorgeous or it could be rainy. No one ever knows. Have a look at this video montage and tell us if you think this city looks dreary:
http://vimeo.com/50238512

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1698 posts

Both Berlin and Barcelona are extremely interesting cities from the point of view of history, architecture, street culture and nightlife. The only advantage I'd point out for Barcelona is better weather. (Barcelona is walkable if you're sticking strictly to the medieval centre, but if you want to get out to some of the Modernista highlights you'll need to use public transport a lot like in Berlin.)

Posted by Sarah
Stuttgart, Germany
2012 posts

It's hard to count on weather in Germany. But May in Berlin is unlikely to be colder, temperature wise, than any given day in San Francisco. The worst weather you may encounter is rain and temps in the low 60s. If you're lucky it could be beautifully warm in the 80s. Either way, people will be outdoors. I had your wife's view of Berlin until I went on a whim (had to use up a Railpass) because my husband wanted to go and now it's my favorite city in Europe. I ADORE Berlin. While architecturally there is an element of "grayness" I suppose that is totally overshadowed by the surprising amount of green space and trees and the vibrancy of the culture. In my book, if you can't have fun in Berlin, you can't have fun anywhere. Barcelona has a lot to recommend it too, obviously, but itinerary wise it doesn't make a ton of sense to go to Barcelona as an inbetween from Paris to Stockholm anyway. You'd have to fly, for starters (although flying from Paris to Berlin might also be your best bet). Berlin is a perfect city for biking as it's totally flat and there are dedicated bike paths and routes. The bike tours are supposed to be great. In terms of fun dining/drinking, Berlin is a match made in heaven. Just have her read some of the discussion about Berlin on this forum - there's really only one person on here I came across who ever poo-poohed it, and he's gone now.

Posted by Kregg
Minden, Nevada, SA
15 posts

We have been to both cities and the one that we keep going back to is Berlin. It is always changing and is one of our most favorite cities in the world.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Just to pile on the other replies. There's nothing grey about Berlin. Sure, it doesn't have Barcelona's weather (although I agree that in May it's not a problem - January is another story). But for people watching and dining/drinking, you'll never run out of options. Berlin isn't "beautiful" if you use the standards of Sydney or San Francisco. Nor is it beautiful in the way Paris or Rome are. But "dreary" and "skippable"? Not on your life. If you have even the slightest interest in 20th Century history, you could spend weeks there. And the oft stated "fact" (I've never tried to get confirmation) is that one-third of the city's area is something "green" - parks, water, etc. It certainly looks that way. Here's my trip report about Berlin: Link. And in that, are links to why I respond so strongly to it.

Posted by Jeff
Union County, NJ, 07027
5 posts

It appears my next European trip will be in March 2014 with my Daughter who will be 20 years old at that time. One of our choices is five nights in Berlin. I am concerned about the weather -in March, cold or dark? I can handle a mean of 40 degrees F, but is there a possibility of snow? Any assistance is greatly appreciated.Thanks. Regards, Jeff
Garwood, New Jersey, USA

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Snow in March is possible in theory but not very likely. However, what I like about Berlin is the fact that it has tons of options for indoor activities should the weather be less than agreeable. The great museums will keep you warm and busy for as long as you like. Or take a free guided tour (apply in advance!!!) of the Reichstag. Charlottenburg palace is beautiful any time of year (and warm inside) etc etc

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9130 posts

I wouldn't expect snow in March, but it's not outside the realm of possibility. But you can pretty much rule out a major snowstorm with significant accumulation. In the 3+ years I've lived in Germany, the weather patterns in each March were completely different from the previous year, so making a prediction on the weather in March 2014 this far out would be futile. And as mentioned by the above poster, any large city will offer plenty of indoor activities if the weather goes bad. I've never visited Barcelona, so I can't compare. And without repeating what others have already written about Berlin, here are a few other observations. The Tiergarten is one of the largest urban parks in Europe, and if you like zoos, I think the adjacent Berlin Zoo is one of the best on the continent. If you like classical music, I probably don't have to elaborate on the world prestige of the Berliner Philharmoniker. And if you like parks and palaces, check out nearby Potsdam.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2501 posts

Haven't been to Barcelona but I love Berlin. I was there for four days last year and need more time. Museum Island has several interesting museums and a city river cruise departs nearby. Lots of nightlife, great restaurants from every nation/culture, wonderful historical monuments and museums other than the ones on Museum Island. Last May (10-14) it was quite cool, intermittent showers, but still easy and fun to walk around outside. If you can get a copy of the Snapshot Berlin RS guidebook, you'll see how easy it is to navigate and how much there is to do and see.