Let me start by saying straight away that 48 hours is nowhere near enough time to spend in Berlin. Once you’ve tried to squeeze in all of the main sightseeing spots, a couple of museums and a bit of exploring into some sort of schedule, there doesn’t seem like there will be enough hours in the day to do it all. And that’s before you try to see how much currywurst, pretzels and beer you can consume within a two day period. If you can, I would highly recommend visiting Berlin over a long weekend, so you can truly get the most out of your trip, because it really is a fantastic city.
I would recommend visiting either the TV tower or the Reichstag to be able to view Berlin’s skyline. It gives an interesting perspective of the contrasting styles and structures of Berlin, and the previous divide between East and West. For me the history is what makes Berlin so unique, the skyline isn’t coherent and uniform, and instead tells the story of the city’s turbulent history and how it has developed since the wall’s collapse. We went to the TV tower at sunset, which only added to the breathtaking effect. Alternatively you can visit the dome of the Reichstag for free. You need to apply for a visit to the Reichstag in advance, as it’s an official building, and you’ll also need photo identification.
Berlin’s quirks continue at ground level. Things like being able to get boxes of strawberries from beneath railway arches or fresh bread from the platform of the U-bahn, really added to the charm of the city. Art seems to remain at the heart of the city too, not only reserved for the East Side Gallery, we also found a gorgeous piece of street art whilst walking to the Jewish museum.
We did visit the East Side Gallery, again we wished we had more time to properly explore all of the pieces of art, it’s a definitely a must visit. If you’re interested in the history of the wall there was also a museum in the area, which we didn’t get to visit, however we did go and see the Berlin Wall Memorial, which was very moving, and provided a good overall basis for understanding the history of the wall.
A must visit is the Jewish museum, which provides a truly poignant perspective of the Holocaust. Architect, Daniel Libeskind, designed the building to leave specific voids and empty spaces around the building, that spoke to the Jewish experience in this period of history and attempted to convey this more viscerally. We all agreed that was the most successful part of the museum, and really worked alongside the facts and stories presented from the Holocaust, maybe not so you can comprehend it but at least so that visitors can understand the impact of the Holocaust on a much deeper level.
Berlin is a vast city, and whilst it is well connected via public transport, don’t underestimate the amount of time you will have to spend travelling through the city. Unfortunately, as we wanted to try and fit in as much of the major sights as we could, we spent what felt like too much time on the S and U bahn. Because of this, we didn’t feel we truly got to explore the city and find places off the beaten track, and this would definitely be a priority when we revisit. I’m already planning to go back. I don’t think Berlin is the type of city you immediately, unquestioningly fall in love with. It can be challenging, the architecture can look quite bleak, and I did experience bad customer service on more than one occasion. But pushing past these potential culture clashes or feelings of discomfort is so rewarding, it’s an interesting and beautiful city in its own particular way.