I recently got back from Berlin and a lot of people were asking me what the best things I did were there, so I thought it’d make sense just to put some of them into an article! Below i’ve broken down some of the best things I did in Berlin. I plan to go back in summer so I'll update with some summer-y activities when I do!
This park was part of Tempelhof Airport, which was built by the Nazis on the site of a much smaller airport. The Nazis wanted the airport to be the world’s biggest building and an entrance to Hitler’s future world capital, “Germania.”. The airport has since been abandoned, and turned into Berlin’s largest park with a six-kilometre cycling, skating and jogging trail, a BBQ area, a dog-walking field and an enormous picnic area. So it’s the perfect place to escape the city, have a bbq with your mates and just hang out.
On the subject of abandoned places, my favourite abandoned place I visited in Berlin was Teufelsberg. Teufelsberg is an abandoned listening station that the US used to spy on the Soviets during the Cold War and there were around 1,500 spies stationed here at one point. It's actually built on top of a hill that's made out of rubble from World War 2, they just stuck a few trees all over it to make it prettier. The US realised that the hill was actually a pretty good place to spy on the Soviets so they made this spy station with it’s iconic radomes. The station has now been opened up to the public and street artists have gone wild in it and made it into an awesome place to walk around and explore. Entry is 5 euros and whilst the main spy tower is currently closed, it’s definitely worth it. There are a few car parks close by or you can walk it from Heerstraße station.
Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap
Mustafas is a bit of a cult favourite Kebab place, and is easily identifiable by the massive queue outside it. It seems kinda crazy to wait that long for a kebab, but I wanted to see what the hype was about and if it was worth it. I grabbed a veggie kebab after waiting 40 minutes in the queue, and tbh it was amazing. I devoured it and had like bits of kebab all over my beard afterwards. I was a mess.
If the queue is too long for your liking, just down the road is Curry 36. A lot of people said if you’re in Berlin, you gotta try the currywurst, so I grabbed a vegan currywurst and it was decent, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the curry ketchup but I’m glad I tried it, it was relatively cheap and it filled me up.
For one of the best views of Berlin, you need to check out the Victory Column. You can find it in the centre of Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest inner city park. It’s 3 euros to climb to the top of the column and there are also places to sit along the staircase if you need a lil rest. It’s an awesome spot to get some cool photos for the gram and admire a panoramic view of Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's most famous landmark and was a symbol of division during the Cold War, however it is now a national symbol of peace and unity. There’ll be a bunch of tourists taking photos round it, so see if you can wait for a wave to pass to get a clear shot of it.
In 1933, the Reichstag Building was almost totally destroyed in a fire of mysterious origin. It has since been renovated and now stands as one of the most stunning pieces of architecture in Berlin. You can walk on the roof terrace of the Reichstag and admire the incredible dome and views over Berlin, but you need to arrange this in advance online.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is made up of 2711 concrete slabs of different heights which you can walk in between and get lost in. Obviously be respectful, don’t take silly photos here, don’t do parkour on top of the slabs which I saw a couple of kids doing when I arrived. It’s a place of contemplation and remembrance.
Just across the road there’s also the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism. The memorial is a symbol against intolerance, discrimination and persecution of homosexuals all over the world.
Topographie Des Terrors
One of the most popular places of remembrance is the Topographie Des Terrors, which is actually on the site of the old headquarters of the Secret State Police and the SS during the Nazi Regime. So much evil was harvested here, and photographs and documents illustrate the history from the time the Nazis took power until the end of the war. There are tours at certain times during the day, or you can walk round at your own pace, but this is a must visit if you’re in Berlin.
Berlin Wall Memorial
Another must visit is the Berlin Wall Memorial. The Berlin Wall was built to divide Berlin from 1961 to 1989, and around 80 people were killed trying to cross from East to West Berlin in this time. The memorial contains the last piece of Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it, and you can get a great view of it from a 5 story observation tower across the road. There’s also an information centre where you can learn about the history of the wall, see some of the methods people used to try and cross the border, and hear crazy stories of people living in Berlin during that time.
The East Side Gallery
You’ll find sections of the Berlin wall scattered throughout Berlin, but the next best place to go and see it as at The East Side Gallery. Here, the old Berlin Wall has been painted by a bunch of incredible artists and turned into an open-air gallery that stretches over 1.3 km. There are over 105 paintings, including the famous ‘Fraternal Kiss’.
Round the corner from the East Side Gallery you’ll see Berlin’s iconic Oberbaum Bridge. While Germany was divided, the Oberbaum bridge was used as a border crossing for pedestrians. Now it’s a great place to snap a few photos and watch the yellow trains passing the two towers.
Another landmark in Berlin is the TV Tower. At 368 metres high, you can pretty much see the TV Tower from any part of Berlin, and it acts as a pretty cool back drop in your photos. You can get a ticket for €16.50 to the viewing platform where you can get a 360-degree panoramic view out across the entire city. I actually didn’t have a chance to go up here, I figured I’d been up the Victory Column and that was kinda cool, so instead I spent my money on something a bit weirder..
Body World's at Menschen Museum
My friend Nilam who I was staying with recommended this one and it was probably one of the weirdest but most fascinating exhibits i’ve ever been to. Essentially there are a bunch of preserved dead people, who’ve donated their bodies, and they've had their skin removed, which gives you an insight into the highly complex structures of the human body. The preservation process is called Plastination, which drains the bodies of fluids and replaces them with silicone and in total takes around a year to complete. The museum also touches on things such as excess and moderation, and tries to help you understand certain bodily functions more. It’s €14 for a ticket which is slightly on the pricey side for Berlin, but it’s definitely worth it in my opinion.
You’ll see these dotted around Berlin, but it’s definitely worth grabbing a burger from Burgermeister. I went to the one by Schlesisches Tor station which has basically been built inside an old toilet, which sounds pretty disgusting but I thought it was kinda cool. I got the veggie burger and, although I'd had a few beers at the time, I remember it being delicious so i’d definitely recommend this place.
Down the road there’s this chill bar called Madame Claude, which actually used to be a brothel. There’s a donation you have to give to enter which is around 5 euros, and although it’s classed as a donation, I didn’t really get the sense it was optional. But yeah it’s super cool as downstairs they have furniture stuck to the ceiling, so it kinda feels like you’re in an upside down apartment.
Last on my list, and to continue the night life theme, is Berghain. Berghain is classed as Berlin’s most exclusive nightclub and one of the best clubs in the world, it’s also known for being really hard to get into. To convince the bouncers you’re worthy enough to get in, some people say, just act cool and dress all in black, others say don’t be too drunk in the queue. But there’s no real guarantee if you’re going to get in or not. In an interview with GQ, the world-famous bouncer of Berghain Sven Marquardt said he "feels like he has a responsibility to make Berghain a safe place for people who come purely to enjoy the music and celebrate”. He also said “if we were just a club full of models, pretty people all dressed in black, it would be nice to look at for half an hour but god that would be boring.” so I think a club which celebrates diversity and music is a good thing.
So guys, that's been my list of things to do in Berlin, I hope it’s been useful. I’m definitely going to head back in summer as everyone said to me the city gets even more incredible during summer time!