Berlin as a capital is chaotic and nothing special – it was the first impression of the city while walking down the famous “Unter den Linden” street. The struggle of Berliners, the footprint of the war and the silent struggle of the separation – all still visible with small clues on the streets of nowadays Berlin. However, Berlin is much more than that.
Currently there are several big projects overshadowing the city’s glory – the new metro line to Museum Isle or the remodelling of Alexander Platz leaves the wanderer clueless of what the glory of this city could be. Full of wide alleys, magnificent buildings, beautiful parks – Berlin is a city worth visiting. Despite the major constructions overshadowing the magnificence of this gem – Berlin still offers a visitor plenty to do.
First thing first, transportation
The public transportation network within the city is well organised and a day ticket covers a visitor’s need to get around the city. If you are coming with more than 2, a group ticket costs 20 euro maybe much better (available for a group up to 5 person).
There are different tickets covering different zones, and only Zone C as the outer zone covers the two airports. Though most of the attractions are within Zone A and B, the day ticket of AB is only 70 cents cheaper than day ticket of Zone ABC (7.7 euros). Tickets can be purchased from the drivers directly, as well as on kiosks, self-serving ticket machines and on all major stations around the city.
The metro in Berlin are called U bahn and S bahn, representing different directions. Buses operated by another company shares the same ticket system with the metro. So the day ticket applys for both metro and buses. There are two special buses for tourist routes, bus 100 and 200, both covers the under den linden line from Alexander Platz to Brandenburg Gate, and then goes to different direction along Tiergarten. With a day ticket, you can take one of the lines as your hop on hop off bus experience.
Under den Linden
In a three days short visit it is possible to check the city’s major attractions – and to explore the busy life of Berlin. There are three ‘city centers’ of Berlin – Alexander Platz, Podstamer Platz and Ku’damm. While Alexander Platz and Ku’damm are the old centers of Eastern and Western Berlin, the Podstamer is the new center which witnesses lots of office buildings and shopping malls.
All the three centers can be visited on foot as well – in good weather a pleasant walk from Alexander Platz on Under den Linden until the Branderburg Gate will only take about a good 30 – 45 minutes and offers a splendid view of the city. The Reichstag is located just close by, where visitors can pre-book a time slot to visit the futuristic cupola. It’s free for visit but requires to book at least 1 week in advance. From here the famous Jewish memorial is just a couple of steps, and Podstamer Platz is just a few hundred meters away.
There are abundant attractions in Berlin, and my favouriate is the route along Under den linden, from Alexander Platz to Brandenburg Gate. One of the highlights of Berlin is the Museum Island – 5 museums and the Berliner Dome located all together – offers the visitor an active afternoon. A daily ticket to the museums can be purchased for reduced price, offering entrance to all the museums. Keep in mind however that the most famous one – The Pergamon museum – will always be busy and a pre-booked timeslot ticket can solve the problem – otherwise the wait can be up to 2 hours in the line. The Pergamon museum offers some breathtaking artifacts for the visitor – including one of the most notable items – the Ishtar gate (please note that part of the museum is currently under renovation and is not open to visitors – this part includes the name piece of the museum the Pergamon altar). The museum island and the Berliner dome is a must visit stop for every first timer in Berlin.
DDR is another museum we went for some historical experience. The museum is privately owned, thus not covered by any discount package. It exhibits the life of common people at the time of the 80s before the wall break, including the driving, daily goods, food, tv and households. It’s a very interesting experience.
After visiting DDR, you can also take a boat trip by the exit of the museum. A boat trip is always a nice way to check the status of the city, either for its touristy side or for the local life.
Just a little bit outside from the museum isle, the visitor can enjoy the famous “East Side gallery” – a series of graffiti displayed on the remaining’s of the Berlin wall. One of the most notable ones is “The Kiss” which will always have visitors taking selfies in front of. Not so far from this site is the famous “Checkpoint Charlie” – one of the few checkpoints where foreign visitors could cross from East to West Germany before the demolition of the wall. The famous point is always busy with visitors taking pictures of the dressed-up guards, or asking to stamp their passport.
A visit to the highest building in Berlin – the TV tower can be pre-booked on line as well. The visitors can enjoy either a visit during daytime – or in the evening. Please note that the night view might not be as spectacular as expected – as it may lack city lights like other big cities. In the TV tower, you can find a restaurant as well where a table can be booked on line as well. It is recommended to visit the tower during daytime.
New center – Podstamer Platz
Moving towards the west, visitors can also enjoy a quiet walk from the Branderburg Gate towards the Victory column located in the center of the ex-imperial hunting grounds – the Tiergarten. It’s a quite journey full with trees, and local people exercising or just riding their bikes through the curvy roads of the garden.
Podstamer Platz is more up-scale, futuristic looking square scattered with skyscrapers and modern office buildings. Here the visitor can find a Panorama Point, from where the whole city is visible, a café is also serving the tourists while exploring the skyline. The café itself does not serve the best quality of drinks, but it is worth to sit down to enjoy the view let alone. Also locate here is the futuristic Sony center – which looks appealing to everybody who enjoys modern architecture.
West center – Ku’damm
Berlin offers an extensive choice of shopping malls as well – one can get lost in the alleys of big shopping malls with a huge number of different stores raging from popular brand to the most exclusive ones – offering a luxurious treatment to all their customers. For the luxery goods, DeKaWe at Ku’damm is a nice place to go. Along the same street there stand lots of shopping malls and restaurants. One of the other famous mall is Bikini, which is adjacent to the zoo, and in the hall way you can even take a seat by the big glassdoor while watching the monkeys in the zoo. However, lots of people mentioned that you can find lots of local brands here, I don’t find it attractive, let alone a ‘sexy’ experience.
Food in Berlin is tasty and affordable. The visitors can find plenty of breakfast places throughout the city offering tasty breakfast and an abundance of coffee variety to choose from. Berlin is packed with restaurants offering different cuisines, but it is highly recommended to visit one of the traditional German style restaurants offering the worldwide famous Schnitzel or the pork knuckle. These traditional dishes are usually served with side dishes of sour vegetables and potatoes.
Every tourist should step by the famous Ritter Sport flagship store. A place dedicated to the most famous German chocolate – visitors can even create their own chocolate for a stunning 4 EUR (and a waiting time of 30 minutes).
There is also a cafe on the first floor, from which you can get very nice cakes.
Pork knuckle and sausage
Berlin might be currently under construction- a feeling that a visitor will get once they step out of the train at Alexander Platz, but once time is spent with the city’s streets – it will grow on them. Once the soul of Berlin is discovered – the visitor will long for a come back soon.