The different sides of Berlin

Lizet Wesselman - 08/08/2023

The different sides of Berlin

Lizet Wesselman - 08/08/2023

If there’s one versatile city in Europe, it’s Berlin. There are quite a few cities I’ve been to several times, but Berlin still holds a lot of hidden secrets for me after 5 times. I don’t think you can really fathom that city unless you live there for a longer period of time. But that’s exactly what makes it so interesting! There are multiple reasons for a Berlin citytrip and there’s something for everyone.

The heavy history of Berlin

An obvious reason for a Berlin citytrip is, of course, for the history that took place in the city and the country. Besides the whole German history of World War II, Berlin also had to deal with the division of East and West by the well-known Berlin Wall.

World War II, of course, left traces across the continent, and even in other parts of the world the effects are still visible. And, of course, several concentration camps can still be found, whose sole purpose now is to teach us about that terrible history. All to hopefully prevent anything like that from happening ever again. 

Still, Berlin is a good place to start if you want to immerse yourself in the war history. For example, visit the “Topography of the Terror” museum located in the old Gestapo and SS headquarters. Here you can see in detail how they prepared certain missions and how they operated. Or visit the bunker museum, for an insight into life in such a bunker during an active war. Or visit the Anne Frank museum or the Holocaust memorial. Outside Berlin, you will find much more, including bunkers and some concentration camps. This is just a sample of everything about it.

Berlin wall history

Despite the fact that the split of East and West was not limited to Berlin, it is of course where it all began. And it’s hard to imagine what it is like when a wall is suddenly put through your hometown, completely isolating you from your friends, family or even your work. I also sometimes find it hard to imagine that the fall of the Berlin Wall was just a few months before I was born. So that means everyone who is over 35 in 2023 will still have an active memory of it. Want to know more? Then probably all you have to do is ask someone on the street, and they’ll probably have a personal story about it.

But, since most people probably don’t want to be reminded of it, the best idea is to look for the load of information available. For instance, there are still pieces of the wall all over the city, including in random places like shopping malls.

The most beautiful bit can be found at the East Side Gallery, the part where artists have done their best to capture history and memories of freedom in the most impressive ways. Besides looking beautiful, each work of art has a meaning. So take a moment to reflect on your own freedom.

Furthermore, on Bernauer strasse you will find a monument with personal stories. The wall here has been replaced by metal poles and next to it you’ll find information posts with personal stories about the people who lived here, lost their homes or tried to flee via one of the escape tunnels. Intense stories about who did and did not make it. At the documentation centre at the end of the memorial, you will find even more stories. Very impressive and educational, but of course also very tough and emotional.

Berlin, the city for alternative vibes and art

Besides the artworks on the bits of remaining wall, Berlin is a walhalla for artsy types anyway. So if you want a much more light-hearted trip or just relax after an intense day full of history, there’s plenty to see and do in terms of art and entertainment.

Berlin is known for its vibrant street art and graffiti. Almost every street corner, abandoned wall and building seems to serve as a canvas for talented street artists.

In districts like Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, you’ll find a range of alternative art galleries, studios, and artist collectives. These places provide a platform for experimental and alternative art forms that often bring out new creativity and frequently have political overtones.

After sunset, Berlin becomes a playground for night owls and creatives. Numerous alternative clubs and events, such as in the RAW-Gelände and Berlin’s techno scene, offer the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a while. This, of course, in addition to the usual nightlife, such as a wide selection of concert halls and discotheques.

Berlin as food walhalla

Although German cuisine may not be very varied, with mostly meat and potatoes, there really is no shortage of choice when it comes to restaurants in Berlin. From Michelin restaurants to food trucks all over the city, you’ll find just about everything you could possibly be looking for here. Moreover, Berlin is known as one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world. Despite its meat heavy German cuisine.

That vast choice of restaurants goes hand in hand with the city’s artsy atmosphere. With the cosiest hip spots, featuring murals, rooftops filled with plants and coffee shops filled with a collection of second-hand furniture for a wonderfully homely atmosphere.

Not surprisingly, Berlin was hit hard during the war. Although some historical architecture did remain standing or was restored, it is a fairly modern city. With that, the atmosphere is mainly found in the art and cosy restaurants you find throughout the city.

Berlin citytrip

Luckily, getting to Berlin by train is super easy. There are several easy train connections from surrounding countries to Berlin, including night trains. May 2023 saw the addition of the Berlin night train from European Sleeper, which runs from Brussels to Berlin via Amsterdam, with a connection to the Eurostar to London as well.

Are you planning a Berlin city trip and looking for more inspiration than there is in this post? Then the city guide Berlin is for you! Packed with tips for light-hearted and heavier activities, for a perfectly balanced trip.

It’s filled with 15 pages of sights, food & hidden gems in Berlin. On top of this, there’s detailed information on the city transport and ways to get to Berlin (from different countries). The Berlin cityguide is all you need for your next citytrip to Berlin.