Sightseeing in Berlin
Built in 1791, the huge Corinthian-style columns of Brandenburg Gate dominate the open square that surrounds it. Visit on a winter’s night in December and you’ll see it lit up beautifully in front of a huge Christmas Tree.
Then come in from the cold and visit the famous Reichstag Building. This grand building was given a new lease of life with its shimmering glass dome designed in 1993 by Norman Foster. Wander its spiralling walkways and then marvel at its mirror ball centre.
As the capital of Germany, Berlin is still the political pivot of the country, a fact you’ll see when you visit the famous Reichstag Building. This grand building was given a new lease of life with its shimmering glass dome designed in 1993 by Norman Foster. Wander its spiralling walkways and then marvel at its mirror ball centre.
Between your visits to Berlin’s Christmas markets, check out the chunks of graffiti-strewn Berlin Wall that still stand as a reminder of the city’s past. And of course, a visit to Checkpoint Charlie is essential to see the old border controls.
For a more spiritual revelation, it’s well worth seeing the Berlin Cathedral. Located on the pleasingly pleasant Museum Island, the mint domes and dusky stonework stand out on the Berlin skyline.
Activities in Berlin
Berlin cements its status as a city of enlightenment, especially at the inspirational Museum Island. It features five of the city’s most famous museums – the Pergammon, Bode, Altes, Neues and Alte Nationalgalerie. Together, they house some of the world’s most astounding pieces, including the colossal cobalt blue and gold Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the huge bas-reliefs of the Altar of Zeus at the Pergammon. That’s not forgetting the angular Nefertiti Egyptian bust at the Neues and the huge sculpture collection at the Bode.
The DDR Museum casts a sharp spotlight on old East Germany. You’re invited to get involved in the interactive displays, testing covert ‘bugs’ and even wandering inside East German living rooms, cinemas and prison cells.
Berlin is a thrillingly modern city of art too. There are no less than 400 art galleries to be admired here, spanning the ages from Prussian masterworks at the Alte Nationalgalerie to the ultra-contemporary pieces of the Hamburger Banhof. The expansive, glass-encased design of the Neue Nationalgalerie is fascinating to see of itself, alongside the many modern art works inside.
Family fun in Berlin
There are over 60 Christmas markets in Berlin and all ages are welcome to enjoy them. You’ll find the most iconic market outside Charlottenburg Palace. The square in front of this huge 17th century building is the perfect setting for stalls serving up gingerbread, stolen and the ubiquitous glühwein (mulled wine).
Over at the Gendarmenmarkt, children can learn new skills in arts and crafts with special toymaker workshops. You can watch woodcarvers create beautiful ornaments before your eyes. There are festive treats to tempt you here too, including hot white chocolate and deep-fried apple.
Perhaps the best Christmas market for kids is the Weihnachtszeit Market. Berlin brings the fun fair to Christmas with a huge 50m high Ferris wheel. There’s also an free ice rink just by the market, so you need only pay for your boot hire.
Wintertraum takes the fun times another step further, with rollercoasters and bumper cars. Plus, over at Winterwelt on the Potsdamer Platz, you’ll find a traditional market that even features the game of Bavarian curling.
You can also spend an entire day at the Spandau Christmas Market. With 400 stalls, it is Berlin’s largest festive market so you’re certain to find a souvenir or two. There’s a crib with live animals and even a Christmas rock concert on Fridays.
Romantic breaks in Berlin
Berlin is just perfect for a romantic escape within a thriving cityscape. Wander hand-in-hand along the achingly beautiful boulevard known as Unter den Linden. At Christmas, its lime trees are lit up with dazzling lights. This car-free thoroughfare passes many famous sights for you to admire together too, such as the Museum Island, Crown Prince’s Palace, and Berlin State Opera.
Even more idyllic, the Tiergarten is sprawling parkland densely forested with the shady coverings of thousands of incredibly tall oak and elm trees. Pick a spot by the lake and enjoy a relaxing picnic together.
The Kurfürstendamm district will be the ideal place to treat each other to an early Christmas present while you’re in Berlin. It boasts chic boutiques and designer labels on its upmarket shopping streets.
Berlin boasts incredibly efficient U-Bahn and S-Bahn metro and railway systems. It’s certainly the fastest and most cost effective way to get around this sprawling city. If you plan to travel around, it’s definitely worth picking up the WelcomeCard pass – it entitles you to 72 hours unlimited travel on bus, tram, underground and railway systems. Plus you’ll get some museum discounts thrown in for your money too!
Museum pass Berlin
On the subject of passes, the rather unimaginatively titled Museum Pass Berlin will give you admission to a staggering number of Berlin’s biggest attractions for three consecutive days. Amazingly, you need only visit a few of the attractions included to get more than your money’s worth!
If you love sport, the Olympic Stadium of Berlin is well worth a visit. A masterpiece of modern design, its huge bowl-like structure can hold almost 75,000 people and it was the stadium of the 2006 FIFA World Cup final.
- Please – Bitte
- Thank you - Danke schön
- Good morning - Guten Morgen
- Good evening - Guten Abend
- Good night - Schönen Abend noch
- Excuse me - Entschuldigen Sie
- I don't understand - Ich verstehe das nicht
- Do you speak English? - Sprechen Sie Englisch?
- I can't speak German - Ich kann nicht Deutsch sprechen.
- Do you know where ... is? - Wissen Sie, wo ... ist?