Holidays in Berlin - Travel Guide
Berlin, the capital of Germany and an important political, cultural, media and scientific centre, is internationally renowned for its cultural wealth. It is home to one of the world's most famous opera houses and one of the most acclaimed philharmonic orchestras. Berlin also has a cosmopolitan art scene. The city is home to hundreds of galleries and museums, including the famous Museum Island Berlin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Despite the ravages of the Second World War and decades of disrepair of the infamous Berlin Wall to the east, the city has recovered perfectly. Today, Berlin offers an eclectic mix of new and classical architecture, but also a wide variety of sports and cultural institutions. In Berlin, the street art is ubiquitous, and film is an important part of the cultural landscape, especially through the Berlin Festival or La Berlinale film festival.
The festival is the most important film festival in Berlin.
To make the most of your travel to Berlin, VeryChic invites you to disocver the must-see cultural sights and hotels in Berlin.
What you need to know before a visiting Berlin
Berlin, like any great metropolis, has its own rules. Exciting, cosmopolitan and very much focused on art and culture, it is also a complex city where social behaviour is highly codified. Here's everything you need to know before your stay in Berlin, so you can be sure to make the most of it.
Try to speak German
If you are planning to spend a day in Berlin and your German is limited, try to learn a few important phrases and expressions before your trip. Locals always appreciate tourists who make the effort to speak their language. You don't need to be fluent in German, but knowing the basic forms of politeness is a good start. A short German course before your departure is always helpful. Your efforts will be compensated by a friendly attitude and a smile.
Always pay for your bus tickets
Many tourists visiting Berlin for the first time are surprised by the lack of ticket control at the bus stations. In fact, in Berlin, you just buy your ticket, stamp it in a machine and enter the carriage. You might be tempted to skip the ticket purchase, thinking that no one is coming to check. But make no mistake: on every line, every day, bus company employees carry out unannounced checks in the carriages to verify passengers' tickets. They are usually dressed in civilian clothes. A word of advice: always buy your ticket in advance to avoid possible problems.
Getting around the city
Like Amsterdam, cycling is an integral part of Berlin's urban traffic. It is very easy to rent one, and at very reasonable rates. Secondly, driving is the best way to see the city. If you leave in a hurry, you'll miss out on half of the city's wonders and spend more money. So, if time permits, rent a nice car and make your travel to Berlin more fun.
Besides, the city has created many bike paths where you can ride without worrying about cars and without annoying pedestrians on the pavements. There are also rules for driving a car in Berlin. As with driving a car, you must obey traffic lights and pedestrians!
Recycle your bottles
You should know that, for the sake of environmental protection, recycling is very important in Berlin. Every supermarket has a collection machine that pays you back for every bottle recycled. To find out if the bottle can be recycled, just read the labels. A plastic bottle, for example, can be worth up to 25 euro cents, while a glass bottle will be worth a little less. So think twice before you throw your bottle in the bin.
Try Viennese cooking
Although sausages and schnitzels remain traditional staples of German gastronomy, vegan food has become an absolute trend in Berlin. Preoccupied with over-consumption, environmental causes and animal welfare, many Berliners have changed their eating habits. As the number of vegans has increased in recent years, many Berlin restaurants specialise in this type of cuisine. From soy-glazed creams to Korean steaks, the options are abudant when it comes to vegetarian cuisine. Some dishes are surprisingly good and very creative, including the 100% vegan Berlin kebab. Don't worry, Berlin also has some traditional gourmet restaurants.
What to do in Berlin
Berlin fascinates travellers from all over the world thanks to its mixed cultural life, rich history and vibrant nightlife. Berlin has everything to please tourists and business travellers alike. When you're short on time and don't want to get bogged down in the tourist traps, planning your trip in advance can help maximize your dream getaway.
It is not essential to see everything to fully enjoy your travel to Berlin. That said, there are a few cultural and historical sites that you definitely shouldn't miss.
Visit the Brandenburg Gate
Once a symbol of a divided nation, the Brandenburg Gate is now an emblem of unity and peace. It is the most famous historical monument in Berlin. It was commissioned by King Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1788 in classical style. Its design was inspired by the Propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens. The 26-metre-high grey monument stands on the Pariser Platz in the Mitte district, only a block away from the Reichstag Palace.
Visiting the Brandenburg Gate at night, when it lights up, is also a unique experience!
Admire the Reichstag Palace
The Reichstag Palace (Reichstagsgebäude) was opened in 1894. The palace, built in the northeast Renaissance style, was the seat of the Imperial Diet and the Holy Roman Empire until it was destroyed in 1933. It was not used again until after the reunification of Germany. Its reconstruction took 10 years and the palace became the seat of the German Parliament in 1999. This magnificent building is distinguished by its glass roof. From the rooftop restaurant you can enjoy a magnificent view of the city, especially at night.
Note that access to the dome and the terrace is subject to a charge. Due to high demand, it is recommended that tickets be purchased several days in advance.
Visit the Museum Island Berlin
Caught between the Spree River and the Kupfergraben canal, the Spree, better known as the Museum District, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will find many of the city's oldest and most important museums here.
- The Old Museum (Altes Museum), built in 1830 to house the crown jewels and other royal treasures.
- The New Museum (Neues Museum), destroyed during the Second World War, was rebuilt and reopened in 2009.
- The former National Gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie), opened in 1876, displays classical sculpture and paintings created between 1815 and 1848, as well as impressionist and modernist works.
- The Bode Museum houses a collection of Byzantine artworks, as well as a large collection of sculptures ranging from the Middle Ages to the late 1700s.
- The city's most popular museum, the Pergamon, is located on the Museum Island. It houses a museum of Islamic art and reconstructed historical buildings from the Middle East.
- The newest attraction in the Museum Island is the Humboldt Forum. This building opened in 2019 and houses the Berlin Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art.
Gather at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
As a sign of the German people's commitment to never turning a blind eye to the atrocities of the past, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is another must-see site of Berlin. Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, it attracts half a million visitors every year.
The site is located in the heart of the city and is a great place to visit. Located in the eastern part of the Tiergarten district, the memorial consists of a collection of 2,711 concrete slabs covering 19,000 square metres of land. Beneath the gigantic building is an information centre where letters, diaries and photographs of Holocaust victims can be consulted. It's a very special place.
Visit the Berlin Cathedral
The Berlin Cathedral or Berliner Dom is located on the Museum Island. It is one of the most imposing buildings in Berlin, thanks to its 75-metre-high dome. Built in the New Baroque style, the Berliner Dom is divided into three main sections: the Commissary Church, the Baptismal and Bridal Church and finally the Parish Church.
The Berliner Dom is the largest of its kind in Berlin.
The Berlin Cathedral is distinguished by its imperial staircase with bronze cornices. It also houses the Hohenzollern Crypt, which contains almost 100 sarcophagi, coffins and monuments from the 16th century. During your visit, you will have to climb the 270 steps to the top of the cathedral. It is well worth the effort, as you will get a spectacular view of the museum.
If you get the chance, don't miss the free organ concerts and recitals that take place occasionally in the cathedral.
Cover the East Side Gallery
Measuring 1.3 kilometres long, the East Side Gallery is one of the largest open-air galleries in the world. It is therefore also one of the main centres of interest in the city of Berlin. Now a veritable mural of freedom, the East Side Gallery is a portion of the former Berlin Wall, decorated with 101 separate paintings. One hundred artists from 21 countries around the world contributed to its creation.
We recommend that you start your visit to the East Side Gallery at the Ostbahnhof as soon as you get off at the Warschauer train station. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit the gallery in the evening.
Take a cruise in Berlin
The rivers that flow through Berlin offer almost 180 kilometres of waterways. Taking part in boat trips and cruises is a great way to get different perspectives of the city. There are many different routes to choose from. You will be spoilt for choice!
Where to stay?
Now that you know everything about Berlin to plan the perfect day out, how about checking-out some VeryChic addresses?
- The Grand Hyatt Berlin, one of Berlin's most luxurious five-star hotels
- The Titanic Chaussee Berlin, a luxurious address in the heart of Berlin's cultural life
- The Hotel Berlin Berlin, cultural extravagance in the heart of the German capital