BERLIN in 5 DAYS
BERLIN is known for:
- a) ROYALTY/ KAISER time
- b) WW II – Nazi, Jews
- c) EAST/WEST divide afterwards – Stasi, Berlin wall
- d) cool artists town
Highlighted are particularly visit-worthy
Highly Recommended – free walking tours (they live on tips):
There is a good free walking tour http://www.newberlintours.com/ They meet at the Starbucks at Brandenburg gate twice a day and cover the main tourist points.
Another good but different free walking tour is the alternative tour http://alternativeberlin.com/ They meet every day at Starbucks at Alexander Platz. And take you through East Berlin, talk about the artist culture, the street art, etc.
Bus 100 – it is recommended that you take a tour on the pubic bus #100 from the Zoo to Alexander Platz because it drives though all the main touristy points.
Fun for Kids:
- INSIDER TIP – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Visit Teufelsberg (“devil’s mountain” ) in the Grunewald. It used to the listening station for the USA during the cold war time. Now decrepit, it is very cool with lots of graffiti – amazing for photography (people do music videos there because the atmosphere is great). It’s open every day from noon to sundown, entry is 7 euro. On Sundays, they have a guided tour from an American veteran who used to work there Chris McLarren (this is club member Angelika McLarren’s husband). You can either meet him at the Gate tat 1pm, or meet at the S-Bahn Grunewald at 12.30pm on the forest side and walk up to the Station together. You don’t have to sign up ahead, just show up. Very cool for the kids to do.
- The sand dune at the Grunewald (Forest area, great for walking) – this ties in with the memorial for the Berliner Jews at Gleis 17 (S-Bahn Grunewald). Take the S-Bahn to Grunewald, visit the Gleis 17 (Track 17) – this is where the Berlin Jews were shipped away during WWII. Then walk into the Forest – keep going straight …. You will reach a large sand dune area, very fun for the kids. Ask someone once you are in the forest.
- Jacks Fun World – larger indoor play for another rainy day http://www.jacks-fun-world.de/Start
- Lego Land at Potsdamer Platz (this is not an amusement park, but more a small underground Lego Discovery Center – good for rainy day)
- Climbing Forest for kids and adults http://www.waldhochseilgarten-jungfernheide.de/ (can be as young as 6 years old)
- The Technical Museum http://www.sdtb.de/Englisch.55.0.html
- Berlin Zoo & Aquarium
- Also fabulously fun is to rent a canoe (for 4 or 5) or kayak and go on the canals and river in Berlin (called “little Venice”) Here’s the canoe rental place: http://www.der-bootsladen.de/ It’s a fun day out for the kids. You would canoe through the canals, go out to the open river, and can land on the beaches.
- Also a couple of new things I just found out – just google for their websites: Fat Tire Bike Tours, Canoe and Kayak tours on the Spree (meet in the East – around the Warshauer Bridge), Stand Up Paddle on Schlachtensee in the Berlin-Zehlendorf.
- Favorite (paid) beaches on lakes – Tegeler See, Wannsee
- Brandenburg Gate
- Holocaust Memorial (must do: go underground to the information center, get the audio guide and go through it). They are closed on Mondays.
- Potsdamer Platz (go up the Panorama Punkt in the red brick building – it has Europe’s fastest elevator, very low entry fee, nice views on platform)
- Topography of Terror, Checkpoint Charlie (see outdoor exhibit)
- for fun: Trabi Tour (tour of Berlin in little Trabi east german car)
- Reichstag & Government Square (get free timed entry tickets online)
- Victory Tower (Siesgessäule) – go up the column if nice day
- Walk by Bellevue (president’s residence)
- Boat ride (one hour along the Spree, catch near Bellevue)
- Gendarmemarkt (beautiful square – check out old time chocolate store on the corner and Ritter Sport chocolate store where you can make your own type of chocolate – fun for kids).
- Frederickstrasse (fancy shopping street, has Gallerie Lafayette)
- Berliner Dom (cathedral) on Museum Island
- Museum Island (walk around to see the buildings)
- Häckescherhöfe (old Jewish area, now fun shopping area)
- Walk down Oranienburger Strasse to, you’ll see the old Jewish Synagogue
- Turn right and walk on Augustusstrasse for lots of galleries – see the newly reopened Jewish Girls School, now a collection of galleries. It has Camera Works which is a very good photography gallery. http://www.maedchenschule.org/en/art.html (it also has NY roast beef and pastrami sandwich place).
- East Side Gallery – longest piece of surviving Berlin Wall – painted by different artists in 1990, then restored in 2010 http://www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de/
- Take a taxi from here to Bernauer Strasse 111 (Wall Memorial) – they have videos of how life used to be with the wall, escapes, etc. and a wall memorial.
- Spend the rest of the day around the Prenslauer Berg neighborhood, see the old jewish cemetery (Schönhauser Allee 22-25), visit the Kulturbrauerei (Schönhauser Allee 36-39) then walk around the shops and restaurants. This is cute neighborhood with lots of young families
DAY 4 – WEST BERLIN
- KADEWE – Harrod’s like department store – go to the 6th & 7th floor for food.
- Then walk along Ku’Damn to see the old WEST BERLIN fancy shopping street.
- Schloss Charlottenburg (palace of queen Charlottenburg) – the palace itself is nice to visit (also with kids) but the gardens are gorgeous, and they have a great playground. http://www.berlin.de/en/museums/3109862-3104050-schloss-charlottenburg.en.html
- Across the street from the Schloss is the Surrealist Museum http://www.smb.museum/en/museums-and-institutions/sammlung-scharf-gerstenberg/about-the-collections.html
- And one of my favorites – the Berggruen Museum, small museum with lots of art from Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti from private collection.
DAY 5 – POSTDAM:
- Take an S-Bahn from Frederickstrasse to Potsdam and spend the day at Schloss SansSoucci (UNESCO world heritage site – beautiful palace). Buy the full ticket that lets to visit all the palaces and go to the Sans Soucci and the Neue Palace.
- Walk around Potsdam Dutch area (Hollandische Viertel) … fun, restaurants
- Visit the Russian Colony (Alexandria …)
MUSEUMS: If you are in the mood for museums, these are my favorites
Pergamon – must do (Pergamon Temple, Babylon Gates, go upstairs to the small but impressive Islamic art) – unfortunately, a lot is under renovation here for the next 5 year.
If lines are long, go to the Bode Museum next door, they also sell tickets to the Pergamon then you can waltz right in bypassing the line at the Pergamon. Noone is at the Bode.
Neues Museum – has Nefertiti (the beautiful Egyptian queen) http://www.neues-museum.de/
The building now provides a new home for the Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection and the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, together with artefacts from the Collection of Classical Antiquities.
Gemälde Gallerie – Old Masters like Rembrandt, Breugel, Vermeer etc. http://www.smb.museum/smb/standorte/index.php?p=2&objID=35&n=5
Very quiet, modern building with lots of old masters paintings.
Neue National Galerie – architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, dedicated to 20th Century Art. https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/neue-nationalgalerie/home/
Helmut Newton Photography Museum (if you know his work, this is a good museum) http://www.helmut-newton.de/
For modern art – walk around the galleries in the side streets next to Oranienburg Strasse or go to Hamburger Bahnhof http://www.hamburgerbahnhof.de/text.php or Neue National Gallerie (currently closed) http://www.smb.museum/smb/sammlungen/details.php?lang=en&objID=20&n=1&r=13&s=6
The Martin Gropius Bau always good exhibits. http://www.berlinerfestspiele.de/en/aktuell/festivals/gropiusbau/ueber_uns_mgb/aktuell_mgb/start.php
INSIDER TIP – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: If you are here on a Saturday, make an appointment to see the Hoffman Collection – it’s a private collection from Frau Hoffman that you can only make appointment for tours on Saturday. Modern art. http://www.sammlung-hoffmann.de/ After the tour, you get a drink and get to chat with Frau Hoffman.
INSIDER TIP – HIGHLY RECOMNENDED: make an appointment for a tour of the Boros Sammlung – it’s a collection of modern art in a Bunker. Very cool! http://sammlung.boros-live.de/
RESTAURANTS / BARS:
- Käfers on top of the Reichstag (parliament building usually has long line, but make a reservation at the restaurant for the evening (long dinner therefore no kids), and you get to be there in the copula after closing hours – very cool). But you can also just go for coffee & cake.
- BREAKFAST or LUNCH: Literatur Haus on Fasane Strasse 23 (beautiful little café) http://www.literaturhaus-berlin.de/
- Here are some of our favorites for Evening: Crackers (cool – right in Mitte) https://crackersberlin.com/, Layla Berlin, Lode & Stinjn, Spindler & Klatt (on the water)
- BAR: Newton Bar (on Gendarme Markt in Mitte) http://www.newton-bar.de/index_flash.html
- Across from the Newton Bar is Lutter & Wegner (old time Berlin, typical german food, sit in the back where the wine bottles are) http://www.l-w-berlin.de/index_flash.html
- Solar with a view – http://www.solarberlin.com/en/
- Café am Neuen See http://www.cafeamneuensee.de/ is in the middle of the Tiergarten (central park of Berlin). Nice biergarten outside, pizzeria inside. Can rent boats.
- Go to the top of the 25 Hour Hotel next to the new shopping mall Bikini Berlin and either get drinks at The Monkey Bar – or go to lunch or dinner at Neni (fusion Isreali, Lebanese food) – fun with great views.