24-hour City Guide: Berlin, Germany

Sights to see in Berlin, Germany. Photos by Katrina Sklepowich
Sights to see in Berlin, Germany. Photos by Katrina Sklepowich

What to see and what to skip if you only have one day in Germany’s capital, Berlin

Hey wanderers!

This is your 24-hour city guide for one of my favourite German cities – Berlin! This post is a quick reference for what to see if you’re short on time – when I was in Berlin back in 2012, we really did only have two days to see everything. We spent one day visiting Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and the other day seeing all the city had to offer. Of course, my first recommendation is to extend your stay past 24 hours if possible, because this city has so many cool things to see…but if you only have a day, here’s what I recommend you check out.

IMGP4194Don’t forget to grab that hostel reservation

Berlin is relatively affordable for backpackers and travellers, and there are a lot of great options for accommodations. Just remember to book ahead – Berlin is a pretty popular tourist spot. We opted to stay in a suburb and it was amazing. Don’t be afraid to stay on the outskirts of a big city – you’ll get more exposure to local culture and have a more authentic experience. We still had excellent access to train stations and bus routes, so getting to and from the city centre and all the hot spots was no problem. Another great thing about our hostel was that it offered free walking tours. And, as you’ll have read in Kaeri’s post about Seville, walking tours are often the best way to see a city!

What to see:

Whether on a guided tour or not, here are some sights to see while you’re in the city:

IMGP4202Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)

A historic staple, this giant and gorgeous gate is a natural meeting place and offers a great photo op. This is where our walking tour started and it really introduces you to the city and its history. Damaged during the Second World War, it’s now fully restored.

IMGP4226Checkpoint Charlie

A relic of Berlin’s tumultuous past, Checkpoint Charlie is the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Germany. Decked out with retro insignia and soldiers in full dress, this army checkpoint will take you back in time. Here, you’ll learn a lot about the Wall that separated East from West, Soviet-occupied Germany from the Western Ally sector. It’s a pretty crazy story.

IMGP4214The Berlin Wall 

You can’t miss out on seeing the remnants of the Berlin Wall – it was so weird for us to see sections of the wall still intact. The deconstruction of the wall represents a defining moment in Germany’s (and the world’s) history. Although much of the tourist spots in Berlin are a reminder of the World Wars and everything that followed, the Berlin Wall, now, is more a symbol of the movement that brought down the Iron Curtain.

IMGP4213The Holocaust Memorial

Located in the centre of Berlin near the Brandenburg Gate, the  Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a moving reminder of the human cost of the Second World War. It’s super sad, but also important to go see. The memorial consists of a Field of Stelae (the concrete blocks pictured) and an Information Centre. It also memorializes the Sinti and Roma, as well as homosexuals and others who lost their lives under the National Socialist regime.

IMGP4196Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt 

After experiencing Berlin’s fascinating history, you will be in need of some delicious German chocolate. Stop by Ritter Sport’s Schokowelt (Chocolate World, my friends) and make yourself a custom chocolate creation, or just stock up on hundreds of amazing chocolate squares. I can’t tell you how worth it this stop will be! We each brought home several bags of mini Ritter Sport chocolate bars – they make great gifts (and are tasty snacks whenever you need a guilt-free pick-me-up). Always finish your day on a positive!

What to Skip:

Honestly, I can’t think of anything not to see in Berlin. My best advice is to take it all in if you can. I should also mention that there are great day trips to make from Berlin, like traipsing about Schloss Charlottenburg, the largest palace in Berlin, or taking a train out to Oranienburg to visit Sachsenhausen – if you have an extra day or two, I suggest doing both.

What else do you recommend seeing in Berlin when short on time? Is there any spot you love that I missed? Comment below or send me a message on Facebook – I love hearing from you!

As you know, this travel blog has been part of a school project – let me know how I’m doing by filling out this quick survey! Thanks for your help and for checking out this post.

Until next week, stay well!
Katrina

New Year, New Books!

Hello readers,

Welcome back! I took a bit of break from writing over the holidays to take full advantage of my time off, and it was blissful. I did a lot of sleeping, reading, movie watching, treat eating, crafting (see my last blog post!), and friend seeing – I feel like I don’t get to see everyone as much as I would like to when school is in full swing so it was very nice to see friends and family, and relax. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday as well!

Now it’s official: 2015 is here – which means new classmates, new projects, and of course, new books to read!

giphy.com
giphy.com

I just finished Ken Follett’s Edge of Eternity over the break – the book is about the size of your average Bible so I waited until Christmas to read it so that I could give the story my undivided attention and it was well worth the wait.

The book spans 1961 to 2008 and wow was there a lot to cover. Follett writes with clarity, wisdom, and honesty about the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall, the decades-long battle for civil rights in the U.S.A., the Vietnam War, the changing landscape of communism and the Soviet Union during the Cold War (with some impressive discussion on the Cuban Missile Crisis), the Watergate scandal (which was great prep for reading All the President’s Men this semester! For a sneak peak about the legacy of Watergate and the Washington Post’s Pulitzer-winning coverage, check out this link), and so much more.

Through characters experiencing historic events on the front lines, Follett leads us on a journey through the last third of the 20th Century, tying up loose ends and finishing off his epic Century trilogy that began with Fall of Giants and continued with Winter of the World. If you’re seeking a better understanding of the cultural, political, and social tensions and transformations that took place between 1900 and today, read this trilogy. It was so well written and I look forward to seeing what Follett writes next (I’ll need a BIG book to read when we take a break from CreComm over the summer!).

Now that I’m pretty well-versed on the 1960s and 70s, I’m delving into All the President’s Men for my Journalism class. I don’t normally read non-fiction because I’m a sucker for fiction and fantasy, but so far I’m finding All the President’s Men riveting. Up next, I’m hoping to read some classics that have been on my shelf for a while, including Doctor Zhivago, War and Peace, 1984, and To Kill a Mockingbird (I’m sensing a 1960s/Russia/revolution theme…). However, I might change things up on you – Anne of Green Gables is also looking like a good prospect. So many choices! I’ll just have to keep you guessing.

Here’s to a new year of adventures on the page and in real life!

Happy reading,
Katrina