There is so much history in Berlin that you are transformed from the 21st Century to the time of the Cold War, Adolf Hilter and before!
Look out for the narrow cobblestones shown in the photo below of the 'Berliner Mauer'. This marks the path of the Berlin Wall.
Fondest memory: I ran the 10Km stretch of the 25Km Run Berlin on Sunday, May 6, 2007.
If you're on a tight budget try the following; they are all free:
1. Brandenburg Gate
2. Reichstag Dome
3. East Side Gallery
4. Topographie des Terrors
5. Bernauer Strasse Wall Museum
I have more detailed tips on each of these in the Things To Do section.
Other free things in Berlin that I didn't get the chance to visit include:
Favorite thing: A common sight in Berlin is the numerous cranes against the skyline. Since the fall of the wall and reunification, many parts of Berlin are gradually being reconstructed. In the east in particular, there are many open spaces, waste-grounds and derelict buildings, which all provide a timely reminder of Berlin's recent past.
just like in most cities - it can be pretty expensive to buy soft drinks etc. at railway/ underground stations or around tourist attractions.
a friend paid almost three euros for a normal bottle of diet coke. they usually sell for about 80 euro cents.
bottles also come with a deposit charge. so save them and take them back to the shop next time you buy a new bottle. you can get about 30 cents off sometimes. this applies to plastic and glass!
PFAND means deposit in german - so look for that on the bottle. KEIN PFAND means it´s non returnable
In every quarter of Berlin there are always a few pharmacies, that offer an emergency service at night and on holidays. The pharmacies take turns every night according to the plan for the "Berliner Apothekennotdienst".
Usually it's not the pharmacy store that opens as a whole, but the pharmacist will come to the door upon call. You have to ring a bell at the pharmacy's main entrance. Then the pharmacist will open a small window in or next to the door and ask you for your wishes.
You can look up the plan and addresses at the following site (in German):
If you have no internet-access and you want to make sure that you have the plan always at hand, you can ask at any pharmacy for a printed brochure ("Apothekennotdienstplan", monthly) beforehand.
Berlin has so many post offices it wouldn't make sense to list them all. There are several at every quarter. Some small post offices are part of a stationery shop. They usually open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There are two branch offices that are also open in the evenings or on Sundays.
- Postamt Charlottenburg;
Joachimstaler Str. 7;
(Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.)
- Postamt Mitte;
(Monday to Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Saturday and Sunday from 8. a.m. to 10 p.m.)
You can look up the post office addresses for Berlin and Germany at the site of the "Deutsche Post" (German Postal Service):
(Click at "Filialsuche" and enter the town and the street or the zipcode of the area, near which you are looking for a post office. You will get the addresses of the nearest post offices.)
Berlin is a great ciy especially in summer. Try to get there around june-august, there you have the best weather and a bunch a good events. This year of course the world cup and love parade :-)
To have a good and simple Berlin guide just have a regular look at
There you have a list of good restaurants and nightlife guides. Try to get there & see you soon.
Fondest memory: The great people :-)
Of course, once inside the bookshop I bought some other books as well:
Berlin architecture and design is a small picture-book showing the main highlights of Berlin architecture and some of the best interiors worth visiting.
Berlin highlights by Clemens Beeck (with photos by Günter Schneider) is a quick overview of main sights of Berlin, more worth for the pictures than for the text giving only brief info.
Berlin New Architecture by Michael Imhof and Leon Krempel is a guidebook to new Berlin architecture from 1989 to today. From Reichstag to Potsdamer Platz and from Galleries Lafayette to the Nordic Embassies it lists all most important new buildings with basic info and a short description. Even if you're not an architect I guess this is interesting since Berlin in the 1990s was Europe's largest construction site.
This fantastic book by Rainer Hildebrandt is a real bestseller (sold in more than 1,200,000 copies) and a must-read for everyone interested to find out what life in Berlin looked like between August 13, 1961 and November 9, 1989.
The book is in fact a catalogue of the "Checkpoint Charlie" museum and features the introduction to the Wall and the background info about its phenomenon. A large part of the book is dedicated to the creativity of East Berliners trying to escape to the West - a black and white photography documenting something that we all took almost as normal until 1989.
Great b/w photographs and descriptions in German, English and French make this 224-page book easy to read but hard to understand.
The book is sold in many bookshops in Berlin, as well as in Tourist Offices. A very good bookshop is "Berlin Story" bookshop at Unter den Linden 40 offering many books in non-German languages.
Berlin asks for some preparation! It is a city without a central square, without charming boulevards and without many equestrian monuments. It is not an ancient city and its development shows all traces of its history that often took dramatic and even tragic courses. Berlin sights cannot only be looked at, you have to at least try to understand the stories that happenned behind their walls.
I am a big fan of Rough Guide guidebooks and Berlin RG is a great source of background information about the city including the stories, people and off the beaten track places. (I doubt there are many guidebooks that list Marzahn on their pages ;) Written by John Gawthorp and Jack Holland they provide the usual useful information with just a right amount of other stories that make it easier to digest the Berlin puzzle.
The changes that are still happening is very good to see. Its really so widespread. I know many Germans from smaller cities have told me that its too modern this capital, not representative of what direction they feel Germany should be going in. But I think its a great thing. Of course its nice to have traditional places, historic places, but modernism can be good as well. Berlin cannot really help but be upgraded because so much of it was destoryed in WWII, then stagnated by the communist regime.
Practical tips is just be aware of detours and the like. How the sidewalks have been shifted to accommodate the work going on. Often catwalks, and the ladders and platforms of the builders and left into the evenings so watch your head and your step.
Fondest memory: You see many ruin buildings or empty buildings in certain areas of Berlin. You see cranes and construction almost everywhere you go in some way too. Whether they are just changing the face of a building or taking down one old one to clear away so that a new one can be put up, Berlin is a changing city. So much of the city is very old and historical left over from the wars, and also you see some buildings with still damage from the wars. Some buildings where completely demolished. My fondest memory to see these changes going on but the memory is a daily one because we'll be living here for some times.
I know it well because I have taken the same class there three times and never passed: Hartnackschule at Motzstrasse 5. Their website is Harnackschule.com.Its a very popular language school, very busy, usually crowded but the teachers are good I think (even if I am a stupid student) and try to make the classes very interesting. What I like about it most is its not a lot of foreign diplomats and people with lots of money but those who come to Berlin to work here and make a living, friendly and like myself-just a average person. They also can assist with getting a visa for the length of time you stay to take language classes.
The prices are reasonable at usually 168.00 Euros for a first course that lasts a month, plus the cost of books 27.00 Euro, which can be used for the next 2 courses also. They have different levels of course for beginners, intermediates and advanced.
If you rather would like a school for different age groups from children to adults, different time periods and levels, and have lots of money, look to this website, one of many that offers classes and courses various locations in Germany. Language Courses Abroad, is geared more for the students university age in my opinion or if someone else is paying for your studies, many more cheap places to learn German in Berlin.
Fondest memory: The address is Motzstrasse 5, 10777 Berlin. Tele no. 030-216-4459. You can see the school from Nollendorfplatz by train or take the 106, 119, or 146 bus to get here. The wbesite is good, in english also.
The foto is from the classroom I was in every time. Yes so I flunked because I was always looking out of it. :-) I keep trying though!
Before I decided to go to Berlin I looked for some info on VT. I read many tips on Berlin (click here), questions and replies on Berlin VT forum and I bought in my hometown (look at my picture):
1. Map of Berlin from the series Eurocity by GeoCenter - the map was too large to use it inside a car but it was the very exact (1:27,500) map of the whole Berlin with one-way streets, some number of houses and U-bahn/S-bahn stations marked. There were two great, additional road maps of Berlin's surroundings and U-bahn/S-bahn schematic on the backside. Additionally there was the small book enclosed. It contained huge street index (with PLZ = German postal code numbers), index of old versus new names of the streets (after reunification they changed many names), more detailed maps of Berlin's central districts and list of useful addresses and phone numbers (museums, hospitals etc.).
2. Berlin - Praktyczny Przewodnik issued by Pascal, second edition 2001. It was Berlin travel book from my favourite The Rough Guide serie. A lot of great info there but it was a little bit old edition (the prices were shown in both old DM and new €).
3. Wspanialy weekend w Berlinie (Wonderful weekend in Berlin - translation to Polish of French travel book "Un Grand Week-End a Berlin") issued by Wiedza i Zycie. It contained a lot of very good info on shopping and sightseeing mainly and very nice pictures as well. Hmm... prices were shown only in old DM as the book was issued in... 1999 which was very, very hidden inside haha.
this is a useful site for finding locations anywhere in Germany. PLZ means postleitzahl, or zip code, and under ORT you would type the city, then under Straße the street name and number.
It's also especially useful because the maps are so comprehensive that they include bus lines and train stations.
Favorite thing: generally, most museums are free during the last 4 hours every thursday. this is generally from 2pm to 6pm, although some museums like the ones on the museum island (the alte national galerie) have free hours from 4pm to 8pm. the guggenheim berlin is free the last few hours (i think its after 6pm) on Mondays.