Berlin is up there with the world’s coolest cities; its multicultural vibe and historical legacy has made it one of the most popular places to visit in Europe. There is so much to do and see in Germany’s capital that renting a car for your stay might just be the most sensible option. Checking out the car hire options can help you make the most of your visit, be it a city break or a stop-off on a tour of the country.
The Berlin Wall is probably the city’s most famous icon and represented a physical and symbolic separation of the Cold War ideologies. The hundred mile long wall was constructed in the middle of the night in 1961 by the Soviet ‘German Democratic Republic’, and the residents of East Germany woke up to find themselves entirely cut off from the capitalist West Berlin and therefore access to all of West Germany. For 28 years people were restricted to the side they had been on during that night on the 12 August as the Soviet Union desperately prevented emigration from the communist East. A small number of border openings known as checkpoints were used for official visits to the other side and the most famous of which, Checkpoint Charlie, is now part of a tourist centre telling its story. Since the demolition of the Wall in 1989, a section known as the East Side Gallery has been preserved to exhibit the paintings made on the wall before it came down.
Travelling further back into Germany’s past, Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial to the Jewish victims of Hitler’s Final Solution has been a subject of controversy since its construction began in 2003. It consists of a huge site covered in a grid of concrete slabs (‘stelae’) intended to be walked through, and an underground information centre telling all the known names of the Jewish Holocaust victims.
History lovers should not miss the opportunity to visit five of Berlin’s best museums all within walking distance of one another. Museum Island is located in the Spree River in the Mitte district, and was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The Neues Museum is home to a fantastic collection of Egyptian art, including the iconic bust of Queen Nefertiti, one of the most copied works of Ancient Egypt. There is a lot to see so if you’re serious about your culture it’s worth devoting a couple of days to explore the area.
Sometimes it’s also nice to enjoy the culture in a more passive way, like sitting down with a drink. Head to the Gendarmenmarkt in Mitte, arguably Berlin’s most beautiful square, where you can admire the concert hall and French and German cathedrals at either end from a picnic bench or shady café table. Berlin is famous for its nightlife, the hotspots being the eastern areas of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. The locals take partying seriously and clubs usually won’t start to fill up until 1am, but will continue on weekday nights in much the same way as at the weekend.
Author Bio: Katherine Conlon likes to a get a feel for the history of the places she visits, and seeks out the bits which reveal something about the culture in different areas of the globe. She has travelled in four different continents and is looking forward to exploring the rest.