Accommodation: St Christopher’s Hostel [ After loving our stay at this hostel chain in London, we chose this hostel again in Berlin. Just like before, it did not disappoint. With locations all over Europe, this hostel provides hotel-like services with budget-friendly prices. ]
Pretty cool: East Side Gallery, which is the section of the Berlin Wall that has been transformed into a nearly mile-long art gallery. It is located in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, an artistic neighborhood filled with restaurants, bars and boutiques. This area is known for having superb brunch spots as well.
Don’t miss it: SANDEMANs New Europe’s Free Walking Tour. This three-hour tour is heavily focused on the World War II and post-WWII communist eras of German history. It’s an efficient way to visit the major historical sites, such as Brandenburg Gate, Hitler’s Bunker, Checkpoint Charlie, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Berlin Wall. While waiting for the tour to begin [ at Brandenburg Gate ], you will see the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament building. Due to high security screening, the tour will not take you inside. However, I highly recommend a visit. The admission is free, but tickets must be reserved online in advance [ I recommend five to seven days ]. The architecture is interesting, the self-guided audio tour is informative, and the 360-degree views of the city are spectacular.
Wish I had more time for: Six nights in Berlin was the perfect amount of time. It even allowed for day trips to Dresden, a city about 2 1/2 hours south of Berlin that has been completely rebuilt following severe bombing in World War II, and Oranienburg, a town about 30 minutes north of Berlin where the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is located. I highly recommend a visit to the former concentration camp, which has been turned into a memorial and museum.
Must try food/drink: Käsespätzle [ mac and cheese topped with fried onions ], schnitzel [ fried veal ], bratwurst and radler [ beer mixed with lemonade ]. Grab a bratwurst and beer at Prater Garten, Berlin’s oldest biergarten. Then, have a more formal German meal at Schwarzwaldstuben, an authentic German restaurant in the city center. Afterwards, walk down the street to Weinerei, which becomes a “pay-what-you-can” wine bar after 8PM [ 20:00 hour ].
Here’s a hint: The trains/subways/trams are efficient, inexpensive, easy to use, and frequent. Also, dress appropriately for the weather, as most restaurants/cafes/hostels do not have air conditioning. Open windows don’t do much when it is nearly 100 degrees Fahrenheit [ 37 degrees Celsius ] in August.
[ Next stop ]: Four-hour train to Prague, Czech Republic.
Visited Berlin, Dresden or Oranienburg before? Tell me about your experience here.
[ Follow the adventure to Prague ]