Thinking back on my trip to Berlin last year with my girlfriend, I thought I’d write up a list of my personal top 5 things to do in Berlin. So if you’re going for a day, here are 5 places I recommend you checking out.
There is so much to do in Berlin, we visited for 3 days and even then we still didn’t see everything. I wanted to include a mix in this list, sites to see, places to stop off for food, and things to do. I’ve listed them not in order of favourite, but in an order that makes it easy to hit all 5 in a single day, without back tracking and sending you on a wild goose chase. You’re welcome. So without further adieu, here’s my Berlin top 5.
1. Reichstag 🇩🇪
The Reichstag is one of the most recognisable buildings in Berlin. With a rich history spanning from its construction for the Imperial Diet of the German Empire, a great fire and Nazi Germany, the Reichstag stands as the official parliamentary building of the German Bundestag.
The Dome at the top constructed of glass and mirrors provides a 360˚ view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. You have to book a reservation in advance, and make sure you print it off because security is pretty tight. Like the Shard and the Colosseum you’ve got to go through essentially airport security but that’s no bother. Once you’re in, you’re in. You can spend as long as you like gasping in awe as Berlin stretches the horizon.
Beyond the Dome is a coffee shop where you can get an incredible overpriced latte and hot chocolate, but they did taste pretty great – and the views, once again, were spectacular. We stayed for around in hour in total, checking the view and sipping coffee. Visiting the Reichstag is quite possible *the* must do in Berlin.
2. Holocaust Memorial
Just south of the Reichstag is the Holocaust Memorial. Officially titled the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and inaugurated in 2005, the memorial is designed to be walked through and to produce a feeling of unease as you explore.
We were blown away by the scale of the memorial. As you walk between the concrete slabs you begin walking down a decline and the slabs raise above your head until they are almost twice as tall as yourself. You can either walk straight through or meander between, however you won’t want to spend too long submerged as the atmosphere is genuinely haunting. Comparative to the busy street adjacent to the memorial, below the rocks it is almost silent. The Holocaust Memorial definitely deserves a visit and a moments silence.
3. Dolores 🍴
If you’re hungry and can handle caring for a food baby for a couple hours, then Dolores is the place to head to. Dolores was a recommended restaurant in the Lonely Planet Pocket Guide for its take on the Californian burrito – and I can happily say it delivered. Selling burritos, quesadillas, salads and soups, Dolores has been providing Berlin with gourmet grab-and-go for almost 10 years. Their portion sizes are very generous and the pulled pork burrito was definitely 👌🏼.
Resembling Chipotle and The Mission from back home in England, the art of crafting the perfect burrito is one I’ve mastered over the years and Dolores is definitely punching up there with the best of them. You can check out their website for a full menu list and more information – it is in german though..
4. East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still in tact, stretching over a kilometre along the River Spree. The Gallery features hundreds of paintings commenting on social themes from artists all around the world.
Equally the reverse side of the wall is littered with paintings from unknown artists which many would label as graffiti. However, whatever you title it, walking down the longest standing stretch of the Berlin Wall is a requirement for Berlin – if not for the art than for the history.
5. Michelberger ☕️
Michelberger is like the hipster capital of Berlin, at least from what we explored. With a decor mirroring the artisan coffee shops of London, with books as tables, carpets blocking sunlight from the windows, the whole space illuminated by tungsten bulbs and serenaded with smooth jazz – it was a pretty unique atmosphere.
Michelberger itself is a hotel, but they have a restaurant downstairs in their lobby so we stopped in there for a bite on the second day. For lunch we grabbed some fresh lemonade and a focaccia each, which I could not, and still cannot, pronounce for the life of me. We sat on the sofas and stayed for a good hour, slowly eating and letting the world go by. In the middle of November when temperatures are sub zero it was nice to relax somewhere.
You can easily get to Michelberger after following the East Side Gallery to the end and turning North.
So there it is, my personal top 5 things to see / do / eat in Berlin. I kept them nice and short because I’ll be going into more detail about some of them in later posts.