This is a guest post by Claire. Claire is an avid explorer who is currently based in Berlin and loving it! Originally from England, she has lived in Madrid, Spain and has traveled throughout Europe and beyond. Her next stop will (probably) be Mexico!
Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is such a great place to live and to visit. Before I moved here, I hadn’t met anyone who had a bad word to say about the city. Now, after 7 months living here, I know why! There is so much diverse history and culture, so many different areas and sights, and so much nightlife, art, film and culture, that it can be overwhelming to know where to start! First things first, if you are planning a trip to Berlin, I would recommend Wimdu.com who offer great alternative accommodation to hostels and hotels. Once you’ve got your flight booked and your accommodation sorted, check out a few fun and worthwhile things to add to your list of things to do. And, best of all, these are all free!
Take a walking tour of the city
A great way to start your visit to Berlin is to get your bearings by taking one of the tours of the city. There are so many companies who offer a variety of walking, bike and Segway tours. Some give you an insight to different aspects of the history of the city, some take you to the most famous sights and some offer you alternative views on the culture. One such company is New Europe which give free daily tours leaving throughout the day. Their free tour takes about 3 and a half hours and gives you an insight into the history of Berlin from its importance in the past, the key buildings and the impact of the Nazi regime and World War Two. Not only will you get a great introduction to the city, but the tours are full of fun facts and the guides are more than happy to share their local knowledge with you. At the end of the tour you can voluntarily give a tip (that fits with your budget) to the guide to show your appreciation.
The Mauerpark Flea Market
There are many flea markets in Berlin and the Sunday flea market in Mauerpark (‘Wall Park’) has to be one of the most popular. In the cool and hip area of Prenzlauer Berg, Mauerpark was previously part of the ‘death strip’ and you can still see part of the Berlin Wall which passed through here during the time of the divided city. Get up early and head over to the park to wander round the market stalls selling anything from bikes, door knobs, toys, furniture, art and clothing.
After taking a good look at the market stalls you can relax with a snack and a drink and see what else is happening in the park. There is the added attraction of some free live entertainment in the open-air Bearpit with anything from juggling acts and comedy performances to live bands. One highlight is the Sunday afternoon Karaoke show where people come from all over to demonstrate their singing skills to the (dis)pleasure of the crowds. The area of Prenzlauer Berg is also a great place to find bars, restaurants and cafes to keep you entertained in the evening.
Visit the Bundestag
This historic parliament building features the spectacular iconic glass dome created by architect Norman Foster. It is possible to visit the roof terrace for free although you will need to register in advance through their website. This free tour includes a very informative audio guide that illustrates your journey as you walk up and round the glass dome. With information about the construction of the dome, the history of the building itself and some key highlights of the skyline, it is a must-see, especially for the spectacular panoramic views of the city.
The East Side Gallery
Another great freebie, and a look back at the past, the East Side Gallery is an open air art gallery that was created after the fall of the Wall back in 1990 to celebrate a unified Berlin and a worldwide consciousness towards peace and good will. The Gallery, created on a strip of the Berlin Wall itself, includes artwork from painters and artists from around the world. You can take a walk along the stretch of the wall from the beautiful Oberbaumbrücke (one of my favourite bridges in the city) to the Ostkreuz train station.
Whatever your expectations of Berlin are, you will not be disappointed. It is a safe, cool, fun and diverse city with a lot to offer. What are you waiting for?
This post was brought to you in partnership with Wimdu.