It’s hard to imagine a city with such contrasting styles than Berlin. The old divide is clearly visible all around you in the architecture alone. The former East Berlin has a very sterile feeling to the area as all the buildings look like massive concrete blocks with little to no character. Contrast that to the modern dome atop the Reichstag building and you’re definitely in for a treat.
The street food scene is great but my big recommendation is to try the currywurst. It’s this sausage link covered in sauce served with a side of fries and mayo. It’s a fun snack on a cold night or after hitting the bars. You’ll see crowds of people lined up to get their favorite. I just walked up and ordered what everyone else was eating.
Doners also seem to be a big thing here even though they’re a little different from the kind I’m used to in the US. Instead of being wrapped in a pita, these things were fairly massive sandwiches. The filling was the same but this is no light snack…this is a meal.
They also have these jelly filled donut type of things. They’re covered in powdered sugar and delicious. They’re served all over the place so just point, pay, and enjoy.
I found the Berlin metro to be somewhat confusing. They have different signs labeled S and U and I can’t say I fully understood how they were fully integrated. The stations are easy enough to find since they’re clearly labeled but switching lines between the S and U was somewhat confusing for me. However, seeing all the tourist sites is very easy to see. If you’re unsure of where to go, just get on the metro that will take you as close to the Bundestag as possible. From there, it’s an easy stroll to all the sites from Brandenburg gate, Jewish memorial, Reichstag, etc.
Travel tip –
Know which airport you’re flying into. There are 2 main airports (my guess is from back in the East/West Germany days) and although both are fairly close to the city center, they’re drastically different. Tegel is the main airport but it doesn’t have any rail access to the city so you’ll have to take a taxi or a bus. Schonefeld is a little smaller but has rail access to the city. I made the mistake of assuming I landed in Schonefeld when I was actually at Tegel so I had to scramble to get money and plan my way into the city after landing.
When near Brandenburg gate, take the obligatory photos. But then go through the square and down to the metro station. There, you’ll be able to ride the old Soviet era subway cars. When I was there, it really didn’t connect to anything so it was basically useless but it was fun to see and ride nonetheless.
Check out the Berlin Wall memorial. It’s a bit of a trek to get to but very much worth it. They have a visitor center there as well as markers showing where the wall once stood. It’s a free exhibit and informative.
Remember that everything is pretty much closed on Sundays because of mass. Aside from restaurants and major tourist attractions, you’ll find many places frustratingly closed. It is odd to be walking down a bustling street the day before lined with shops only to find it completely deserted the next.