Berlin. So much history, so much to see and do. Berlin is my favorite city in Europe and every time I go back, I love it even more. Walking into the wombat’s there gave me a sense of familiarity, as it has the same look and friendly feel as the one I’ve been to in Munich. The location is also as equally convenient, right by a tram and train station, Rosa Luxemburg Platz. Helpful staff, clean rooms, and an awesome rooftop bar with great Happy Hour specials!
Knowing backpackers are on a budget, the front desk gave me some excellent suggestions on free stuff to do around Berlin. The first night there, however, I headed up to the bar to check out the view and make some new friends. With a free pool table and 5 EUR pitchers, that wasn’t very hard to do. :)
My new wombat’s friends and I decided to go on the Alternative Art Walk the next day, which was one of the recommendations wombat’s gave us. We met in the Lustgarten at 11:30am (not too early after a night in Berlin!) and the guide started telling us about the street art culture in Berlin. We went all around the city and looked at sculptures, graffiti, countless murals, and ended at the East Side Gallery, the longest section of the Berlin Wall still remaining.
We realized how often we walk around a city while touring and don’t actually SEE a lot of what is there, right in front of us. For the next few days, I started noticing all the art on buildings, street signs, shop windows, etc., that I wouldn’t have looked for before this tour. It was really informative and a cool way to learn about the artistic, edgy Berlin culture.
A friend and I also decided to check out the tour of the Reichstag (German Parliament building) dome, which is also free. The only drawback is that you have to make a reservation in advance, which we stood in line to do for about 30 minutes. It was worth it, though, and taught us a ton about the history of German government. You can see all the important landmarks from the top of the dome, which the tour points out as well.
Getting some really good use out of my boots, we walked all around to discover Berlin, visiting the Holocaust Memorial, the Berlin Cathedral, the Brandenburg Gate, and the Otto Weidt Museum (all free). Luckily there are street food stands with Glühwein (warm spiced wine) and Currywurst (a Berlin favorite) everywhere along the way!
Lastly of my free excursions, I decided to go to the Topography of Terror, which is more of an exhibition than a museum. It’s intense, a lot of reading, and a lot of disturbing Holocaust imagery. It’s worth a visit if you are interested in learning more about the dark history of Germany during World War II.
For those who are lucky enough to have a smartphone while traveling, the Berlin transit app, “BVG”, was incredibly valuable. You can simply put in your destination and it will give you a timetable and route using bus, tram, train, or a combination of the three. I bought a 7 day transit pass for 28 EUR, which was valid for any form of public transit. Berlin is big, so it was worth it since I was there for so long and covering a lot of ground.
As for nightlife, there are a thousand options due to the diversity of people in Berlin. I would tell the wombat’s crew what kind of party/event you are looking for, and they can point you in the right direction. Just be prepared for a late night because I don’t think the bars ever close! If you are there during late November/December, be sure to stop by the Christmas markets for some food, warm drinks, and shopping, there are several scattered around the city.
Overall, another great experience in a colorful, historic, and extremely diverse city. Yep, Berlin is still my favorite.