No European tour is complete without a trip to Berlin.
This modest yet magnificent city represents the fiery spirit behind the powerful German nation, and the damaged heart of a tragically significant history. Colorful and cosmopolitan, Berlin also represents the soul of a wildly diverse artistic and multicultural community, where creativity weaves itself into the framework of the city.
Because of its influential history, vibrant energy, and location at the crossroads of other popular cities like Prague and Amsterdam, Berlin is an extremely popular tourist destination for college students. But simply speeding through the city to check it off a European destination list is not sufficient to truly uncover the magic of the German capital. Here are some tips for how to appreciate all that Berlin has to offer, whether you’re visiting for a while or simply stopping by.
1. Take Advantage of Public Transport
Berlin’s massive size and numerous districts may appear overwhelming at first, but the affordable public transport runs smoothly and is easy to navigate. The S-Bahn is an overground metro system that connects the city center to further destinations like airports and big lakes. Meanwhile, the U-Bahn is an underground metro system that runs frequently and passes through basically every district in the city. Every station has a map of the system to assist your journey, but just keep in mind that you must validate your ticket in one of the designated machines at the station in case an official boards the train and decides to check people’s tickets.
2. Embrace the Parks
Numerous green spaces are scattered throughout Berlin, and these are perfect for walking, running, biking, or soaking up the hot summer sunshine. A particularly amazing park is the Tiergarten, which is centrally located and has a gorgeous rose garden in addition to peaceful ponds and lush stretches of green fields. Whether you want to meet friends for a picnic or fall asleep in the soft grass, Berlin’s parks act as little oases of serenity that contrast the busy atmosphere of the city.
3. Acknowledge the History
History lingers around every corner in Berlin, given its pivotal role in most of the 20th Century’s major events. Sometimes the history is hard to miss; for example Checkpoint Charlie stands tall right in the middle of the street, and a huge museum dedicated to this crossing point between East and West Berlin lies right next to the attraction. Walking through the eerie of The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also makes for a surreal experience. But sometimes, pieces of Berlin’s history less obvious. For example, hidden behind a wall of shady trees lies the The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism, and in random places throughout the city you may stumble across humble monuments or little inscriptions dedicated to a historical event of Berlin.
4. Experience the Multiculturalism
Berlin has many international communities full of immigrants from all over the world, and these areas create a wonderful mixing of cultural diversity. For example, Lichtenberg is the borough that hosts many Vietnamese residents, and the borough of Kreuzberg is home to a very prominent Turkish community. Visit these areas to eat at some incredible restaurants or shop in a local market, where you can appreciate the wide range of cultures that have planted their roots in Berlin.
5. Scope out the Artwork
Creativity thrives in the streets of Berlin, sometimes in the most unexpected places. Random paintings and sculptures can pop up anywhere and add vibrant designs and powerful messages to any area. But an obvious, must-see attraction is the East Side Gallery, where tons of artists have painted huge murals onto the remaining section of the Berlin Wall. All the images are wildly different, where some paintings burst with passionate color and others are simple, modest representations of a political message.
6. Shamelessly Marvel at the Popular Tourist Spots
While many travelers yearn to uncover the hidden secrets of a city and avoid the crowded, touristy areas, Berlin’s majesty personifies itself in many of its famous buildings and monuments. Definitely visit the most famous attractions, as they are simply stunning and should not be missed. The Brandenburg Gate, the Berliner Dome, and the Parliament Building hold so much incredible beauty and mind-blowing architecture that fighting through the crowds of tourists to see these sights is absolutely worth it.
(Originally published on Student Universe )