Last Updated on December 20, 2019 by Maria Garcia
Berlin is one of the most diverse cities in Europe, from its history and architecture to its population and leisure activities. There is so much to see and do in Berlin — a semester was hardly enough to fully discover all it has to offer! Nevertheless, I was able to visit some awesome sites.
Below are some of my recommendations for places to visit in Berlin should you find yourself in the German capital.
1. For the Foodies: Markthalle Neun
Markthalle Neun is a food market that takes place in Berlin on select weekdays. It features a variety of food with options for every palette. The decorative lights, soft music, casual furniture, and chatter of hundreds of people create a unique ambiance of unity and diversity. Always a favorite, Markthalle Neun is a must-do for foodies to sample different meals, drinks, and desserts!
2. For the Casual Shoppers: Mauer Park
Looking for some unique souvenirs? Or maybe you just want to treat yourself to some retail therapy. Mauer Park is a great place to go, not just for shopping, but for eating, walking around, and listening to live music. This open market is open Sundays, with vendors selling everything from vintage vinyl albums to hand-crafted jewelry. The food trucks and restaurants also feature a diverse selection of cuisine for when it’s time to take a shopping break! In the evenings, karaoke—watching or participating—is a fun and relaxing way to end the night.
3. For the Undercover Spies: German Spy Museum
One of my all-time favorite sites in Berlin is the interactive German Spy Museum. It’s great for those interested in Berlin’s espionage history or spy history in general. At the museum, you can use a Morse code machine, send friends encrypted messages using an Enigma, check the strength of your password, and use chemicals in a lab to write and decipher hidden messages. There is also a photo-op with a dressing room full of disguises and various backgrounds to choose from. Additionally, there is an entire section dedicated to spy films like James Bond. But my all-time favorite activity at the museum is the laser course—yes, the kind you see in the movies! The laser course has three levels of difficulty to choose from, and you can even record yourself and send yourself the video. If you’ve ever seen a 007 movie and wished you could try getting through a laser beam security system, this is your chance!
4. For the History Buffs: Berliner Mauer
One of Berlin’s most fascinating qualities is its history. The Berlin Wall represents a period of history in which the city, the country, and the world were divided. It is symbolic of the Cold War and reminds us of Berlin’s position within it. You can visit the Berlin Wall Memorial to learn more about the Wall’s role during the Cold War and how it affected Berliners.
5. For the Artists: East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a must-see for everyone, but especially artists. The artwork displayed on the preserved Berlin Wall is worth reflecting on, carrying messages of peace, unity, and love, among others. And make sure you go with plenty of time—it can take a few hours to walk along the gallery! But the artwork is so worth it!
Whether you’re in Berlin or studying somewhere else, remember why you chose your host city. Wherever you study, there’s a good chance that there is more to it than meets the eye. Don’t know where to start? Begin by finding something that interests you. If you’re into concerts like me, make it a point to keep an eye out for artists coming to your city. If you’re into skateboarding, check out the skatepark scene. There is something for everyone.
Take the time to get to know your host city. Learn about its history, its architecture, its art, etc. Visiting and discovering new places allows you to develop a deeper appreciation for your host city and to make the most of your time there. This is what global learning is all about! So, get out there and let us know what your Top 5 are!
This post was contributed by Maria Garcia, who has spent her fall semester studying abroad with AIFS in Berlin, Germany.