The top things to see in Berlin when you only have a day!
The second stop on our Viking Scandinavian Cruise was Berlin, Germany. Wee took a 3 hour train ride from the cruise port in Rostock to Berlin. The tour was one of the Viking included tours (there was no extra cost). Upon arriving in Berlin we took a motor coach ride through the city, driving past some of the more famous buildings including the Reichstag, the heart of Germany’s government. If you are not with a tour I recommend starting at the Reichstag and using Rick Steve’s Berlin City Walking tour that starts in front of the Reichstag and then continues to the Brandenburg Gate.
Our next stop was the Brandenburg Gate which is one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. It is the former border of East and West Germany. It is the last remaining survivor of the original 14 gates that were part of Berlin’s city wall. The Goddess of Peace drives the chariot of horses that sits atop the gate. The gate has become the symbol of Berlin since the Cold War and Berlin’s reunification. Between 1961-1989 the gate was stranded in no-man’s land between East and West Germany. The landmark was off limits to both sides.
We then headed over near Checkpoint Charlie where the bus dropped us off and we were free to wander the city on our own for the rest of the afternoon. Checkpoint Charlie was something I wanted to see since I have a photo of my dad visiting Germany in the early 70’s and he is standing at the original Checkpoint Charlie with a machine gun pointing at him!
Checkpoint Charlie was where Westerners crossed over into East Berlin during the Cold War. The original checkpoint is long gone but you can pay a few dollars to have your photo taken in front of this reconstructed guard station.
Sections of the wall still remain in the city. You can visit the Berlin Wall Memorial and also the Topography of Terror to learn more about the story and history of the wall.
The Berlin Wall was originally 96 miles long and encircled West Berlin. The wall stands 12 feet tall and is made of concrete and rebar and topped with barbed wire. I wish we had had more time to spend in this area but we enjoyed reading the displays at the Topography of Terror which is right next to a stretch of the Berlin Wall which was once the nerve center for the Gestapo and the SS. Rick Steve’s walking tour will also take you to the “Death Strip”, the Documentation Center and other historic sites connected with WWII history in Berlin.
You can also follow the path of the original wall by following the bricks in the ground that have replaced the wall.
Be sure and enjoy a pretzel during the day while in Berlin. You will find street vendors in various places throughout the city.
We enjoyed walking the streets of Berlin. The city is an interesting collection of architecture. Much of the city was bombed in the war but there are still many beautiful old buildings left to enjoy. Berlin is home to several wonderful museums. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit Museum Island.
We ended our quick tour of Berlin in Gendarmenmarkt Square, in front of the beautiful Berlin Concert house where we were to meet our bus to take us back to the train station for our ride back to the ship.
The concert house sits in a square with two beautiful twin churches. The square is surrounded by lots of sidewalk cafes and ice cream shops so stop for a treat. We had a fun time watching the bubble man and even bought a bubble wand!
We were only able to hit the highlights of Berlin, but we got a taste of the city. And we look forward to exploring it again someday.
Check out the other stops on our Scandinavian Cruise:
Next stop: Alborg, Denmark