The Perfect Day in Berlin

For a perfect day in Berlin, delve into the city’s myriad historic sites. The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag are essential Berlin stops. If you don’t have time to tour the Jewish Museum, consider a visit to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial, a good place to contemplate the world past and present. Then you’re off to the nearby Potsdamer Platz. In between you can squeeze in a coffee or a beer in one of the cafes and bars scattered throughout Berlin’s central neighborhoods.

Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Occupying a prominent space between Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, this memorial (also known as the Holocaust-Mahnmal, or Holocaust Memorial) has almost 3,000 gray oblong pillars (stelae), arranged at varying heights, that form a kind of labyrinth intended to reference the disorientation felt by Europe’s hunted Jewish population. Designed by New York architect Peter Eisenman, it opened in 2005. The effectiveness of the labyrinth is arguable; you may see groups of teenagers playing tag and picnicking on and among the blocks. However, there’s no denying the power of the site’s underground information center, which relates some of the life stories of Holocaust victims. Several other smaller but related memorials are nearby, dedicated to homosexuals, gypsies, and victims of National Socialist euthanasia killings.
Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Napoléon and his armies marched through it; revolutionaries and Nazis gathered beneath it; the Berlin Wall ran right behind: It’s safe to say that Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate, completed in 1791, has pretty much seen it all. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, who drew inspiration from the entrance to the Acropolis in Athens, the gate is best approached via Unter den Linden, the tree-lined boulevard that runs between the gate and the former Royal Palace. You can combine a visit here with nearby sights such as the Reichstag, Tiergarten Park, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Since 2016, an impressive high-tech museum at the gate has offered a history of the city through the perspective of the iconic structure.
Mühlenstraße 3-100, 10243 Berlin, Germany
The most famous remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall gets its name from its location on the east side of the Spree River, as well as from its collection of political and satirical murals. Originally painted just after the wall fell, the murals were repainted (or in some cases painted over) in 2009 as a way of cleaning up the increasingly decayed originals and in recognition of the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall. Today, a fence partly protects the gallery to prevent vandalism of the murals, but people throng here nonetheless, especially in summer. A museum at the site tells the fascinating story of the structure through interactive displays, original newsreel footage, and filmed interviews with Berliners who lived on both sides.
Skalitzer Str. 51, 10997 Berlin, Germany
Named after wilderness activist John Muir, this trendy cocktail bar in Kreuzberg serves classic libations with a twist. The menu regularly changes, and the interior of the basement bar (lit by candles) is cozy and comfortable—great for cool evenings.
Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin, Germany
Everyone in Berlin has a favorite place to eat currywurst—tasty chopped pork sausage doused in a sauce made of curry powder and ketchup—but Curry 36 in Kreuzberg (along with Konnopke’s in Prenzlauer Berg) is one of the most consistently popular spots to procure this famous street-food snack. In fact, the place is so trendy that it sells Curry 36 merchandise in the shape of hoodies and even its own branded ketchup. Besides currywurst, the stall serves other sausage-y delights such as bockwurst and krakauers, as well as related meat products like burgers and meatballs. To be extra authentic, order your currywurst ohne darm (without skin) and enjoy it while standing at one of the outdoor tables.
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