48 Hours In Berlin

Above: Mauerpark and part of the Berlin Wall (Photo: Susan Steudtemann/visitBerlin)
Above: Mauerpark and part of the Berlin Wall (Photo: Susan Steudtemann/visitBerlin)

Berlin’s reputation is as dichotomous as the divisions of east and west into which it was once physically divided. Shaped by both the creative decadence of the Weimar Republic and the looming oppression of the Berlin Wall, today the city straddles the line between party capital and symbolic cenotaph of the victims of its sobering history.

What to do

Get your bearings with Original Berlin Walks’ “Discover Berlin” tour, taking in the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate and the moving Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Get birds’ eye views by preregistering for a rooftop tour of the Reichstag, or dig deeper with a subterranean tour of the city’s bomb shelters with Berliner Unterwelten.

For a closer look at the Berlin Wall, visit the evocatively named Topography of Terror, built on the site of former SS and Gestapo headquarters. See what the wall looked like in the last century, complete with border fortifications, at the Berlin Wall Memorial. And don’t miss the East Side Gallery, a 1.3 km-long section of wall adorned with paintings by more than 100 artists from around the world.

Finally, the cheeky Currywurst Museum, offering “sniffing stations,” a sausage sofa, and obscure facts about this German dish, is sure to curry favour (ahem) with sausage aficionados.

Where to eat and drink

Whether you come for the beef or the buzz, you’ll find both in ample measure at the Grill Royal, the see-and-be-seen steakhouse by the Spree River. Volt offers a welcome jolt to German cuisine, with fresh seasonal dishes served up in a former power substation. Kiss fresh breath good-bye at Knofel, where nearly everything—including the beer—is laced with garlic.

For high-octane cocktails, head to Tausend, sequestered behind an unmarked door under a bridge…but beware the kick of the Hot Mexican Mule. Still thirsty? Lebensstern, above Café Einstein, pours a staggering variety of rum and gin.

Where to shop

Berlin’s best-known department stores are Galeries Lafayette and Kaufhaus des Westens, dubbed “KaDeWe.” For Berlin-based wares, check out the local designers along Oderberger Strasse.

If you’re after kitschy keepsakes, you’ll love Ampelmann Berlin, devoted to the iconic “green man” that illuminates eastern Berlin’s crosswalk signs. The little dude’s unmistakable silhouette, with his signature chapeau, emblazons mugs, magnets, messenger bags, T-shirts, and more.

Where to stay

Andel’s Hotel Berlin features chic, modern and affordable accommodations, and its sleek Sky Bar on the 14th floor proffers fantastic views over the city.

If you’re feeling flush, consider the legendary Hotel Adlon Kempinski, which boasts an enviable location overlooking the Brandenburg Gate.

For more information on Berlin visit: www.visitberlin.de

Follow Amy Laughinghouse on Twitter at @A_Laughinghouse or visit her website: www.amylaughinghouse.com.

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Amy Laughinghouse

From swimming with sharks in French Polynesia to walking with lions in Mauritius, London-based travel writer Amy Laughinghouse has attempted to overcome her fears (and basic common sense) through her adventures in 30 countries. Her articles have appeared in Qantas Airlines’ in-flight magazine, The Toronto Globe & Mail, the Irish Times, and the Boston Globe. You can find Amy at www.amylaughinghouse.com and on Twitter @A_Laughinghouse.

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