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Why Berlin was a Pleasant Surprise

I went to Berlin as part of a solo backpacking through Europe in August 2020, having never been before, I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much as Berlin has a reputation for being a really ugly modern city and being a place to take drugs which I am not into. Unfortunately, I was there at a not very good time as there was almost no nightlife due to the pandemic and it was at the exact same time as a massive anti-lockdown protest. However, Berlin is a very interesting destination and a fantastic spot for backpackers on a budget.

Loads of Museums

Berlin is a city with a huge choice of museums to visit and there are museums for literally anything. Some of the museums which I recommend are:

  • DDR Museum – right in the centre, gives you a good insight into life in the DDR, it’s also interactive as you can even experience what it was like to drive a Trabant.
  • Stasi Museum – located in the old Stasi headquarters, it has relics from Berlin’s communist past and details how the Stasi kept East Germans at bay.
  • German Spy Museum – a great insight in the world of spies that will show you everything from real-life spies to James Bond.

It’s the Historical Centre of the Cold War

Berlin was once separated by the Berlin Wall and was a crucial city for both sides in the Cold War. For 50 years, Berlin was city that was in two countries and it can be seen when you go to the old eastern parts which have preserved the Soviet architecture. Treptower Park also has an incredible Soviet WWII memorial and there is also a Soviet memorial 5 minutes from Brandenburger Tor.

Within the centre of the city, there is a place called Checkpoint Charlie, however this place is a tourists trap and not the original location of the Berlin Wall. However, it is a good place for a photo op and there is a MacDonald’s close by. If you want to see the remnants of the Berlin Wall, I recommend visiting the East Side Gallery which is an open-air street art gallery on what used to be the Berlin Wall. I recommend spending about two hours here just to look at the art as there are so many murals.

It’s Easy to Find Decent Food

While travelling, it can be hard to find affordable food, however in Berlin, you can easily get doner kebab or currywurst for not much more than five euros. Doner kebab is actually a very popular food in Berlin as it was brought in by Turkish immigrants who came to West Berlin. Currywurst and bratwurst are also easy to find at low prices and can be found everywhere.

Beer is Everywhere

It’s not hard to find a drink in this city as drinking in public is tolerated and you can buy alcohol at a Späti which are found everywhere. A beer from a Späti can be priced at around two euros and there was a place that near my hostel which had tables and chairs outside which was a good place to chill out with a beer.

I hope that this post inspires you to visit Berlin as it is one of the most interesting and unusual cities in Europe.

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