Sam, our Hotel Reservations Coordinator, is a fluent German speaker and regularly visits Germany both for work and leisure. Here, he explains why the capital, Berlin, is his favourite destination:
Why I love Berlin…
When you visit Berlin, you get three cities for the price of one: the old communist East Berlin around Alexanderplatz’s iconic Fernsehturm, former allied West Berlin and the new 21st century Berlin which originally filled in the gaps left by the wall and is now spreading like wildfire across the formerly divided city.
I fell in love with Berlin on a school history trip in 2005 and it’s been my favourite city ever since.
I generally visit at least once a year to visit friends and to see my adopted German football team: Hertha Berlin.
A visit to Berlin offers so many opportunities to experience its past first hand. Whether you’re climbing the Reichstag Dome or experiencing a Cold War nuclear bunker first hand at The Story of Berlin, you really do have the chance to live its history.
The phenomenal food
Berlin has a surprisingly diverse culinary scene with Turkish, Indian, Chinese and even Vietnamese restaurants now as common as the stereotypical German schnitzel/sauerkraut eateries. That being said, there’s nothing better than soaking up the traditional atmosphere in the Hofbrauhaus as you tuck into a pork knuckle, or Bratwurst!
Great accommodation options
Thankfully I also get the chance to see lots of wonderful hotels and hostels when I visit which allows me to choose the perfect places to send our groups.
My top picks for those travelling to Berlin would be:
• A&O Berlin Hauptbahnhof - an affordable and modern hostel located on a quiet street near to the main station
• Aletto Ku’damm – comfortable group hotel accommodation ideally situated next to Zoologischer Garten
• 2A Hostel – serves lovely home cooked food in the up and coming Neukölln area and always receives rave reviews
Endless activity options
There’s something in Berlin to suit all tastes. As a football fan I’d recommend a visit to the Olympiastadion for a tour, or even a Hertha BSC game if visiting at the right time. Tickets are easy to secure for all home games except against Bayern München and Borrusia Dortmund. This was also the site of Hitler’s infamous 1936 Olympics and despite renovations for the 2006 World Cup, plenty of the original architecture remains.
Unter den Linden and the Museuminsel are two of my favourite areas of Berlin to explore on foot. Unter den Linden has numerous high-end car showrooms and technology shops which showcase the next best thing before it’s released. The soon-to-be-completed U5 underground line will make sure that this area is well connected to both Alexanderplatz and the Hauptbahnhof.
Museuminsel offers five world-class museums showcasing everything from Egyptian mummies to 19th century portraiture. There will be a sixth addition to the list when the Humbolt Forum opens in the newly rebuilt Berliner Schloss in 2019 – a project that promises to restore the architectural unity and integrity of Berlin’s historic centre.
A visit to Germany’s capital wouldn’t be complete without seeing the popular tourist sites either. The Brandenburg Gate, the Bundestag (Reichstag) and the TV Tower are always high on anybody’s to-do list and are great opportunities for group photos.
My top tip for visitors to Berlin…
Cash is still king! Although the use of credit and debit cards is on the increase, it’s still wise to have cash to hand.