Berlin is divided into several districts, all of which offer a slightly different experience.
Mitte is the most central area of Berlin, and is located in what was once East Germany. Here you’ll find a number of sights and attractions within a relatively small area. On my first trip to Berlin I stayed in Mitte, which was an okay experience. There are plenty of bars and restuarants, although these tend to cater for tourists, and the atmosphere can be a little sterile in the evenings. It’s best to stay in one of the other areas of the city.
On my previous three trips to Berlin I’ve stayed in the Friedrichschain district. It’s a lively part of the city with numerous reasonably priced bars, cafes and restaurants, as well as good transport connections (although in Berlin, that goes without saying). The U-Inn berlin hostel is an excellent place to stay, and is only a few minutes walk from the U Samariterstraße U-bahn station and the Frankfurter Allee S-bahn station.
From the hostel, it’s a 5-10 minute walk to Simon-Dach-Straße, one of the liveliest streets in Berlin. This street, and those surrounding, is the place to go for drinks and food in the evening. There are also numerous places to eat on Frankfurter Allee.
This is the only other district that I’ve stayed in. Plenty of restuarants on the main streets, and the side streets offer some fantastic smaller pubs.
I’ve visited quite a few of the main sights and attractions in Berlin
German Bundestag – This should be one of the first stops. It’s free, informative, and will give you a decent overview of the city as you ascend the spiral dome. Book online in advance. Passport/ID required.
DDR museum – a glimpse into life in the former DDR
Topography of terror – excellent museum relating to the Nazi regime
Stasi museum – museum for the secret state police
Stasi prison – prison where the Stasi would take those who spoke or acted against the East German regime
German Technology Museum – an excellent account of German engineering over the years. A few hours here just wasn’t enough
German-Russia War Museum – Museum funded by both Germany and Russia. It’s a bit of trek from the centre, but the museum is in the building where the surrender of Nazi Germany was signed.
East Side Gallery – a collection of murials of the Berlin wall.
Templehof airport – Once famous for the Berlin airlift during the cold war, the airport has since closed, although tours of the terminal building are now possible. The runway and surrouding area has been turned into a park.
I’ve marked the Berlin wall and some of the Cold War sights on this map.
Not had a chance to do any day trips from Berlin, although Potsdam and the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum in Oranienburg are high on my list.