The Best Things to Do in Berlin if You Like History

The Best Things to Do in Berlin if You Like History
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Learning about history through travel is one of my favorite parts about traveling.  Not only does travel open you up to incredible experiences, the opportunity to meet people from different walks of life, and expose you to different sites, tastes, etc; but travel is also an amazing learning opportunity.  And if you’re like me, and like to travel specifically to learn about world history, then Berlin should be high on your bucket list.

I spent four days in Berlin, and while I saw some incredible museums and learned so much about Berlin’s history, I only scratched the surface.  If you are interested in visiting Berlin to learn about the history of the city, I’m going to tell you which museums to visit, which to avoid, and give you a route around the city to optimize your time.  Below you’ll find the best things to do in Berlin if you like history!  (Like me).

 

The Best Things to Do in Berlin if You Like History

 


If you’re traveling to Berlin, don’t miss:  A Complete Guide to Visiting Berlin


 

Brief History of Berlin

Berlin is Germany’s capital city and the site of many atrocities throughout history.  Notably, Berlin is where Hitler’s headquarters were during WWII; and where Hitler committed suicide.  Following WWII, Berlin couldn’t seem to escape conflict.

Once WWII ended Berlin was split in two – East vs West.  The Soviet Union took East Berlin and the French, Americans, and English split West Berlin; East Berlin was a communist country and West Berlin was free.  Because of clashes between the two states, the Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 to keep easterners from fleeing to the west.  The wall was finally torn down in 1989, and Berlin was reunited.

 

The Best Walking Tour in Berlin (for History Purposes)

One of the best things I did when traveling through Berlin, was participating in the free walking tour put on by Original Berlin Tours.  The tour lasted around four hours and we walked all over Berlin seeing and learning about historic sites along the way.  This was the single best things that I did in terms of learning about Berlin’s history.

I highly recommend participating in this tour on your first day in Berlin.  This way you can get a basic understanding of the city’s history, as well as see some historic sites, and get oriented to Berlin.

 

CHECK OUT MORE BERLIN HISTORY TOURS HERE

 

The Best Museums & Sites to Visit in Berlin (for History Purposes)

East Side Gallery

Below you’ll find my favorite museums to visit if you want to learn about WWII and the history of the Berlin Wall.  The only museum I visited that I wouldn’t recommend was The Wall.  There were other great, free museums about the history of the Berlin Wall; you don’t need to pay for this one.

 

BEBELPLATZ

Bebelplatz is the site of the Nazi book burning ceremony on May 10, 1933.  The book burning ceremony was initiated and hosted by the nationalist German Student Association.  Today there is a plaque and an empty underground library at the site as a sign of remembrance.

 

BERLIN STORY BUNKER

The Berlin Bunker Story museum was one of my top two favorite museums in Berlin.  This museum tells the story of Hitler from birth until death, with the goal of dispelling any rumors circulating about him.  You also learn so much about WWII and all of the atrocities that Hitler committed and carried out through his life.

This museum costs €‎12 and you should expect to spend 2-3 hours.

 

BRANDENBURG GATE

Brandenburg Gate is a place where many historic events took place throughout Germany’s history.  Today the gate is not only a symbol of the tumultuous past of Germany and Europe, but it’s also a sign of hope, unity, and peace for Europe.

 

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE

Checkpoint Charlie (or checkpoint “C”) is the most well-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War.  The most well-known event that happened at this checkpoint was in 1961 when a stand-off between American and Soviet (loaded) tanks occurred due to a dispute over the free movement of Allied personnel.

 

DDR MUSEUM

The DDR Museum is a hands on museum of the life of East Berliners, or those living in the communist part of Berlin.  This is the 11th most visited museum in Berlin and it was the only museum I visited that had a line.  You can purchase tickets ahead of time (which I suggest), and entry is €‎13.50.  You should expect to spend around two hours here.

 

EAST SIDE GALLERY

The East Side Gallery is a free, outdoor museum, showcasing remnants of the Berlin Wall.  Artists were commissioned to graffiti the wall, so it’s a colorful reminder of Berlin’s dark past.  This is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall.

 

MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a powerful, outdoor monument dedicated to all of the Jews who lost their lives because of the Holocaust.  Nobody knows the exact meaning of the monument, and there are tons of different interpretations of what it represents.

 

TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR

The Topography of Terror museum was one of my top two favorite museums in Berlin.  This museum is dedicated to the story of WWII and the museum is in an old building that the Nazis occupied from 1933-1945 carrying out persecution and terror.  The museum serves as a reminder of the terror of the war and remembers those responsible and those that fell victim.

Entrance to the Topography of Terror is free, and you can expect to spend about 2-3 hours here.

 

TRANENPALAST

The Tränenpalast is a former border crossing between East and West Berlin and it’s now been turned into a museum.  This museum walks you through life between East and West Berlin, the Cold War, and the reunification of Berlin once the wall fell.

Entrance to the museum is free, and you can expect to spend about one hour here.

 

 

Proposed Itinerary for Visiting Berlin

Below you’ll find a proposed itinerary for visiting Berlin and learning about the history of the museum.  This itinerary is not only based on where each museum is located, but also what makes sense in terms of the history timeline in Berlin.

 

DAY 1

  • Free walking tour with Original Berlin Tours (if you do this tour, you will pass Bebelplatz, Checkpoint Charlie, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and Brandenburg Gate and won’t need to go back)

 

DAY 2

  • Checkpoint Charlie (if you did not participate in the walking tour)
  • Stop for coffee at Die Espressonisten
  • Berlin Bunker Story
  • Stop for curry wurst at Wurstbar
  • Topography of Terror & Berlin Wall
  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (if you did not participate in the walking tour)
  • Brandenburg Gate (if you did not participate in the walking tour)

 

DAY 3

  • Tranenpalast
  • Drinks on Schoffbauerdamm Street
  • Bebelplatz (if you did not participate in the walking tour)
  • DDR Museum
  • East Side Gallery

 


For a more visual look at Berlin, and more ideas on what to see and do, make sure to check out my Instagram page/highlight reel and search “ppingermany” or look for my “Germany” highlight


 

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Disclosure:  This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to purchase through my link, at no cost to you.

 


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Kylee is a NICU nurse passionate about making travel affordable and accessible to nurses. Inspiring nurses to travel both near and far, Kylee began Passports and Preemies in 2017 while volunteering in Skopje, North Macedonia as a way to reach nurses and advocate for the prevention of nurse burnout by traveling. Kylee has been a NICU nurse for 9 years and a travel nurse for 7 years. Since starting her career in travel nursing, she’s worked in six different states, 10 different hospitals, volunteered as a nurse in North Macedonia, worked as a nurse in Saudi Arabia, and has traveled to 45+ countries. Her favorite travel nurse assignment was in Seattle and her favorite destination is Georgia (the country). Kylee is the original creator of the “8 Day Vacay” – a vacation geared towards nurses who aim to take advantage of the potentially 8 days off between work weeks with no need to use PTO.

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