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October 12, 2021

Why is Berlin so popular?

Plenty of European cities have history, art and nightlife. So why is Berlin so popular? Pull up a seat and let's talk about what makes Berlin unique.

Top things to do in Berlin tips from locals via @insidetravellab

Why is Berlin so popular?

Berlin. The world seems to love you but I’m not quite sure why. I went, once, and the two of us had a pretty good time. Your Christmas Markets glittered, your Currywurst tickled me pink and the history from your Wall (and the years that surrounded it) seeped deep into my soul. I was tired, almost broken. Searching for missing pieces and finding them in your winter heavy rain.

But I can’t help but notice that others talk about you in a very different way.

“I love Berlin,” they gush whenever I mention your name. “It’s such an exciting city.”

In Toronto, people told me “We want Toronto to be like Berlin. A place people can’t wait to go to.”

And then I understood. Simply put. Berlin is cool. 

So why is Berlin so popular? Here's what locals, both German and not, had to say. Their collection of unique things to do in Berlin, reasons why they find Berlin so special. 

What makes Berlin unique? Freedom

Why is Berlin so popular? For its history and the sense of freedom.

That doesn't seem quite right, at first, for a city steeped in the history of oppression and ultimate cruelty. Yet that's what the people who live here say. 

To understand, we need to remember firstly that the World Wars and Cold War are not the only history linked to this land. And second, it's precisely because that history was so bad that people cherish freedom so much now. 

As Nuremberg has found its soul with a focus on human rights, so Berlin pursues freedom, design and self-expression with the almost tangible knowledge of just how precious it is. 

5 Reasons Berlin is so popular

Germany Berlin Stalinallee stonework

Stonework from Stalin...

1) History

Berlin has been at the centre of, arguably, the three biggest conflicts of the 20th century and the evidence is everywhere. 

From the fragments of the Berlin Wall to the remnants of Allied Bombs, you can reach out and touch evidence for everything you studied at school.

Plenty of cities have statues of kings on horseback, and Berlin does too, along with beautiful, grand museums. But when it comes to what makes Berlin unique... It's standing on the ground of where events took place.

Germany - Berlin - Fragments of Berlin wall and plaque on street level

The former Berlin wall...

2) Remembrance

The second thing that makes Berlin so special is the way the city tackles the issue of remembrance. Plenty of countries have atrocities in their past. But they're often hushed into the sidelines in favour of pomp and glory. 

Not so Berlin. 

Museums that catalogue the rise of the Third Reich in the Gestapo Headquarters, for example, are unflinching and free to enter. 

The Memorial to Jews Murdered in Europe wits within walking distance of the German government headquarters at the Reichstag. 

Heck, even the Reichstag itself has a glass dome to symbolise the transparency required by a government towards its people. 

Museums and memorials are free to enter, there is no profit to be made.

TV Tower Berlin - Germany

3) Reinvention

Why is Berlin so popular? She isn't stuck in her past.

She remembers and reflects but does not live there forever. In spite of what I've written so far, Berlin is not defined by historic monuments and memorials. 

Ambitious art, design and music projects take place all year, with creatives actively welcomed through flexible international visa arrangements. 

There's a pulse, a vibe, an energy here and all eyes are on the future, without forgetting the past. It's Berlin cool.

Germany - Berliner Dom - for 24 Hour Berlin Itinerary

The famous Berliner Dom and TV Tower. Two reasons to visit Berlin.

4) Some Cosy European Culture

For all that's already been said, Berlin also has some of the highlights of many a European city. 

You'll find rich renaissance and baroque architecture brimming with sculptures, paintings and curious ceramic urns. 

Snuggle up with friends at cosy Christmas markets, amid mulled wine, freshly scented wooden ornaments and candy canes. 

And in the summer? Head to an outdoor festival with tankards of beer...

Shop at designer shops, boutique shops, international shops and quirky shops.

And taste food from everywhere in the world. 

Germany - Berlin - one day in Berlin itinerary

5) A space to be you

Berlin is big enough and varied enough to appeal to almost everyone. I mean, seriously appeal to almost everyone, rather than in that commercial, cheesy advert kind of a way. 

Want to go clubbing all day and night? Done. Want to painstakingly delve into the past? Museums aplenty. Want to wander from gallery to gallery throughout the day or take a street food tour or feast your eyes on street art?

Done, done and done.

Berlin caters for luxury travellers and budget travellers, with easy public transport and a whole lot of people who can make life easy by speaking the English language. 

She packs a serious punch in terms of standing on the world stage in terms of diplomacy and art. And in clubbing all day and all night. 

Berlin Wall Art East Side Gallery

So I'm curious to know. What makes Berlin so special for you?


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Germany


  • Sometimes it takes more than one visit to appreciate a city. i didnt like Paris my first time. I’ve been to Berlin once – the history of this city always fascinates me and the outdoor beer garden festivals were filled with such great vibe and friendly people. But I still don’t feel ‘in love’ with Berlin. I wish I did. i promised myself i’d return because I really think it deserves a second chance. I know there is more to their culture than beer and a brick wall. I’m determined to find it! Sometimes places need a second chance :)

  • Berlin left me in a weird mood. I was there for a conference and in the off time we explored Berlin – to begin with: at Alexander’s platz they had this big gathering of the right wing party, our hotel was in the Eastern part of Berlin left a depressing impact on me. Our hotel was probably the mood lifter (nHow Hotel, check my Blog)!
    The last day my colleague and me took up Berlin by foot from the Museum Island on to Brandenburger Tor, Holocaust memorial (at night! leaves me with a cold feeling down my spine even today) and then came the more positive perspective of Berlin with the Potsdammer Platz and the Sony center, where we had dinner with baked potatoes and ribs, the portions where far too big, really! We couldn’t finish it! Have been putting off the write up, but you inspired me now!

    There may be brighter sides to Berlin, but to me it was more depressing and yet impressing!

  • Kreuzberg: soak in the Turkish market, an outside fiesta

    Prenzlauerberg: hip hip hip

    Art: it’s everywhere!!!Beer: cheap, buy it at one of the many Spaetis (a 24 hour or late night kiosk) who carry the best selections

    Couchsurfing: join one of the many weekly meet ups

    Best way to quickly soak up the tourist stuff: Sandemann’s free walking tour

    Street Art free walking tours: learn about graffiti culture and take some dope photos

    Abi, I know you have already gone to Berlin by now but if you ever need a cheerleader for the city, please contact me. The energy of Berlin is free, contagious, wild, artistic, sharing, daring, hip, sophisticated.

    Best city in Germany. Period.

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