The capital of Germany and one of Europe’s most famous cities, Berlin has much to offer the traveller – from the museums and galleries, to the cathedrals, the Berlin Wall and the remnants of World War II.
After World War II and until 1989, the city was separated into East and West Berlin, with the Berlin Wall down the centre. The wall was knocked down in 1990 after the reunification of the country, but today you can still see the ground remnants as you drive through the city, and there is a small section of the wall still standing that you can visit. You will also find pieces of the wall for sale in all the tourist shops for a small fee – well worth the price to take a little bit of history home with you.
Taking a bus tour around the city is a great way to explore the best sights, including the TV tower at Alexanderplatz in Mitte, the second highest construction in the European Union which was built in 1969; the Brandenburg Gate - one of Berlin’s most symbolic attractions as the main entrance to the city which was actually surrounded by the wall for 30 years in “no man’s land”; and the Reichstag, the seat of German parliament which was severely damaged and disused for many years around the war, but which has been redeveloped to now include a dome where you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the Berlin cityscape. If you can, buy your tickets to the Reichstag before you go as the lines for tickets can be extremely long (even in winter).
Everywhere you go in Berlin, you are likely to see remnants of World War II, including the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church which has a large hole in its top spire after being blown off during an air raid; and the Berlin Cathedral, also heavily damaged in the war.
To learn more about the Berlin Wall and its effect on the country, Checkpoint Charlie is another must visit as the former crossing point between the West and the Communist East. You can take your photo next to the “You are leaving the American sector” sign and guards still stand at the checkpoint – though purely for tourist purposes. There is also a Checkpoint Charlie museum where you can read up and see images of the history of the wall.
Hamburg is a port city, situated by the Elbe River and North Sea, and has often been referred to as Germany's Gateway to the World as the country's biggest port and the second-busiest in all of Europe. Germany’s second largest city, Hamburg is filled with parks and estates, canals and beautiful architecture.
The port is of course one of the city’s best features and includes a cruise ship terminal, the historic 'Speicherstadt' warehouse district, landing bridges and modern container port. You can take a boat tour through the harbor and canals, visit one of the museum ships, walk through the fish markets every Saturday or simply admire the views.
If you love shopping, Hamburg is one of Europe’s favourite shopping destinations with an abundance of malls, boutiques and markets all across the city. You will find you can buy everything from high-street fashion to technical products, food and souvenirs.
Other attractions you should include in your itinerary are Hamburg City Hall, the Blankenese District along the Elbe River, St. Michaelis with its large steeple and viewing tower, the red light district of Reeperbahn, the Synagogue which is one of only a few remaining after World War II, and the majestic St Nikolai church.