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Berlin's role in two of the world’s largest wars has left lasting impressions on the city and how it functions. Sobering attractions such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Reichstag and the Jewish Museum are intriguing and haunting, serving as constant reminders of the city's tragic past.
There is an abundance of museums and galleries around and, for those expats who prefer to simply sit back and relax, sidewalk cafés, bistros, restaurants and coffee shops crowd the wide avenues and narrow side streets.
For kids, there is the Legoland Discovery Centre, two zoos and a multitude of other child-friendly attractions.
For those that prefer a more potent dose of Berlin's famous counter culture scene, the East Side Gallery displays the work of 118 graffiti artists from around the world on the remains of the Berlin Wall.
Regardless of what one ultimately decides to see and do, the Berlin Welcome Card offers discounts on most of Berlin's major attractions, as well as free travel on public transport within the city for one adult and up to three children aged six to 13. The Berlin Museum Pass is also a great bargain to bag; it's valid for three consecutive days and allows free entry to over 50 museums.
Expats can purchase both cards from tourist information centres or railway centres.
Recommended sightseeing in Berlin
This massive sandstone gate was once inaccessible and unusable, abandoned in the 'no man's land' behind the Berlin Wall. It has since been renovated and these days is a popular attraction and a testament to some of the beautiful architecture found in the German capital.
Checkpoint Charlie was the notorious border crossing marking the division between East and West Berlin for nearly 30 years. No longer functional, a museum has been constructed as a testament to the many brave attempts to go over, under or across the wall unnoticed. While the original metal shed is now on display elsewhere, the soldier's post can be visited, and tourists can be photographed under the border sign.
East Side Gallery
What is left of the infamous Berlin Wall has been transformed into the largest open-air alternative art gallery in the world. Graffiti artists have used the space to showcase their skill on the longest section of the wall, which stretches from Ostbahnhof station to the Oberbaumbrucke. The collection has since become a tourist attraction and is recognised as a memorial to freedom.
The Jewish Museum has gained international acclaim for its unique exhibition space and dynamic architecture. Visitors enter the Jewish Museum through the Berlin Museum to explore the exhibition rooms, which are clustered around the main axis void, designed to signify the invisible aspects of Jewish history.
Potsdamer Platz was originally one of the busiest junctions in Europe, but the damage done during World War II left the vibrant square in a state of decay. Now, years later, large-scale efforts have been made to revitalise the wasted space, and today the square once more boasts an eclectic mix of restaurants, cafés, cinemas, shopping centres and theatres. Expats, locals and tourists alike will find something to enjoy, whether it's the Sony Centre, the Imax Cinema or Berlin's popular Film Museum.
The Reichstag has been the seat of the German parliament since 1894 and is undoubtedly one of Berlin's most famous buildings. Damaged in the carnage of World War II, the structure was famously wrapped in white fabric in the late 1990s by the well-known conceptual artist, Christo.
Schloss Charlottenburg was built in the baroque style in 18th century Berlin. The structure is the largest palace in Berlin and was constructed as a summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Frederick III, the Prussian king.