Tis the season to be jolly, but that also means tis the season to be cold. And in Germany, that can mean very cold. And wet. Possibly snowy. But the seasonal conditions should not put you off visiting the German capital. This is a wonderful time to visit Berlin. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know you’ll never hear me say its a bad time, but with a range of Christmas markets running right up until the end of December and a free New Years Eve festival on top of all the usual attractions…well, why wouldn’t you?
Personally, I find the best way to deal with the cold is to dress for it ( think thermal base layers and a decent technical parka) and to plan to get out of it fairly regularly. With that in mind, here are five suggestions for places to visit when you’re looking for someplace interesting to get indoors in Berlin.
The DDR Museum.
Visiting the DDR Museum is a glimpse into a lost world. Visitors are immersed in everyday life in the DDR and educated in the reality of life under Socialism. The museum exhibits are many and varied and interaction is encouraged. This makes it a great option if you are visiting with a mixed age range or mixed levels of interest. Not everyone wants to take in a vast amount of information, perhaps, but who wouldn’t have fun trying their hand at driving a Trabi or exploring a five-room reconstruction of a typical, tower block East Berlin home?
In stark contrast to the homeliness of some exhibits, you’ll also find here a reconstructed prison cell and interrogation room. For me , the contrast is what makes this museum so interesting. The remains of the Berlin Wall are often the first thing visitors think of when it comes to the divided past of the city, but this look into the everyday life of the Berliners of the past is equally significant and thought-provoking.
The Spy Museum
I can’t think of a more apt location for a museum devoted to espionage than Potsdam Platz in Berlin. The exhibition transcends the history of its location though, this museum is loaded with information about the history of spying and the means employed by those involved…which range from devious to downright bizarre. The comprehensive exhibition is very information heavy (so much so that we have visited twice) but also has a range of interactive activities. The laser maze challenge and quirky exhibits made this place a hit with the kids, even if some of the content was a bit academic for them.
Menschen Museum a.k.a Body Worlds
The Menschen Museum is dedicated to allowing the visitor to explore every aspect of the human body. The museum is based upon the work of Dr Gunter von Hagen and his ‘plastination’ technique. I had reservations about visiting this one, but I was wrong. It’s an amazing exhibition and all were intrigued, even my six-year-old who took it all in with a sense of fascination and curiosity. Enter with an open mind and be prepared to see yourself in a different light when you leave. Most of the information is in German, but you can pick up the audio guide in English.
I have blogged about this place previously, but feel it merits a mention here. This is a great option if you want to get indoors, but don’t want to tumble into another activity or museum. It has a very nice and reasonably priced café, a gift shop selling Ritter chocolate and merchandise and a small information area that gives you the low down on how Chocolate goes from bean to bar, if your interested in the process as well as the end result. I’m more a ‘end result’ sort of girl but if you’re in there you might as well take a look. If you love chocolate as much as we do, don’t miss the opportunity to make your own chocolate bar. Do it on the way in and relax upstairs in the café while its being made for you. Perfect little break!
The Hackesche Hof
Ok…cheating a little bit with this one, it isn’t technically indoors. And again, a place I’ve blogged about before. BUT, it is a series of courtyards and tunnels and pretty sheltered, still an option for getting out of the worst of the weather. So let me have this one, hey? Now home to cafes, shops, a theatre and a whole lot of history, this is a little piece of Berlin that is worth exploring. The streets around the Hof are teeming with shops, cafes and bars.
If the history of the area interests you, look out for the Stolpersteine around the entrance areas. The Grosse Hamburger Str. Jewish Cemetery is within walking distance.
So that’s my five, in no particular order. But, I can’t resist throwing in a number six…well, it is Christmas. A Christmas Bonus, if you will. If you are in Berlin and really feel like doing something different and shaking off the German winter, consider spending the day at Tropical Islands. Lets be honest, this is not the place to go if you are seeking a cultural or learning experience but it is great fun and a place where you can leave Winter at the door. It is Summer year-round in here.
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have read this little blog of mine, have taken the time to comment, to encourage. It means so much to me and I want to wish each and every one of you a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2018.
Until next year,