I’ve seen tons of blog posts online arguing that either Munich or Berlin is the superior city, one far more tourist worthy than the other. My opinion? You need to see both. Now, I know, a lot of travellers don’t have unlimited time to go everywhere they want on a trip, but both of these cities are equally amazing in their own rights and deserve your time. And I’ll tell you why…
History, history, history. It is all here. From the Berlin Wall to Checkpoint Charlie to the Reichstag to the Brandenburg Gate…history is around every corner.
Some key places to visit:
Start your wanderings at the Reichstag, a historical building constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933. Head straight up to the large glass dome at the top, which provides amazing 360-degree views of the surrounding Berlin cityscape.
The Holocaust Memorial is right around the corner and definitely deserves a look. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, and engineer Buro Happold, it consists of a 19,000 m2 site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. I could give a million structural details, but really you just need to go and see it and be in it.
Next, head towards and through the Brandenburg Gate leading onto the Unter den Linden. Throughout it’s existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events and is today considered a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany. Architecturally beautiful.
Take a turn south, and head down to Potsdam Square and Checkpoint Charlie. Once a popular Berlin Wall crossing point during the Cold War, this place is now tourist heaven- and I accept it for that! Get your picture taken with the “guards”, go to the museum, or buy endless amounts of Checkpoint Charlie tack.
For an artsy, fun finish to your trip, head over to the East Side Gallery, for the 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall that has turned into an international memorial for freedom. Admire the art as you stroll along.
The history aspect of Berlin is definitely it’s key selling point. While Munich might be great for it’s parks, squares and beer halls, it’s no Berlin. One of the reasons why you have to visit both.
Gardens, museums, beer halls and picturesque market squares – welcome to Munich. While Berlin has it’s fair share of history, it lacks in actual natural beauty. This is where Munich takes over.
Start at the beautiful Marienplatz, Munich’s main square, and admire the churches, buildings, and landmarks including the Glockenspiel in the new town hall, over 100 years old. Come at 11am or 12 to hear the Glockenspiel chime and watch the 32 life-sized figures reenact historical Bavarian events.
For a greener view, head to the English Garden, Munich’s largest park. Rent a paddle boat, stroll along the wooded paths, or surf on the currents of the waterway called Eisbach. Yes, you heard that right.
When you’re done relaxing and wandering the gardens and city squares, head over to one of the famous beer gardens – my suggestion is the world famous Hofbrauhaus which does not disappoint. Entertainment happening all evening by way of music and performances, alongside some amazing food.
So, while Munich might not have the history of Berlin, it definitely has it’s own charm. And I will say the locals are friendlier.
So do both!
The best part of this? These cities are only a few hours apart! So why not? Flixbus will get you from one to the other for only €19 while a direct flight will put you back €78. I use GoEuro to figure out the best route, mode of transportation and costs available.
If you have extra time, I’d suggest making a road trip out of it and detouring to Frankfurt, Cologne and Dusseldorf…but I think that’s an entirely new blog post!
Enjoy your travels and let me know what you think. Do you prefer one city over the other?