• tips for backpackers in berlin

Why You Should Take a Walking Tour in Berlin

It might be a bit nerdy, but I love taking walking tours through European cities, like Madrid. I absolutely adore hearing how each one of them single-handedly ended WW2, or how they fought the most important battle of the war. I leave each city a believer in how strong the citizens are. Berlin was no different, except I had a walking tour that brought tears to my eyes. This is one example of why you should take a walking tour in Berlin. Hope you are ready for a history lesson!

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

Because I am from the U.S. and WW2 wasn’t fought in my hometown or state for that matter, it seems far away, and like it was a long time ago. Being in Berlin, it was a big reminder it wasn’t that long ago at all. Our guide was magnificent, although not German (most guides are Australian or English travelers trying to make a few bucks), she told various stories about how the wall came down and about lovers separated and reunited again. She told us clever ways Germans used to get past the wall. Some of the love stories were so tragic I cried (but keep in mind a good commercial can make me cry, it doesn’t take much).

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallHolocaust memorial

She took us to a parking lot and said, “This is where Hitler died”. Berlin thought he deserved a parking lot over his burial site, instead of a tombstone. There were no signs or any indication that this was where his life ended.

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallwhere hitler died, a parking lot

One part that really caught my attention was the square, Babelplatz where they burned 20,000 books by greats like Marx and Freud. Having been a huge fan of the book,  The Book Thief, it was very sad to see. Next to the space that commemorates the books burnt is a quote from well before the Holocaust occurred.

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

“That was only a prelude, there
where they burn books,
they burn in the end people.” -Heinrich Heine (1820)

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallthe space commemorates the 20,000 books burnt, to the right is the original quote

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallMother with her dead son’ a sculpture that is a memorial to the victims of fascism and militarism

On a softer note, she also showed us where Michael Jackson dangled his baby out the window. Yikes.

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

We wandered through the huge blocks at the Holocaust Memorial, which I was bothered to see kids sitting on and smoking weed.  She took us through areas in which old buildings have bullet holes from the war. We saw old checkpoints for the wall, and propaganda from Hitler that was used against the German people.

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallNazi propaganda- what they wanted the German’s to think life was like, painted on a wall

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wallon the ground, in front of the propaganda wall, a photo of what life was REALLY like

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

I consider myself a history fan, although my lack of long-term memory means that if you ask me a question I’ll likely not be able to remember what I was taught. These walking tours make it nearly impossible to forget because you’re seeing it with your own eyes and the stories get stuck in your head. I recommend being a nerd in each European city and letting someone guide you through a tour. They may be free, but remember to tip whatever you think that tour was worth!

walking tour, sightsee, tourist, berlin, germany, europe, babelplatz, holocaust, berlin wall

look at all those bullet holes!

 

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2016-10-13T10:13:29+00:00

About the Author:

Rachel Jones left a career in nursing to live on the beaches of Goa, India almost four years ago where she is now a travel writer. Her website gives advice on the 35+ countries she's been to but has become the go-to site for India travel, focusing on offbeat places & “glamorous travel”. Hippie in Heels has been featured in ELLE magazine, Tripadvisor, and Thomas Cook. Her blog is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world based on traffic. She also enjoys writing for BravoTV.

18 Comments

  1. […] Walking Tour, which I didn’t do. But I LOVE a free walking tour so it’s a shame I missed this one, seeing as though the history in Croatia is not so far in the […]

  2. Agness December 27, 2013 at 3:03 am - Reply

    Been to Berlin in December and I walked through the city for 3 days visiting different places. It was a great lesson of history and yes, it was absolutely worth going there.

    • Rachel December 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      agree! hope you had a great christmas as well agness!

  3. Stef December 27, 2013 at 9:33 am - Reply

    I totally love doing walking tours as they are affordable or even free and you get to know the history and some cultural backgrounds of the city and that’s great especially in cities with such important histories. I can also recommend the Alternative Tour in Berlin (http://bit.ly/18O1lRY) if you are into arts. It brings you to a lot of art centres within the centre of Berlin and I really loved these spots. I didn’t know them before even though I have spent quite a few days of my life in Berlin.

    • Rachel December 27, 2013 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      thanks for the advice, i’ll have to check that out next time!

  4. Budapest Bath House Szechenyi December 28, 2013 at 10:30 am - Reply

    […] of Budapest. Reason number 51346 why I love couchsurfing. If you don’t have a CS host, there are free walking tours available. From our tour, places worth seeing in Budapest (there are many more,  but we were on a time […]

  5. Shing December 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    A walking tour of Berlin sounds like a great idea for the very reason you described – it’s such an important and historical city that it helps to have someone explain the points in digestible, bite-size chunks. I’ve been to Berlin twice, and LOVE it more each time I go but I also get a niggling feeling at the back of my head that’s itching to know more about the ins and outs of its history pertaining to WWII – it looks like I’ve found my answer. Thanks :D

    • Rachel December 29, 2013 at 10:21 am - Reply

      OH great! with an interest in WWII you’ll definitely love the tour! It was my favorite part about Berlin

  6. […] not get a chance to do this in Dublin, but like most cities they offer pub crawls, bike tours, and free walking tours. Our hostel was full of information about these, as most hostels will […]

  7. […] guide was crap, but because they’re just wasn’t much to tell us about the city. While I usual love a walking tour, what was much more enjoyable in Krakow was wandering the well preserved buildings on our own. […]

  8. […] Free walking tour.  Unlike the boring one in Krakow, this walking tour showed me all I needed to know about Prague, plus some! They work with a pub-crawl, which I’m usually not up for because they’re often lame, but our couchsurfing host’s friend was a tour leader. She gave us a discount we couldn’t pass up. […]

  9. Pete January 15, 2014 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed reading your blog but please stop referring to yourself as a nerd for enjoying history – patronising

  10. […] The annual festival started in 2003, lasts 4-5 days, and has concerts, roller coasters and bumper cars too! There were 900,000 people there, and it’s FREE. A band called “Van Gogh” was the headliner. The concert was very hardcore heavy rock with insane mosh pits and guys ripping their shirts off. Everyone was so alternative, it really does remind me of Berlin. […]

  11. Francesca February 17, 2014 at 3:10 am - Reply

    Hey, Rachel – loved the stories and the pictures. I live in Berlin and didn’t know some of these details!
    Here’s another walking tour recommendation for the next time you’re in town. It’s centered on local food (but there’s lots of history and interesting stories along the way!) eat-the-world has four walking tours in different neighborhoods of Berlin. You can find more info here: http://bit.ly/1dPanje Would that be your cup of tea?

    • Rachel Jones February 17, 2014 at 3:50 am - Reply

      When I finally make it back I’ll have to check that out!

  12. Laura June 16, 2014 at 3:34 am - Reply

    I think I went on the exact same walking tour with school! I remember telling the guide that room filled with light for the lost books was bad for the environment and he should think about the polar bears not the books.. ha. I loved the Book Thief too! We are heading back to Berlin this weekend and I think we’ll go on the tour again, but this time not hassle the tour guide..

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