GUEST POST OVERVIEW: I spent a week in Germany in 2006, but never managed to make it to Berlin. In this week’s guest post, Aleix tells me – and all of you – why it shouldn’t be missed again.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin’s Wasserturm Prenzlauer Berg — photography by Patrick Wilken —

It’s a city without the architectural beauty of Barcelona, the weather of the Balearic Islands, the history of Rome or the romance and charm of Paris… so why is Berlin one of the best cities in Europe?

Choosing a travelling destination is a wonderful problem. Weather, history, culture, beauty, gastronomy… these are just some of the criteria that one weighs up before deciding on their next destination and most of the time you need to tick a few of these boxes in order to feel like you won’t get bored for a single second and that your stay will be as pleasurable as possible.

(water tower photography by Patrick Wilken)

However, when it comes to Berlin, the weather isn’t great, the history is mostly contemporary, German culture while great, doesn’t have the history of Italian or Spanish, German food is excellent but doesn’t have the reputation of its European counterparts… so why exactly is the city of Berlin such an amazing place to be?

Why is it that despite the sun not shining through the windows of Berlin apartments most of the year it draws so many holidaymakers and travelers in?


The Intangible Beauty of Berlin

Pergamon Museum in Berlin
Pergamon Museum in Berlin

The word intangible is a great word to describe Berlin. The grey skies and the polarized landscapes of a city that was once two divided by a wall of cement, don’t make great postcards but certainly make for a great city.

When it comes to history, Berlin has had more going on in the last 10 decades than many European cities in the last 10 centuries. The city has many World War (1st and 2nd) and Cold War museums, from the time when Germany was divided in two and so was the city of Berlin, dominated by the capitalist west and the communist east.

(Pergamom Museum photo courtesy of

The Stasi Museum, the Berlin Wall Museum and the old East Berlin prison of Hohenschönhausen are particularly interesting and worth a visit, perhaps even more so than those on the Museumsinsel, although the Pergamon Museum is a must too, even if it’s to see the wonders of the ancient world.


Berlin’s Charm is on its Streets

However, Berlin’s main charm is on its streets, in its lifestyle, in its cafés and in its clubs. Anyone who walks around the Friedrichshain district, the old squatters district, can enjoy a different kind of atmosphere but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what. If you enter any of the cafés, the relaxed atmosphere differs a lot from the noisy cafés in southern Europe.

People here are more calm, and to label Germans as unfriendly is very inaccurate. German people are amongst the friendliest in Europe and while they might not be as open as people from other countries, they certainly make you feel very welcome.

Berlin's Watergate club
Berlin’s Watergate club

Also, Berlin’s nightlife is the best in Europe, an opinion that’s leaning more towards objective than subjective. Its clubs are unique, where music is felt in a different way because it’s local, since most of the best DJs in the electronic music scene of today are German. Clubs like Berghain, Panorama Bar, Tresor or Watergate are quite simply incredible and a must-experience while in Berlin.

Last but not least, Berlin feels like a contemporary city, where everything works the way it should, where you feel safe, a city where multiculturalism works much better than in other cities, where you will find your place no matter where you come from. Tourism is not top of the list in Berlin, so your visit there will feel much more relaxed and not as panned out for you as it is in other cities. To understand Berlin, you have to go to Berlin and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

Such an amazing city that trying to describe it in a few words doesn’t do it justice. Living like a local in apartments in Berlin will give you a great insight in what the city is all about, a lifestyle that once you try it, you’ll find it difficult to abandon.


About the Author: Aleix Gwilliam is a 24 year old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.