So you’re deciding whether you should spend a few days in London or Berlin – you’re lucky to have the choice but making it won’t be easy! While it’s a big decision where to spend those precious few vacation days, the good news is that you can’t go wrong with these two capitals of cool. Here are a few things to consider:
The Language Factor: They speak English in London and German in Berlin. If you don’t know that, you’re in pretty big trouble. But they also speak German in London and English in Berlin. For monolingual Americans, London will be easier to navigate but Berlin shouldn’t be too hard. On the other hand, nothing ups the exotic vacation factor like hearing a foreign language spoken and seeing signs you can’t understand. So it’s really a wash.
The Cool Factor: Berlin is all about being hip and it’s in no danger of losing its edge any time soon. You’ll have to do your own research to find out the coolest clubs and bars of the moment (those are constantly changing, of course). You’ll find plenty of top-notch, trendy restaurants in Berlin’s Mitte District. Of course, there are tons of cool clubs, bars and restaurants in London too! Both cities have plenty of hip hotels – you’ll find no shortage of great places to stay in London on HotelDirect. Berlin is just a little more raw, so it’s a little more cool. But if you go to London and can’t find any cool places, then you didn’t look very hard.
The Family Factor: Traveling with kids? Well, why didn’t you say so! Wouldn’t have tempted you with all of that cool nightlife and restaurant stuff. Kidding, kidding of course. If you’re traveling with kids, then London may the obvious choice here. Seriously, how can you beat Harry Potter World? And the Tower of London? And the London Eye? And what about all lovely parks that dot the city and the fact that young children are welcome in pubs? Berlin, like most of Europe, has a family-friendly, kids-welcome atmosphere too, and even has Kindercafes, which are hip cafes with playspaces for the little ones. And there are fun attractions in Berlin like Legoland and the lesser-known MachMit Museum.
The History Factor: London’s incredible landmarks – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Westminster – and architecture are remarkably well preserved. To an American, London just feels so old – in a good way! Just strolling down the little streets is a treat. Berlin lost much of its historic architecture in the wars, but there is still Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace and The Berliner Dom cathedral (both reconstructed after since war). The Reichstag, the seat of the German Parliament, is a striking blend of old and new: Sir Norman Foster’s glass dome over the plenary hall symbolizes transparency of government. Perhaps the most impactful sightseeing experience in Berlin are seeing what remains of the Berlin Wall and visiting the Checkpoint Charlie museum.
Did that help? Are you going to choose London or Berlin? Or how about visiting both?