Published on :   07/24/2015

Why History Lovers Must Visit Berlin

Never in my life have I met a group of people so eager to learn.

It really seems that here on board the MS Victor Hugo, I have been placed with the keenest and most eager group of passengers that I have met on this entire Photo Tour. For every excursion, they arrive 10 minutes early and sit on the bus excitedly with cameras and notebooks in-hand, beaming smiles on their faces. I have never heard so many excited clicks of cameras, or seen notes taken so diligently. There’s no doubt about it: this boat is filled with history lovers, and their enthusiasm is wonderfully contagious.

On my other cruises, I’ve immersed myself in cultural activities and beautiful sights, but this cruise around Berlin is unique in the amount of fascinating history it offers. I’m sure my fellow passengers would agree - a cruise around Berlin is a perfect holiday for any history lover. Here are a few reasons why:

1. The sheer quantity of museums and historical sites.

With over 170 museums spread across the city, it’s safe to say that you’ll never run out of things to see in Berlin. The past few days have brought me to moving memorials, fascinating exhibits and beautifully opulent palaces – all of which have infinitely rich stories to tell. Whether you’re admiring the grandeur of the Brandenburg Gate, retracing the lines of the Berlin Wall or losing yourself at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, there is history to be discovered in every corner of this city.

2. The diversity of places to explore.

Beyond just quantity, Berlin’s offerings also win for diversity. No matter your interests, you’re likely to find something that appeals to you. With museums dedicated to everything from art to currywurst (which I argue, is an art in itself), your curious mind will have plenty to enjoy. The possibilities are endless - you can walk through reconstructed archeological treasures at the Pergamon (the most-visited museum in Germany), experience life in communist Berlin at the DDR Museum or marvel at the impressive explosion of colours at the East Side Gallery.

This 1.3km stretch of the Berlin Wall was one of my favourite stops this cruise, and features over 100 paintings from artists all around the world. Today, it stands as a symbol of freedom and hope.

3. Berlin’s attractions and displays are very visitor-friendly.

Of all the places I’ve visited, I would say that Berlin’s museums and attractions are among the most impressive and well-organized. Easy-to-follow displays are abundant, and also consistently interesting. Yesterday’s excursion brought us to Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall Museum, both of which featured clear explanations on each site’s history, alongside powerful visual aids like photographs and maps. With almost 12 million visitors coming to Berlin each year, it seems clear to me that they’ve mastered the art of a good tourist attraction.

4. It is in close proximity to other worthwhile destinations. 

On this cruise around Berlin, we haven’t travelled far in terms of distance, but there’s so much to do in this small area that I’ve hardly noticed. If you feel you’ve had enough of Berlin’s big city bustle, Potsdam is only a short trek away. As former home of the Prussian monarchy, Potsdam is a charming city that, in my opinion, is just as fascinating as Berlin. Whether it’s walking the beautiful grounds of the Sanssouci Park, or exploring Cecilienhof Palace, where Churchill, Truman and Stalin decided the future of Europe post-World War II, there is ample history to enjoy and explore. Other worthy attractions, like the cute borough of Köpenick, are also close-by.

As I write this, I’m docked at Berlin Tegel, watching swans glide across the water from the comfort of my cabin window. The hustle and bustle of educational sights during the day, coupled with the relaxing environment of river cruising in between, has made for a lovely last cruise in Europe. I’ll have a few free days before my next Photo Tour stop, but it is incredible to think that in less than a week, I’ll be crossing continents and headed for a cruise on the Mekong!

Update you all soon.

- Christina