Student Travel in Berlin – The Five Most Educational Experiences in the City

Packed with art galleries and museums, and with tangible relics of its recent history everywhere you look, Berlin is one of the most culturally engaging cities in the world. Which is just one of the reasons why so many language students choose to do a German course in Berlin.

With opportunities for students to learn more about this fascinating city literally around every corner, it can all seem a bit overwhelming at first. Here, then, is a quick roundup of five of the most educational Berlin experiences.

1. Deutsches Historisches Museum

Want to learn about the history of Germany? Where else would you go but the German Historical Museum, then? Appropriately positioned in the very heart of the city, on Unter den Linden, the Deutsches Historisches Museum is an educational titan and an absolute must for any student on a German course in Berlin.

With over 8,000 artifacts and historical objects scattered across two floors, the permanent collection is a thing of wonder. Covering the last 2,000 years of German history in the most thorough way, it’s the perfect place in which to lose yourself on a rainy day in the city.

2. Berlin Zoo

Why, when Berlin art galleries and museums are so remarkable, would you even consider going to a zoo? The answer lies in the fact that Berlin Zoo holds the largest collection of species of any zoo in the world.

A little to the west of the Tiergarten, it’s a fantastic day out that provides a remarkable insight into an almost impossibly wide variety of animals. There’s even the opportunity to catch a glimpse (through his adoring crowds) of local celebrity Knut the Polar Bear!

3. Gemaldegalerie

The Gemaldegalerie is to art galleries in Berlin, what the Deutsches Historisches Museum is to Berlin museums – the crowning glory. And what makes it so special isn’t merely the array of staggering works (one of the most comprehensive in Europe) from artists like Vermeer, Raphael, Rubens, Titian, Rembrandt and Caravaggio.

No, what makes it so special is the remarkable way in which the gallery is laid out. You get a real sense of order, vision and, as you wander from room to room, the sensation that collections both work in isolation, and still contribute to a wonderfully unified whole.

4. Topography of Terror

Standing in the former cells of the Gestapo Headquarters (now, mercifully, exposed to the elements) and flanked by one of the last remaining, sullen stretches of the Berlin Wall, ‘enjoy’ isn’t the word for the Topography of Terror.

However, it is, nevertheless, an essential educational experience in Berlin. What it does is usher you along a fascinating journey through one of the most terrible sagas in history, and chillingly lays out the often curiously banal face of human wickedness.

5. Coffee in Kreuzberg

High culture, history and art are all very well, but for the student on a German course in Berlin, the best way to get under the skin of the city is to do, well, nothing. Sitting back over a coffee on Bergamanstrasse in Kreuzberg and watching Berlin go about its business, is the best possible introduction to understanding the unique rhythms of this fascinating city.