Germany is one of the most pleasant travel destinations in all of Europe and no cities encapsulate what Germany is all about more than Berlin and Frankfurt. Berlin showcases the hipness and creativity of modern-day Germany, while Munich is a living museum of the historical and cultural charms of the German past.
Also, just because the two cities are on opposite sides of the country doesn’t mean that one can’t visit both in a single trip, as Munich to Berlin by train can be done in as little as six hours.
Modern Art in Berlin
[Also see our travel article “Hedonistic Berlin“]
It was only 20 years ago that Berlin was a city divided and the Berlin Wall stood between West Berlin and the Soviet-dominated East Berlin. When the wall came down in 1989 the two cities merged and became one of the world’s most eclectic capitals.
Though the contrast between the two sides is less clear today, the area formerly encompassing East Berlin has long been a haven for artists and bohemians looking to live affordably and harness the city’s creative vibe.
One place to see Berlin’s creative vitality on full display is the neighborhood of Mitte. Formerly a district in East Berlin, Mitte is now at the direct center of the unified Berlin and is home to the majority of the city’s preeminent art galleries.
Dittrich & Schlechtriem is a relatively new entrant onto the gallery scene, having opened in 2011, but the gallery is already making a big name for itself. Staffed by super hip artists and art lovers, this gallery prides itself in showcasing exhibitions from top, young local talent.
Nearby, the Carlier Gebauer gallery has been a stalwart on the Berlin art scene since 1991. Hosting only the most acclaimed local artists, both established and emerging, in its three exhibition rooms, the galley has earned its place as one of the city’s top galleries.
Another inspiring gallery in Mitte is the Johann König gallery, where movers and shakers from across the German art world come to see incredible contemporary art exhibitions. No true art aficionado should miss it, as it’s considered to be one of the world’s most influential galleries.
Historic Sights in Munich
Munich is the capital of the southern German state of Bavaria and it has an entirely different feel to it than Berlin. Instead of modern art museums and hip nightclubs, visitors to Munich can expect to find historic architecture, charming plazas and grand churches.
Marienplatz is a square at the center of Munich and is a good place from which to start exploring the city’s attractions, as two of the city’s chief attractions are located right on the square: the New Town Hall and the Old Town Hall.
Constructed in the late 19th century by architect Georg von Hauberrisser, the New Town Hall was built in a Gothic architectural style and forms an imposing sight, as its spire rises almost 260 feet above Marienplatz. Nearby is the building it replaced, the Old Town Hall. Also built in the Gothic architectural style, but in the 16th century, the Old Town Hall is much more modest than the New Town Hall, but is nevertheless beautiful to behold.
Another historic attraction in the city center is the Frauenkirche, which is Munich’s principal cathedral and features heavily in postcards of the city. The church’s towers, at 325 feet, dominate the skyline of Munich and the city even has a law that forbids buildings from obstructing views of the 15th century cathedral.
At one time Marienplatz was also home to Munich’s farmer’s market, but now that honor goes to Viktualienmarkt, which is only one block to the southeast. Open every day except Sunday, the market is home to 140 stalls that sell everything from flowers and produce to cooked gourmet foods. Stick around to enjoys it beer garden for a true Munich experience.