side angle of berlin cathedral
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Swirl yellow blue pattern east side gallery berlin

Berlin is the city that sparked my love for European city breaks. The reason I spend every weekend possible in a different city. So, of course, it holds a special place in my stone-cold heart <3.

I visited back in 2014, so this is a #throwbacktrip. I recently visited Cologne (see all of my blog posts about Germany here), so it had me thinking a lot about my first trip to Germany and just how much I love Berlin.

Without further ado, here are 10 reasons why you need to go to Berlin immediately.

1) The History

As a massive history nerd, this is probably one of the biggest draws for me. I very nearly went to university to study history and World War II is one of my favourite eras to study. We went on an amazing walking tour of the city on our first day and seeing the spots where so many events I’d studied actually happened felt so surreal.

2) You’ll Never Run Out of Things to Do 

Out of all the cities I’ve visited, I still feel like Berlin maybe has the most to do (excluding maybe London and New York). We were rushing around the city at top speed trying to fit as much as we could into 4 days – there is a photo of me sitting on a bench on the last day almost crying because my legs were in so much pain. #travelgoals

3) The Nightlife

Now, I’ve been reliably informed that Berlin has an epic nightlife scene. Given the fact I sat on a bench crying because my legs hurt, I couldn’t stand for any longer and I was on a trip with my (then) boyfriend, it’s safe to say that I didn’t see much of this nightlife!

4) The Food

Not only did Berlin spark my love of city breaks, it also sparks my love of curry wurst. Enough said really.

5) The Amazing Buildings

Architecture in Berlin is unreal. I don’t even know why I loved it so much. I remember being on our first walk through the city the evening we arrived and just falling in love with everything. From the rough and rugged, to the grand and exciting, to the modern and cool. There’s something for everyone.

6) The East West Divide

I am so fascinated by the East West divide (that inner history nerd is coming out again). There are subtle differences between the two sides of the city which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. My favourite one is the difference between the men on the zebra crossing lights! In fact, we stumbled across a multi-storey shop dedicated to the cartoon man on the East Side crossings! He’s an icon apparently!

7) The Most Captivating Monuments

With a city filled with so much history, it’s only right that there are some good monuments to back up that history. Sometimes you stumble across displays with no real indication as to what they are about (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe for example) but taking a free walking tour of the city explained them all and there’s some that really got me choked up!

8) Lush Greenery in a City

Despite being a big and exciting city, Berlin has plenty of areas to chill out and relax. Our hotel was near Tiergarten which I loved. The park was peaceful but still filled with things to do (the Victory column and Bellevue Palace are must sees)!

9) Plenty of Things To do Nearby

If you’re staying in Berlin for longer than necessary, there are plenty of things to do outside of the city – a great list of ideas can be found here.

10) Replace My Old Photos!

Okay, so this might just be a reason for me. But I asked my ex-boyfriend to send me our photos from Berlin and the ones shown in this post are the only semi-decent ones he could find on his laptop. I know memories are more important than seeing a city through a camera lense. But I love photos and I’m gutted I don’t have anything to show for my trip to Berlin!

Have you ever been to Berlin, what’s your favourite thing to do?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1

Day One (1/2 Day)

Wahoo, after a very early morning, we were off to Germany! After taking a while to check in to the hotel and subsequently falling asleep for much longer than anticipated, we were off to explore the city for the afternoon!

The Cathedral


Our first stop was obviously the world famous cathedral which is definitely the best place to orientate yourself. There is one word for the cathedral – huge. Like, actually huge. Almost scary huge.

I’ve seen a lot of European cathedrals and this one is definitely up there with the best!

I took millions of photos of the cathedral during our time in Cologne and I can’t believe how much the lighting affects one building, it looks different in each photo!

Botanical Flora Gardens

After searching for food, we headed to the Botanical Gardens as we thought it would be on route to our next destination but it was a much longer walk than we expected! Although it wasn’t a bad walk by the river in the sunshine.

The gardens are beaaaautiful and definitely worth your time if you’re in the area on a sunny day!

Free Walking Tour

After spending some time in the gardens, we headed to the meet point of the Free Walk Cologne tour. I would definitely recommend this company, our guide (who’s name now escapes me) was really informative and funny! Cologne has a lot of history and given the fact it was such an important hub in World War II.

Among all of the mains sights of the city (including the cathedral), you will see lots of little bits that you may have missed while wandering the streets of the city unguided – including the narrowest house in the city (the 2nd narrowest in Europe!) & underground Roman ruins (actually located in an underground multi-story car park!).

Moan A Lot Because You Wore Silly Sandals And Now You Have Blisters

My least favourite activity of the trip.

Day Two

Take a Day Trip!


We all know that I was using Cologne as a base to explore a nearby castle (standard Danielle behaviour). So on our second day in Germany, we headed to Burg Eltz and you can read all about our experience here.

I’ll shortly be writing a post on exactly how to get to the castle because the internet wasn’t very helpful during my research, so let me know if there is anything you want to know!

If castles aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other cities/towns that are an easy train ride away including:

  • Dusseldorf
  • Frankfurt
  • Bonn
  • Aachen
  • Trier

Day Three

We were hoping to go on another day trip on day three, but my feet had turned into two giant blisters, so we decided to spend the day in Cologne and try to do as little walking as possible!

Chocolate Museum

I’m normally a history/nature lover while I’m travelling, choosing to avoid more commercialised tourist traps but we LOVED our time at the chocolate museum! A lot of the reviews on TripAdvisor moaned that there weren’t enough free samples – we only got 2 but they were bloody incredible!

Eat Yourself Into Oblivion 

With it being ridiculously hot, we spent some time in a small beer garden near the Chocolate Museum downing steins of cold drink and of course eating my favourite – CURRY WURST!

National Socialism Documentation Centre

Yes, that does sound like a really boring building. But I can assure you that it’s not! The Documentation Centre was previously used as a Nazi prison and the information inside is a harrowing reminder of the holocaust.

The above-ground floors of the building are used as a museum and do a good job of explaining what life in Cologne was like during the war (although I don’t think the museum was quite as harrowing as places like Typography of Terror in Berlin and House of Terror in Budapest – both of which I would HIGHLY recommend).

Make sure you ask for an English audio guide, many of the displays in the museum are written in German only. The audio guide makes the experience much more poignant with the most memorable aspect for me being the room which explains how minority parties were treated, namely anybody that was gay, disabled or had mental illnesses – really awful stories!

The really harrowing aspect of this attraction are the underground prison cells. The wall carvings left my various prisoners have been preserved and notice boards translate the carvings into English – I’ve never seen anything like it and would highly recommend that you take a visit.

Eat More Food and Do Some (Window) Shopping

To get back to our hotel, we had to walk through a large shopping area (the mains streets being Schildergasse and Hohe Straße), so we spent some time window shopping (and actual shopping for plasters that would cure my broken feet) as well as getting dinner and exploring some more of the streets in the city centre.

Day 4 (1/2 Day)

Take A Stroll Across Hohenzollern Bridge

Hohenzollern Bridge is the iconic bridge that can be seen in practically all photos of Cologne. The bridge is lined with love locks and it’s lovely to stroll across here, taking a look at all of the locks and maybe leaving one of your own!

Get a View of The City From Above

After exploring all of the city at ground level, the best way to get a birds eye view is to head to Koln Triangle and pay the small 3 euro fee to reach the top of the skyscraper. This is where you will be able to get that iconic shot of the bridge, cathedral and city skyline!

Take a Cruise Down The River  Rhine

Our last activity of the trip was to take a cruise down the River Rhine. There are loads of different companies which line the Rhine and run at various times during the day, we picked the one that had people queuing up well in advance of the departure time hoping that they knew more about the reputation of these companies than we did!

Tickets are cheap and it’s a great way to spend an hour. We were a bit stupid however, leaving it to our last day in the city. Our first 3 days were 30 degrees and nothing but sun… our last day was rainy, dark and windy – you win some, you lose some!

And with that, our trip to Germany was over and it was time to head back to the airport before flying back to England. See you soon Germany!

RELATED POST: Is Cologne Worth A Visit? 

Looking for some more great things to do in the city?

Maybe try visiting during these times:

  • Easter – Cologne Carnival – Each year, Cologne is home to the largest carnival in the German speaking area and it sounds mental! If you take the free walking tour mentioned above, they will tell you all about it!
  • Winter – Christmas Markets – Cologne is known for it’s incredible Christmas markets, so there’s no better activity to get you in the Christmas spirit!

Have you ever been to Cologne? What was your favourite thing to do?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1








If you’ve read this post about my recent trip to Germany, you’ll know that my long weekend in Cologne  was booked because I was in search of one particular magical castle. So, I didn’t really know what to expect from Cologne. I won’t lie, it was never at the top of my list of cities to visit in Germany, let alone in the world, but I’ll do anything for a castle.

So Let’s Start With The Pros…

That Cathedral

To say that I’ve travelled to a lot of European cities and seen a lot of churches and cathedrals is an understatement. I can’t remember the last time I visited somewhere that didn’t feature a grand cathedral.

So you’d think that I have a bit of cathedral fatigue now (I’ve even got bored of writing the word in this post). But holy crap, this cathedral blows the socks off many that I’ve seen.

It’s. So. Big. And so imposing. There’s something eerily beautiful about the exterior and the inside is pretty damn nice too.

The Food

I am obsessed with curry-wurst. So maybe I’d be happy with anywhere in Germany but Cologne definitely delivered the goods when it came to dining.

Everything we ate was great – we even ate twice at the same Italian restaurant (not very German we know, but it was so damn good!).

Throw into the mix that Cologne is home to the Lindt Chocolate Museum and you know that you’re in for a treat! And oh my bloody god, that stuff is gooooood.

Christmas Markets

Cologne is famous for it’s German Christmas Markets. Whilst I didn’t visit in Winter, so I can’t confirm nor deny how fab they are, I’ve hear from reliable sources that they one of the best in the country!

A Great Transport Hub

Cologne has a fantastic main train station and is close to some great places – day trips a plenty! If you’re not a fan of moving all of your belongings around regularly, this would be a great base!

We took an amazing day trip to Burg Eltz but there were so many other places that we wanted to try – Aachen, Trier, Koblenz, Dusseldorf, Bonn, Essen and Frankfurt to name a few!

That Laid-Back Care-Free Vibe

Germans have a stereotype of being very strict and organised (my kind of people). You can expect that attitude to go completely out of the window in Cologne!

And On To The Cons…

It’s Not The Most Charming City In The World

Don’t come to Cologne expecting gorgeous rows of fancy old buildings or a charming Old Town city centre like many European cities.

I think this is why I didn’t click too much with the city. I love old architecture and charming cities/towns. Cologne is a relatively new city. It was was almost completely destroyed in World War II – the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force alone dropped almost 35,000 tons of bombs on the city.

However, the laid back care free attitude of Cologne means that planning permissions/building regulations in the city’s rebuild programme were very lax and you do stumble across some interesting buildings! On one walk along the river, we spotted a tiny house with a giant turret attached!

A Rough And Ready Vibe

With such higgly-de-piggledy building structures, the city has a much more “rough and ready” vibe than many European cities I’ve been to.

And lets’s face it, Cologne doesn’t have the best reputation as of late given the New Years Eve 2016 assults and the more recent knife and gun attack of August 2016.

We had absolutely NO reason to feel unsafe whilst in the city, but if you’re of a nervous disposition, maybe stick to the uber-charming “nothing bad could ever happen here” looking cities.

Things to Do 

Whilst we didn’t struggle to fill our time in the city, this is mainly because I made some bad shoe choices and ended up with horrendous blisters early on. I was in so much pain that sitting down and spending a lot of time eating seemed like a good idea!

The freak heat-wave we encountered during our time there also slowed us down, we took a lot of time to stop and get a drink/try to cool down.

With all of this taken into account, we spent near enough 3 days in Cologne enjoying the tourist attractions. We then took 1 day to visit Burg Eltz. Had I been on top form however, we could have explored the city much quicker and had more time to day those day trips I mentioned earlier!

In Summary…

If you’re limited on time in Europe, maybe skip Cologne. Most people come to Europe to escape into our beautiful charming cities, and you won’t find much of that here.

It’s ugly (by today’s standards) but it’s also a direct reminder of 20th century history (given that 95% of the city had to be rebuilt in the 50s). Therefore you may still find it worth visiting, because of course learning and understanding the history of the world is important. Unless you are only interested in fairytale-perfect postcard images.

It’s no secret that I find central European cities such as Budapest and Prague the most charming, and the South Eastern region of the Balkans the most beautiful area of Europe. Cologne is a modern city but if that’s what you are after – go wild!

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cheap weekend getaway, this could be the perfect place. If you’re from the UK, Stansted Airport has RyanAir flights flying to Cologne multiple times every day and they are usually dirt cheap. Book in advance and see prices as low as £10 each way. Ours were around £60 return on the August bank holiday weekend – given the popularity of this weekend, this is still pretty incredible! What makes things better is that the flight is little over an hour long – a very easy getaway!

Plus… Burg Eltz is TOTALLY worth it.

Fancy a few more opinions? Britt has written a fantastic post about her not-so-fantastic time in the city which you can read here.

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1







Why Burg Eltz?

You may have noticed from my Instagram account that I recently took a trip to Cologne, Germany. I’d be lying if I said that the idea of this trip didn’t come about because of a castle… we all know how much I love castles!

Burg Eltz first came onto my radar through the amazing Jacob’s Instagram account. A few of my favourite shots of the castle taken by him are here, here and here.

After seeing those pictures, I made it my mission to convince my boyfriend that a trip to Cologne was necessary and I succeeded, mwahahaha!

How to Get to Burg Eltz 

After a very slow start to our second day in Cologne (apparently we walked a little bit too far the day beforehand and then struggled to get out of bed… after one day in stupid footwear, I already had blisters #rookie), we set off to the nearest train station in search of my beloved castle!

You can get the train from Köln Central Station, but we opted to begin our journey at Köln Süd which was only an 8 minute walk from our hotel and is on route (perfect!).

The journey from Köln Süd to Koblenz takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes, you’ll then be faced with a 20 to 30 minute wait at Koblenz station (snack time, duh) before jumping on a train to Moselkern for around 30 minutes.

I probably should have started this story by saying that this region of Germany was experiencing a freak heat-wave and it was 35 degrees for the majority of our journey. THIRTY-FIVE BLOODY DEGREES.

So I’m praising the lord (and I’m not even religious) that German trains have fab air-conditioning because our train to Koblenz was delayed by an hour!

After arriving in Moselkern an hour later than expected, and it being midday at this point (thus even hotter), the fun began!

Luckily, the 90 minute hike is very well sign-posted as big wooden arrows engraved with the words “Burg Eltz” line the path (just don’t worry as much as I did. I think I got a bit annoying constantly screeching “WE HAVEN’T SEEN A SIGN IN A WHILE” when the only option was to keep going forwards since the last sign… Soz Callum, castles and heat make me cray cray).

The hike starts in the town of Moselkern which is really charming, even the train station is a cute building. The walk from the town centre to the edge of the woods was the hardest part in the intense heat as there was zero shade.

Once you get to the woods, things get easier in the heat (although it does start getting steeper) and it gets pretty damn beautiful! My favourite spot was by the stream just before you start the uphill accent, we sat here for a while, escaping the direct sunlight and attempting (read: failing) to skim stones on the water.

Then BAMN, you catch sight of the castle and suddenly the hiking, the blisters and the potential sun stroke all feel worth it!

What To Do When You Get There

Well… We first decided to get drinks, sit in the cafe and sweat profusely for a while. After acclimatising, we headed straight into the main gift shop area to get our tickets into the castle (with much excitement).

You can’t always guarantee when the next English-speaking tour will be taking place. It appears that they only take place if there is enough interest for them, we were lucky that even though we arrived late, there were enough people wanting an English Tour.

The tour was informative and took us through some lovely parts of the inside of the castle (unfortunately, no photos are allowed). The castle remains in it’s natural state, it hasn’t ever been destroyed and the same family have always owned the castle – perfect!

The only downside is that the tour is a bit short, I would have loved to see a bit more inside the castle!

Afterwards, we took our time exploring the grounds and capturing some photos – the location and castle couldn’t be more picture perfect.

And then it was time for the journey home! The 90 minute hike in slightly cooler temperatures and going downhill was much easier and luckily there were no train delays.

All in all, through the sweat and blisters, it was actually a really perfect day. I finally got to visit the castle of my Instagram dreams!

Have you ever visited? Do you recommend any other “off-the-beaten track” castles?

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and all thoughts are my own.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Danielle1