Must see things in Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin?
December 13, 2007 3:46 PM   Subscribe

Must see things in Frankfurt, Dresden, and Berlin?

Can someone recommend some must sees for someone visiting these places? I will only be there for a couple days at a time, perhaps three days in Frankfurt. Obvious stuff like museums and not so obvious stuff both welcome. Thanks.
posted by damn dirty ape to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
You must take the train from Frankfurt and go to Marburg. It's got a lovely town center and a big castle overlooks the city. You can rent a bicycle at the train station.
posted by parmanparman at 4:12 PM on December 13, 2007

I saw two amazing museums while in Berlin in 2001. First was the Pergamon Museum which is basically a celebration of all the architectural stuff you can steal if you have an army. It's amazing and the audio tour was good.

The second awesome museum was the Berggruen Museum which houses tons of Picasso pieces (especially early stuff which I love), a lot of Paul Klee stuff, and some Matisse. I think this also had a nice audio tour with a lot of biographical info. Across the street is a lovely garden at the Charlottenburg Palace. Take a picnic if the weather is pleasant.
posted by parkerjackson at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2007

Check out the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin. Its the only war memorial I've ever seen which is dedicated to an enemy army.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:16 PM on December 13, 2007

I loved the Museum of Modern Art when I visited Frankfurt. The museum is heavy on installations and large sculptures, which I found unique. The building itself is unique in shape, with some strange angles when you're inside.
posted by needled at 5:23 PM on December 13, 2007

Recommendations for Berlin:

-Go to Hohenschönhausen, the former Stasi prison in East Berlin where the tour guides are former prisoners. Check the website for which they have English language tours.

-If you're going soon, check out the awesome Weihnachtsmärkte (Christmas markets). They should be all over the place, but there is a big one just south of the Zoologischer Garten train station, I think.

-Go to KaDeWe, the absolutely gigantic and opulent department store near the Wittenberg Platz U-Bahn station. It too, is cool during Christmastime.

-If they are in season, catch a Hertha BSC (soccer/football) game at the Olympiastadion. Tickets are cheap.

-Take the S-Bahn south to Potsdam, and, if the weather permits, rent a bike and ride around the parks and the town. Check out Castle Sanssouci.

-For views of the city, go to the park on Kreuzbergstrasse or go to the top of the Reichstag (it's free, but there's a long line).

-Tons of museums to choose from: Checkpoint Charlie (cold war), Stadtmuseum, Deutsche Guggenheim (modernish art), Jewish Museum (duh), Pergamon, Altes Museum (antiquities), a bunch more. Museums aren't really my thing, but the Jewish Museum is definitely worth a trip if the subject matter interests you.

-Go to a funky outdoor bar by the Oranienburger-Str. train stop. Forget the name, but it's very cool. It's an artist collective sort of deal.

Gotta run, will add more later. E-mail is in profile if you want specific ideas for good cheap food, etc.
posted by EnormousTalkingOnion at 5:45 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

In Berlin, try the MauerMuseum. It's full of the devices and subterfuges people attempted to use to escape to the West. It's at Friedrichstraße 43-45 and is a must-see.
posted by pjern at 5:47 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Berlin - (I would submit that the museum at Checkpoint Charlie is a dated and dusty museum piece itself, also that the Soviet War Memorial was built in the Soviet-occupied part of the city, before '49, by the occupying forces to commemorate Red Army war dead, i.e. not an enemy army...)

seconding the Pergamon, especially the Islamic Art upstairs, and Tacheles the still-sort-of-alternative artist collective on Oranienburgerstrasse

go up the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz, an obvious choice but worth it for the DDR stylings and fabulously tacky souvenirs on offer inside

look out wherever you are for the bronze memorial stones in the pavements, marking houses from which people were taken to the camps

fill up on proper Berlin food at Max und Moritz

then from there to the punk-ish pubs and venues (Franken, SO36) down Oranien(WITHOUTthe"burger")strasse and Wienerstrasse

The Technical Museum has lots of big whirry things and a fun hands-on experiment bit

see a band at one of the last remaining squatted projects before it gets bulldozed for a conference center - Köpi

maybe sleep in a prison cell, padded cell or floating bed at Propeller Island City Lodge
posted by runincircles at 6:39 PM on December 13, 2007

You have listed the same three cities I inevitably visit when I go to Europe, though more for the friends and family than for the sights themselves.

If you drink, then while in Frankfurt you must have a bembel (pitcher) of apfelwein. You should have no trouble finding this around Frankfurt--in one case, I had a glass of the stuff at a random streetside döner (gyros) restaurant.

In Dresden, everyone makes a big deal out of the Frauenkirche, a restored church that had stood in disrepair from the time of the dresden firebombing until after the reunification. I've only seen it from outside, and you should at least do that.

Several times in Dresden there have been interesting art installations in the Altmarkt Galerie.

While you're near these landmarks, you should keep walking and see as much of the Altstadt (old city) and Neustatd (new city -- which is of course several centures old) as you care to.

In Frankfurt on our last trip, we enjoyed getting out of the city itself by going to Königstein im Taunus and (I think) Kronberg im Taunus which are in hilly environs and give you a view of Frankfurt once you tire of the half-timbered houses. At least one of these has S-bahn service, though on this occasion we went by car.

Both of these cities have river tours if that interests you; I don't think I've ever taken one, though.

In Berlin, arriving early in the morning at the Reichstag can minimize the time you spend waiting in line. If you arrive after the line has formed, you can spend hours waiting to get in. The general area is plesant to walk, though, with the famous Brandenburger Tor and a large city park nearby. Others will recommend Potsdamer Platz, which has undergone tremendous amounts of construction since the reunification. It has one of the more inscrutable memorials to the holocaust, consisting of large rectangular solids of various heights spread over a large, uneven area--I have no idea what it means. Kids seemed to enjoy it for hide-and-seek.
posted by jepler at 6:55 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another highlight I remembered after I hit 'Post': Dresden's panometer, a panorama of the city as it was in 1756, built "life size" in a 19th century gas storage building.
posted by jepler at 6:58 PM on December 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

seconding everything EnormousTalkingOnion has recommended, emphasis on the reichstag. awesome architecture. reserve a spot for lunch in the restaurant under the dome.
posted by krautland at 7:24 PM on December 13, 2007

If you're in control of how much time you spend in each city, consider giving more to Berlin and less to Frankfurt. Berlin is sprawling, teeming with arts and culture and events and various interesting neighborhoods, whereas Frankfurt is much smaller in terms of culture and things to see (notice how the answers above are mentioning daytrips when they talk about Frankfurt?). Dresden is in the middle: less touristy and interesting to explore but not as 'full' as Berlin.
posted by allterrainbrain at 8:40 PM on December 13, 2007

If you like minimalism, you should go to the Hamburger bahnhof in Berlin.
posted by beerbajay at 10:54 PM on December 13, 2007

In Berlin:

The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park is built from pieces of the Hitler bunker. Little fact.

Berggruen is indeed a fine collection. It has nothing to do with Berlin or Germany in any way, it's just a huge bunch of Picassos, Klees, et al.

Hamburger Bahnhof is an interesting modern art collection in an interesting building.

EnormousTalkingOnion: you're probably thinking of Tacheles, it was an artists' squat that successfully made itself legitimate. I don't like it, it's purely a tourist money-making scheme, but if you're interested in the history of squatting it might be good to see.

If you like architecture, then go to the Reichstag and walk around there a while...that's the government district, the 'Regierungsviertel', and has lots of good buildings...and then take a walk down to Potsdamer Platz, which is arguably ugly as fuck but quite a spectacle one way or the other.

Max and Moritz is indeed a good German restaurant at the beginning of Kreuzberg, which is in and of itself an interesting district.
posted by creasy boy at 12:11 AM on December 14, 2007

Berlin is one of the most interesting big-cities I've ever been to, and I will also suggest putting a bit more of your time there.

In Berlin:
Thirding Tacheles, the artist-collective-feeling, run-down building off Oranienburgerstrasse. You'll know it when you see it. There is a different bar on every floor, and a small but neat little artist shop about halfway up the building.

Nthing going to the top of the Reichstag, where you can get great panoramic views of Berlin for free. I went about an hour before closing and didn't have too tremendous of a wait (plus got a sunset sky).

And if you are going sometime in the next few weeks, you will undoubtedly run into more Weihnachtsmaerkte than you can handle. Try Gluehwein and/or Feuerzangenbowle.
posted by liverbisque at 12:22 AM on December 14, 2007

In Berlin, the Brecht house (be sure to eat at the restaurant too), Charlotte von Mahlsdorf's house (call in advance for an English tour and the Kathe Kollwitz museum.
posted by brujita at 4:42 AM on December 14, 2007

The Checkpoint Charlie Museum was probably one of my favourite things I saw in Berlin. But if you can get to Oranienburg (just outside of Berlin), Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp is a truly sobering and educational experience.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:39 PM on December 14, 2007

The Berlin walking tours offered by Berlin Walks. Dunno 'bout the others but their "Infamous Thiord Reich Sites" was quite memorable and interesting.
posted by Rash at 5:21 PM on December 14, 2007

I recommend visiting the Swinger museum in Dresden. It is a collection of museums featuring fine art, weaponry, science, and more.

Nearby Dresden is the porcelain factory at Meissen. Meissen was the first porcelain factory outside of China, and is considered the finest western china.
posted by swarkentien at 4:45 AM on December 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions everyone, the trip went well. I saw the Pergamon, zoo, art gallery, check-point charlie, and the Reichstag in Berlin. The communications museum (where a robot arm drew a portrait of me), film museum, and art museum in Frankfurt with a daytrip to picturesque Heidelberg. Not bad for six days and having a severe cold the whole time.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:00 AM on January 2, 2008

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