Berlin is definitely one of my favourite cities in Germany. There is always so much going on and so many places to visit! If you like history, shopping, wild nightlife and art, then this is the city for you to visit!
There’s always something going on in Berlin, so it’s no surprise that the German capital is one of the most popular cities to travel to! Whether you’re going to experience the history, try the wild nightlife or shop until you drop – a weekend break in vibrant, trendy Berlin is always worth it! Since there’s an unbelievable amount to discover and experience I’ve put together some of the best things to do in Berlin to have two fantastic days in the city. With it, you can quickly see the most important sights of Berlin and also enjoy the real flair of the German capital.
As well as the important sights that you just simply have to see, I’m going to reveal to you a few of my secret Berlin tips for your trip – that is, if you want to experience some of the cool locations away from the masses. What about a visit to the former Jewish girls’ school in the city centre? Take a look and be inspired by the great concept – awesome food, cosy bars, a beautiful court, interesting galleries and museums, all inside an elaborate and impressively renovated historic building!
Things to Do in Berlin – a perfect time in the German capital
We all know all roads lead to Rome, but there’s also a lot that go to Berlin too – you can reach the city and its 3.5 million inhabitants by car, bus, train and plane. However, if you only have a weekend in Berlin I recommend flying – it’s the quickest and often the cheapest way there. When arriving you’ll get an amazing view from above of the city – the Fernsehturm in Alexanderplatz (the tallest building in Berlin at 368m) will welcome you from afar. Both Berlin Tegel and Berlin Schönefeld airports are well-connected by public transport, so after your flight you can quickly be on your way to the city.
From Berlin Schönefeld (around 18km away from the city centre) the regional trains can get you to Alexanderplatz in around 22 minutes. There’s also the 171 bus which goes straight to Rudow U-Bahn station. You can comfortably travel from Berlin Tegel (5km away from the west end) by bus and the U-Bahn – the 109 and 128 buses will bring you straight to Kurt-Schumacher-Platz U-Bahn station where you can change to take the U6 line or Jakob-Kaiser-Platz (U7). You could also take the JetExpressBus TXL which will get you especially quickly into town and to the main station. If you’re going towards Zoologischer Garten you should take the Express bus X9 which only stops on request along the way.
Before you start your tour of discovery you should get yourself a Berlin WelcomeCard. The carefree package for your weekend includes free travel with buses and trains, discounts for cultural and tourist offers and a pocket guide to the city which comes with a map. You can get the card at tourist information desks and ticket machines.
There’s a whole load of sights in Berlin – you won’t be able to do it all in one weekend! My first of the Berlin tips is: take the 100 bus and ride past the most important sights of the capital such as the Bundesoper, Reichstag and Schloss Bellevue – a great sightseeing tour for just a fraction of the price!
During your trip to the German capital, you should definitely visit the Brandenburg Gate at Pariser Platz and view the Reichstag, which is just around the corner, on Platz der Republik. At the Brandenburg Gate you’ll have a view to the west all the way down to the Siegessäule (victory column) and to the east you can look down the gorgeous boulevard Unter den Linden. If you want to go for a wander or you’re looking for a café you can do both there. Definitely take a few steps back from the gate as then you’ll be able to see the impressive statue of Quadriga perched on top! You also absolutely have to see the view of Berlin from the roof of the Reichstag – the glass dome on top of the historic building is also spectacular. When you’re in the area you should also check out the Holocaust Memorial – it’s something you just need to have seen at least once. Be sure to walk through it slowly and take it all in.
You should also plan a little detour to Checkpoint Charlie on Friedrichstraße, the most famous checkpoint from the time when Berlin was divided. Nothing remains from the original as it was demolished in 1990, but a replica now commemorates the former border between East and West. Go on a journey to the past with artist Yadegar Asisi – on a 900m² mural Asasi has depicted a fictional November day in the 1980s. From a metre-high platform, you can soak up all the history.
There’s not a lot left of the Berlin Wall to see – one of the last pieces is between Ostbahnhof and Oberbaumbrücke on Mühlenstraße. The portion of the wall is now one massive open-air gallery called East Side Gallery. Artists have been painting it since 1990, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Get the U-Bahn or S-Bahn to Warschauer Straße or Ostbahnhof, grab a drink at the station and take a leisurely stroll past the 106 pieces of art. If you want to know more about the history of the Berlin Wall you can visit the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße 111.
River Spree trip & Museum Island
You can go on an amazing trip down the river Spree directly from the East Side Gallery – there’s plenty of providers and companies to choose from. You could perhaps get off at Museuminsel because for culture vultures a visit here is an absolute must! There are rows upon rows of museums all surrounded by the Spree – you’ll be spoilt for choice! My tip for you guys: have a look in the DDR museum. It’s no boring and dusty place, the history is right at your fingertips! One of the most popular museums is the Pergamon Museum, which lends its name to its most famous exhibition: the gigantic, 35 metre-wide altar. With the Berlin WelcomeCard entrance to these museums is discounted!
If you still fancy having a wander about, the Hackeschen Höfe is a great place to do it. Visiting the complex of eight courtyards in Spandau (S-Bahn Hackescher Markt) is particularly nice in the evening when the façades are all lit up. There you’ll find small shops and boutiques, studios and galleries, a cinema and variety of performances, restaurants and nightclubs, flats and offices all closely knit together!
Eating in Berlin – culinary diversity
Berlin offers an enormous range of culinary diversity. You’ll see restaurants everywhere which are all completely unique. You can find something to eat in Berlin from everywhere in the world – it’s simply a multicultural city and it’s one of the things that makes Berlin so cool! You can get the best kebabs at Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab, grab a spicy burger at Zsa Zsa Burger, and it’s worth checking out Taleh Thai if you’re a fan of Thai food, and…man, the list of Berlin’s delicacies just goes on and on and on! But there’s one thing that’s extremely important – what’s a visit to Berlin without currywurst? Just follow your nose and see where the longest queues are. You’ll be sure to find the best ones that way!
Streetfood Thursday at Markthalle Neun
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Berlin besides hipsters and graffiti? Well, it’s the multi-cultural way of life! The most diverse cultures come together and contribute to making the city so lively and versatile. The countless influences from all over the world allow tourists in Berlin to try out things they might not experience at home. And the best way to get to know a foreign culture? Food!
‘Integration through the stomach’ is, among other things, the motto of the Markethalle Neun, which stands for ‘slow food’ and openness towards other culture. In addition to the usual weekly market, which takes place on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the organisers have added Street Food Thursday to their programme. Every Thursday from 5pm-10pm you’ll find numerous stands offering well-priced food from all over the world. There’s even plenty to keep vegans, vegetarians and even the fussiest of eaters more than satisfied!
Berlin – a true shopping paradise
For most tourists in Berlin, a detour to Kaufhaus des Westens is in order, which is certainly an impressive shrine to consumerism. As a contrast, I recommend Secondhand in the Garage – here there’s plenty of clothes all individually priced. Try it out, the address is Ahornstraße 2 in Schönefeld!
Looking for that typical Berliner flair? Take a look at Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain. Box, as the Berliners like to call it, is located in the famous district around Simon-Dach-Straße. The flea market is almost filled to the brim on Sundays. Although it’s not as big as the flea market at Mauerpark it definitely has a lot more charm and character with its blend of artists, street musicians, locals and tourists.
Directly at Alexanderplatz is the Alexa shopping centre, which has the largest selection of shops in the city and a food court with 17 different establishments. It’s not just a shopping and food paradise though, there’s also entertainment spaces and a programme of events!
Do you read me?
If you’re a bit of a bookworm like me and love a good read, then head to the wonderful little shop called Do You Read Me on Auguststraße. It’s a small business that’s dedicated to only one thing: a love for good magazines. Not just any magazines mind you – I’m talking about those really big, fancy ones that are brimming with specialised columns, articles and plenty of amazing illustrations and photography. Passionate owners Jessica Reitz and Mark Kiessling stock magazines in a variety of languages and over 5,000 publications to choose from.
The homely but artistic interior design is very inviting and the store is regarded as a mecca amongst magazine lovers. Categories which lie on the shelves here include art, fashion, photography, design and architecture, and literature and society. If you’re particularly friendly, then they may even give you one of their popular tote bags for free, to carry your pile of magazines in!
Best locations in Berlin Summer
Berlin in summer is no longer a secret, but despite that, a lot of tourists still don’t know how wonderful summer in Berlin really can be. When it gets warmer, Berlin just keeps on getting cooler and more beautiful than before. People go to the parks to grill, sunbathe by the pools, sit in the cafés and restaurants and celebrate until the early hours of the morning. In the morning when the pink clouds appear and the sun rises you can see Berlin at its most beautiful. Before I show you three good places to spend the summer in Berlin, I have another little tip for you: when you’re in Berlin be sure to visit Tanne B. The café is really good and even has vegan ice-cream!
The former airport of Tempelhof is nowadays a leisure and recreation park and is in the centre of the city. The Tempelhof Field stretches across 303 hectares and has plenty of space for recreation and numerous activities such as football, mini golf, badminton, cycling and skating. There are three designated areas that are very clean and perfect for grilling, so you can definitely have a lovely summer lunch here! The best way to get here is by taking the S-Bahn to Tempelhof station – from here it’s just a three-minute walk to the entrance on Tempelhofer Damm. The park is open every day from 7:30am to 5pm.
Swimming in the lake
Wannsee is Europe’s largest inland lake and attracts countless numbers of sunbathers and bathers every year. At Wannsee, there’s a 1,000 metre-long beach, plenty of beach chairs and you can even rent a boat. There’s room for everyone whether you’re coming with friends or family! It can get pretty full, but the lake is located in the middle of a massive city after all. But even when it’s a little busy you can still enjoy some lovely hours in the sun. Entry is at €5.50 per person.
Haubentaucher Open-Air Club
This is THE new summer location in Berlin! Next, to the 20-metre long pool that can be used during the day there’s a beer garden and a lounge area you can chill out in. There are also lots of different events that take place here. A very good alternative to the Badeschiff Berlin.
Berlin nightlife – party until the early hours
Everyone knows that this vibrant metropolis doesn’t sleep at night. There are trendy pubs and clubs in almost every part of Berlin – some good examples are Zur letzten Instanz, one of the oldest pubs hidden at the end of Parochialstrße, and Ritter Butzke which is tucked away in a massive building complex in Kreuzberg (Ritterstraße 24).
As a secret tip, I really recommend Cassiopeia in Friedrichshain. The former train depot has been transformed into a place that’s truly unique – two clubs with live music, parties and festivals all promise to make your night whizz past, or you could chill in the cosy beer garden too. Cinema lovers will get their money’s worth in the Insel open-air cinema, and those of you who like being a little more active can choose between a spot of skating at Skaterhalle or Kegel, a former water tower you can climb up!
If you still don’t want to go to bed early in the morning you can party until the crack of dawn at Golden Gate at weekends (take the S-Bahn to Alexanderplatz or Jannowitzbrücke). There’s one thing you shouldn’t do without either – a bar with a roof terrace, which is now becoming more and more popular. My favourite is the Roof Garden on top of the House of Weekend. Here on the 26 metre-long roof terrace, you can join in the party on the 15th floor in the House of Weekend club or similarly just spend a relaxing evening. You can even stay up here in spite of the temperatures being a little on the low side – the benches all have heated seating!
If you’re like me, you’ll be wanting to go straight back to Berlin after your first trip to the vibrant and diverse city – let’s face it, a trip to Berlin is always worth it! I hope these Berlin Tips have helped you – if you have any that I have missed out, do leave a comment to let me know!
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