I have to admit, when I first landed in Berlin I wasn’t enamoured by the city’s modern and industrial feel, but it quickly grew on me. By the end of a long weekend, Berlin had firmly earned the title of one of my favourite European cities I have ever visited. Sure, it doesn’t have the romance of Paris or scenery of Zurich but it more than makes up for that in vibrant culture and immersive history and makes this Berlin Travel Guide crammed with so much to see and do.
Berlin is known as one of the “coolest” cities in the world and it is easy to see why, with hipster coffee shops galore and more liberal nightlife venues than you can shake a stick at. It is multicultural, open minded, libreral and full of energy – somehow striking the perfect balance between grit and glamour. Whether you want to learn about World War II or dig for treasure at a flea market, Berlin has something for everyone.
How To Get There?
There are regular flights from the UK to Berlin, often for bargain prices.
How Long To Go For?
You can get a good taste of Berlin in a long weekend, but it’s such a large, diverse and culturally rich city that you could easily spend a week there and still not tick off everything there is to see.
When To Visit?
Berlin is a year round destination, but the two most popular times of year are summer (to experience it in the sunshine) and the festive season (to visit the Christmas markets).
How To Get Around?
Berlin has an efficient and well connected public transport network. I recommend downloading the app CityMapper to plan your journeys and purchasing a Berlin Welcome Card for the most cost effective travel.
Where To Stay?
There are an abundance of incredible design-led Airbnb’s in Berlin. We stayed in a small studio just off Heinrich-Heine straße and it was a great location from which to explore the city.
What To See & Do In Berlin
Take A Walking Tour:
My personal favourite way to see a city is on foot, so I am a big fan of a walking tour! Your guide will show you the main sights and talk you through the history of the region. Berlin has a whole range of walking tours on offer, including:
- Explore Berlin. The main sights of the city.
- Berlin Third Reich Tour. Focusing on Hitler and the Nazi’s in Berlin.
- Communist Berlin & The Berlin Wall. Exploring the Cold War.
- Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour.
- Alternative Berlin Street Art Tour.
- Berlin Underground Tours. Explore Berlin’s underground world and war bunkers.
Visit The Museums:
Berlin is home to countless world class museums and even has “Museum Island” where quite literally the whole island is jam-packed with them. No matter your interests, there will be a museum for you. Here are some of the most popular ones in the city:
- The Jewish Museum. The history of Jewish people and a celebration of their culture.
- Neues Museum. The museum covers various periods in the ancient world but is best known as Berlin’s Egyptian Museum.
- Topography of Terror. Delving into Nazi Germany and the war attrocities.
- DDR Museum. An immersive experience of former East Germany.
- Stasi Museum. Documenting the methods of the former secret police.
- Stasi Prison Museum. With tours led by former prisoners, this museum is not for the faint hearted.
- Pergamon Museum. A classic historical museum with treasures from ancient Rome, Greece and the Middle East.
- Schwules Museum. A record of the lives of queer and trans people in Germany.
Berlin is a city which can be explored in a myriad of ways, many of which are active! Why not lace up your trainers and run along the river Spree. This is an amazing way to see lots of the city sights in a short time. Berlin is mostly flat, so you could rent a bike and cycle through the beautiful Tiergarten Park – don’t forget to pack a picnic. Or if you’re feeling a little less energetic, hop on an electric scooter and zoom through the city streets.
Wander The Markets:
Perhaps the most well known flea market in Berlin is in Mauerpark each Sunday. It is absolutely gigantic! The perfect place to find some vintage goodies, small businesses and locally made treats. There’s also an abundance of food stalls where you can grab a bite to eat, sit on the grass and tuck in overlooking the city. Dreamy. Besides Mauerpark, there are many other markets in Berlin. Check out Zeughaus Art Market, RAW Flohmarkt and Boxenhager Platz Market.
Art, Buildings & Architecture:
Berlin is home to a whole series of key monuments, buildings and galleries. A trip to the city is often based around visiting one or more of these iconic locations.
- East Side Gallery. An open air street art gallery on the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall.
- Brandenburg Gate. Perhaps the most famous sight in Berlin, the gate is a symbol of peace and unity after the division during the Cold War.
- Reichstag Building. The German government building, register in advance to walk through its glass dome, access the rooftop and see incredible views over the city.
- Berlin Cathedral. One of the main landmarks on Berlin’s landscape, you can’t miss its intricate interior and beautiful dome.
- Charlottenburg Palace. The largest and most elaborate palace in Berlin.
- The Victory Column. Climb the monument to access a viewing platform which overlooks the city.
- Gendarmenmarkt. One of the most beautiful squares in the city, home to the impressive concert house as well as both the French and German cathedrals.
Experience The Nightlife:
A trip to Berlin is not complete without experiencing the world famous nightlife. Bars, clubs and specifically techno music are a huge part of the city’s culture. There are options for everyone, from classy venues to enjoy a glass of champagne to 48 hour raves where freedom of expression is celebrated.
Berghain is the jewel in Berlin’s nightlife crown, known for its world class sound system and explicit activities. The queue is huge and the door policy is strict, but if you make it in you will have a night you won’t forget in one of the most famous clubs on the planet. Other popular clubs include Tresor, Sisyphos and Salon zur Wilden Renate. In terms of bars, Klunkerkranich is a well known rooftop bar, with beautiful views. We also enjoyed Limonadier for a fancy cocktail and Mano for pre-night out drinks.
Note: Almost all major clubs in Berlin have a no phone policy and will tape your cameras. Door policies can be super strict. Dress casually, black clothing honours the city’s techno scene. Carry cash as many bars and clubs don’t take cards. The night doesn’t really start until 1-2am onwards. Public transport runs all night long.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry:
The food scene in Berlin is incredible! After our research we had a hit list as long as my leg, there are just so many top notch cafes, coffee shops and restaurants. Based on our experience, here is a refined run down of the best spots in the city:
- Coffee: Bonanza, Ben Rahim, Chapter One, Refinery, Five Elephant and Nano Kaffee.
- Breakfast: Father Carpenter, Silo Coffee, Distrikt Coffee, Krone and Roamers.
- Lunch & Dinner: Frea, Mon Vegetarian, Vegan 1990, Seoul Kitchen, Royals & Rice, Hako Ramen and Good Morning Vietnam.
- Bakeries: Zeit für Brot, Sammy’s Berliner Donuts and Brammibal’s Vegan Donuts.
Note: Many of these cafes are located in the “hipster” area of Berlin Kreuzberg. It is well worth exploring the region on foot and seeing what you stumble across.
I only had three short days in Berlin, but I honestly fell in love with this city. There is SO much to see and experience, whether you want to immerse yourself in history or dance the night away to techno – Berlin is the place to be.
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