Weekend City Break – my favourite things to do in Berlin
I love Berlin! What an amazing city it is! I went for the weekend to visit a good friend who was living in Germany. After a weekend of walking, site seeing and drinking German beer, I came to the conclusion that I really love the place! The culture, the history, the people, the atmosphere, everything about it completely charmed me! So if you have plans to visit soon, I have picked out my 5 favourite things to do in Berlin:
1. Siteseeing by foot
If you enjoy walking, you will be pleased to know that it’s possible to see a lot of the city by foot rather than wrestling with other tourists or commuters to take the Uban or buses.
We spent the whole weekend roaming the streets, seeing the sights and exploring different suburbs. My iPhone health app claimed we covered a total of 25 miles…my poor feet had seen better days. We were lucky enough to have a my friend Nick from Travel Regrets to be our official tour guide. However everything is well mapped out so you can easily design your own sight seeing tour, although I have to admit we were taken to some pretty cool places!
Here are some of the key sites we passed during our walking tour:
- Reichtag – Seat of the Bundestag (German Parliament)
- Brandenburg Gate – Former city gate, one of Germany’s well-known landmarks
- Holocaust Memorial Site – Memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe
- Berlin Cathedral – Largest church in Berlin, restored after WWII damage
- Checkpoint Charlie – Gateway for allies between East and West Germany during Cold War
- East Side Gallery – Open-air gallery by international artists after the Berlin wall re-opened
Other than seeing some of the well-known tourist sites, we also explored various suburbs where we stopped for lunch and a German beer or two along the way.
2.Tour of the Reichtag
If you are visiting Berlin you must book yourself a tour of the Reichtag. As the home for German Parliament and a building that was so pivotal to German history, you wouldn’t expect the Reichtag to be anything but impressive. After the fire in 1933 when Hitler seized power, restoration was finally completed in 1999 to reflect it’s original classic style combined with a modern twist. A mirror-clad funnel now dominates the domes centre which leads down to the main hall of parliment. During the tour you climb a spiralling ramp inside the dome, where you witness a 360 degree view of the city. An audio tour guides you through the key sites as the city unfolds.
An additional perk to visiting the Reichtag is that the cost to enter (including the audio tour) is free. However I highly recommend that you book well in advance…there aren’t many tourist attractions of this high quality that won’t cost you a penny. Go to the Reichtag website to book.
3. Spend time in the Tiergarten
The Tiergarten is a beautiful park located in the middle of Berlin and is a link between the east and west of the city. The urban park which was once a private hunting ground is now enjoyed by families, couples, tourists and fitness fanatics. Within the park there are lots of paths to explore, as well as a small lake and a cafe with boat hire. After a day of site seeing or shopping, it’s great to have the option to take a picnic to the park where you can rest your feet and get some fresh air.
4. Lunch at Prenzlauer Berg
If you fancy yourself a bit of a hipster, or certainly like hanging out in that ‘scene’, then you must take a stroll around Prenzlauer Berg and stop for a coffee or a bite to eat. The suburb is bustling with young stylish families and friends who hang out in cafes for a lazy Saturday afternoon. Prenzlauer Berg has a diverse cafe scene, where you are really spoilt for choice. After a spot of lunch and people watching, you can explore some of the trendy boutique shops and second hand stores. You never know, you may get to pick up that one-off item that all your friends at home will be asking about.
5. Drinks in the East
Finally, when visiting Berlin you must take time out to go for some drinks in the east of the city. The east side of Berlin still feels more liberal in comparison to the west, and there is a much more diverse scene of bars and restaurants. Head to the east side gallery and when you reach the bridge at the end you will be welcomed by bar, after bar, after bar.
Berlin is a place I have wanted to visit for some time, so I can’t believe how much it exceeded my expectations. Until you visit, I don’t think you can appreciate how much the history, culture and people have shaped such a diverse and upcoming city. You can take a flight to Berlin from most UK airports and the costs for daily subsistence are pretty reasonable for Europe. We stayed at the NH Hotel Berlin near Kurfurstendamm. The hotel was really clean and modern, and not too expensive. If you haven’t decided on where to go for your next city break, I highly recommend you start thinking about Berlin. If you have already been, what are you favourite things to do Berlin?