Continuing on with our quick weekends away like when we went to Milan, Lake Como and Paris, we chose our next European destination as Berlin in Germany.
Having never been to Germany before, I was very excited to experience what this amazing country had to offer in terms of food, sights and culture.
Below is the full itinerary of everything we got up to in Berlin, but if you’re more of a visual person, then check out my vlog that I created of the whole trip:
How we got to Berlin
To make the weekend as cheap as we could, we flew on Friday evening after work from Stansted Airport and the easiest way to get there for us was a direct bus from Stratford.
We also packed extremely lightly, bringing luggage that could fit under the seat to avoid extra costs. It was a rucksack for himself and my trusty Trader Joes shopping tote bag that can fit everything and the kitchen sink in.
It’s important to be very tactical when trying to make your trip fit your budget, so plan the outfits you’ll be wearing, try to mix and match and repeat wear, bring one pair of shoes (the ones you’re wearing to the airport) and if it’s good weather, this also cuts down on luggage.
Having the under-the-seat luggage also meant that we sped through the airport straight to security and straight to departures where we were flying with Ryanair.
Where we stayed
We arrived in Berlin around 10pm and hopped straight onto the Metro to get to our hotel. It was easy enough to navigate, grabbing a ticket from the station in the airport and making one change on the way to the hotel.
One thing we did notice when travelling on the Friday night was how quiet the trains were for that late at night. Perhaps we weren’t in the main areas, but in general for the entire weekend, Berlin wasn’t that busy.
We stayed in the Ibis Budget Hotel, which was quite funny as we arrived and there was a normal Ibis right next door. But it had everything we needed for the weekend which was a bed and a shower, and it was in a great location, just a 10 minute walk from Checkpoint Charlie and then on into the city centre to the other tourist attractions.
Since we had a lot to pack in and had just two days to do it, we were up bright and early on the Saturday morning and out exploring the city.
We headed first to Checkpoint Charlie as it was so close to the hotel, but very surprised at how empty the street was. We were the only tourists there at around 9am and had the whole street to ourselves. It was something similar that we noticed in Paris that the streets were very empty on the weekend mornings until around lunch time.
We then walked to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, an incredible steel structure to walk through with different vantage points to take in the entire size of the area. It’s a quiet space to contemplate and remember those who died during the Holocaust as you walk between the pillars.
The memorial is close to the Brandenburg Gate which was next to see on our list, and was the busiest tourist location that we had come across so far, with a lot of people taking photographs.
We then kept walking along the water towards our breakfast spot and it was a gorgeous morning with clear blue skies which made the walk that much more enjoyable. We had been recommended House of Small Wonder for breakfast and got there in good time as most of the outdoor and indoor seating was full, and when we left the queue for a table was out the front door.
We had a lovely breakfast with some mimosas (we were on holiday after all) and headed on our way with full stomachs to continue with the sightseeing and walking.
It was then on to see the TV Tower up close, followed by the World Time Clock. These were the more central areas with shops, markets and train stops so was a busier area than the more outside areas where Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie are located.
We then kept walking along the water in the sun, stopping to grab coffee from a spot called The Greens that was recommended by a friend. We rested our feet over a cappuccino and called into a pop-up market that was taking place in the hall next door. The coffee shop is located in a very cool area near the water and would recommend a stop in here to grab a caffeine fix.
We were heading to the East Side Gallery (Berlin Wall) which was quite a walk away. There are a lot of scooters and bikes available to rent in the city, but we always opt for walking. We stumbled upon an outdoor art/industrial site that was very, very cool and had lots of shacks of food and bars for drinks with random materials made into art sculptures. There were people sat along the water having drinks and it seemed like a great spot to come to, especially when the weather is as good as it was. The area itself is known as Holzmarkt 25.
Just a little further from this is the East Side Gallery and where you can find the iconic murals of the Berlin Wall that most people will recognise very well. You’ll see the most people around the more iconic murals so expect to have to wait to take a photo.
After walking around 20,000 steps, it was time to eat again so we headed out to the famous Konnopke’s Imbiss currywurst shack that’s located under a train line bridge which took me right back to being in Queens or Brooklyn in New York. There was a very long queue, but the food was definitely worth the wait.
Then it was more walking to burn off the currywurst before eventually arriving at Monkey Bar, a rooftop bar that overlooks Berlin Zoo and if you look closely enough, you might even see some monkeys swinging around, which is where the bar gets its name. We arrived around 6pm and queued for over an hour to get in, although we were maybe 10th in the queue when we arrived. But it was worth the view and when we got up there, we drank enough cocktails to make the wait worth it and watch the sunset.
After three or four green cocktails, it was time to eat again and we headed next door to an Italian restaurant called L’Osteria to fill up on some carbs.
Our flight back to London wasn’t until 10pm, so we still had the full day to explore more of Berlin. We checked out of our hotel in the morning and headed straight for breakfast at a spot that we had walked past the day before that seemed very popular.
Zimt & Zucker is located along the water with tables outside the restaurant, as well as across the street right along the side of the water. The street doesn’t see much traffic so it’s the perfect spot to have some breakfast. As well as being a sun trap, you’ll want to cover up if you’re outside having food and prone to sunburn like me!
The breakfast was lovely and beautifully presented, but if you were in a rush I’d say this wouldn’t be the best place to come to as service can be very slow.
As we had seen mostly everything on Saturday, we just continued to walk around the city in the sunshine, browsing the street markets and walking along the water and more of the Berlin Wall. We tried to get into the Reichstag Building but it required pre-booked tickets that had to be purchased at least 2 hours before you wanted to enter, so we missed our chance this one.
We also wanted to see the iconic nightclub, Berghain while we were there so headed out to the industrial estate where it’s located. It was so bizarre to see so many people walking there that were ready for a rave at 2pm on a Sunday since it’s open 24 hours. There was already a queue and we saw quite a few people get turned away at the door.
It seems the trick is to be wearing all black clothing, sunglasses and look like you don’t care whether they let you in or not. From our observation, that seemed to be the best chance of gaining entry (at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon).
After people-watching here for a while, it was time for some more currywurst, so we headed to another famous spot called Curry 36. Again, the currywurst was delicious and something I wish we could get here in London.
It was then time to find an Irish bar and watch the Liverpool game before heading to the airport to flow home, because what’s a European city without an Irish bar?
Tourist attractions to visit:
- Checkpoint Charlie
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
- Brandenburg Gate
- The TV Tower
- East Side Gallery
- Reichstag Building
- Berliner Dom
- There are also around 170 museums in Berlin if you’re interested in museums
- House of Small Wonder (breakfast/brunch)
- Zimt & Zucker (breakfast/brunch)
- Konnopke’s Imbiss (currywurst)
- Curry 36 (currywurst)
- Monkey Bar (rooftop bar)
- The Greens (coffee cafe)
- L’Osteria (Italian food)