A couple of months ago I planned a surprise trip to Berlin for my boyfriends 21st, although I didn’t quite make it to his actually birthday without letting the cat out of the bag. We were both so excited for our holiday and so I took it upon myself as the organisation freak I am to get planning. We were going for four days and I wanted to ensure we packed in as much as possible. I have always loved the Lonely Planet tour guide books as they lay things out really clearly and give you step by step day plans if you want them, the one I ordered also came with a fold out map in the back which came in very handy whilst walking around with no 3G.
WHERE TO STAY
Most of the main attractions in Berlin are clustered together in the central area which makes it easy to get from place to place and fit in as much sightseeing as possible. When looking for a place to stay I wanted to make sure we were as close to the action as possible, also I had been told that food could be rather pricy which was to be expected with it being a capital city so the idea of an apartment with a kitchen sounded like a good plan in case we wanted to have breakfast before heading out to save time and money. I would really recommend opting for an apartment over a hotel as it meant we were fully self-sufficient and also it gave a much more homely feeling which was great. I just searched for apartments near the centre of Berlin and came across a couple I loved, in the end I was so happy with the one I went with as the owners were so helpful and the place itself was stylish, spacious and affordable.
Obviously one of the main reasons people go to Berlin is to soak in as much knowledge as possible. Some of the museums and memorials are really hard-hitting but so worth seeing and they really do teach you so much about German History. If you’re up for a day of culture and history I recommended you make your first stop the Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany’s most famous landmarks and a great place to start. Next walk through the Teirgarden right behind the gate to the Reichtag Buiding another great tourist destination and a lovely place to sit on the grass and enjoy the surroundings if the weather is nice. You can go on a tour of the Reichtag but the queue tends to be very long, and if you’re wanting to do this don’t forget to take your passport as you need a form of ID to go in. After you’ve finished exploring the vast government building head back towards the gate and across to the Holocaust Memorial. A truly amazing tribute to the Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust. If you head just a bit further down the same road you can see the landmark of Hitlers bunker, it is just a car park now but there is an information board on it full of the hard-hitting facts.
Perhaps on your second day or if your feeling very proactive in the afternoon after seeing the Brandenburg Gate and Reichtag head to the Topography of Terror. A light, airy museum full to the brim of everything you need to know about the Holocaust and German History, from information boards to computers with real recordings on, it’s a great resource for visitors of all ages. There is also a long section of the Berlin Wall outside the museum so a great one to be able to check off the list as well. Not far from the Topography of Terror is Checkpoint Charlie, where you can get photos with guards and get your passport stamped as a souvenir.
Obviously you can’t go to Berlin without getting a photo in front of the Berlin Wall. There a fragments of the wall all over the city with cool graffiti on perfect for Instagram but if one or too panels aren’t enough I would strongly suggest going to the East Side Gallery. Here a 1.3km stretch of the remainders of the wall that have been protected and turned into a display of hundreds of artists work. It really is so worth seeing and there are cafes and ice cream shops around the far end for a drink stop after exploring the famous historical landmark.
For the majority of the time we were there we bought a day tube ticket for around €7 and hopped on and off tubes till we found somewhere we wanted to be, this was easy enough to navigate and so much less cramped than the London Underground! I would also highly recommend finding a city bike stand that are situated all over Berlin, much like in London. As renting a bike for a few hours or the full day, it took a bit of googling to work out how they worked and after trying a broken station we finally got our selves two city bikes for the afternoon. You can rent out a bike for as long as you want, they’re on a ‘pay as you go’ sort of system. I’m not a particularly well practised road cyclist and I’m not going to lie I was scared for my life at first due to my lack of ability to read road signs and register that even in German red lights still mean stop, but I survived and I lived to write another blog post! Woohoo! Loads of people cycle around so if in doubt follow the crowd and they tend to keep you in the cycle lane. After I had my feet back firmly on he ground I realised I had rather enjoyed myself and they worked out super cheap aswell so I would highly recommend having a ride around.
HOT AIR BALLOON
Most things we did we heard about or researched a bit before hand and so vaguely knew what we were doing. However one morning we happened to be walking and saw a hot air balloon without a second thought we jumped on to get a view of the amazing city from above. Unlike normal hot air balloons this was just a 150 meter tethered hot air balloon that went up on a massive wire and spun slowly around to give you a full view for only €20 each. It was amazing! One of my favourite things I’ve done in a while and I would highly recommend you trying one if you get the chance.
You can’t go to Berlin without trying their famous Currywurst sausage! They sell them just about everywhere you look, in cafes, in restaurants and in street stalls. However being a vegan I felt slightly left out of this whole sausage craze that was until I saw a stand outside the hot-air balloon ride saying vegan Currywurst! Of course we headed straight in and ordered them and I have to say it was pretty tasty! So not to fear you veggie/ vegans Berlin has you covered! Before I went a friend of mine that had been to the city recommended we check out a place called Monkey Bar. Cocktails and an amazing view of the city, what more could you want. It was very pricy for drinks and extremely busy so hard to find a good seat but it was worth it for the sights.
What would you do for a weekend in Berlin? I’d love to read about it in the comments, and also sharing any travel tips and advice you might have would be great! If you would like to see more photos of the things we got up to whilst away you can have a scroll of my instagram as I shared loads on there too.