BERLIN CITY GUIDE
At the beginning of the year my best friend and I decided we’d book our first ever trip abroad together. We’ve been friends for nearly twenty years and have never been on holiday together, which just felt ridiculous. So in celebration of us both turning thirty, we decided to book a whistle stop trip to Berlin!
There is so much to see in Berlin and we were both in agreement that we didn’t want to overload our time there. We’d do what we could and just enjoy our time. Little did we know, we’d booked our trip over the weekend of the thirtieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall falling. It just made an incredibly special trip even more wonderful.
We managed to squeeze a fair amount in whilst we were there, so I wanted to put together a quick City Guide that you could refer back to if you’re ever visiting!
WHERE TO SLEEP IN BERLIN.
After booking our accommodation I saw a few articles about there being issues with Air Bnb’s in Berlin..something to do with renting permits within the city. Naturally I felt nervous, as we’d booked, well an Air BnB. But our hosts were amazing and we had zero problems.
We opted for an apartment over a hotel as being thirty years old and both loving our sleep, we wanted our own space. The apartment boasted a large kitchen dining area and two bedrooms with super king sized beds. There was a large bathroom and a smaller toilet, with a beautiful hallway and TV connected to Netflix in the lounge area. The ceilings felt like they could’ve reached the sky and the location was perfect. Based in Tucholskystraße in Mitte, situated behind us was the Synagogue, in the heart of the Jewish Quarter of the city. It was just perfect and the loveliest place to come back to after a long, chilly day exploring.
Okay, I’m usually the first person to look at the cheapest way to get around a city. But it was raining and cold and we both get pretty darn grumpy with those as a mix – so early on (aka at arrivals in the airport) we decided we’d Uber it around the city. For three days we spent around £30 each on Uber – which included getting to and from the airport as well as in-between most locations within the city. It meant we could properly warm up between destinations and was a far quicker way of getting around.
WHERE TO EAT.
Probably one of the most important parts of any city guide is where you’re going to get your fuel. Charly and I weren’t sure whether this would be a foodie holiday or not, but we were so glad that it absolutely was.
Our flight was delayed on our first day, which was such a shame as it meant we lost nearly an entire day exploring. We ended up getting to the apartment for around 6pm and went out on the hunt for a local spot to eat dinner a little while after.
We stumbled across a small restaurant in a little courtyard called The Night Kitchen. We weren’t sure if it would be any good (it hadn’t come up on any recommendations) but we were so tired and hungry we went in and hoped for the best.
Oh. My. Goodness.
It was the most insanely beautiful meal I’ve had in a very long time. There was an option to pay €34 and eat as much as you like, including dessert. Rather than picking what you wanted off the menu, they’d ask a few questions about what you like to eat and cater the entire meal to your requirements and tastes. It was honestly worth every penny and so, so tasty.
- Not cheap, but worth it.
We started most of our days exploring before breakfast so opted for brunch to cover us off for the rest of the day.
Café Krone came up on our google search as a hotspot for good food and coffee; and clearly everyone had the same idea. On arrival there was a pretty large queue outside – luckily for us a few people gave up during the wait so we wangled our way to the front pretty quickly, and boy was it worth the wait. Inside boasted a quirky, warm and laid back interior. We perched in old, comfy armchairs and sipped on pots of herbal tea in little glass glasses.
I ordered Shakshuka and wasn’t disappointed. It was beautifully cooked with fresh ingredients and generous portion sizes. Charly opted for scrambled eggs and we both shared a dessert of sweet dumplings with hot plums and chocolate sauce which was clearly too tasty for me to photograph before we chowed down!
- Reasonably priced around €9 euros per meal.
Recommended via Twitter, Shakespeare & Sons is a lovely bookshop in East Berlin serving their renowned bagels. They have every bagel you could think of with every filling to boot. From poppy seeds to cinnamon and plain to rosemary – you can lather them with peanut butter and jam like I did or opt for savoury cream cheese or avocado. It was lovely to sit and eat and then explore the bookshop – they had a small selection of everything you could think of, all in English and second hand ones, too.
- Reasonably priced around €4 per bagel
Oh, Lily. Another recommendation from Twitter that lived up to expectations. Charly is a vegetarian so it was really important to me that any restaurant we visited catered for her as much as it did for me. Lily’s was the perfect mixture for meat eaters, veggies and vegan’s blessing our palettes with the most ridiculous burgers you’ll ever taste.
I don’t even know what to say apart from every mouthful was incredible. They were HUGE but totally edible (I’m unashamed to say I finished mine) and there was endless choice. Pretty sure the photos do the talking.
The interior was also brilliant and the desserts? Well I think the waiter was seriously impressed we could manage one. It was like nothing I’ve ever eaten before.
A peanut M&M ice cream bar, wrapped in a croissant and deep fried.
Yes, I know. It was disgusting and delicious in equal measure. And neither of us are sorry about it.
- Reasonably priced – burgers aren’t cheap, but very good value for money.
WHERE TO VISIT.
As I mentioned above, we had a list of bits we wanted to see, but really didn’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves to see and do everything. Berlin is huge and to see everything the city has to offer you’d need a substantial amount of time. So here are a few of the places we got to see, and loved.
Berlin Wall Museum
Charly and I both felt uneducated on the Berlin Wall so the first thing on our list was the Berlin Wall Museum. It was €9 to get in and took us just over an hour to walk around. The museum went through absolutely everything and we left feeling like we’d learned so much more about what everyone went through and just how awful it was. I honestly can’t believe that happened within our families lifetime and the horror people had to face.
The museum was incredibly positive though, it does feel like the people of Berlin are focussed on celebrating the removal of the wall, rather than staying in the past with it which is lovely to see.
It was very educational, but there were parts I struggled to follow. The chap on the till advised us we wouldn’t need the headphone guided tour as everything was video footage with subtitles, but a lot had sound so it made it a little tricky to hear everything properly with the sounds overlapping. I’d definitely recommend paying the extra €3 for the headphones so you can walk round and fully take everything in!
East Side Gallery
One of Berlin’s busiest and biggest attractions, the East Side Gallery is an open-air gallery of murals painted on to the remains of the Berlin Wall. It’s really moving to see such a visual of something so unbelievable – it makes it feel very real. I’d definitely recommend giving this a visit after the Berlin Wall Museum so you have as much context as possible for more impact.
The hub of the city is Alexandraplatz Square. The Oxford Circus of Berlin, it’s buzzing and has all the shopping you could ever wish for. We only spent half an hour or so walking around. And due to the celebrations they had footage of the Berlin Wall falling being played on to the walls of the buildings surrounding the square – just amazing.
Mauerpark Flea Market (only open on a Sunday)
We wanted to spend some time in the city experiencing something locals would enjoy. So on Sunday we headed to their weekly Flea Market. It was amazing to see locals enjoying each others company and the stalls were SO good. You can expect beautiful handmade jewellery, a plethora of vintage jackets and second hand furniture you’ll definitely want to take home. It was also a hotspot for Berlin’s famous outdoor photo booths which are so much fun! (Although be warned, there are no countdowns in these old school automat’s, so expect to spectacularly fail like we did!!!)
Before visiting the gate we walked through the Holocaust Memorial which is nearby – obviously a horrific part of history, the memorials meaning is left open to interpretation. As you walk through, the concrete blocks get higher and feel closer together which felt quite intimidating and claustrophobic. It was unsettling, but certainly worth visiting.
I mentioned earlier that we were there for the thirtieth anniversary of the wall falling, which was absolutely wonderful. On the day of the celebration we headed down to Brandenburg Gate which was built to commemorate the restoration of peace and order after the wall came down. They had set up an installation to celebrate, as well as a huge stage for a concert that evening. It felt so special to be there to join in the pure joy everyone was experiencing that evening. We had cups of mulled wine, danced along to the music and had a lovely time.
Kreuzberg is an area lots of people recommended for its cool edge, but it absolutely vast. We weren’t too sure where to go, so we wandered around and ended up in part called Bergmannkiez. Full to the brim with independent shops and restaurants it also has the gorgeous Victoria Park in its heart which was stunning. It was great to see a different side to the city, but visiting on a Sunday morning meant most things were closed – definitely a trip for a Saturday afternoon I think!
Things we wanted to see but didn’t get time…
- The Berlin Wall Memorial
- Art Galleries by our apartment
- Endless museums
And that was our weekend in Berlin!
We loved every second and would go back in a heart beat. I hope you’ll find a good few suggestions here, I’d love to know if there’s anything else you’d recommend for our next visit.