Back with another city break guide in my 72 hours saga!
Mine and my boyfriend’s first trip abroad together was a winter break in Berlin to celebrate my 21st birthday, and honestly it was the perfect place for us for so many reasons… the food, history, culture, and the added bonus of Christmas markets made it a magical weekend away.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
- Reichstag – one of the best things we did in Berlin was go up to the roof terrace and dome of the Parliament building at sunset. The timing was perfect as we watched the sun go down over the city. Make sure to book this before you go!
- Brandenburg Gate – an historic symbol of a divided Germany, the Brandenburg Gate is beautifully imposing and dominates the square at Paliser Platz. Grab a coffee and people watch by this architectural wonder
- Holocaust memorial – the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe stands out as one of the most important sights in Berlin. Walk through the stone memorial grounds and visit the underground museum for a sobering yet worthwhile experience
- Checkpoint Charlie – another important symbol of 20th century Germany. This one doesn’t require a trip as such, as you’re likely to walk past on your way to the other bigger sights. The downside to this was tourists dressing as German guards and taking selfies, which we found a little inappropriate and insensitive
- Berliner Dom – the main cathedral of Berlin, whose architecture seems in contrast with most other buildings in the city. It’s located on Museum Island which makes it ideal to visit at the same time
- Museum Island – an abundance of museums for travellers interested in history, religion and culture. We only had time to visit one so we chose the Neues Museum, as I studied Ancient Egypt in a university module and wanted to see the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti!
- Olympiastadion – the Olympic stadium, a 30 minute metro ride out of the city, was well worth a visit. It was built for the 1936 Olympics and still features some shocking Nazi decor, a reminder of fairly recent historical events
- Victory column – climb the steps to the top of the Victory column and find gorgeous panoramic views
- Gendarmenmarkt – a pretty square with two almost identical French and German churches side by side
- Charlottenburg Palace – a short metro ride to the west of the city took us to this beautiful palace. Sadly we couldn’t go inside as they were setting up the Christmas markets, so I would recommend this more for summer visitors (the gardens look beautiful and ideal for summer picnics!) and stick to the main city if you are travelling in winter
- Tiergarten – have a stroll around the gardens opposite the Brandenburg Gate, a peaceful oasis in this bustling city
HOW TO GET AROUND
The U-Bahn (underground) has set tariff zones. A day ticket is around 7 euros in zone AB and not much more for zone ABC. We didn’t use this service much as we mainly walked around everywhere (to keep warm!) but it was useful for trips further out to the Olympic Stadium and Charlottenburg Palace. In the summer I would definitely make the most of the underground to get around quicker and stay out of the heat.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK
- Stein!!! They’re pricey but duhh, it’s Germany
- Mulled wine – we spent our first evening wandering around Potsdamer Platz, and as it was the beginning of Christmas market season we had a few mulled wines to keep warm. Obviously these wouldn’t be available in summer!
- Bratwurst and Currywurst – alllll the German sausages please! Little stalls at the Tiergarten sell them for a good price along with a stein too
- This is all I can remember that was typically ‘German’ food – I’d love to hear your recommendations if you have any!
Overall our weekend in Berlin was very busy and we returned home with sore feet but it was well worth it! I’d recommend a visit to anyone who has an interest or appreciation for the contrast between mid-20th century suppression and war history, and the lively metropolitan parts of the ‘newer’ city.