Berlin has been on my travel to-do list for quite a while now, so when I spotted super cheap flights in the Easyjet January sale I decided now was as good a time as any to visit. We spent three days exploring the city, which was the perfect amount of time to get to know Berlin – but there’s plenty more still to tick off my list if I ever make a return visit!
It’s quite a big city and there’s lots to see and do, but you can easily pack a lot into a short city break or a long weekend. Check out my Berlin travel vlog to see what we got up to, and keep reading to discover my top Berlin city guide picks.
Eating & Drinking in Berlin
Okay, let’s start with the most important category – the food and drink! Berlin has a great variety of food and drink on offer – from traditional German fayre to international fusion cuisines. One of our first stops of the trip was Shiso Burger, a restaurant which combines classic burgers with Asian flavours. We tucked into the signature shiso burger (with marinated tuna, coriander and teriyaki sauce) and the bulgogi burger (with Korean beef strips, chilli mayo and melted cheese) whilst sitting on their outdoor benches enjoying the sunshine.
For something a little more traditional, I’d recommend Georgbraeu. They make their own beer right there on the premises, so a pitcher of freshly brewed beer is a must. Georgbraeu have a really nice beer garden overlooking the Spree river, or head inside to enjoy the cosy pub atmosphere. The food menu here is great if you fancy a taste of traditional Berlin cuisine – try the bratwurst with sauerkraut and fried potatoes or the roast duck with red cabbage and potato dumplings.
If you’re looking for somewhere for brunch, you can’t go wrong with the House of Small Wonder. Tucked away in a modern building on an unassuming side street, this really is a hidden gem. As soon as you step inside, you’re greeted with a jungle of houseplants, shabby chic decor and a beautiful spiral staircase leading up to the cafe. With a slight Japanese influence, the House of Small Wonder offers up delicious (and very Instagrammable) brunches. I had the amazing croissant French toast with fruit salad and Owen opted for the croque madame which was served inside a croissant along with a fresh salad and perfectly seasoned scrambled eggs.
Berlin is also well known for its currywurst (aka bratwurst with curry ketchup sauce and chips), so I’d recommend trying this whilst you’re here – there are stalls everywhere! Same goes for doner kebabs. Even the little street stalls serve up delicious kebabs which are a level above the late night fast food we’re used to here in the UK.
Sightseeing in Berlin
Sightseeing is usually my least favourite part of any holiday as all the main attractions tend to be very touristy, very busy and often underwhelming. Berlin is no exception, but as long as you’re prepared to battle the crowds I still think it’s worth seeing everything to get a feel for the most iconic parts of the city.
The Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site of Hitler’s bunker, the remains of the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie are all fairly close together so you can easily scoot round them all in one morning.
Things to Do in Berlin
Berlin has lots of museum (and even has it’s own Museum Island!) but as we were only there for a couple of days, we picked two of the most interesting so we’d have time to enjoy them both. The first one we visited was the Topography of Terror. Built on the site of former SS and Gestapo headquarters, the museum explores the history of the Nazis and the oppressive regime in Germany during World War Two. Featuring lots of original documents and photographs, the exhibitions are very information-heavy and the subject matter is pretty tough, but this was an excellent museum and well worth a visit.
We also visited the DDR Museum which was a lot more light-hearted and hands-on. With exhibits showing what life was like in East Germany during the days of the Berlin Wall, this museum was a really interesting insight into the history of the city. The DDR Museum is very interactive and you can pick up, use or try on a lot of the items. Part of the museum is set out like an apartment so you can even sit on a retro sofa and watch East German TV in a 1970s flat.
We were really lucky with the weather on our trip and so on the sunniest day we decided to explore the Tiergarten park. After a wander through the park (which is huuuuuge, by the way!), we stopped off at Cafe am Neuen See for a well earned rest and a drink in the beer garden. After tucking into a freshly baked pizza in the sunshine, we hired a rowing boat and headed out to explore the lake. This was probably my favourite part of the whole trip, so it’s definitely worth seeking out Neuen See if you’re visiting Berlin on a sunny day!
Keep an eye out for the Photoautomat photo booths which are dotted around Berlin. We stumbled across one on Zimmerstrasse, near Checkpoint Charlie, and stopped to get a memento of our trip. As it’s an old fashioned photo booth without a digital camera or screen, be prepared for unflattering poses, unexpected clicks of the camera and a five minute wait for your photos to develop and print – but that’s all part of the fun!
Where to Stay in Berlin
After much Googling, I decided to book Amano Grand Central for our stay and it more than lived up to our expectations. Located just across the road from Hauptbahnhof central station, it’s in the perfect location for getting to/from the airport and exploring the city. The surroundings are a wee bit industrial with lots of construction work going on nearby, but the hotel itself was nice and quiet and beautifully designed. Plus, free wifi throughout the entire hotel yassss!
The rooms were beautiful, clean and even had a lovely big balcony door and view over the courtyard. Amano Grand Central has the feel of a boutique hotel but without the huge price tag – it was a similar price to the equivalent of a Travelodge, but felt much more swish and fancy! The hotel also has a rooftop bar, The Apartment, which has lovely views of Berlin. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cocktail or a glass of fizz whilst watching the sun set over the city.
Getting Around Berlin
Berlin is a big city and you’ll probably end up doing a lot of walking, so make sure to take a pair of comfy shoes! We also invested in the Berlin WelcomeCard which got us unlimited public transport (as well as discounts for museums and attractions, plus a handy map and city guide) for around £30. This included transport to and from the airport, and as we had the unlimited tickets we could just hop straight on a train and not worry about buying the correct tickets.
The train from Schonefeld Airport was rather confusing (there’s very little signage at the station indicating which direction you should be travelling in, which isn’t ideal for disorientated tourists!), but the stations in the centre of Berlin were much better at listing all the trains, stops and stations so it was actually pretty easy to get around. I’d recommend downloading the Bus & Bahn app to help you figure out routes. And whilst you’re at it, the CityMaps2Go app is excellent if you’re looking for an offline map to help you navigate the city whilst you’re out and about without wifi.
Have you been to Berlin? Let me know what you loved about the city!