To say Berlin is cool is an understatement. Since the fall of the Wall, the capital city of Germany has become a breeding ground for creatives, DJs, lost souls and, more recently, tech start-ups. From learning about its turbulent history to experiencing its grungy bohemian vibes and eating too much currywurst, we thoroughly enjoyed exploring Berlin.
The bf and I only spent 3 nights in Berlin, but could’ve easily stayed for 5-7 days. Everyone we spoke to were genuinely shocked at the little amount of time we had in the city. However, we were determined to make the most of the short time we had – this is what we did over 3 days…
- Eat currywurst mit pommes (with fries) at any stand you can find
- Chill in a park with drinks and friends: Since we got into the city late in the afternoon, we didn’t do too much. We dropped off our bags and met up with a friend for drinks in a Körnerpark in the area of Neukölln. The park is pretty and well-kept and apparently a bit of secret..
- Drink local brew at Hops & Barley: A cute unassuming microbrewery in Friedrichshain recommended by a friend. We tried their Bernstein and IPA, both of which delicious. If we weren’t passing out at the table due to travel exhaustion, we would’ve stayed a while.
- Mauerpark on Sundays: By suggestion of my friend, we decided to head to Mauerpark to see its craziness. The park was teeming with people drinking in the grass, participating in the largest public karaoke I’ve ever seen and scoping out treasures at the weekly Flohmarkt (flea market) only open on Sundays.
- Hit up some of the historic sites before dinner:
- Reichstag – the German Parliament with a cool glass dome
- Brandenberg Gate – One of Germany’s most well-known landmark, the Gate was inaccessible while the Berlin Wall stood. It re-opened after Mauerfall.
- Berlin Dom – To be honest, we had no idea what this was at the time (I just googled). The pretty cathedral is walking distance from Reichstag and Brandenburg. We took a couple pictures and set off to find some currywurst.
- Emerge from a club at 5AM: Keen to experience a true Berls experience, our friend brought us to one of the easier clubs to get into (aka not Berghain), Kater Blau. The space itself was made up of different rooms with different DJs and a ship on the river – v cool!!! Pro-tip: Don’t wear sandals, they will judge you.
- Have breakfast at your trendy neighbourhood coffee spot: We tried both Silo Coffee and Aunt Benny in Friedrichshain. Both had yummy breakfast options and coffee.
- Hit up the rest of the historic sites:
- Holocaust Memorial – Located in Mitte just south of Brandenburg Gate, the memorial spans over 4.7 acres with concrete slabs organized in straight rows. Below the stones, there is a free museum.
- Topography of Terror – We stumbled upon this en route to Check Point Charlie and ended up spending a solid 2 hours outdoors engrossed in the impact of the Nazi rule on the city. The museum is built on the former grounds of the SS and Gestapo.
- Checkpoint Charlie – Now just a booth in the middle of a street, this used to be a major crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War
- East Side Gallery – An open air art gallery on a 1.3km long section of the Berlin Wall that features cool graffiti
- Eat more currywurst
- Have the most classic Berls food for dinner/post-drinking, the döner kebab: Developed in Berlin by Turkish immigrants, juicy meat roasted on a rotating spit is piled into a crispy flatbread with various pickled veggies and garlic sauce and more. Get everything on it. Trust me, you want everything. By recommendation, we went to Döner Dach – it was amazing. On the other hand, me trying to order in German, not so amazing.
Some boring but important logistical things:
Getting there: Berlin is accessible by air through most major cities in the world. We flew into Frankfurt Main and took a 5 hour train to Berlin. If you’re short on time and/or booked far enough in advance (which we didn’t), it is worth taking a direct flight to Berlin.
Staying there: We opted for an Airbnb in the hip neighbourhood of Friedrichshain in the east side of the city. We loved Friedrichshain – it was close to a lot of cool restaurants and drinking holes and felt like we were living among locals. It was also walking distance to the S and U-bahn stations and only a couple stops to Alexanderplatz.
Getting around: I will sing praises about German public transportation until I die. Bike, walk or take the metro. We were told Berliners do not cab. There are two trains, the S-Bahn and U-Bahn (underground) that span an extensive network across the city. The map can be overwhelming at first (especially if you’re used to Canadian metro systems) but is great once you get the hang of it. Pick up a map and you’ll be good to go wherever your heart desires. Pro-tip: Buying 4 tickets at once is cheaper than buying one at a time. Buy a day-pass if you’re going to be doing a lot of touristing.
Berlin has officially been added to my list of favourite cities alongside New York and Amsterdam.