Berlin is a vibrant, young city, with an unashamedly hip edge – more comparable to London or New York than other German cities. Whilst the general vibe is undoubtedly ‘cool’ it is also completely immersive and welcoming – you don’t need to be sporting all the latest trends to feel relaxed and comfortable here. There’s a strong international base, which enhances the already cosmopolitan atmosphere, and means you’ll generally be able to get by speaking English. From the famous Berlin Wall to the many biergartens, rooftop bars and underground clubs: there’s plenty to do, see, eat and drink throughout your stay
When to go
From exploring the cheer-filled Christmas markets to sunning yourself in a riverside bar…Berlin is a great city to visit no matter the time of year. Peak season falls throughout the summer, so expect to see slightly higher prices and more crowds if travelling in these months. May – June are really good months to visit as they mark the beginning of the warmer weather but are still less crowded than July – September. If visiting for the Christmas markets, remember the weather can get bitingly cold (but nothing a mug or two of gluhwein won’t fix…).
What to do
Visiting the infamous Berlin Wall, which divided Berlin both physically and ideologically for so long is a given for any trip to the city. On a sunny day, head to the East Side Gallery – a 1316m stretch of the wall, depicting a series of colourful murals, painted by artists from all over the globe. More must-sees include the famous Brandenburg Gate and the impressive Reichstag – both are located in the city centre and within easy walking distance of one another. You can do a tour of the Reichstag building, but be sure to bring your passport along with you. Afterwards you can journey on down, past Checkpoint Charlie, to the visually striking holocaust memorial, also located nearby, and its accompanying museum – which is a deeply touching tribute to the countless lives lost through the Nazi regime. If you fancy visiting more museums then head to Museuminsel (museum island) – with five museums here you’ll be spoilt for choice on what to see.
On a clear afternoon, visit either Panoramapunkt for some breathtaking views across the city. And then head to one of the city’s many lovely parks for a stroll – there are lots so you’ve got plenty of options. We especially love Tiergarten with its zoo and acres upon acres of luscious greenery and a lovely biergarten where you can enjoy the sun whilst sipping on a cold Weißbier. Templehof Feld is also well worth visiting – the old city airport transformed into a enormous park. As well as the vibrant Mauerpark, which hosts live music and a flea market on a Sunday.
If you visit on a really warm day then you should head out to Wannsee Lake (about 20 minutes on the train). Here you’ll find a lovely beach on a lakefront, where you can swim and sunbathe the day away. A peaceful spot, it’s very easy to forget you are just outside Germany’s capital city.
No trip to Berlin would be complete without paying a visit to the city’s various pubs, bars and clubs. Near the East Side Gallery, along the river, are some great warehouse bars and clubs as well as a couple of super cool beach bars. There’s also YAAM – the Young African Art Market – a lovely beach style bar with live acts on throughout the day. About Blank, Watergate, Berghain, Tresor and Salon Zur Wilden Renate are all great clubs to try out, but expect long queues to get in and remember that Berlin clubs are incredibly strict on the door.
What to eat
Berlin is bursting at the seams with great restaurants and streetfood – so make sure you try all the city has to offer. Berlin was actually the place where the Döner Kebab was invented and the city boasts a number of amazing kebab shops. We especially love 44 Royal Gemüse Kebab in Prenzlauer Berg which serves an impressive array of vegetarian kebabs and one meat option, accompanied with an array of salad, rice and roast potato – utterly delicious. Another streetfood to make sure you try is the celebrated currywurst (there’s even a museum in the city dedicated to this German snack if you really fancy it).
If you’re looking for some more traditional German meals then head over to Tiergartenquelle – a restaurant and biergarten just outside of Tiergarten station which serves incredible dishes. Make sure you get try the delicious Käsespätzle here – the German version of Mac n Cheese – just note that this dish is pretty hearty so make sure you build up an appetite before. Zur Haxe over in Prenzlauer Berg is also another fantastic choice for some traditional German meals.
For brunch, we’d head to Benedict in Charlottenburg where a delicious range of creative breakfasts (including their own invention of ‘egg balls’) are served 24-hours a day, alongside an offering of great coffee and exotic mimosas.
Vegans and those with a dairy intolerance will be pleased to hear that Berlin has really upped its meat and dairy-free game in the recent years, resultantly the city is bristling with vegan burger joints and salad bars. Goodies/ The Bowl are both especially good spots to grab a meat and dairy-free lunch or dinner.
Where to sleep
Hotel Zoo Berlin
From the grand doors opening into the immaculate lobby, to the 7 metre high ceilings and the beautiful rooftop bar: Hotel Zoo is a jaw-dropping experience from beginning to end. Located on one of Berlin’s best shopping streets and close to the lovely Tiergarten park and zoo – you’re well placed to explore here. The rooms are light, spacious and the beds enormous and unbelievably soft: perfect for snuggling down into after a hard day’s exploring.
Want to experience Berlin from a different angle? Float through the weekend in the spectacular houseboat, located on Lake Rummelsburg, a small bay in the river Spree. With minimal and sleek interiors, bespoke furniture and floor to ceiling windows throughout, you won’t find a nicer spot unwind with an ice cool beer and enjoy the views of Berlin from the bay. The friendly owner, Chris, will welcome you with open arms and give you lots of advice on what to do and see in the city, before leaving you to sit back and relax in your very own private houseboat.
This quirky spot, set on the famous Savignyplatz, is a treasure trove of funky wall murals, glossy art books and secret corners where you can people watch the day away whilst sipping on good coffee. Home to the celebrated restaurant ‘The Butcher’ and with a buzzing and playful atmosphere – this is a trendy yet welcoming base for your city trip. Although with the plush furnishings, comfy beds and blissful rainforest showers, you’ll be hard pushed to tear yourself away from your room to go and explore the rest of the city.
Berlin Schönefeld Airport is served by many domestic and international airlines including Lufthansa, British Airways, RyanAir, EasyJet, Jet2, Turkish Airlines
Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin’s central train station, is the largest train station in Europe and you can get there from a variety of European destinations such as: Zurich, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague.
Planning a trip to Berlin?
You can see our collection of lovely boutique hotels in Berlin here.