A long weekend in Berlin

3 days in Berlin will go quickly. With history, gardens, urban beaches and canal side bars among the many things to try and squeeze in, it’s a great place for a city break. Deciding what to do in the short time you have is the biggest challenge…

When a friend and fellow independent traveler asked if I wanted to go to Berlin for a weekend city break, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to resist. The two of us, almost competitive in our desire to find the best things we could do in the short time we had, were sure to come up with a great itinerary. Having spent hours getting hints and tips from other traveller friends, blogs and guides, here are the highlights of what we came up with for a weekend itinerary in Berlin all together in one handy blog post.

DAY 1

Stock up on Pretzel Bread

Start by getting an energy boost at a local bakery by stocking up on a supply of deliciously savoury pretzel bread. You’ll need it for all the walking or cycling around the city you’re about to do. The coffee culture in Berlin is thriving so there is no excuse for tiredness after your journey!

German Pretzel Bread
Mmmm… I became addicted to this salty pretzel bread

Free Walking Tour of Berlin

A walking tour is a great way to get your bearings in any city and there are lots to choose from in Berlin. We went with Brewer’s Berlin Tours who have several options available. 3 hours in the afternoon is long enough to get an excellent introduction to the city and as this is the free tour it’s done on a ‘pay what you think it was worth’ basis.

Berlin Fernsehturm TV Tower
See the key sites and learn about the history of Berlin on a free walking tour
Trabi World Berlin
Find out more about these little cars…
Photographer, Berlin
And enjoy taking photos along the way!

Eat Vegan Vietnamese

You’ll be hungry by the end of all that walking. Luckily, the vegetarian food in Berlin is plentiful and delicious! I was expecting to eat pretzel bread all weekend but discovered signs for vegetarian food on almost every street! Indulge in some vegan Vietnamese delights at Soy restaurant for the best food I’ve had since actually being in Vietnam.

Vietnamese crispy pancake soy berlin
Crispy pancake starter to die for
Tofu hot pot vietnamese soy berlin
5 types of tofu in a hotpot. 5! Another energy boost for the evening’s activities

Watch the sunset from a rooftop

End the day with a chilled glass of wine while watching the sun set behind the Fernsehturm and reflect on how much you’ve already seen! The Weekend bar near Alexanderplatz was our choice. It’s 5 Euros to get in and serves cocktails, beers and wine.

sunset berlin
Say goodnight to the city over drinks and sunset views

Day 2

Breakfast at Haferkater

Day two of our itinerary focuses in the East of Berlin. Start the day by filling up on coffee and porridge with a twist at hipster cafe, Haferkater. Porridge has never tasted so good!

porridge mixed fruits Haferkater Berlin
Special porridge filled with apple sauce, cinamon and mixed fresh fruits

River stroll to the East Side Gallery

Walking to the East side gallery from Haferkater isn’t a short distance, but is packed with things to see.  Walk along the river Spree, watching paddle boarders float by alongside boat trips, modern buildings, hidden sculptures and the less hidden molecule man. It was a peaceful route and if your feet get tired, there are several options to jump on a boat.

Molecule man sculpture berlin
Molecule man sculpture in the River Spree. Designed by artist Jonathan Borofsky.

East Side Gallery

East Side Gallery is a section of the wall still standing today and the home for 101 famous paintings. Apparently one of the  most photographed tourist sites in Berlin, it’s swarming with people and lined with stalls selling ‘genuine’ pieces of the original wall. One side contained the well-known images produced by international artists in 1990, the other had a photo gallery on the impact of the Syrian war.

I’ve heard a rumour it is going to be torn down at some point soon, so it’s worth getting in to visit before they do!

East Side Gallery, Berlin
The paintings are now covered with a fence to avoid more grafitti and vandalism.

Street Art

Continue on the street art journey just across the river from East Side Gallery. East Berlin has had artists visit from all over the world.  There are at least 5 big murals to check out in the area across the water from the East Side Gallery.

Yellow Man Berlin street art
Yellow Man by Brazilian artist, Os Gemeos. Berlin.

Berlin’s Urban beach bars

Next, head to the nearest urban beach bar for a drink. We found ourselves in The Badeschiff, which has a 5 Euro entry fee and a swimming pool. There are some rules of entry… no children, you can’t take in your own water and no cameras… it’s a little surreal being suddenly immersed in a world of bikinis and sun tanning, after wandering the city. But it’s something to be experienced in Berlin and with the summer heat, you’ll be delighted to to grab a cocktail and have a nap in a deck chair!

Canalside restaurant and bars

We didn’t go far before we found ourselves searching for another drink and a snack. In the same area there are several options.  We had some food in one and then ended up in Club de Visionaere. The drinks are cheap, the people are happy, and the pizzas are an excellent stomach lining!

Canalside bar Berlin
Club de Visionaere, canalside drinking, Berlin

Day 3

Breakfast at Distrikt Coffee

Start the day at Distrikt Coffee and you won’t be disappointed. It was popular, so there was a queue but grab a coffee while you wait and watch the clientele struggle to choose what to have before photographing each delicious plate that arrives. There are healthy or naughty options and whatever you choose, you won’t need to eat again for a while!

Distrikt Coffee, Berlin
It’s popular, but it’s worth the wait!
Pancakes
I chose the naughty option… Pancakes with lemon-basil butter, banana, blackberry jam… and more!

History in depth: Topography of Terror

There are many options to fill your last hours in Berlin, but if learning more about the history of the city and Germany as a whole is of interest, try the Topography of Terror. It’s Berlin’s offering of a free explanation of the history, how and why such atrocities have happened in the past and a reminder that they never want it to happen again. It isn’t easy reading, there is a lot to take in and it’s hot inside (Berlin is definitely not famous for it’s air conditioning) but I did feel learnt a lot

topography of terror, Berlin
Topography of Terror, which runs alongside an old section of the wall. Berlin

Eat Currywurst

The final must do before you leave is to try currywurst. A steamed then fried sausage with sauce and spices may not sound unmissable to you, but it was tasty!! Stalls sell them all over town and – for those that prefer it – there is a vegetarian sausage option just over the road from the Topography of Terror.

Vegetarian Currywurst, Berlin
Vegetarian Currywurst, Berlin

Homeward bound… 

I left Berlin knowing there was so much more to see and do and that I will have to return. There are vital things not on this itinerary… the Tiergarten, beer drinking, museum island, boat trips, lakes and an array of festivals just to name a few.

What are your top tips for my next visit to Berlin?

This post is happy to be part of…

A few extras:

We stayed at:  Amano Home in Mitte

Travel from the airport: We arrived at Berlin SFX and it is easy to take the metro into town. Buy the ABC ticket at the machine as you arrive avoiding the high-cost tourist ticket (We just didn’t need it!).

Travel: We walked everywhere! You could also easily rent bikes, or borrow them from your hotel. The metro and boat is easy to navigate. You will need cash to buy the tickets as the machines don’t always take cards.

Time needed: We flew into Berlin on a Friday morning at 6am and returned on Sunday at 9pm.

When to go: I travelled to Berlin in the summer 2016

Solo travel?: It would be easy to travel solo to this city. It felt safe and friendly and there are some brilliant hostel options that was brimming with social life when we saw them. 

14 Comments

  1. I went to Berlin maybe 5 years a go now and have wanted to go back ever since. Just the mention of vegan Vietnamese food has my thinking of booking a trip! That sounds delicious!

    When I went previously, we only had a day there and you definitely needed more time than that. I hope to get another visit soon!

    ~ K

    1. Definitely! 3 days was a good amount of time as our days were quite full on and busy, but I could spend a week exploring… Or more! Hope you get a chance to go back soon 🙂

  2. I loved Berlin when I visited, but only had two days ans 1 night there. I really wish I had more time! The street art and East Side Gallery were my favorite parts though, so much colorful greatness to see. Also looks like you scoped out some great eateries! That porride and those pancakes look amazing!! Great guide for a quick weekend 😀

    1. Yes – I loved the street art too – will be a big shame if they do get rid of East Side Gallery. The breakfasts really were excellent, which set us up for the day – so many nice cafes 🙂

  3. I love that when you’re hungry you can just buy a pretzel for pennies, so easily. We just don’t have an equivalent here. Club de Visionaere looks amazing – I would love to sit over the water like that having a pizza. The only thing I’m not 100% convinced about is currywurst… but I’m happy to try it…
    Great guide!

    1. He he – it does look disgusting – but there were loads of people queuing for them so I dived in. Genuinely tasty and not just because I was so hungry from the walking! 😉 I really miss pretzel bread!!

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