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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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
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.
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.