Berlin was actually my first proper city break. When I first moved to the UK a few years ago now, within about 2 days of landing, I jetted off to Berlin with my sister and Uncle. It was December and it was totally freezing but it firmly gave me the travel bug. So for Paul’s birthday this year, I decided to buy him a little trip to Berlin. He hadn’t been before and I was definitely keen to go back and see a bit more of the city.
We jetted off on Saturday morning after driving down to Gatwick and actually managing to leave on time. I had kept an eye on the weather all week and knew that we were in store for a whoooole lot of rain so we went prepared with many umbrellas and changes of clothes. I’ve not yet managed to get Berlin in good weather – a reason to return right?
Where we stayed
I ended up getting a bit of a deal on hotels.com and we stayed at Novum Style Hotel Berlin Centrum. It was a bit of a bargain and the rooms themselves were nice (though with terrible pillows) so it’s a good option if you are on a budget. The main downside was that it is pretty far from the centre of town and you do have to have a bit of a wander to the train station. On a normal weekend this would’ve been fine but with all the rain it ended up being a bit of a pain!
What we did
As it was pretty wet, most of our activities involve being inside! But we still managed to do quite a bit, all of which I’d recommend on a visit to Berlin.
Reichstag + Brandenberg Gate
The Reichstag is the German parliament – you can have a wander outside at any time but if you want to go inside then you need to book in advance. We missed out going inside last time so I made sure to book a couple of weeks before. We got a tour which was really interesting to hear all about the Parliament and electoral system in Germany (if you’re into that kind of thing then totally recommend). You can go into the open dome at the top too and get a fab view of the surrounds.
Whilst we were nearby we had a wander to the Brandenberg Gate too which is one of my favourite things to see. The history around it is fascinating too – covered in many of the museums!
This is one of the most important places to visit – covering the second world war. The memorial itself is stunning, a maze of giant pliths that you can easily get lost and disoriented in as they change shape, height and size. The museum underneath the memorial is really harrowing and definitely a must visit. I went to the museum last time I was in Berlin. We did plan to go this time too but it is shut on a Monday so make sure you research ahead!!
Topography of Terrors
The Topography of Terrors is a museum all about the SS – the secret police who operated throughout Hitlers reign. It flows inside and outside including some segments of the Berlin Wall. I enjoyed how this museum was laid out – it was easy to read through and reeeeeally interesting (with equal parts distressing) as you walk through. It’s probably one of my top museums to visit in Berlin.
East Side Gallery
I love learning all about the history of Berlin from the two world wars all the way through to the Cold War and the Berlin Wall. The East Side Gallery is the largest piece of wall that’s remaining. It has been turned into several murals which express different issues that Berlin faced. It’s all out doors so if the sun is shining then it is definitely worth taking a wander through it.
What we ate
As we know, eating and drinking is one of my favourite things to do when I’m abroad and Berlin was no different! We got a good balance down – we started out (and went back a second time!) at Tiergartenquelle which was in the railway arches near where we were staying. This was one of those gems which you never think to go into but it is a true classic German pub. We ate currywurst whilst drinking steins of beer and were most definitely the only tourists in there.
We went a bit classier the next day and went to Dudu for some very delicious sushi (an antidote to all the sausages we were eating). Afterwards we popped into a little underground bar called Sodom and Gommorah. We must have arrived about 8 and it was totally empty. We had a good chat to the barman and it’s clear that Berlin is definitely a late night kind of city – as when we left a few hours later it was getting packed! I’m one for an early night though as we all know.
Our final night we went to the TV tower – the big tower overlooking the city. It has a rotating restaurant at the top which gives you views all over the city. I do recommend going up but the weather was rather rubbish for us so we saw a great view of lots of mist and fog. One to revisit next time!
Overall, Berlin is such a great place for a city break. The city is full of history but the vibe it currently has is one of creativity and start ups. I totally understand why there is an influx of people moving over there as it would be such a cool place to live (and actually has proper rent control!).
Have you been to Berlin? Where do you recommend?
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