Berlin = uber-cool, with an eccentric mix of old & new. Visiting any time of year is something of a travelling no brainer.
Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or a 2 day stopover during a wider European adventure, there is plenty to pack into 48 hours without limiting the full Berlin experience. And once you’re 48 hours is up, if you haven’t already fallen in love, quit your job and started a new career as a fledgling techno DJ, you’ll most certainly have seen and experienced enough of this cosmopolitan hub to know that you’ll be back for more.
Avoid the Segway’s and bike tours because Berlin has an excellent transport system that will get you anywhere you need to go in the city centre and, bonus, it is unbelievably cheap. A basic single ticket for zones A & B costs approximately €2.70. Buses and the U-Bahn (train system) usually run until 1am on the weekdays and mostly all night on Fridays and Saturdays, so if you’re planning a night out at one of Berlin’s world famous clubs during your visit you can be sure you won’t break the bank on regretful Uber rides.
Love history? You will LOVE Berlin, a major player on the historical stage. Today it is a fun, vibrant city with arts, culture and advanced technology, however there are many sites which still exist that commemorate the hard times of WWII. A 3 hour walking city tour is the best way to see sites like Reichstag, Brandenbury Gate and the Berlin Wall (if you’re on a Contiki trip the orientation city tour is already included – #winning).
No weekend in Berlin would be complete without a visit to a flea market. There are plenty of markets around town that offer a great atmosphere, vintage buys, antiques, street artist performances and unique food stalls. If you are a bargain hunter or a vintage lover, look no further than the internationally known Mauerpark flea market. This free huge outdoor flea market is only open on Sundays and its charm is comparable to that unbeatable festival vibe. Guaranteed, you won’t leave this market hungry or empty handed.
Berlin is world famous for its dynamic street art culture and the streets of the city are testament to the fact that street art is no different to real art. ‘Alternative’ street art city tours are a great way to further understand the cultural significance of Berlin’s street art scene, or just jump on the U-ban (train) and visit locations like the historically famous East Side Gallery, Rosenthaler Strasse, Schleseisches Tor, and the hipster hub of Kreuzberg.
Berlin is the DJ capital of the world and for many, Berlin’s techno scene is a benchmark for club-music culture. The city’s transformation into the world techno capital is undoubtedly tied to the fall of the Berlin Wall. As the wall came down, behaviour changed. Berliner’s had new found freedom, and clubs started to develop inside the abandoned factories and commercial buildings. Today there are too many to count, but the likes of Berghain, Sisyphos, and Salon zur Wilden Renate are pretty much immortalised in techno history. A word of warning however – entry to get into clubs (which have a very specific door policy) costs upwards of around €30 for entry, and expect to queue for up to two hours to get in.
Eat & drink the ‘Berlin’ way
You’re probably thinking German food equals giant sausages, cheese and beer – right? Just like in London and New York, Berlin isn’t about just eating ‘German’ food and drinking regular ‘German’ beer, it’s about enjoying some of the best tastes from all around the world – with a twist.
Kreuzberg is the place to visit for the best food and alternative craft beer. It’s a trendy local hotspot and gives you the perfect opportunity to try out your rusty German language skills – if you dare. Burger addicts should head to Burgermeister for a meaty fix, sit at the restaurant tables under the train tracks or order takeaway. For currywurst the ‘Berlin way’, order yours boiled and naked (without any skin) from Curry 36, or if you are a little unsure about what you want and need inspiration, visit the food market hall Markthalle Neun – home to Berlin’s best food events.