I’ve been to Berlin several times now and I must say: I loved every single moment. There’s no other city in Germany that is so versatile, hip and full of all kinds of interesting people. I even believe it’s the most creative German city, too – and I’ve already been to Munich, Hamburg and many other cities already. However, Berlin is definitely worth a trip.
Whether you want to see the city from the bus, the water or by bike, you will definitely find a way to visit the different neighborhoods. And don’t worry! Although Berlin is very big, you can manage to see the best places on a long weekend trip (3-4 days). So, read here a little about Berlin’s history, when you should visit and how to get there. Also, I show you my favorite places and food spots to get an impression of Berlin and its authentic charm.
Berlin is the capital and Germany’s largest city. After World War II, it was divided into East and West. Not much could happen in the West due to the politically isolated situation, while in the East, the planned economy failed.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the reunification, the Berliners rediscovered each other. A short time later, the federal government decided to move the seat of government from Bonn back to Berlin. Nevertheless, for many years Berlin still consisted of two very different parts. But artists and alternative people conquered the open spaces and ruins and were able to fully develop in the economically troubled city.
Today Berlin has fewer contrasts, but still clearly defined neighborhoods. And although it’s constantly changing, it remains a city of great history and diversity.
Best Travel Time
Usually, Berlin can be beautiful in any season. But most of all, I really enjoyed my time there in the summer. You just have more possibilities and you can experience the Berlin flair better. For example, you can sit outside of cafés, you can bike or scooter around or you can have a boat ride on the Spree and see the city from a different perspective. And since Berlin is so big, it’s just nicer when it’s warm outside.
That’s why I recommend going there between April and October. If you want to avoid the most tourists, stay away during July and August when the holidays begin. Because then, it can get really packed.
How To Get To Berlin
Germany has a great public transport network. That’s why you can easily reach Berlin by long-distance bus or train. But you can also fly to Berlin by plane if you arrive from another country. Trains, shuttle buses, taxis or Uber will definitely take you to the neighborhood of your choice from both Berlin-Schönefeld and Berlin-Tegel airport.
Within Berlin, it can be quite exhausting though, because the journey by S-Bahn or U-Bahn from A to B can be very long sometimes. So I recommend choosing your accommodation near the top sights. That way, you save time and you will already be right in the middle of Berlin.
With the BVG smartphone app, you can quickly see on the way how to get to your desired destination. A day ticket per person currently costs 7€. If you travel a lot on foot or just want to explore one or two neighborhoods per day, a 4-trip card is worth it (9€ per person). Anyway, I would always recommend walking or renting a bike to see the city.
Best things to do in Berlin
One thing is clear: you cannot avoid this Berlin landmark. The classicist triumphal gate is a symbol of the turbulent history of the division and reunification of Germany. And the good thing about it is that the Brandenburg Gate itself is quickly explored. There is no museum that you can visit there.
Nevertheless, it’s just impressive to look at. My tip: come by both during the day and in the evening. The illuminated Brandenburg Gate looks beautiful in the dark.
One of the most impressive places in Berlin is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Holocaust Memorial for short. It consists of 2.711 concrete cuboids of different sizes which are strung together on a huge surface. You can see the memorial either from the outside or you can enter the countless, slightly sloping corridors.
The memorial is accessible free of charge at any time of the day. Also worth seeing is the underground exhibition called “Place of Information” which holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims. The exhibition is open every day except Monday.
The former border crossing of divided Berlin is very well known for its guardhouse and soldiers. But in my opinion, it’s not one of the city’s major highlights. Still, I want to mention it here, if you want to know how the border crossing looked like. If not, you can skip it from your list, because there are definitely more exciting places in Berlin.
The Kurfürstendamm, also known as Kudamm, is one of the most popular avenues in Berlin. You cannot just go there for (luxury) shopping, but you can also see lots of other interesting things around the Kudamm. One of them is the striking Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It’s a memorial to the war and consists of a historic church ruin and two new buildings.
Not far away you will find the Bikini Berlin. It’s a hip shopping center with constantly changing designer shops, a trendy food court with food from all over the world and a panoramic window to the monkey enclosure of the Berlin zoo. So, if you want to go shopping and see a little bit of history, Kudamm is definitely the right place to go.
The Hackesche Höfe is a historical building ensemble designed in the Art Nouveau style by August Endel in 1906. They consist of a total of eight courtyards with several shops, restaurants, cafés, and even a cinema. The facades are partly very artistically designed, so it’s definitely worth taking a walk through the complex and take a picture of it yourself.
The Reichstag building is one of the best known and most beautiful buildings in Berlin. The historic construction was expanded in the 90s by a glass dome with a viewing platform that you can visit.
Visiting the dome is completely free, but you have to register in advance. You can find more information on the official website of the German Bundestag: Dome & roof terrace of the Reichstag building.
The Berlin Cathedral was once the court church of the Hohenzollern who resided in the city palace on the other side of the Spree. Meanwhile, the largest church in Berlin is not just very worth seeing, but also a real highlight.
In fact, you can climb the dome of the Berlin Cathedral. After 270 steps you finally get rewarded with a beautiful view over Berlin Mitte and the Museum Island on which the cathedral is located.
East Side Gallery
Who doesn’t know the famous street art motif that shows the kiss between Brezhnev and Honecker? It is located on the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall, the so-called East Side Gallery.
The East Side Gallery houses a total of 100 paintings over 1.3 kilometers. This makes it the largest open-air gallery in the world. You can walk them either from Warschauer Straße or from Ostbahnhof. At no other place in Berlin, the history of division and reunification is as present as here.
There are a lot of castles in Berlin and Brandenburg. One of the most beautiful of these is in the Charlottenburg Palace which looks almost like a mini Versailles. Even though the admission price for what you can see inside the building is a little high, it is definitely worth visiting the adjoining castle garden which is free. Find more information about it on their website.
Boat cruises on the Spree
When you are in Berlin, you won’t miss the boats on the Spree river. It’s a beautiful way to visit Berlin’s inner city. While passing big sights like the Reichstag or the Berlin Cathedral, you will listen to the guides who inform you about the history and buildings of the capital. There are different tour lengths, but I would recommend booking a 1-hour-tour. It’s just long enough to get an impression of Berlin and to see other parts of the city as well on foot or by bike. Find more information about the boat cruises on this website.
Where To Eat in Berlin
Neni Berlin & Monkey Bar
I’ve known and loved the NENI in Vienna for years. So I was not surprised that I was also enthusiastic about the branch in Berlin. The restaurant is on the 10th floor of the 25hours hotel. So, you have a great view of the zoo while enjoying creative Israeli, Mediterranean dishes. If it is just a drink (or more), you are in good hands in the associated Monkey Bar.
Where To Stay in Berlin
If you’re looking for an extremely hip, cool and cozy hotel, try Lulu Guldsmeden. It’s located in Schöneberg not far from the Potsdamer Platz and offers comfortable rooms, a lounge, a restaurant and a nice backyard where you can enjoy drinks in the evening. Also, the Lulu Guldsmeden hotel has not only bike rentals but is also sustainable in all areas. So, one more reason to stay in this incredible accommodation. And what can I say: I really loved it!
Max Brown Ku’damm
Max Brown Ku’damm is a design hotel that is really nicely decorated with a modern retro twist. It’s not just easy to feel comfortable right away, but also to fall in love with the food you get in the in-house restaurant Benedict. The breakfast there is just exceptional. So, if you stay in this hotel, you should really try it. Overall, there was a very warm, personal and therefore hospitable atmosphere at Max Brown Ku’damm which makes your Berlin trip even more fantastic!
Download My Checklist
There’s so much to see in Berlin that’s even not listed here. But let’s be honest. More is not possible on a long weekend trip. Anyway, I hope I could help you with the list of my favorite places, tips, and recommendations. But don’t worry! You don’t have to write down everything. I’ve done that for you.
Here you can download and print my little checklist, so you will always know what to do on your next trip to Berlin. Also, you can make notes if you want to add something that’s not on my list, but that you have found elsewhere. If so, please let me know in the comments what it is. I always love to discover new places.