Cost: £ – can definitely be done on a budget
Rating: 7/10 – full of history but not the prettiest city and we were FREEZING so probably didn’t enjoy it as much as we could have
Trip length: 2 nights is ideal
Flights were super cheap at £60 return (no hold luggage) with EasyJet. Always check SkyScanner for best rates.
We booked an apartment right by the Brandenburg Gate and opposite the Hotel Adlon, famous for Michael Jackson holding his child over the balcony in front of fans and paparazzi in 2002. Apartment am Brandenburger Tor was spacious, clean and ideally located. The accommodation would have comfortably slept 3, but there were only 2 of us! We paid £120 each for 2 nights!
Currency is the Euro – check conversion rates before you go.
We mainly used Uber to get around as it was so cold. They do have a great public transport system and if you plan on using it a lot, you can purchase a Berlin Pass for the duration of your stay which gives you access to all public transport in the city.
What we did…
1 – Brandenburg Gate
The gate was commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia to represent peace after the (temporarily) successful restoration of order during the Batavian Revolution.
One of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate has come to symbolise Berlin’s Cold War division into East and West – and, since the fall of the Wall, a reunified Germany.
It was just a 2 minute walk away from our apartment.
2 – The Berlin Wall
Whilst thankfully there’s not much left to see of the Berlin Wall, you should definitely go to the memorial / museum. The Berlin Wall was the ‘concrete barrier that physically and ideologically divided Berlin from 1961 to as recently 1989’.
The museum is free to go into and takes you through the history of the wall, from the Cold War to the reunification. The museum highlights many real life stories as well as a timeline illustrated by facts and figures. Although I was a history nerd and learned about this at school, reading the details shocked me. I can’t believe this happened so close to my lifetime!
3 – The Reichstag
The Reichstag was once the seat of the Weimar Republic government until it was seized by the Nazis, and now is the German parliament building. There’s an impressive rooftop dome you can buy tickets for, but unfortunately the building was closed for what looked like an event when we were there.
4 – Berlin Cathedral
This doesn’t come high on any google ‘to do’ list, but I thought this 1800s cathedral was magnificent. It’s well worth going inside and walking up 260 steps to the viewpoint for EUR 7 / £6.30.
5 – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is located close to Brandenburg Gate (and right by our apartment). The memorial consists of 2711 concrete slabs of different heights. There’s also an underground information centre which focuses on stories of the victims with many photos, diaries and farewell letters. It’s informative and incredibly moving – you definitely should go if you’re visiting Berlin. Entry is free.
6 – Checkpoint Charlie
The Western Allies named the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point ‘Checkpoint Charlie!’ There isn’t a considerable amount to see (it’s a hut in the middle of the road) but tourists (including us) happily pay a few euros to pose for photos with the ‘guards’. The area is full of souvenir shops – a bit of a tourist trap.
8 – The Fernsehturm
You get a great view from Berlin from the TV tower! Like true tourists, we went for dinner there.
*TOP TIP* pretend it’s someone from your groups birthday when you make the booking for a guaranteed window slot.
It was quite pricey but the food was good and it was a especially enjoyable evening. You can just go to the bar to the lookout point if you want. Make sure you book in advance.
9 – Potsdam
If you have the time, take a short train to Potsdam, a city on the border of Berlin. I’m not usually one for a hop on, hop off tour, but I actually quite enjoyed the one we went on here! We were accosted by a tour guide we bought tickets from as we got off the train, but you can book tour tickets online for about £16 per person.
The tour takes you to:
- Sanssouci – summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia
- New Palace – beautiful 18th century palace
- Cecilienhof Palace – the Tudor palace, famous for having been the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945. This conference involved Churchill, Stalin and Truman making history as they decided how to partition Germany!
There are many gorgeous buildings and squares you’ll discover as you walk around Berlin. As you can see, we were bloody freezing… but we did make the effort to walk as much as we could.
Berlin is an incredibly well-known party place. It’s very ‘cool’ – I was told not to go to clubs with any clothing brands visible as that would be too mainstream ;)! The clubs open late and the nightlife doesn’t get going until after midnight. It was freezing cold and Rachael and I were grandmas and in bed by midnight so did not experience the trendy Berlin club scene.
We did go to Monkey Bar which was a cool bar on the 10th floor of a hotel. During the daytime you can see into the zoo next door.
Other bar recommendations: (from a local)
Haus am See
Neue Odessa Bar
Rosenthaler Platz – lots of cool bars in this area
Whilst I received lots of recommendations for food before I went, we largely ate in random restaurants we thought looked nice as we were walking around (usually desperate to get out of the cold!)
Restaurant recommendations: (from a local)
Max und Moritz
A Never Ending Love Story
Berlin is an amazing city. Some of it is not particularly picturesque, (especially East Germany as it was the socialist ‘workers’ and ‘peasants’ state’ until 1990), but it’s full of history and a fantastic location for a mini break.
It’s not a ridiculously expensive place – we spent £210 each over nearly 3 full days!
Cost per person (for 2 nights / 3 days)
Flights – £60
Accommodation – £120
Spend – £210
Total – £390