At first, Berlin feels like a stern, no-nonsense city. It’s been through a lot and wears its scars (like the Berlin Wall) proudly. But a day or two later and it’s fun, underground tone comes out.
It makes a great weekend break – close enough to keep within my 2 hour weekend break rule, an easy airport-to-city option (TXL bus or the SXF train), and somewhere you can go in all seasons. The first time I went it was summer, with sunny evenings spent by the river and cycling in Tiergarten (Berlin’s equivalent to Hyde Park). Most recently it was a December weekender – cold but bearable to walk around.
Our weekend was spent visiting the usual sites, and eating some of the local delights (Berliners, currywurst, schnitzel etc). Some of the best free things to do in Berlin include:
- Brandenburg Gate
- Holocaust Memorial
- Topography of Terror
- Checkpoint Charlie (which is very cheesy)
- Gendarmenmarkt Square (a nice lunch stop)
- Alexanderplatz (for any shopping)
- Berliner Dom
- Berlin Wall (you can see this in several locations including X and East Side Gallery)
- Reichstag Building (note, you need to book this in advance but it’s well worth going up, especially at sunset)
And some that you need to pay for:
- The many museums on Museum Island
- DDR Museum (fairly cramped but worth a visit)
- Boat trip on the river Spree (starting at the Dom)
- TV Tower
The beauty of Berlin is that you can walk most of it. We only got the S-Bahn once and that was to the far side of Tiergarten, so we could walk back through it to Brandenburg Gate. I really recommend putting the sites you want to visit into Google Maps and creating your own self-guided walking tour.
You won’t be stuck finding somewhere to eat in Berlin, but we enjoyed the small and non-touristy Boulevard Friedrichstrasse, and there’s some nice places near Nikolaikirche. Berlin also is known for its nightlife – too much for this blog, but this article should help you plan where to go, if that’s your thing.
Berlin makes a short weekend break, but it’s also very well connected to other European cities. When I first went, I got the train on to Amsterdam and I know you can get to the likes of Poland and Prague as well as many other towns and cities in Germany, very easily.