It’s hard to describe Berlin, in many ways it’s like any other European capital. It’s not known for one particular thing, rather it’s a bit of one thing and a bit of another. In Berlin you can find any cuisine you would like, including but not limited to native German cuisine. You can also find museums covering pretty much any subject you’re interested in. Walking around Berlin you can hear many different languages. In fact we heard English spoken as much as German – the only city in Germany where we experienced this, and we’ve visited a lot. But there are sights and experiences to be had in Berlin which are unique and we’ll focus on those in our travel guide for a weekend in Berlin.
Berlin, the capital of Germany makes for a great city break in Europe. It has a bit of everything, history, world class museums, great food and plenty of shops. It is a multicultural city with a very complex history – which you can learn a lot about while you’re there.
Where to Stay in Berlin
We recommend staying in the Charlottenburg district while in Berlin. It’s an upscale, affluent area of Berlin and is where a lot of the mid-range 3* and 4* hotels are located.
We recommend staying at the H’Otello K’80 in Charlottenburg. It’s in a great location, within walking distance of Savignyplatz S-Bahn Train Station. This station connects to Berlin’s main train station as well as Alexanderplatz which is basically the central square of Berlin.
H’Otello K’80 has uncluttered, minimalist rooms. You can have breakfast at the hotel and there is also a gym and a pretty good bar on site.
Getting around Berlin
You have tons of options when it comes to getting around Berlin. There’s a great metro system which is pretty cheap. You have taxis, though you probably won’t really need these unless you want quick/private airport transfers. You can also hire bikes from Fat Tire Tours.
We used bikes and the S-Bahn mainly, we also did a lot of walking – there is a lot to see!
Day 1 – Charlottenburg and Tiergarten
Berlin is a 24/7 city, no matter what time you arrive on your first day in Berlin there will be something going on. Assuming you arrive mid-afternoon then check into your hotel and head straight back out into the city to start exploring.
Charlottenburg is located to the west of central Berlin. There are loads of cafes, bars and shops in this area and we loved just wandering around this area on our first day in the city.
If you arrive in Berlin in time for lunch we recommend checking out Reinhard’s on Kurfürstendamm. It’s just around the corner from H’Otello K’80. The food here is great, the service is good – and quick. You can have a great meal at a reasonable price for a major city.
Reinhard’s looks fancy but don’t let that put you off going in here. Charlottenburg is a bit of a fancy neighbourhood, but we weren’t made to feel uncomfortable in our very casual clothes arriving straight from Wacken Open Air.
Tiergarten is a huge park and is located between Charlottenburg and Mitte – the centre of Berlin. It’s a great place for running, walking or you can take a rowing boat out on Neuer See.
Café am Neuen See is located right on the lake and is a great place to spend a relaxing couple of hours. You can rent boats here but if that’s not your thing then you can hang out in their beer garden.
Depending how much time you have on your first day you could continue walking through Tiergarten all the way to Mitte where you will find some of the big sights of Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building and the Holocaust memorial are all located at the Mitte end of Tiergarten. You will also pass the Victory Column which is a war monument located in the middle of Tiergarten.
The Reichstag Building is where the German parliament (the Bundestag) meet. You can enter the Reichstag Building and visit the roof terrace and the dome. Booking in advance is required and can be done on the Bundestag website. The last admission is 21:45 so you can visit here pretty late, ideal for your first day in Berlin.
Day 2 – Mitte District and Fat Tire Tours
Your main day of your weekend in Berlin! Hit the ground running to make the most of it. The best way to see a lot in a short space of time is to take a tour. We can 100% recommend Fat Tire Tours, specifically their Berlin Highlights Tour. It’s well priced at around £25 per person for 3 hours touring around Berlin with a very knowledgable guide.
Fat Tires Berlin Highlights Tour
Book the first tour of the day, typically 10 or 11am depending on when you are visiting Berlin. The tours leave from Alexanderplatz where the Fat Tire Tours office is. Get the U-Bahn to Berlin Alexanderplatz Bahnhof, which takes about half an hour from Bismarckstraße station in Charlottenburg.
During the tour you will visit Museum Island which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although you won’t have time to go inside during the tour (and you’re on bikes!) you could make a note of any that interest you and head back in the afternoon. Berlin Cathedral is also located on Museum Island.
You will learn a lot of World War II history while on the tour which is a must while in Berlin. You will be shown Nazi Architecture and the site of Hitler’s bunker. The tour also takes you to the site of where the Nazis conducted a book burning in 1933, Bebelplatz.
Check Point Charlie
A big tourist attraction is Check Point Charlie. You will ride here on the Fat Tires Tour and be given a short time to have a look around – we found the time given was more than enough.
Check Point Charlie is one of the old crossing points between East and West Berlin during the time of the Berlin Wall. It was manned by the Americans and today you can see actors dressed up in US uniforms and everyone getting their photos taken etc. It’s very busy and I’m not sure the way it’s set up really hits the right mark. Although clearly very popular this mock up was one thing I didn’t care for during our weekend in Berlin.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
One of the best memorials we saw while in Berlin, which you will be taken to as part of the tour, was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is made up of 2711 columns which you are encouraged to walk amongst. This memorial covers a large area, forming a bit of a maze, it is easy to find a quiet place within the columns if you like.
One thing you can’t miss while in Berlin is visiting the Berlin Wall. The tour takes you to visit part of the wall as well as to see a deathstrip watch tower which is still standing. You will learn about what lengths some people would go to to cross from one side of Berlin to the other, risking their lives in the process. It is a horrific part of the cities history but it’s important that the past is remembered and so worthy of your time while visiting Berlin.
The Berlin Highlights Bike Tour takes around 3 hours. With an early start this should leave you with most of the afternoon and evening free to explore Berlin on your own.
If you spotted any museums on Museum Island you were interested in then head back there to check those out this afternoon.
If you want to relax after your tour then check out one or two of the many bars in Berlin’s Mitte district where your tour ends.
Topography of Terror
For those wanting to carry on learning a bit more about Berlin’s history during World War II we recommend you head to Topography of Terror.
Between 1933 and 1945 the headquarters of the Gestapo, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office were all located where the Topography of Terror currently stands. There are a couple of guided tours you can join but you can make your own way around as well.
There is a lot to see and take in at the Topography of Terror, it will take most people a couple of hours to get around the main areas.
KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens)
In the evening head back towards Charlottenburg stopping off at KaDeWe on route, which is in the Schöneberg district. KaDeWe is a vast department store, one of the biggest in Europe. It is over 100 years old and home to lots of food, the 6th and 7th floors are food only!
Now KaDeWe isn’t cheap, it’s like Germany’s Harrods, but you will get great quality food here if you have the budget. Head up to the top floor for great views and see if you fancy trying on of the restaurants for your dinner.
Even if you don’t plan on having dinner in KaDeWe the Delicatessen (the 6th floor) is worth a wander round if you’re foodies like us. We loved checking out all the different foods they had, lots of traditional German food too.
Day 3 –
Your last day of your weekend in Berlin! What time you are leaving will dictate how much you will get to see today.
If you only have a few hours spend some more time exploring Charlottenburg, get breakfast, do some people watching, browse some shops. If you have a bit more time you might want to check out Berlin Zoo or Aquarium in Tiergarten.
If you have more time to spend in Germany than just a weekend then consider adding a few days to your trip and heading south to Dresden from Berlin. Check out our three day Dresden Itinerary to see if we can tempt you!
We hope you find our guide for a weekend in Berlin useful. Let us know your favourite parts of Berlin in the comments!