It was my first time in Berlin, Germany and to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A sprawling city, overwhelming yet exciting, it was somewhere I was very curious to explore. I’ve had friends visit Berlin saying it was one of their favorite cities in Europe, so needless to say, I was ready to dive in.
Berlin has an edge to it — this mix of refined restaurants and shopping yet a subculture that influences the city with incredible street art that feels edgy. The contrast of the two is hard to grasp yet once immersed, addicting. I can see why many people call Berlin home, even as an expat.
After spending a long weekend there, I felt like I just scratched the surface of the city. There is so much to discover here. From museums to neighborhood coffee shops, I felt easily at home here. It wasn’t enough time to truly dive deep but what I did find was a city vibrant in culture. A city that has history, a hard one. A city that is rich in architecture and art, so plentiful you could spend two weeks just visiting museums. And along the way, some really incredible international cuisine.
Here’s a look at what I discovered and loved in Berlin, Germany.
A Weekend Guide to Berlin, Germany
What to Know Before Traveling to Berlin
AMOUNT OF TIME: The city is huge, you could easily spend a week and not do it all. I’d recommend three full days to get a good sense of the city.
TRANSPORTATION: From Tegel airport, there are options like the airport bus or Uber/Taxis. In the city, public transport is cheap and affordable by train or local bus. When local tip: always abide by the crosswalk signage and wait until it’s your turn. Bikes are also a great way to see the city as are Lime scooters. You’ll find Uber to be pricier than most destinations.
MONEY: Euros are accepted as are major credit cards. Tipping isn’t always expected though 10-15% is normal during meals.
WEATHER: The fall is a wonderful time to visit and I’d recommend avoiding the summer crowds.
Where to Stay in Berlin
There are a few options for where to stay in Berlin as the city is rather large. I’d recommend a central location close to the Mitte Neighborhood or for those looking for a hip neighborhood, Prenzlauer Berg is perfect. As I was traveling with family, we stayed at the Sheraton Berlin Grand Hotel Esplanade and the location was nice to be close to transportation and the park. My top picks for hotels in Berlin include:
- The Ritz-Carlton Berlin
- Hotel Q
- Hotel am Steinplatz
- Sir Savigny Hotel
- Ellington Hotel Berlin
- Hotel Zoo
- Hotel de Rome
Search more hotels in Berlin here:
Best Things to Do in Berlin
Museum hop: There are so many museums to see in Berlin and they’re all at Museum Island. I’d recommend getting the Berlin Museum pass which gives you access to most museums and attractions. My favorites that we visited was the Pergamon Museum and I’d highly recommend going to the Holocaust Memorial. Please remember the Holocaust Memorial is a place of remembrance and a place to avoid loud or disrespectful behavior.
The Berlin Cathedral: This church is well worth a visit and I’d stop by to tour inside. You can walk to the top and get breathtaking views over the city.
Stop by the historic Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie: Checkpoint Charlie was the name that was allocated by the Western Allies where you could cross the Berlin Wall between West and East Berlin at the time of the Cold War.
See the Neue Wache Memorial: This is memorial dedicated to the victims of war and dictatorship. It’s a hard site to experience but an opportunity to pay respects.
Walk the gardens of Tiergarten Park: Like NYC’s Central Park, Tiergarten is beautiful for an afternoon or morning walk in the green space of Berlin.
Tour the Reichstag Building: There are guided tours inside of the famous dome as well as a rooftop tour available. It’s where Germany history is written and one of the most significant buildings around.
Get panoramic views over the city: Head to PANORAMPUNKT for an incredible viewing deck that gives 360-degree views over Berlin.
Walk the East Side Gallery / Berlin Wall: The largest section of wall still up is on the east side and is now covered in murals from over 100 artists.
Experience the Nikolai Quarter: This charming neighborhood has amazing homes and narrow streets to experience. Now it’s full of restaurants and shops and a good spot to visit for the afternoon.
Where to Eat & Drink in Berlin
House of Small Wonder: The famous brunch house — be sure to reserve in advance.
Mogg: A go-to for incredible sandwiches and delicatessen.
Markthalle Neun: If you’re looking for a variety of restaurants in one place, this food hall has several stands to try.
Wagner Cocktail Bistro: Tucked away, this charming restaurant is great for modern bistro food. Their drinks are also a standout.
Umami: This restaurant came recommended more times than any other for Vietnamese food!
Cafe Anna Blume: The most charming breakfast spot that is a part of a florist shop!
SOYA: For great vegan and vegetarian Vietnamese food.
Coffee at: The Barn, Bonanza Coffee Roasters, Distrikt, Impala,
Grab drinks at: Prater Beer Garden, a wide selection of beers at Muted Horn, beer at Cafe am Neun See inside Tiergarten,