Germany has long been on both Andrew and my travel bucket lists. We decided that a weekend in Berlin would be the perfect place to start.
What interested me most about visiting Germany was the chance to see how history and progress interact in a place where so much has happened in the past 100 or so years. To really experience this, you’d need weeks in Berlin to peruse all the museums and explore all the new, funky art galleries and delicious traditional and emerging restaurants. A weekend in Berlin may leave you wanting more time, but isn’t that a great way to leave a place?
We tried a new way of travelling for this weekend away on the continent, departing London early Saturday morning and returning in time for work on Monday morning. Even with our early wake-up time and early flight, we were still running to make our 1:00 pm walking tour after dropping our bags at the MEININGER Hotel Berlin Mitte Humboldthaus.
The Brewer’s Berlin walking tour was the perfect start to our quick weekend trip. We knocked out many of the major sites in just a few hours, all with helpful facts and anecdotes about living in Berlin from our resident tour guide.
The tour is free, all you have to pay is a tip at your discretion. Our guide was Australian, so he was a fluent English speaker, and he had lived in Berlin for over a decade. His passion for the city and its history made the tour engaging. I forget his name, unfortunately, but I recommend the tour – it is three hours long, so bring your walking shoes!
We started our tour on Museum Island, with stunning views of the Berlin Cathedral and Atles Museum. After an introduction, we headed west off the island and through a market to start taking in the sights.
The Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship in the Neue Wache building.
The Neue Kirche Deutscher Dom in Gendarmarkt.
Discovered some art on our tour break!
We stopped near the Berlin Wall Memorial to learn more about the wall.
Our tour then wound around to the scenic parking lot that has been erected over the bunker where Hitler killed himself. There is a sign marking the spot if you really look for it.
The memorial is powerful. Though there are hundreds of tourists milling about, when you go into these towers, suddenly you find yourself completely alone, wondering what is around the next narrow corner.
Our tour ended by the beautiful Brandenburg Gate in Pariser Platz.
At this point, the perfect next spot to check out would have been to go to to the top of the Reichstag Building and take in the views of Berlin from the glass dome. It is free, but you must book tickets in advance and we totally forgot to do that. Even though we visited in the off season in late March, it was sold out the entire weekend. Don’t miss it – book your tickets here!
After our tour, we walked by the Berlin Cathedral again and toward the Berliner Fernsehturm to check out a German beer hall near Alexanderplatz.
We went to Hofbräu Berlin and quickly learned that we should save the beer halls for a trip to Münich. The one we visited was nothing special, though it was fun to get a pre-dinner drink in a lively atmosphere!
Our tour guide recommended Das Meisterstück Berlin for dinner. We hopped a cab over and the cab driver informed us it was very touristy and we should go out in East Berlin, but things wouldn’t kick off until 10 pm at the earliest. While we appreciated his enthusiasm for the real Berlin, 10 pm sounded late after a 7:30 am flight from Stansted!
Though the cabbie did not approve of our dinner choice – we did! It was cool to see a modern take on a traditional German dish and it was the sort of yuppie place that speaks to yuppies like us, hehe. They had many different types of sausages and the restaurant itself was smoky from the kitchen where they were made. There were many German craft brews for Andrew to choose from and the wine I ordered was delicious.
We walked back to our hotel by the French Cathedral in Gendarmarkt, pictured above, and learned that Berlin is very beautiful by night. Walking along the Spree, we passed an adorable row of restaurants and decided we would come back there the next night for dinner.
On Sunday, we got up and headed to East Side Gallery.
East Side Gallery is a must in Berlin. It is open-air and free. Artists from around the world lend their talents to the wall, turning into a memorial for freedom.
The works are very varied and many are beautiful.
After the gallery, we walked across the Oberbaumbrücke to get some lunch.
Andrew got a recommendation to eat at Burgermeister, and it was a short walk from the Gallery. We got there at the right time – it was about to open and a line was already forming!
It was darn good. Highly recommend.
With burgers for fuel, we set out and wandered the streets of Berlin to get an idea of what the city is like. We quickly stumbled upon art, street art, and a rap concert in the back of a van.
There is lots of beautifully done street art and graffiti in Berlin.
After wandering, we visited the Jewish Museum. It was fascinating to learn about the history of Jews in Europe.
As the sun set, we headed to the banks of the Spree for a spritz. It was beautiful. After that, we walked further down the river to dinner and decided upon Ständige Vertretung.
I had to get a currywurst! I enjoyed it and I decided I quite like German food! After dinner, we headed straight back to the hotel as we had a super early Monday morning flight. We made it back to London just in time for work and I can’t say we’ll be doing that type of travel any time soon, but we do wish we could return to Berlin!