Our Weekend City Break to Berlin

Our recent trip to Berlin was a great weekend away filled with lots of sightseeing, culture, beers, sunshine and catching up with friends. We had four pretty full days to spend in the city but we only really saw a tiny bit of what’s there… this is how we spent our (long) weekend.

Thursday

We landed at 11am after a comfortable Aer Lingus flight into Tegel airport (the northern airport in the city). Getting into town was really easy: the public transport in Berlin works off a single ticket that lasts for two hours, covering buses, underground, trams, etc. Admittedly we just used Google Maps to navigate around the city, but it’s all pretty straightforward.

We found our way to Kreuzberg (where the Airbnb was located) and found a café to eat brunch outside. It was the middle of the day and it was scorching. From there we trekked over to the Jewish Museum (see our top 5 must-see list), which we’d highly recommend to anyone looking for some culture, incredible architecture and beautiful gardens.

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We checked into the Airbnb, which was delightful, then after a quick trip for supplies we relaxed on the balcony with a glass of wine. That evening we ventured into Mitte (via a perfect oasis of a beer garden that saved us from the heat) and found a cute Vietnamese restaurant called Madami, where we ate delicious food plus mojitos for just under €40 – great value.

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A trip to Neukoln to catch up with Shauna’s friends rounded out the day, with €1 beers enjoyed late into the warm evening. Tip: If you’re thinking of getting a taxi (like we were), don’t. Buses run regularly late into the night; it was a doddle getting home.

Friday

Friday was our culture day, and we certainly took in some culture. We hit some of the must-see spots in the morning: Checkpoint Charlie (named for the military alphabet, not a soldier), the Topography of Terror (the old SS Headquarters, transformed into a museum and flanked by the largest remaining section of the Berlin Wall) and Potsdamer Platz, then walked to Museum Island. This island (the river parts around it) has five museums plus a cathedral on it. You can buy a ticket to visit all of them or, as we compromised, just hit one. We chose the Altes Museum (short queue) and explored its collection of Greek and Roman artefacts.

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All this exploration had us starving, so we headed to Yam Yam (also on our top 5 list) on strong recommendation; we were not disappointed. Just north of the city, it’s well worth a trip, with an extensive menu of Korean dishes and handy outside seating if the weather is good. It’s easy enough to find a nice selection of vintage and designer shops from there, so we wandered the streets for a while before heading back for a drink at a cool little bar called Luzia in Kreuzberg.

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That night we caught up with friends at Schiller Burger (again, great, inexpensive food) then headed to Home bar for cocktails. As ever, it was super simple navigating around the city with a day ticket (€7).

Saturday

Saturday was another hot day; we got up lateish and wandered into town. We’d booked a free walking tour with Sandemans, which started at the Brandenburg Gate and took us around several key spots in the city, including the Holocaust Memorial (on the list), Hitler’s bunker (now a car park), back to Checkpoint Charlie and more. Our tour guide, Sarah, was extremely knowledgeable and the tour was great value as you simply tipped her what you thought it was worth at the end. It’s definitely a good idea to book, though, as about thirty people were turned away on the day due to its popularity.

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After that we found a bar by the river for a quick drink, then headed home to get ready for a lovely night out. We’d planned our dinner well in advance: based on the advice of fellow foodie, we ate at Khushi in the Pankow area. The area around the restaurant was beautiful: we strolled down the leafy streets, checking out bars with fairy lights and people drinking outside. It was a very pleasant way to spend a warm summer evening. The restaurant didn’t disappoint either – we love our curry, and this was very good curry indeed, with peppered poppadoms and fresh garlic naan bread complementing rich sauces, plus two mojitos (as is standard) to top it off.

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After that we looked up a nearby beer garden that I’d previously starred on Google Maps, and we loved it the second we walked in (yep, it made the list). It was purely continental in the way you just don’t get in Ireland or the UK: rows and rows of tables and benches filled with people talking, drinking steins of beer and eating bratwurst. Fairy lights hanging from tall trees between the tables, no music, just the sound of chatter and laughter. We could have stayed all night, but as it was our last night, we had to move on.

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A short ten minute walk away we paid €1 to enter and have a drink in 8MM bar: dark, moody, great music and weird projections on the wall. From there we decided to hit a club (don’t tell Shauna’s friends but we got a taxi) – Club Der Visionnaire. We are not big club people, but this place was amazing. Outdoors but sheltered, nestled right on the waterfront, loud music, packed with people chatting and dancing. We don’t have any pictures of the club as most clubs in Berlin don’t like you taking pictures when inside. Apparently some will even cover the camera on your phone with a little sticker before you enter. They didn’t do this to us when entering Club Der Visionnaire, however, we were fans of the ideal that you could just let loose, dance and have a fun time without a camera in your face or your antics ending up on Snapchat/Facebook.

Sunday

Our last day (boo). We checked out of our lovely Airbnb and caught the bus to Chipps for a delicious brunch in the sunshine. It was the start of what turned out to be a scorching hot day so we sat outside in their lovely patio area and took it very easy, drinking coffee and eating leisurely.

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Our flight was not until 10pm so we had the whole day there. We had been told by lots of people that Mauerpark was the place to be on a Sunday and so after dropping our luggage in lockers at the train station we hopped on the underground. Mauerpark most definitely made the list. When we arrived we joined crowds of people strolling towards the park. It wasn’t the hot, uncomfortable crowd you might encounter at a busy tourist destination, it was a very different vibe. The first thing we did was check out the giant flea market that’s beside the park. After about 15/20 minutes of strolling through here, however, we decided that it was just too hot. We nipped across the road for some €1 beers and lay back on the grass. We loved Mauerpark. To us it was the perfect way to spend our last day there. If you want to read a little bit more about our experience of Mauerpark, keep an eye out, we have a post dedicated to it coming soon.

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And that was our weekend in Berlin! Fun-filled, with plenty of sights and some great food and beer along the way. If you’re planning a trip, get in touch with us on Twitter if you’d like some more tips.

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