I don’t think either Craig or myself had Berlin on our travel bucket-list, but a destination wedding in Potsdam brought us to the city, so we thought why not cross it off our list anyway.
Now I must admit, I was super apprehensive about Berlin. When I think of Berlin, I think of a dark, grey, graffiti-filled, unromantic city – so uncharacteristic of our European wonderland, like Paris. Needless to say, I had low expectations for the city and Craig tried his best to reassure me that it wouldn’t be anything like I had thought (later he confided that he too, had the same grey image of Berlin in his head).
After having been to Berlin, I can’t say that my concerns were invalid. It definitely is not a ‘pretty’ city by any means, but we still had a lovely two days walking around. At this rate, we don’t plan on returning so you can imagine it was a crammed full two days of exploring (and about 19km + 14km of walking). I didn’t find that many travel guides or blogs on the city and so hopefully this can help anyone visiting the city in the future!
Where to stay:
We stayed at the i31 Boutique Berlin Hotel and absolutely loved it. The decor is trendy and there were some of the highly-ranked restaurants nearby. Almost right next door is the popular Asian restaurant, Co Chu, and just a 7 minute walk away was our favourite, Pantry.
If you’re looking for luxury, you should splurge on a room at the Adlon Kempinski Hotel steps from the Brandenburg Gate. It also happens to be the same famous hotel that Michael Jackson held his new baby, Blanket, out the window.
I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t suggest a coffee spot. I didn’t love the coffee in Europe. I find that most of the restaurants and cafes have some love affair with long life milk (UHT milk?) and as soon as I taste that distinct flavour, I usually cannot finish the coffee. BUT, I still enjoyed Distrikt Cafe, not far from our hotel. We went twice, once only for coffee, the second time we had breakfast too. The pancakes looked amazing (but aren’t gluten free), so I opted for the acai bowl which was a winner! I highly recommend this place! And it’s a vibe 🙂
Day One: East Side Gallery & KaDaWe
On top of my must-see list was the East Side Gallery, a 1,3km stretch of the Berlin Wall which now stands as an international memorial for freedom. They are currently restoring most of the wall because much of the art has been vandalised, but it is worth a visit.
We wanted to visit the Food Market, Markthalle Nuen, which was a short walk from the Gallery but sadly, for a Monday, it was super quiet and most of the stores were closed. Thursday nights are supposed to be the best time but unfortunately we wouldn’t be there that long. Now I’m not saying plan your holiday around a Thursday, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did. It looks like loads of fun and the food looks heavenly.
It was 33 degrees and ice-cream was going to happen one way or another. When I saw there was a Magnum Pop Up Store in Berlin, I decided we had to make the mission to go there. We combined this with the KaDaWe Shopping Centre which is also nearby. Definitely go up to the 6th floor and try out the ‘food court’. We didn’t eat there just because of timing but seriously, I wish we had!
Day Two: Brandenburg Gate & Tiergarten
Tiergarten is huge! And it’s just over from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag Building. We wanted to spend some time relaxing in Tiergarten in the afternoon so we walked through towards the KaDaWe area for lunch at the 25Hr Bikini Berlin Hotel. This hotel was our second hotel option when booking and if we ever did return to Berlin, we would definitely stay here. It looks a bit “wild” online, but the trendy decor is actually quite fun in person. Their “rooftop” bar, the Monkey Bar, overlooks the Berlin Zoo money cages and also gives you a panoramic view of Tiergarten and Berlin. The cocktails are a winner and the sweet potato fries are even better.
Careful walking around Tiergarten and don’t be too surprised if you see a few people completely nude. You will know when you’re in the area where people strip down! Everyone gathers there to tan nekkid. If you’re shy, get there earlier before the crowds arrive. By the afternoon it gets quite full!
We did go back to see the Brandenburg gate at night just because I truly believe everything looks a hundred times better at night. I would have had a drink at the Adlon Kempinski Hotel if we weren’t so extremely tired and didn’t have to get up at 5am to catch our flight to Amsterdam. The hotel boasts the best view of the Gate and a great spot to people watch. Instead, we opted for takeaway Gelato from Haagen Daaz and an early night.
So… that was about it! It was short and sweet, but we did a lot. I would highly recommend all of the above. I felt like we got the proper Berlin experience, and if anyone wanted to try repeat our whirlwind two days – it is possible! Let me know if you visit any of these places and let me know what you think – did I miss anything? 🙂
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Check back soon to find our weekend in Potsdam!
In the meantime, have a look at some of our blogs about Paris: