Berlin is known as one of the coolest cities in Europe and after visiting twice, I definitely don’t disagree. Four days in Berlin is the perfect length of time to explore the city, learn about the history and eat and drink to your hearts content so here’s my four day guide to cram everything in.
Berlin has two airports (Tegel and Schönefeld) and if you’re arriving from Europe, you’ll probably land at Schönefeld, south east of the city. Come out of arrivals, step outside the airport and you’ll see a covered walkway which takes you five minutes walk to the S-Bahn station. This is probably the easiest and cheapest way to get to the city centre; it costs just 4 euros for a single trip or you can get day travel cards. It’s really easy to use the ticket machines at the station and you can switch the language to English. You’ll need to jump on S9 and 30 minutes later, you’ll arrive into Alexanderplatz.
Alexanderplatz in former East Berlin is a great base for your city break; it’s full of shops, bars and hotels so I recommend booking your hotel in this area. Grab some lunch from one of the many eateries in this area, there are loads of small inexpensive fast food options in the station – we opted for Donner & Pizza – before taking the U-Bahn to Stadtmitte.
From Stadtmitte, it’s a short five minute walk to Checkpoint Charlie, one of the main crossing points between East and West Berlin. You can even see the original signage from the west side which reads “You are leaving the American sector”. You can get pictures standing next to the guards but note that they will charge for this! Next door, is the Checkpoint Charlie Museum and you can buy tickets from the gift shop for 14 euros each. The museum is well worth the money and provides a great history lesson if you’re not familiar with Berlin’s unique history. You can even see a car which had been adapted to smuggle people out of East Berlin in the engine of the car.
When you’re finished, walk to Potsdamer Platz which is home to the business district. The area was heavily bombed in the war and now the only skyscrapers in the city are found here, including the Sony Centre. The Berlin Wall used to run right through the middle of Potsdamer Platz which is now marked out by a double row of cobbles in the ground throughout the whole city but you can also see a small remaining portion of wall in the middle of the square. There’s also a great shopping mall here with shops, bars, cafes and restaurants here too.
From here, walk around the edge of Tiergarten towards the Brandenburg Gate and you’ll arrive at The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This is almost a maze of 2711 concrete slabs set at different heights which is designed to feel quite unsettling, claustrophobic and haunting. There’s an information centre underneath the memorial which is free to visit and explores stories of Jews who were held in concentration camps during the second world war.
Walk towards the Brandenburg Gate which was a gateway between East and West Berlin, acting as a symbol for freedom when the wall came down in 1989. This is one of the more touristy parts of Berlin so watch out for pick pockets in this area. Head to Friedrichstraße to take the S-Bahn back to Alexanderplatz.
For dinner, walk to Lebensmittel in Mitte for authentic German cuisine; this restaurant had been recommended and it definable didn’t disappoint – choose the classic Wiener schnitzel which is nearly as big as your head (no I’m not exaggerating!) or a delicious roast pork dish with sauerkraut and knodel (potato dumplings). You could definitely do meals cheaper if you’re on a budget but this is a great way to try the local delicacies. Finish up at one of the many bars in the area for drinks.
Start your day by heading to Spreegold in Mitte, just a few minutes walk from Alexanderplatz for breakfast (or brunch). I can recommend the iced coffee and the halloumi avocado plate which were both delicious.
Next, turn out of Alexanderplatz and walk ten minutes towards Museum Island which, as the name suggests, is where most of Berlin’s museums are located. It’s also where you can see the Berlin Dom (cathedral) which unfortunately isn’t free to go inside. Choose your museum and enjoy! I particularly found the DDR Museum really interesting which is all about the German Democratic Republic party who occupied East Berlin and it gave a really great insight into the communist life in East Germany. The DDR Museum cost 14 euros per person to visit.
When you’re ready, walk up Unter Der Linden which is a historic street in former East Berlin with gorgeous buildings and trees lining the road. If you keep going down here, you’ll arrive back at the Brandenburger Gate.
Continue through the Brandenburger gate and straight ahead, you’ll see a park. Enjoy a slow walk through Tiergarten, one of the oldest and most impressive parks in Berlin. You’ll pass the Siegessäule which you can see down the street from the Brandenburger Gate; it’s a huge column which you can even climb for views across the city. We stopped off at Cafe am Neuen See in the middle of Tiergarten which is a beer garden “Biergarten” right by a lake. There was a great atmosphere here, especially in the summer months and this is a great way to stop and soak up the atmosphere before continuing on your way; we grabbed some drinks but you could get food here too. Tiergarten is also where you can find the Berlin Zoo which is supposed to be excellent but this isn’t something we could cram into our visit on this occasion (next time!).
If you continue through Tiergarten, you’ll come out the other side at Kurfürstendamm (also known as Ku’damm) which is the shopping district of Berlin. There are loads of hotels, bars and restaurants here too to explore but we were here to visit the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedauchtins Kirche, a church that was bombed during World War Two. Berlin decided to leave the remains of the church “as is” to act as a memorial. The church is free to enter so worth a visit.
After all this walking (we averaged nearly 30,000 steps every day!) we were hungry and had been recommended to try Burgermeister and we found one in this area. The burgers were absolutely delicious and I can recommend the cheesy chips too! This is a great low cost option for dinner if you’re on a budget, rather than having dinner at a restaurant. I’ve read in a few other blogs that if you went to Berlin but you didn’t visit Burgermeister then you didn’t really visit Berlin so add it to you must do list!
Take the U-Bahn back to Alexanderplatz and head to the Park Inn for drinks at sunset on their rooftop terrace to finish the day.
If you’re feeling up to it, walk to East Side Gallery from Alexanderplatz; it should take about 45 minutes but its worth it. East Side Gallery is a super colourful 1.5km stretch of Berlin Wall which is covered with street art; over 100 artists were commissioned to paint murals on the wall which would be persevered (much of the wall was being deconstructed across Berlin in the 1990s). You can see where many of the murals have been repainted in 2009 by the original artists to help restore the artwork to its condition as over the years some of the artwork has been weathered or defaced.
I particularly wanted to visit the image of the “Fraternal Kiss” between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker so I was really excited to see this!
After our mammoth walk to the East Side Gallery, we were getting hungry so headed to the East Side Bakery which is just 300m away from the gallery. If you continue over the railway bridge, you’ll come to the RAW flea market which is only open on Sundays, it’s actually a really lovely little market with a great atmosphere.
We then headed to Friedrichshain, also known as the coolest part of Berlin where we just wandered round the streets. There were tonnes of cafes here so it was a shame we’d just eaten. I even spotted a few vegan restaurants here too.
We headed back to our hotel for a break before going back to the Brandenburger Gate – the Reichstag is round the corner from here and it’s famous as it’s the government building for Germany. You can visit for free and go up to the dome at the very top of the building for views but you’ll need to book this well in advance of your visit as spaces get booked up fast.
From here we took a short walk to the Zollpackhof Biergarten which is a great beer garden just by the river. Get some food here – I recommend the currywurst which you must try at some point during your time in Berlin!
Finally, on your final day in Berlin, head towards Hackescher Markt which is only a fifteen minute walk from Alexanderplatz and grab some breakfast on the go from one of the many bakeries in Berlin.
Outside the Anne Frank Zentrum is a tiny little street tucked away which is filled with street art and graffiti. I particularly wanted to visit this area, to see the Anne Frank mural by Jimmy C as I’m a big fan of his street art in London. You can also visit the Anne Frank Museum here, we didn’t visit on this occasion but this is maybe something to do next time!
Have a look round the rest of the street while you are there because every single nook and cranny is filled with different pieces of graffiti and street art.
From there, we headed to Bernauer Strasse to visit the Berlin Wall Memorial which was actually a little disappointing compared to some of the other museums and memorials in Berlin.
In the afternoon, head back to the hotel to collect your bags and jump back on the S-Bahn back to the airport to begin the journey home.
Have you visited Berlin before? What was your favourite thing to do?