Team Travels: Sophie’s City Break in Berlin

I was so excited when I booked an autumn city break to Berlin to celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday. Now, a couple of days after arriving home, it’s got a special spot as one of my favourite cities to visit. We had the most wonderful time exploring, learning about the history and taking in the many fun things to do in Berlin. Our five-night stay was jam-packed with activity and, although I’m still admittedly a little tired from walking around 25,000 steps each day, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

Where We Stayed

One of the things we wanted most was a good, central spot in the city to rest our heads with easy access to public transport. We knew we wanted to do a lot of exploring, so it was important that we had a place quite central. In the end, we stayed in a lovely apartment close to Checkpoint Charlie. We were within walking distance of a lot of the tourist spots we wanted to visit, and we were just a short walk away from an underground station. If you’re wondering about which area is best to stay in, this one seemed a very safe bet!

Top Things To Do in Berlin

There are so many amazing things to do in Berlin, so I’ve broken down each activity we did over our five-day trip so you can pick and choose which you’d find most interesting.

Walking Tour of Berlin

We went on a walking tour of the city and it was just bursting with fascinating stories, helpful tips and beautiful scenery. We found it to be one of the best ways to see all the sights, and it was really insightful to hear about Berlin from a local who is so passionate about the history and culture of the city. We walked for almost four hours and had plenty of laughs along the way.

Some of the stops we made on our tour included the famous Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie, the square of Gendarmenmarkt, various parts of the Berlin Wall and Museum Island. Different walking tours will incorporate slightly different places into their itineraries, but most will include iconic sites such as these.

A Scoot Through Tiergarten

Tiergarten is a huge park in the middle of the city – 520 acres to be precise – and it’s simply stunning in autumn. You could spend hours wandering around it, crunching orange leaves and visiting the many monuments and memorials scattered throughout. We visited the park on our first day, and then returned a couple of days later to see some of the spots we missed the first time around. This time, we hired scooters to save our feet.

Everywhere you look in the city, you’ll see someone on a scooter. They’re such a popular means of getting around, but I wouldn’t want to use one in the bustling sidewalks and busy roads of the city centre. I felt much more comfortable hopping on one in the park where the paths were smooth and quiet. The whole process of hiring a scooter was really easy – we downloaded the app, scanned the QR code, added our payment details and off we went!

We used Tier scooters as they were the first ones we came across, and they were really reasonably priced. It cost €1 to activate the scooter and then around €0.25 per minute from then on. There were plenty of other brands to use though – the Bolt scooters seemed to be everywhere!

ARISE at Friedrichstadt-Palast Berlin

I love a good theatre show and we’d seen ARISE advertised even before our visit. It looked really impressive, so we booked some tickets and headed over there on our second night in Berlin. The theatre was stunning and although we’d booked the cheapest seats we could get next to each other, we had a fabulous view of the stage.

The show was spectacular, with over 100 dancers, singers, gymnasts and musicians all showcasing their talents on one of the most interesting theatre sets I’ve ever seen. A circular piece of the stage moved up and down, tilting and turning, and as the show went on we saw everything from trapeze artists suspended above the audience to lasers and fountains on the stage. Although some of the show was in German (some in English) we followed the general gist of the story and thoroughly enjoyed the uplifting vibe of the production. If you’re into theatre, I’d recommend it!

Topography of Terror

The Topography of Terror is a free museum on the site of the SS central command. There are many stories, photographs and displays both inside and outside, right by a well-preserved stretch of the Berlin Wall. The exhibition is one of the most visited places of remembrance in the whole of Berlin, taking you through various harrowing stories from the years of World War Two.

As you can imagine, it was at times quite tough to read about what happened to the victims of the war, but a good place to go if you want to learn and pay your respects. We spent probably around an hour or two there, but there was so much information to take in you could have spent the best part of a day. We noticed plenty of people taking notes, likely historians or students. Those with a keen interest in history should make sure to add this to their itinerary.

Berlin Cathedral

The Berlin Cathedral, also known as the Berliner Dom, was a recommendation from our tour guide. We were discussing the best viewpoints in the city, and although there are famous places such as the Fernsehturm (often known as the TV Tower) and the Weltballon, the Cathedral offers views just as amazing but at a fraction of the price. Not to mention, the interior of the building is absolutely breathtaking.

We paid €7 each for admission into the Cathedral, and it was entirely worth it. It’s huge inside, with a grand organ, beautiful marble columns, impressive statues and intricate gold detail embellishing the fabulous dome above. We climbed 270 steps to the top and there was a walkway right around the dome, giving us sweeping views of the city from all angles.

Shopping Near The Zoo & Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

It was on our list to browse some shops whilst we were in Berlin, but we weren’t sure which area to go to. We kind of stumbled upon the shopping district by the Berlin Zoologischer Garten whilst on our way to a restaurant, and there were plenty of huge names to browse. We had a couple of hours wandering the likes of Zara, Lush, Levi’s, Primark, M&M’s and Nike – if you’re looking for highstreet staples, you won’t be disappointed here.

As well as the shops, we had a few drinks at a little outdoor market right by another famous city sight, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The building was sadly partially destroyed during a bombing in 1943, and the ruin now stands tall as a memorial for peace between nations. It’s striking to see, and certainly worth a visit on your trip.

The East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is a memorial and open-air gallery displayed on the longest standing section of the Berlin Wall, and it’s a must on your trip to Berlin – especially if you’re into art. You’ll find this stretch of the wall in Mühlenstraße, right by the river. We had glorious weather when we visited, and spent some time on the grassy riverbanks enjoying the sunshine after our walk.

Perhaps the most iconic and photographed piece of graffiti on the East Side Gallery is the image of two older men sharing a kiss, entitled ‘My God, Help Me To Survive This Deadly Love’. Some at first glance see this as a symbol of inclusivity in the city, which is a fair assumption as Berlin is welcoming to all, but there’s a little more to the image. It’s actually the then Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev and East German leader Erich Honecke sharing what is known as the ‘Fraternal Kiss’ – a symbol of greeting between socialist leaders.

Food & Drinks In Berlin

As with any big city, you can expect endless amounts of delicious food and drink from all around the globe in Berlin. We had all kinds of meals on our trip, from mouth-watering Vietnamese food for lunch to evening meals of pizza and wine. I’ve listed below some of the best bars and restaurants in Berlin that we came across.

Huong Lua

We stumbled upon this pretty Vietnamese place close to Checkpoint Charlie when we’d just finished our tour, and we were SO hungry. I had the Tofu Dau Phu Mango from the vegan menu and it was sensational. Huong Lua will be top of my list if I return!

Asador Steakhouse

I booked this steakhouse restaurant in Kreuzberg before we even got to Berlin after reading great reviews online, and it lived up to the hype. The food was delicious and the staff were great – they even brought us an ice cold jager shot with the bill!

Evin Pizza Pasta

You just can’t go wrong with pizza! We swung by Evin Pizza Pasta after a couple of hours shopping and we really enjoyed it. The four cheese pizza was amazing, the staff were really friendly and it was all very reasonably priced too. A win-win!

Hard Rock Cafe Berlin

Most people know what to expect when it comes to Hard Rock Cafes – good vibes, hearty food, fun staff and massive cocktails! This was one of our more expensive meals of the trip, but it was very tasty and we loved the atmosphere there.

AMRIT Indian Restaurant

Our final meal of the holiday was an absolute feast at AMRIT Indian Restaurant in Schoneberg. As soon as we walked in and smelled the spices, we knew it was going to be good! We got pakora starters, curries and a tandoori garlic naan bread and it was incredible.

Lotte am Zoo

We kind of found Lotte am Zoo accidentally after another bar we were going to was full. Our intention was to stop for one and move on, but four drinks later we were still there! The music was amazing, the staff even better and it was great value for money. This bar only opened earlier this year but I’m sure it’ll be filling glasses for years to come.

Top Tips For A Berlin City Break

Hop On The Train

The trains were so easy to use in Berlin. We paid €3.80 each for our journey into the city from the airport, which is considerably cheaper than a taxi fare! Alternatively, you can purchase a Berlin Card and benefit from as much public transport as you want on your trip (this was €50 per person for five days). We didn’t buy the Berlin Card in the end, but it’s great value and gets you discount on some main attractions, so in hindsight we probably should have looked into it more and made use of it.

Masks on Public Transport

It’s currently mandatory for passengers in Berlin and Brandenburg to wear an FFP2 mask on public transport. We saw plenty of people jumping on and off the trains with no mask at all, but there were regular reminders on the trains that it is compulsory to wear them, so we made sure to have one on at all times just in case.

Explore Outside the Centre

We loved every moment of exploring the centre of Berlin, but we’d also heard good things about a city on the border named Potsdam, so we got the train out there on our final day. Potsdam is over 1,000 years old and is the capital of the state of Brandenburg. It is famous for its majestic palaces, lakes and gardens, so as you can imagine, it’s just beautiful to walk around. I’d recommend visiting the summer home of Frederick the Great, Sanssouci Palace, and the surrounding grounds. The perfect place for a sunny afternoon stroll!

Ready For Berlin?

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