So you have a bank holiday and want to get away for the long weekend? Or you are in need of a central stop-off as you use that EuroPass on your way across Europe? Berlin is just a short cheap flight from many European cities, a rail hub, and is the perfect destination to get the most out of your Cabin Zero bag!
There is no better time to visit Berlin than in the summer. The city is alive, the days are long, and the sun highlights the urban horizon. Come in July when the local kids are still in school and the weather is great. You can fill your day with as many museums as you have attention for or take advantage of the Berlin experience your friends keep telling you about.
1. APPS TO DOWNLOAD
Before you come, download a few apps to help make the most of your time here –
|BVG Fahrinfo is the public transportation app. Check schedules, buy tickets, and plan your routes.|
|Ask Helmut for a current listing of clubs, shows, and concerts.|
|myTaxi to order and pay for your taxi.|
|An offline map, like Maplet|
Berlin has two major airports – Tegel (TXL) for international flights and Schönefeld (SXF) for many of the budget hoppers. It is easy to get into town from either airport via public transportation. Use the BVG app or keep an eye out for the yellow ticket machines. Tegel is within the AB zone and Schönefeld is within the ABC zone. German ticketing agents aren’t very sympathetic to riders with the wrong ticket or no ticket and it will cost you 40 euros if you get caught.
3. WHERE TO STAY
Berlin has many diverse neighborhoods but, to make the most of your short stay, Mitte, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are your best bets. Mitte is packed with good restaurants, cute shops, and is the most central of the three. Alternatively, Kreuzberg & Neukoln are great for renting an apartment and immersing yourself in the city.
Generator Hostels - https://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/berlin/mitte
Circus Hostel - https://www.circus-berlin.de
Casa Camper - https://www.casacamper.com/en/berlin/hotel.html
Kreuzberg // Neukölln
4. ONCE YOU ARRIVE
Start by getting a daily transit pass. For only 7 euros a day you can access all corners of the city via U-Bahn, bus, S-Bahn and regional trains. Alternatively, rent a bike for around 10 euros a day to take advantage of the flat terrain and fabulous cycling infrastructure.
Once you check-in and drop off your bag, it’s time for lunch! Shiso Burger in Mitte is one of my favorite lunch places. The menu is full of creative Asian fusion burgers and delicious sweet potato fries. Be prepared to wait a bit because this place can be packed. After lunch, walk over to Kunst-Werke and me Collectors Room for a little afternoon art.
I don’t know about you but I always love a little coffee pick-me-up in the afternoon. Not far from the galleries, you will find the Barn. They are serious about their coffee and it is a quick stop off on your way to a catch a U-Bahn.
Time to head outside. When the sun is out on a Friday afternoon, there is nothing quite like grabbing a beer and relaxing next to the river Spree. You have your pick of beach bars, lounge chairs, and cocktails. Kick off your shoes and enjoy. One option is Yaam. They have sand, nibbles, and drinks. A great DIY option is to stop by a Späti (short for Spätkauf or drink market), get “ein bier”, and go find a spot of grass next to the river where you can sit and watch the world go by.
Before dinner, you may want to change clothes or get in a late afternoon nap. The club scene starts late in Berlin. 6am on the train is always an interesting mix of people on their way to work and revelers with a Club Mate in hand coming home after a night out.
If you are staying in Mitte, Transit is a fun place for dinner. They do Asian tapas and have good veggie options. If you have had your fill of Asian food for the day, Sucre et Sel is a nice French bistro in the area. This part of town is so packed with restaurants you can just wander and you will find something that suits whatever you are in the mood for.
So, you have had dinner but it is still too early to hit the clubs. Kaschk is the perfect spot to burn some time. Craft beer, shuffleboard, and fancy coffee make for superb filler for your 8-11pm.
Berghain. Probably the most famous club in all of Berlin. It is a pain to get into and their bouncers are notorious. If you are in a group, separate. If you are a lady, your chances are better. If you are young, try to look a little older. If it doesn’t work out, check Ask Helmut, go to Tresor, or any number of clubs.
Remember, your day transit pass is good until 3am. Head home and fall into bed, you have earned it.
Shiso Burger, August Str. 29 c, en.shisoburger.de/shisoburger
Kunts-Werke, August Str. 69, www.kw-berlin.de/en/institution
me Collectors Room/Stiftung Olbricht, August Str. 68, www.me-berlin.com
The Barn, August Str. 58, barn.bigcartel.com
Yaam, An der Schillingbrücke 3, www.yaam.de
Transit, Rosenthaler Str. 68, www.transit-restaurants.com
Sucre et Sel, Tor Str. 132, www.sucreetsel.de
Kaschk, Linien Str. 40, kaschk.de
Berghain, Am Wriezener Bahnhof, www.berghain.de
Tresor, Köpenicker Str. 70, tresorberlin.com
Start your first full day in the city at Alexanderplatz. Grab breakfast at Spreegold. Bircher muesli and coffee are a classic option. Walk over to Fat Tire Bikes right underneath the Fernsehenturm in time for the 11:30am bike tour. The guides are great resources for getting to know more about the history and culture of the city. There is no better way to see the city and you get to have lunch at one of those famous German beer gardens. Note – Berlin is sloooowly catching up with countries where plastic is the deferred method of payment. You will need cash.
As long as the weather is nice, catch a train from Alex and go relax at the Badeschiff. The shipping container turned swimming pool is right on the river in Kreuzberg. If the Badeschiff is full, go across the Warschauer Bridge to Haubentaucher. Either way, they both offer a chance to relax by the pool with a cocktail in your hand.
If pool time isn’t your thing, an afternoon at Hamburger Bahnhof with their unique setting and fantastic contemporary art collection is a lovely alternative.
Saturday evening in Kreuzberg is hard to beat. This part of the city really comes alive after dark and is home to so many good restaurants. Kimchi Princess, Kantine Kohlmann or Burgermeister are all solid choices. There is great Turkish food, decent Mexican, and plenty of other cuisines to choose from.
For your last evening in Berlin, grab a drink and listen to some music at Lido or Konrad Tönz. Then club hop along Schlesisches Tor or head across the Warschauer Bridge to Astra/Revaler 99/Urban Spree where there is always something going on.
Spreegold, Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 2, www.spreegold.com/en
Fat Tire Bikes, Panorama Str. 1a, berlin.fattirebiketours.com/tours/day-city-tour
Badeschiff, Eichen Str. 4, www.arena.berlin/veranstaltungsort/badeschiff
Haubentaucher, Revaler Str. 99, www.facebook.com/haubentaucher.berlin
Hamburger Bahnhof, www.smb.museum/en/museums-and-institutions/hamburger-bahnhof/home.html
Kimchi Princess, Skalitzer Str. 36, www.kimchiprincess.com
Kantine Kohlmann, Skalitzer Str. 64, kantine-kohlmann.de/en/restaurant
Burgermeister, Oberbaum Str. 8, www.burger-meister.de
Lido Berlin, Cuvry Str. 7, www.lido-berlin.de
Konrad Tönz, Falckensteinstraße 30, www.konradtoenzbar.de
Urban Spree, Revaler Str. 99, www.urbanspree.com
Sleep in and make your way over to Prenzlauer Berg for brunch at any number of cafes. Anna Blume is the best known for a reason. The food is Instagram-worthy and they have a great outdoor patio. Order the three-tiered breakfast and a Hugo to start your day right!
After brunch, walk over to the Flea Market at Mauerpark by way of Oderbergerstraße to explore a maze of local crafts, East German antiques, and fantastic people watching. There is a karaoke pit in the afternoon and a bevy of disposable BBQ’s set up in the grass.
Once you have had your fill of Mauerpark, walk over to the Bernauer Wall Memorial for one last bit of history. You can climb up a set of stairs at the museum to get one last great view of the city and an overhead look at a life sized replica of the Berlin Wall, complete with death strip and guard tower.
Anna Blume, Kollwitz Str. 83, www.cafe-anna-blume.de/en.html
Oderberger Str., www.facebook.com/oderbergerstrasse
Mauerpark, Bernauer Str. 63-64, www.flohmarktimmauerpark.de
Berlin Wall Memorial, Bernauer Str. 111, www.berliner-mauer-gedenkstaette.de/en
It is impossible to fit in everything in a city this size and sometimes the weather doesn’t always cooperate with a weekend out in the sun. Here are a few more suggestions for drinks, dinner, and entertainment:
Bikini Haus, www.25hours-hotels.com/en/bikini/home/home.html
House of Small Wonders, www.houseofsmallwonder.de
Markthalle IX, markthalleneun.de
Mein Haus Am See, www.mein-haus-am-see.club
Milano Bar, www.facebook.com/BarMilano.de
St Oberholz, sanktoberholz.de
Thanks to Corie Wiren for this awesome city guide. Corie is a brand ambassador for CabinZero and currently lives in Berlin.