Hello! Thank you so much for following my blog and travel guides so far 🙂 This is the first one I’m writing that is not about a city in Sri Lanka.
Berlin is one of my favourite cities in Germany! It’s the German capital and is known for its history and it’s vibrant nightlife (that honestly, I still haven’t experienced, because although I’ve been there a handful of times now, it’s always been for 2-3 days and I’ve always been exhausted from action-packed days). My most recent visit was in July, 2019 so I hope all the information here is still up to date.
48 hours in Berlin!
Even though Berlin was heavily destroyed during WW2, the city has done a remarkable job in rebuilding itself, without forgetting it’s dark past. In this blog, you will find the route I took to see as much of Berlin as possible in a short amount of time.
Tip: You can purchase the Berlin WelcomeCard to enjoy unlimited travel within the zones of Berlin. It also gives you 50+ discounts at a ton of Berlin attractions. The 48 Hour card costs €23.
Depending on what time you want to start your day, you can head to a cute little spot we found on our last visit called Bondi cafe! They had excellent food and coffee, even though we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated. No issue though, we could see why there was a crowd. As pictured, I recommend the waffles with a side of bacon.
I definitely recommend your first stop to be the Brandenburg Gate and it’s surrounding areas. This site is an 18th-century neoclassical monument and is Berlins most famous landmark.
Tip: So I really don’t like joining walking tours or tour groups, or even getting a guide, even though you learn a lot about the history of the area if you do do this. What I do instead is, I visit sites that I’m interested in throughout the day. Then, when I’m back at the accommodation in the evening, I’ll take a nice warm shower, plop myself on the couch/bed and look up the spot on the Simple Wiki (not the normal Wikipedia) because it will give a condensed form of all the important facts about the places you’re looking up.
The German Parliament Building (Reichstag or Bundestag) – I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s literally a 2-minute walk behind the Brandenburg Gate and it’s worth a walk past at the least. It’s surrounded by a huge garden, and during the summer the locals like to lounge around and have picnics in the grassy area.
If this IS your cup of tea, you can arrange a walking tour through the parliament building, as well as through the famous glass dome on top. I highly advise you book this in advance online, as slots for the day are almost always full up when you want to book on the day. You MUST have your passport/identity card with you to enter.
Next, you can take a 10 minute (4km) walk to the Memorial of the Murdered Jews. This site, also known as the Holocaust Memorial is a memorial to all the Jewish Victims of the Holocaust. You will usually see kids and adults a like climbing around on the blocks (I, too, did this when I visited the first time), but I would recommend you wouldn’t, as the locals think it’s quite disrespectful as it is a memorial site.
Following this, again you can walk 10 minutes to the popular Potsdamer Platz, which is home to the Sony Center, where I recommend the Corroboree restaurant for a meal, depending on what time of day you make it there. If you don’t want to have a meal, there’s a cute little ice cream cart that has the best-salted caramel ice cream I’ve had in Germany! I’m not a big shopper, but Berlin has a few famous (and really really old) shopping centres you can check out. I recommend checking out the Mall of Berlin and the KaDeWe, which is over 100 years old.
Tip: As cliche as it sounds, I honestly recommend doing a double-decker ‘hop on-hop off’ bus tour in any city you visit! These 1-2 hour long bus rides take you to all the notable historic and modern attractions of the city while giving you live commentary of the cultural or historical significance of the location. I recommend buying a day-ticket! A day ticket will allow you to get off the bus as many times as you want, and join the next bus when you’re done exploring. They usually run every 20 minutes. How I usually do it is, I do the whole tour once, and then get off at the first stop that I want to explore more. When I’m done, I can spend the rest of the day hopping on and off the bus at each interesting stop, until I’ve seen everything I’m interested in!
Some stops I recommend:
- Checkpoint Charlie (which was a prominent border between East and West Berlin).
- If you’re REALLY interested in history, you could visit the Topography of Terror, which is an outdoor and indoor history museum. The exhibitions are located at the exact site of multiple former Nazi offices, such as the headquarters of the Gestapo, the high command and the SS.
- All around Berlin, you will see preserved bits of the Berlin Wall. Lots of souvenir shops will be selling ‘pieces of the Berlin wall’ but I recommend you don’t buy this – there is a saying in Berlin that “you could rebuild the Berlin Wall 20 times over if you put together all the pieces of it that were sold!”
Tip: Look at the traffic lights when you cross the road! Berlin is famous for its ‘Ample Mann’ which translates to traffic light man. East Germany had different figures marking red and green on their road crossing, which you can still see to this day. By checking the traffic lights, you will know which part of Berlin you are currently in.
This tour will take up most of your day and by this point, you would have effectively seen most of the popular sites in Berlin. Don’t forget to keep a lookout for Berlin’s famous currywurst carts (a popular German sausage dish) and also don’t miss out on trying a Döner Kebab!
The last time I visited, we had a couple of hours left before our flight, so we decided to head to the Berlin Zoo, which is one of the oldest Zoos in Europe. If you’ve got kids with you, or if you’re big kids like Sam and me, it’s worth a visit if you have a couple of extra hours to kill. As I mentioned in my Habarana Guide, this zoo has the largest enclosure of Sri Lankan monkeys in the world! (Disclaimer: I am not the biggest fan of Zoos and always keep an eye out to make sure that the animals are treated well and are well fed. My personal opinion is that Zoos are important for educational purposes, especially in third world countries, where they may be the only opportunity for children to learn and watch animals that don’t live in their home country. I also think they are beneficial when it comes to conservation and research centres. Don’t @ me in the comments! 😉 )
As I mentioned in the intro, I’m yet to experience Berlins vibrant nightlife – including it’s underground music scene. Hopefully, I can update this post with more info on that soon!
Not counting the Berlin Zoo tickets & accommodation prices, this 48 Hour tour can be done for €150 comfortably between two people, as most popular sites are free to visit.
Thanks for reading!