This is how we spent 72 hours in Berlin including my tips and recommendations, we stayed at NH Collection Berlin Mitte am Checkpoint Charlie which is in the district if Mitte and a central location. The hotel is very comfortable but lacks the bit of soul I usually like from my accommodation, the area is also quit quiet as Mitte is more of a business district and the hotel bar wasn't up to much. If we return (which I hope we will in the summer) I think we would look to stay in Kreuzberg.
Berlin is made up of 12 districts and we mainly stayed in and around Mitte, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, the city seemed huge (although it's actually smaller than London) but the metro is very easy to navigate and is definitely the best way to travel around.
Things to note:
- Berlin is very cash heavy so make sure you carry some with you all the time.
- A lot of the bars in Berlin allow smoking, this is not to say it is legal but runs with the anarchist, anti establishment theme of the whole city.
- You will probably be offered drugs at some point during your stay, we were and it wasn't scary or intimidating we just said no thanks. In fact the whole city had a safe feel to it.
Friday 17th January 2020
Flew into Berlin on an early flight, we landed in Berlin Schönefeld Airport and it was really easy to get the train into the city. We bought a 72 hour rail ticket for just over €30 and there are loads of machines at the station which have English options. Make sure you buy the ABC ticket so it covers the airport and remember to validate your ticket or you may get a fine.
Dropped off our luggage at the hotel and walked to Café Cinema which is a wonderful little cafe bar in the northern part of Mitte, try to get the piano seats. The alleyway to the side of Café Cinema is covered in street art and murals so it's worth a look, if you do the Alternative Walking Tour then your guide will show also take you here but more on that later, there are also a couple of interesting shops and a museum down there but we didn't go in.
Dinner at Nobelhart and Scmitzig which is a one Michelin Star restaurant in Mitte specialising in seasonal local produce. The local food movement is an important and popular one and this restaurant showcases the possibilities of making beautiful food with fresh produce from Berlin and the close surroundings, there was a little meat on the menu but not much. Be prepared for a pricey bill and booking well in advance is essential.
Saturday 18th January 2020
Free Alternative Walking Tour, meets at the huge granite bowl in Lustgarten, the park in front of Altes Museum and the Berliner Dom. I wouldn't say booking is needed for this but we did and you can easily book online. The tour doesn't involve any traditional landmarks but you get to see the Cathedral at the meeting place which is impressive. The tour is three hours long and includes a café stop and you will need a metro ticket but the guide will help you if you don't already have one. For me this tour was brilliant, it involved a lot of street art and murals and we talked about the artists and the ideas behind the pieces. We learned about how the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 had a huge impact on the city including music, the club scene, squats and of course art. Overall I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to dig a little deeper into the cities alternative scene with an interesting undercurrent of politics.
Marheineke Neun market was close to where we finished the tour, it's a covered market with loads of traditional food and drink options. There was also a Photoautomat where you can have vintage style passport photos taken, you get four different ones for €3.
We then walked to East Side Gallery which is really a must in Berlin, it's about 1km long and showcases 101 murals painted on one of the remaining pieces of the Berlin Wall.
Afterwards we had enough time to visit Urban Spree Art Gallery which is in a grimy park in Friedrichshain, it's a small gallery with a well stocked shop full of art books but if you're not in the area I wouldn't say it's worth going out of your way to see it. The park looked like it may have more going on in the summer.
We ate at Nam Long Cafe which is one of many Vietnamese restaurants in Berlin, the South East Asian cuisine is very popular due to a growing Vietnamese population in the city and is now almost as traditional as curry wurst!
After dinner we went to play Black Light Mini Golf in a warehouse in Görlitzer Park, the course seemed exceptionally hard to me but we had great fun and you can buy drinks at reception to take round with you.
Five minutes walk away is Tante Lisbeth bar which has one of the few remaining nine pin bowling isles left in Berlin. Booking in advance is essential but the bar is worth a visit even if you don't bowl and you're in the area.
Sunday 19th January 2020
We stayed local and walked to Gendarmenmarkt which is an historical square in Mitte with a panorama of beautiful old buildings. Sunday's are quite sleepy in Berlin so it's good to plan ahead and make sure your activities are open. This is quite a tourist spot though so there were a few bars and restaurants open.
After breakfast we walked to Topography of Terror museum and Gropius Bau art gallery before heading back to our hotel and flying back to London to end our 72 hours in Berlin.
DDR Museum 23 min walk north east
House of Small Wonder
Rooftop bar at Klunkerkranich
V Tower roof bar
Tausend concept bar
Hops & Barley microbrewery
Bars in Mitte district:
Bar Saint Jean