While Berlin gets a lot of flak for being über-hipster, the German capital has plenty to offer everyone.
In fact, it has so much to offer that it can be tough to take it all in, even if you have a week to get through the museums, bars, nightclubs and shops that the city houses. Since it's close enough to head for the weekend, the best option is to stick to one side of the city over the other, and give yourself less of a mammoth task to accomplish, and if you want to get bang for your buck, then the east side has everything you could possibly squeeze in to 48 hours.
Berlin is great all year round, but if you can catch it on a crisp and sunny spring weekend, then you can be assured that you’ll enjoy your trip. You can fly with Aerlingus or Ryanair to Berlin every day from Dublin direct, and hop the S-Bahn in to town, which is the cheapest of the transport options. If you have a lot of bags then a taxi or bus might be better, but the train system is easy to use.
Where to stay
The east side of the city has a lot going on in terms of food, nightlife and culture, and staying there means you’re well located for pretty much everything. Prenzlauer berg has cafes and restaurants galore, and T&C Apartments, which are old blocks that have been converted in to self-service short stay accommodation, won’t beaten on price,. They should have everything you need, but if you're looking for something else then, again, scouting around on Airbnb should yield something of use, especially in a city like Berlin.
Pic via hotels.com
What to do
There’s so much to see that it’s a big ask to get it all in across the space of just a weekend, so hopping on the very touristy red bus and getting to see the city (jumping off as you please) is probably the best way to go here. The commentary in English is also a bit strange too, and worth listening to closely.
The Berlin Wall, checkpoint Charlie and are all must visits, while a trip to the DDR Museum will give you a taste of what life was like in communist East Germany. A sobering trip to the Holocaust memorial is also worth your time, while continuing on to see the Reichstag, in particular if you've booked ahead to get up into its magnificent dome, will be time well spent. Alexanderplatz is home to the iconic TV tower, one of the city's tallest points which is a sight to behold from the ground, but if you want to travel to the top and get a 360° panorama of Berlin, then this is also worth booking before you go.
For those who want to shop until they drop, Berlin is home to one of Europe’s largest department stores in the form of KaDeWe, and there are plenty of markets (especially at Christmas) and vintage shops around that are too numerous to list. One of the biggest is Humana, which is worth exploring just to the see the size of the place.
Food & Drink
This is where Berlin comes in to its own, and there are no shortage of places to get a great bite to eat, no matter what your stomach is rumbling for.
Prenzlauer berg has a host of great places for breakfast in the morning (Café Butter, Beakers and Lorbeer) but if you're there on a Sunday and seeking a feed the likes of which will make your eyes light up, then the Sunday brunch buffet at Frida Kahlo is your best bet. Save space for the apple cake though, you’ll definitely want some.
For dinner, you can find anything that your palate could desire on the east side of the city. Omoni is a hidden treasure of a sushi restaurant that won't disappoint, but you might be if you don't swing in and make a reservation before you go. For tapas, Bar Raval is modern, the staff are friendly and the food is excellent. For burgers The Bird is run by New Yorkers and has the portions that you would expect as a result, but again, you'll need reservations. You may sense that's becoming a theme.... If you want a seriously huge meal that gives you a flavour of German cuisine, then Zum Schusterjungen will fill your belly, but just make sure that you're in the mood for pork.
To drink, Becketts Kopf is a small cocktail bar that’s almost hidden away, but worth the effort to find. The drinks are strong, and they’re meant to be savoured. Green Door is another hugely popular spot that is behind an actual green door, and is a bit more of a modern setting than Becketts.
Overall, a trip to Berlin will be jampacked no matter what way you slice it, and half the fun is finding your own hidden gems, so don’t be afraid to branch out or ask the locals, most of whom speak better English than we do.
Main pic via Carmen Eisbär/Flickr