Berlin has something for everyone. At once a highly cultured and refined travel destination with enough historical significance to match even the heaviest of European heavyweights.
The city also has a more youthful side to it, attracting a clientele in search of art, cafes and the newest fashion, restaurants and nightclubs. On a recent flying visit, we planned out 48 hours in Berlin that let us experience the best the city has to offer.
Kickstart the Day
To begin right in middle of the action, we had breakfast at the famous Cafe Wintergarden in Literaturhaus. The restaurant is located in a quiet side street just off the stylish shopping avenue of Kurfürstendamm and housed in a beautiful old villa which also acts as a bookshop. Breakfast is served from 9.30 until 2pm and you can choose to sit in the courtyard or inside in cozy surroundings. The menu includes all the breakfast classics such as salmon on rye; eggs in variation, waffles and muesli. If you’re not too full after breakfast, head next door to check out Villa Grisebach, one of Berlin’s most famous auction houses.
Wander and Wonder
A stroll along the prestigious Kurfürstendamm lets you soak up a bit of west-Berlin’s glamour and glitz. You’ll find everything from luxurious fashion brands to fine dining venues and five star hotels on this strip. Marvel at the spire of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, which was originally built in the 1890s, badly damaged during a bombing raid in 1943 and rebuilt between 1959 and 1963.
Fuel and Adventure
Tuck into a plate of currywurst at any of the city’s many street side stalls serving this culinary Berliner’s institution. Piquant pork sausage is cut into convenient mouthfuls and served with a curried ketchup and sometimes french fries. Going to Berlin and not eating a currywurst is like going to Paris and foregoing a crepe or Rome without a pizza.
After a hearty lunch, we jumped on the U-Bahn from Kurfürstendamm to Zoologisher Garten and from there took the train to Seddin. There, get bus number 646 to Beelitz, Am Lustgarten where you’ll find Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an impressive ensemble of five world-renowned museums all within one area.
You can spend the afternoon marvelling at the Pergamon Altar at the stunning Pergamonmuseum, or enjoying the extensive collection of Byzantine art or the Numismatic collection at the Bode-Museum. At the Neues Museum, the focus is on Egyptian heritage, as well as on prehistory and early history collections. The Alte Nationalgalerie features works of Classicism, Romanticism, the Biedermeier era, Impressionism and early Modernism and at the Altes Museum you can see old Greek and Roman works of art.
As a contrast to the past, we finished off the day in Berlin’s hip Kreuzberg quarters, famous for their chic restaurants, bars, pubs, galleries and night clubs. If visiting in the summer, you can soak up the neighbourhood feel at any one of the many cafes or restaurants in Dresdenerstrasse, where locals hang out and enjoy a beer and some food. If you’re visiting during winter, head to Max & Moritz on Oranienstrasse. It’s a local institution, having served Wiener Schnitzel and pork knuckle for more than 100 years.
For a night cap – and some insight into the real hip of Kreuzberg – head to Das Hotel on Mariannenstrasse. Its dim lighting and artsy feel sum up the essence of this highly artistic neighbourhood.
Clear the Head
After a heavy night, if you can drag yourself awake, there’s really nothing better than to spend a morning bicycling around Berlin, ticking off iconic landmarks as you go along, including Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery, Hitler’s Bunker, the Watchtower in the no-man’s land between the former East and West Berlin, the Riechstag, the famous parliament building and many more. Many bicycle rental companies offer guided trips, but are happy to provide well marked maps for those wanting to explore on their own.
After a long morning sightseeing, head down to the Spree for a well-deserved rest and lunch at one of the many outdoor restaurants or cafes lining the banks. You can sit, eat and watch life go by.
In the afternoon we head down to The Jewish Museum, a centre for Jewish history in Germany. The museum is made up of the Libeskind Building, the Old Building, the Garden of Exile, the Holocaust Tower and the Museum Garden. It offers a fascinating, if sometimes traumatic insight into the culture and history of the Jewish people.
If the opportunity arises, dinner at the prestigious Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer at the Kempinski Hotel is a definite highlight. Overlooking the Brandenburger Tor, the restaurant holds two Michelin stars due to executive chef, Hendrik Otto’s consistent high quality and innovative take on French and German classics.
Plan a Precise Itinerary
Germany is famous for its precision, so why not plan your perfect Berlin itinerary by taking a virtual tour of the city’s highlights in advance of your trip? Then you can decide which places you want to experience and in what order. Below are some links to get you started.
- Cafe Wintergarden in Literaturhaus: http://www.literaturhaus-berlin.de
- Villa Grisebach: http://www.villa-grisebach.de/en
- Museum Island: http://www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/museum-island
- Das Hotel: https://www.facebook.com/dashotel
- Fat Tire Biketours: http://berlin.fattirebiketours.com
- Jewish Museum: http://www.jmberlin.de/main/EN/homepage-EN.php
- Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer: http://www.lorenzadlon-esszimmer.de/fcgi-bin/carte/en/mission