Last year I went on a short city break with a group of friends to the exciting city of Berlin. Having never been to Germany and having heard what an exciting and cosmopolitan city it was, we were excited to explore. We got a fantastic deal on an EasyJet flight which set us back a mere £38 return from Gatwick for 3 nights (booked about 3 months in advance) and decided to book an apartment in the Friedrichshain area which is walking distance to the Alexanderplatz centre and the East Side.
Berlin is a city full of history with lots to see and as we had just 3 days we decided to get a bus tour on our 1st day. This hop on hop off ticket lasts for 24hrs and goes to all the main tourist destinations in the city and is a reasonable price of €15 (depending on what bus company you use). Being completely new and somewhat confused on our first day the tour bus seemed like the best option and really helped us to gather our bearings. During our first day we managed to see quite a bit of the city and visited several key landmarks. The Brandenburg Gate had a bustling atmosphere when we arrived with a live DJ playing at the front of the gate, street performers and some crazy bikes in the main square which for €2 each we couldn’t resist. The Holocaust Memorial is also close by and is a very emotional and memorable visit. Deciding to cram even more history into our visit, Check Point Charlie and its museum was also one of our stops. Other top sights are of course the Berlin Wall remains at the East Side Gallery, The Reichstag and the Berliner Dom. Though sightseeing can be quite tiring it really is worthwhile and we felt there was definitely a need to soak up as much as we could!
Of course Berlin isn’t just about history, it is also very trendy and has many unique experiences on offer. As Berlin is widely populated with artists you’ll find that there are some really unusual and ‘arty’ things to do. From restaurants in complete darkness (with blind waiters!) to river barge clubs and open air cinemas there is a lot to explore in the city and I think you’ll find the best way to find these places is to simply stumble upon them. Berlin nightlife is in a league of its own and has many underground and unique clubs in the shape of disused warehouses, river barges, semi detached houses and abandoned powerhouses (to name just a few). One of the most eccentric experiences we had was a visit to the Berghain and Panorama Bar a huge abandoned powerhouse which has pumping techno music and stays open for pretty much 24 hours, certainly not for the faint hearted but an unique and memorable experience!
The main thing which made me fall in love with Berlin is the laidback and friendly atmosphere. There was always a feeling excitement and you could stumble upon a unique restaurant, bar or gallery at any point. The Berliners were always very friendly and accommodating and we felt very comfortable asking for help when needed. Although we tried to cram in as much as we could during our 3 days I still feel like there is so much more that this buzzing and unique city has to offer, which has left me with a strong yearning to return. There are a huge amount of hotels in Berlin to choose from, depending on where you would like to stay. The Plus Berlin Hotel in Friedrichshain is a good place to head if you’re looking for cheap accommodation and want to be close to all the action. Certainly one of the most impressive hotels in the area is the Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin in the city centre which has an impressive exotic fish tank going up the whole building inside (we managed to have a peek and it was amazing). Wherever you decide to stay make sure you get the most out of this exciting city and explore as much as you can, I shall certainly be returning to continue my adventures.
Have you ever been to Berlin? Any top tips?