I’ll be honest, I have been putting off curating my weekend in Berlin guide for a while now because… well, I have been a little overwhelmed as there’s just SO much amazing stuff to experience in this city.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that whenever I have friends or family planning short breaks to Berlin I recommend different things depending on who they are and what they are interested in — be that culture, clubbing, food, wellness or shopping.
So in that spirit, this is a build your own perfect and personalised weekend in Berlin guide, designed to take care of YOUR interests. I start with the basics, and from there I have split things up into categories. You can then cherry-pick through the categories that most interest you and pick one (or a few) places I recommend –– I promise you they are all great… in fact so great that you might want to plan multiple trips to Berlin to take them all in.
Basically, whatever kind of weekend in Berlin you have in mind, I got you covered. Also, don’t fear if you still feel completely lost or overwhelmed, at the end I have included a few rough sketches of itineraries to help inspire you! And for more Berlin inspiration, here’s a list of movies about Berlin.
Berlin City Breaks Basics
Where to Stay
If you are only planning a short break to Berlin then where you stay is key. Berlin is a BIG city, and you don’t want to spend most of your time commuting across it. Everything I recommend in my guide is pretty much in a 10-15 km radius of each other, so where you stay should be somewhere in the heartland of your interests.
My top recommendation is Mitte. It is bang in the centre of Berlin (Mitte means middle, I love how literal Germans are). Not only is it super convenient for everything – particularly all the main museums and sights –– but it’s actually really, REALLY, nice. Expect to pay a little bit more, but if you are only planning a weekend in Berlin it’s 100% worth it. Best place to stay: The Weinmeister Hotel, the perfect mix of design, quirk and luxury.
Also pretty central, pretty f*ing great, and my main stomping ground is Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. You can literally feel, as well experience, Berlin’s counter-culture vibe here. Hands down stay at the Michelberger Hotel if you can, but otherwise, the Bella Apartment is super lovely and just about walking distance from the East Side Gallery.
Berlin has a pretty extensive public transport network, and as much as you want to avoid major commutes it’s useful to be able to hop on and off the U-bahn and trams around the centre. So, if
you are planning on doing a lot of cultural stuff, or in Berlin for a long weekend, I recommend getting a Welcome Card – Berlin’s public transport is included, as well as entry to the city’s main museums, and discounts for loads of other cultural spots, for 72-hours. Alternatively, if you want to have a bit more freedom to go further afield, you can easily rent a car.
This needs a whole guide in and of itself… good job I have a few. Here is an overview of the best vegan restaurants in Berlin (in my opinion at least), if you are looking for the best healthy food spots in the city check out this guide, and – if like me – vegan burgers are a real thing for you, here’s where to find the best vegan burgers in Berlin.
That being said, brunch is a must when planning a weekend in Berlin! Lots of places offer special weekend-only brunch buffet menus, and having eaten my way through all best vegan options here are my favourites: Kopps for locally sourced ingredients, and fine dining in a chic minimal aesthetic. Oh and it’s ALL VEGAN. Kopps is located in Mitte, and their brunch buffet is on both Saturday and Sunday until 4 pm – no excuse to miss out.
If green juices, smoothies and macro bowls are your thing then my number one recommendation is Daluma, also in Mitte. Their space and food are also super pretty and definitely Instagram worthy if that is important to you. Ataya Cafe is a completely vegan African Italian restaurant, and they are as good as they sound. So good in fact that I recommend making a reservation otherwise you risk missing out. On Saturday they have a special breakfast, and on Sunday it’s an all-day brunch.
Your Tailor-made Weekend in Berlin
Sightseeing and Culture
These are some of the most iconic cultural sights in Berlin –– all for a good reason. If you have a long weekend in Berlin you could definitely get through all of them, otherwise, if you are looking for just a splash of culture then choose what sounds most interesting to you.
The Brandenburg Gate is pretty impressive: both to look at and its history. It was built in the 1700s and is emblematic of Prussia and the German Empire –– but the most amazing thing about it? That it managed to survive Napolean’s invasion, both World Wars and the Cold War. A good place to start and get a feel of some of Germany’s early history. Get there early to avoid the crowds.
Find out more about Germany’s political history, but best of all –– take in the architecture. Book ahead here, so you can skip the line –– trust me, you do not want to be queuing to get in on a weekend! Included with your queue jump is a coffee on the rooftop in the glass dome… which is my favourite part.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
It’s impossible to put the experience of this memorial into words. Take some time to walk through the concrete stelae and reflect. The memorial is abstract in many ways, and I really recommend going to the underground information centre that lists the names of all the Jewish Holocaust victims.
Brandenburger Tor, the Reichstag and the Jewish Memorial are all within 10-15 minutes walk of each other. Seeing these sites are a good way to squeeze in just an hour or so of culture.
Alexander Platz and TV Tower
Alexander Platz is a major hub in Berlin today, but it’s known for being the centre of East Berlin. The TV Tower was erected by the East German government as a symbol of Communism, and it still happens to be the tallest structure in Germany! To get a feel of this recent history, but also just to admire the amazing urban sprawl of Berlin (with lots of parkland in there too!) get a fast track ticket to go up the tower.
This is the Berlin victory column bang in the middle of the Tiergarten. For just a few euros you can climb the column and get an amazing view over the park and across the city.
Tiergarten is a park worth seeing in itself. You can walk or cycle from the Siegessäule through the park to the Brandenburger Tor at the eastern end of the park.
If your city break to Berlin is all about culture then save a serious chunk of time for the UNESCO protected Museum Island. Definitely get the Berlin Museum card which gives you access to 30 museums, including all five museums on Museum Island. Don’t miss the Pergamon Museum –– seeing entire temples and ancient feats of architecture, especially the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, transplanted into a museum is mind-blowing. Also, even if you only drop into the Neues Museum for half an hour, go see the bust of Queen Nefertiti.
East Side Gallery
East Side Gallery is the remnants of the Berlin Wall and an incredible reminder of this extraordinary part of Berlin’s history, where the city was divided in two for over 25 years during the Cold War. In 1990, one year after the wall came down, the remaining stretches were painted with murals by various artists to create the East Side Gallery. I love just wandering along stretches, stopping now and again on the banks of the Spree and absorbing the amazing spirit of this city.
If you are short on time, hate organising your own cultural tours, or don’t know where to start then this one-hour boat tour on the Spree will give you a great flavour of the city’s cultural highlights with minimal effort on your behalf!
Berlin’s Best Markets
Berlin has great shopping, especially the flea markets that crop up on Sundays! If you find yourself falling in love with Berlin’s aesthetic then I recommend dedicating some time on a Sunday for bargain hunting. It happens to be one of my favourite post-brunch activities.
Each market listed has a slightly different vibe, so just pick which one works for you in terms of interests/location.
Boxhagener Platz Market
Sunday flea market in Friedrichshain. A great way to spend half a day perusing all the vintage stalls, and picking up some street food. (Also part of my Berlin thrift store guide)
Another Sunday flea market –– decent shopping but its major highlight is the legendary Bearpit Karaoke from 3 pm. No words, just go.
Flea market on Maybachufer
This is a fortnightly flea market, so make sure you check the dates. Good food, super hipster vintage finds.
Holzmarkt is its own ecosystem. It’s got clubbing, culture, bars, food, shops, all with a quintessential Berlin counterculture/anarchic vibe.
Stop off at Holzmarkt for a drink when walking along the East Side Gallery
Yum. Street food market every Sunday.
Another Sunday flea market worth a mention. RAW Flohmarkt is also in Friedrichshain, but a little less overwhelming than the one in Boxhagener Platz.
Nightlife and Clubbing
Hardcore: All nighters/weekenders
The main reason why so many people plan a weekend in Berlin is for the club scene. Most (in)famous of all is Berghain, the ultimate techno lovers sex club of choice. Let’s be real, if you do manage to get in you might end up spending your entire weekend there. My favourite of Berlin’s legendary sex clubs is KitKat – it has a special place in my heart as an important place for my own personal naked liberation.
Sisyphos flies slightly under the radar, but if warehouse raves are your thing then it’s worth venturing to.
Less Hardcore: bars and chilled out clubbing
I want to give a special shout out to some of my favourite places which don’t require you to spend an entire weekend in hedonistic debauchery, and where clothing is encouraged.
If you are in Berlin in the summer go to Club der Visionäre, it’s an intimate kooky little venue on the waterfront and is great for an afternoon drink… which may or may not turn into early morning dancing depending on who’s playing. Kater Blau is located in Holzmarkt and embodies the whole arty vibe and community feel of the area. If you like the weird and wonderful, then roaming around the many rooms at Salon Zur Wilden Renate is for you.
YAAM, Young African Art Market, is a cultural hub for the African and Caribbean communities in Berlin. You can visit in the day, or check out what events they are hosting in the evenings, particularly if Reggaeton is your vibe.
Spas and Wellness
Not everybody equates a Berlin city break with health and wellness, but you might be surprised at the affordable luxury on offer in this city when it comes to the spa scene. Also, in the interests of keeping things balanced, it’s a great way to sweat out last night’s dancing.
Ahhh Vabali, I feel soothed just thinking about it. It’s basically a spa world with all the different types of saunas, steam rooms, pools, tubs, outdoor and indoor lounging options you could possibly imagine. You can get a pass for a couple of hours or stay for the entire day, which at less than €45 for a day pass is an amazing value (extra for towel/robe hire, but you can bring your own). You can also book treatments and massages for extra.
Oh, and it’s all naked. This was a big deal for me when I first moved to Berlin, but now I’m completely on board with the hygiene/body positivity benefits. Find out everything you need to visit and feel comfortable in the nude at Vabali.
Liquidrom is another great, much less extensive, and slightly less nude (although for hygiene you still need to be naked in the actual saunas) spa experience. It’s a little bit cheaper than Vabali, but it also doesn’t offer as much in terms of variety –– although everything it does have is pretty nice. What makes it unique are all the special music and sound events they host regularly –– which is a pretty good alternative nightlife experience.
Designing Your Perfect Berlin City Break
So. There you go. You can’t do everything, I’m sorry to say – although you can always plan for a week in Berlin!
But if I had just a weekend in Berlin and wanted a little of everything here’s what I would do: Saturday is for taking in some major culture spots, starting at the Brandenburger Tor and following your heart (and stomach) from there. Spend the evening decompressing –– be that at a club, bar or chilling at a spa. Sunday is for brunching, perusing flea markets, and perhaps ambling along the East Side Gallery to round off your trip.
If you are going to Berlin for the nightlife then… Well, that’s your weekend taken care of. For some serious R+R spend allll day Saturday at Vabali, and then indulge in some of Berlin’s best healthy eating spots on Sunday. If you are after a really instagrammable trip to Berlin, then here are Berlin’s best photo spots to make sure you visit, as well as the East Side Gallery. Or arm yourself with the Belin Welcome Card and spend every day visiting the various cultural sites and museums –– but please find time for brunch on Sunday!
Get creative, I promise you a weekend in Berlin will not disappoint!
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