48 Hours in Berlin

A futuristic city in an old world

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Words by Leah Haines
December 8th, 2016

With a dark history that still lingers in the air, Berlin is one of the most intriguing cities in Europe. Historically rich, eerily quiet and architecturally magical, it allows the visitor to feel like they have been transported to a different time. It is a city of order and structure, whilst being home to one of the biggest cultural movements in Europe and the craziest nightclubs one has ever seen. Whatever your reason for visiting, it does not disappoint.

Germans have a reputation for being organised and Berlin is run with this ethos in mind. Immaculately clean, no bus, tram or U-Bahn (their version of the Tube) is ever late or delayed which means you can get into/around the city in no time at all. The city itself is divided into many districts which were once separated by the Berlin Wall. Mitte and Kreuzberg are the only two you need to know for 48 hours in Berlin. Mitte plays host to the city’s most famous galleries, museums, monuments and parliament buildings. It has a culturally rich ambience because of this, allowing you to soak up the atmosphere instantly. Graffiti walls and futuristic adverts allow for the undertones of the arts movement to be seen where music and personal freedom are valued above all else. The architecture is beautiful in so many ways. A “new” Berlin has clearly emerged since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the city is still constantly evolving. On one corner a World War II bunker stands structurally dominant but when you look up to the sky the Fernsehturm BT Tower is clearly visible in all its modernity.

Whether you are visiting Berlin for a romantic getaway, a family trip or a girl’s weekend on the tiles, there is something to see and do for everyone. Apart from the cultural activities, the vast amount of boutiques, worldly restaurants and late night bars will leave you with quite the impression. A futuristic city in an old world, Berlin is a must-see.

Culture and Sightseeing


Beginning in Mitte, walk through Museum Island and gaze upon the buildings, open gardens and beautiful cathedrals it encompasses. Even if you do not want to visit the history and art museums, walking through each one will open your eyes to the setting they are in amongst the river. From there, walk along the wide, open road of Uter den Linden, famous during the war times as it leads you to the 18th-century Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of reunification during the Cold War. When you are finished taking pictures under the Brandenburg Gate, take a left for the Holocaust Museum or a right for the German Parliament Buildings which are a short walk away. This is where you will find Angela Merkel’s head office in the stunning Reichstag Building. Built to remember the Jewish cruelly murdered during WWII, The Holocaust Museum is one of the most deeply moving museums one can visit—no trip to Berlin is complete without experiencing this incredible memorial. If contemporary art is of interest to you, a trip to the Boros Collection, the biggest private art collection in Europe is an absolute must. Set in a World War II bunker, it is nothing like you have ever experienced art in before, driving home this city’s battle of new versus old.

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Berlin wall

Having exhausted Mitte, Kreuzberg is home to Checkpoint Charlie, the Jewish Museum and the Berlinische Gallery. The East Side Gallery along the eastside of the River Spree plays host to 118 artists that have each designed a part of the remaining Berlin Wall. Creating something wonderful out of a historically devastating act is a testament of Berliners attitude to life.

A constant city of renewal, the culture of Berlin and the sightseeing it entails will leave you with a great understanding of the turbulent history this city has been reborn from.

Shopping


Berlin caters for every type of shopper in its own way. As the city is spread out with no direct centre, so are the shops. However, there are defined shopping areas to head to depending on what you are looking for. For markets-goers, nothing beats Mauerpark Flea Market. Food and drink, clothing and household goods, as well as the expected brick-a-brack, can all be found here. With live music playing and an electric mix of people, it is a Sunday morning well spent.

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Mall of Berlin

If you prefer the indoor shelter of a shopping centre with everything under one roof, Berlin has quite a few to offer. From the Mall of Berlin (the largest in Berlin) to Alexanderplatz which is home to typical high street stores and a five-storey shopping centre which, as of last month, plays host to Germany’s first Topshop. For something more traditional, Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe) is the oldest shopping centre in Berlin and resembles Harrods of London in a German way. From luxury goods to contemporary designers it is suited to the more premium shopper. However, the food hall is worth a visit above all else! The trendier shopper fits right in the area known as Kastanienallee. Pop-up shops, vintage stores and recycled chic boutiques mean hours can be spent stumbling upon Berlin wonders.

Whatever your needs, or if window shopping is your thing, there is plenty to see and touch.

Eating and Drinking


For breakfast, the highly recommended Chipps in Mitte serves up a beautiful European breakfast/brunch. Their scrambled egg is by far the nicest I have had in a while and will set you up brilliantly for the day. For lunch, Flamingo restaurant did not disappoint with its broad selection of hearty soups and tasty salads. For a late lunch/dinner, the traditional cuisine served across the city in the market stalls provides a great taster of the German signature dishes. For dinner, Henne Alt Berliner Wirtshaus is a traditional restaurant that is famous for its chicken and offers brilliant budget food, much the same as Burgermeister if you’re a burger fan, while restaurants Shiso Transit and Prince are renowned for their authentic Asian cuisine for those after something a bit different.

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Prince

Mitte has endless bars that never seem to be overly packed which is great for avoiding queues. Fire Bar is a true hipster offering with cheap cocktails and a fun atmosphere. Reingold is a small gem tucked away behind concrete doors making the exclusive feel to the place known. For something that bit fancier, visit Neue Odessa Bar where you’ll find Berlin’s uber-cool crowd at the weekend as well as a mean cocktail menu and great DJs. If the club scene is what you are looking for Berlin has more than enough to offer, choose between Panorama, Watergate and Tresor to dance the night away.

Sleeping


Cosmo Hotel in Mitte sits right on the border between Mitte and Kreuzberg. It is a 4* hotel, 8 storeys high with immaculately clean rooms and no noise to be heard from the outside road. All this considered, it makes for the perfect two-night stay for under €200 for two people. If you are after a slice of luxury, Soho House in Berlin, of the trademark Soho House Hotel Empire, is urban cool with contemporary interiors and stylish decor making it hard to leave once you have arrived.