Neither Craig nor myself had Berlin on our travel bucket-list, much less at the top of our to-do list. Nonetheless, a destination wedding in Potsdam brought us to the city, so we thought it best to kill two birds with one stone and cross Berlin off our list anyway. We decided to do it in two days — ambitious, I know. But it is possible! Check out what we did in our whirlwind two days in Berlin.
[bctt tweet=”Two Days to kill in Berlin? This itinerary will keep you busy! ” username=”@theglobediary”]
Preconceived Ideas About Berlin:
Now, I must admit, I was super apprehensive about Berlin. When I think of Berlin, I think of a dark, grey, and graffiti-filled, unromantic city which is so uncharacteristic of our European wonderland, like Paris. Needless to say, I had low expectations for the city. Craig tried his best to reassure me that it wouldn’t be anything like I had envisioned. (But, later he confided that he too, had the same grey-image of Berlin in his head).
After having been to Berlin, I can’t say that my concerns were invalid. It definitely is not a ‘pretty’ city by any means, but we still had a lovely two days exploring the city. Would we return? At this rate, we don’t plan on it, so you can imagine it was a crammed full two days of exploring (and about 19km + 14km of walking). Upon researching online, I didn’t find many travel guides or blogs on the city and so hopefully this can help anyone visiting the city in the future.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at the i31 Boutique Berlin Hotel in the area called Mitte and absolutely loved it. The decor is trendy and modern. Plus, the hotel prices were reasonable. Bonus, there were some of the highly-ranked restaurants nearby. Right next door is the popular Asian restaurant, Co Chu, and just a short 7-minute walk away was our favourite of the trip, Pantry.
However, if you’re looking for luxury, you should splurge on a room at the Adlon Kempinski Hotel. This hotel is located mere steps from the Brandenburg Gate and Tiergarten. It also happens to be the same famous hotel that Michael Jackson held his new baby, Blanket, out the window (Fun Fact).
What We Did:
In true coffee-snob fashion, I will always seek out the best coffee spots. That said, I didn’t love the coffee in Europe. I find that most of the restaurants and cafes have some love affair with long life milk (UHT milk?). As soon as I taste that distinct flavour, I usually cannot finish the coffee. BUT, Distrikt Cafe’s coffee was perfect. Located in Mitte not far from our hotel, we ended up at this cafe TWICE — once for coffee, and the second time we had breakfast too. The pancakes looked amazing (but sadly aren’t gluten free), so I had the acai bowl which was incredibly refreshing on those extremely hot days in Berlin.
One thing Berlin definitely had going for it were all the cute cafes. Here’s a list of coffee shops I would have loved to have visited.
Day One: East Side Gallery & KaDaWe
On top of my must-see list was the East Side Gallery, a 1,3km stretch of the Berlin Wall which now stands as an international memorial for freedom. They are currently restoring most of the wall because much of the art has been vandalised, but it is worth a visit.
Berlin hasn’t been on top of Craig’s bucket list and nor was it on my own, but a wedding brought us to Germany & so we decided we had to explore. We only had two days in this city (maybe too short to see it all) but nonetheless, we packed in enough to blog about! ???? East Side Gallery was something I really wanted to see, plus it was not far from the food market I was hoping to lunch at (Markthalle Neuen – look it up).
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We wanted to visit the Food Market, Markthalle Nuen, which was a short walk from the Gallery but sadly, for a Monday, it was super quiet and most of the stores were closed. Thursday nights are supposed to be the best time but unfortunately we wouldn’t be there that long. Now I’m not saying plan your holiday around a Thursday, but I wouldn’t blame you if you did. It looks like loads of fun and the food looks heavenly.
Make Your Own Magnum:
It was 33 degrees and ice-cream was going to happen one way or another. When I saw there was a Magnum Pop Up Store in Berlin, I decided we had to make the mission to go there. We combined this with the KaDaWe Shopping Centre which is also nearby. Definitely go up to the 6th floor and try out the ‘food court’. We didn’t eat there just because of timing but seriously, I wish we had!
Brandenburg Gate & Tiergarten
Tiergarten is huge and just a few steps over from the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag Building. We had planned to spend some time relaxing in Tiergarten in the afternoon so we walked through towards the KaDaWe area for lunch at the 25Hr Bikini Berlin Hotel.
Lunch With A View:
The Bikini Berlin hotel had been our second hotel (back-up) option when booking and if we ever did return to Berlin, we would definitely stay here. It looks a bit “wild” online, but the trendy decor is actually quite fun in person. Their “rooftop” bar, the Monkey Bar, overlooks the Berlin Zoo monkey cages and also gives you a panoramic view of Tiergarten. The cocktails are a refreshing and the sweet potato fries are even better. It’s a great spot to rest your feet, while still taking in the view.
Tiergarten in the Nude!
Careful walking around Tiergarten and don’t be too surprised if you see a few people completely nude. You will know when you’re in the area where people strip down! Everyone gathers there to tan nekkid. If you’re shy, get there earlier before the crowds arrive. By the afternoon it gets quite full!
Brandenburg Gate By Night:
We did go back to see the Brandenburg gate at night just because I truly believe everything looks a hundred times better at night. I would have had a drink at the Adlon Kempinski Hotel if we weren’t so extremely tired and didn’t have to get up at 5am to catch our flight to Amsterdam. The hotel boasts the best view of the Gate and a great spot to people watch. Instead, we opted for takeaway Gelato from Haagen Daaz and an early night in.
So… that was about it! It was short and sweet, but we did cram a lot in. I would highly recommend all of the above. I felt like we got the proper Berlin experience, and if anyone wanted to try repeat our whirlwind two days, as you can see, it is possible! Let me know if you visit any of these places and let me know what you think — did I miss anything? 🙂
If you enjoyed our Berlin travel diary, be sure to check out our others:
- Travel Diary: 4 Days in Vancouver
- Travel Diary: 3 Days in Santorini
- Travel Diary: 3 Days in Los Angeles
- Travel Diary: 5 Days in Paris