When you have 54 hours in Berlin it is very important to make use you go into your weekend with a plan!
Berlin is an incredibly diverse city rich in history, culture and natural beauty and spanning some 890km2; so arriving in Berlin without a plan of attack for seeing the city can mean missing out on some of the best bits.
So here is my guide to Berlin in 54 hours.
Day One: From the Airport to the Clubs (accommodation and transport in Berlin)
I arrived at Berlin Schönefeld Airport at 8pm on Friday and I knew instantly that the weekend ahead was going to be a big one. I wasn’t wrong, but thanks to Germany efficiency I was able to wizz around hassle free.
Transport from the airport is quick and easy with buses and trains departing regularly, depending on which part of Berlin you are staying in. I was heading to Alexanderplatz so I got myself an ABC train ticket (€3.30) and caught two quick trains up to the centre of town.
On the ride into town the beauty of Berlin becomes clear as through the night skyline you see bursts of Christmas Markets and if you are lucky fireworks.
Berlin is often known as the poor but sexy capital of Germany and it lives up to this reputation. It is a hub of weird, wacky and wonderful people and places! At times it feels like the city is completely unencumbered by rules; as though the falling of the wall let loose a freedom of expression and a primal urge to live on the peripheries of compliancy and the norm. So don’t let a late airport arrival get in your way of a full day. Get your rave on!!!!!
The Berlin nightlife is like something you won’t experience anywhere else in the world. A night out starts at about 1am, so dump your bags at your accommodation (I stayed at the St Christopher’s Inn) then head out, preferably with Berlin locals, to any number of parties, clubs or town hall raves around town. I went to a rave on the outskirts of Kruezberg, which was incredible. But I have also heard of parties taking place in all types of locations including white goods stores!!!
Day Two: Berlin Sightseeing and Christmas Markets
As day one rolls into day two, and you find yourself dancing back to your hostel as the sun comes up, it is important to remember not to waste the day. So if you can stay awake long enough to scoff some free hostel breakfast and drink a litre of water DO IT then get some sleep but not too much!
After a solid 2 hour sleep/nap it’s time to hit up the Christmas Markets. Late November to December is Christmas Market season and Berlin knows how to do it. There is something for everyone, rides, meter long bratwurst, creepy electronic Santa’s and most importantly glühwein.
There are so many Christmas markets you could spend the whole weekend wandering from one to the other and not do anything else…. but then you would be missing out on everything else Berlin has to offer, so I would recommend a Christmas market and culture crawl. This is the best way to see some of the sights (without feeling like you are being dragged from one museum and tourist attraction to another. Intermix culture with Christmas Markets. So make a list of all the best markets and all the locations you want to see and interchange the culture with the glühwein!
Some of my favourite culture spots in Berlin are the Pergamon Museum and Checkpoint Charlie, but if you plan of hitting up a whole host of cultural hotspots I would recommend a Berlin Pass at €79 for 2 days it can save you a bunch of money and give you free transport options for when you just can’t walk anymore.
However, if one museum is enough for you then my best advice for Berlin is to get lost… Berlin is rich in beauty, history and culture. Every street has something interesting be it a gorgeous building, and a piece of history or a vintage market so just lose yourself in the city even in the freezing cold it is the most fun you can have!
As the sun goes down and the two hour nap no longer seemed to be enough to sustain me. Go for an early dinner perhaps be cheeky in a way and explore some Bavarian culture by venturing to the Hofbrau Berlin for a bite. The Hofhrau is beautiful but very touristy. If you aren’t going to Munich though it can be a bit of fun. To fill my stomach after a fun day of exploring I ordered a dark beer and the Crispy Pork Knuckle. DO NOT attempt to eat a Crispy Pork Knuckle on your own! I don’t know what sort of pigs they have in Germany, but the pork I ordered was enough to feed a family and leaving so much of it on the plate felt like a failure! It did however result in the food coma that was needed for an early night!
Day Three: Exploring the darker history of Berlin
Owing to my early night on Saturday, Sunday started bright and early. After a bloody mary and a quick hostel breakfast I was ready for day two of tourist exploring.
Sunday’s itinerary consisted of some of the sadder historical sites of Berlin, including the Berlin Wall, the Jewish Museum and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. These sites are a testament to the horrors of humanity and stand as an ongoing reminder that never should we let humanity act in such a way again (although clearly that lesson is often forgotten).
I appreciate that the highs of a holiday and witnessing Berlin as it currently stands makes it is easy to forget the city was the stage upon which the ideological and actual battles of the world played out for decades. However, I this does not excuse bad behavior….. And here is where I get to my don’t, DO NOT treat memorials like playgrounds especially when the memorial represents the lives of 6 million murdered people; jumping from pillar to post, simulating sex acts and funny face selfies are not ok!! So appreciate the history of Berlin, be respectful of the memories the memories stand for, and save the joviality and selfies for the Brandenburg Gate!
To wrap up a perfect weekend in Berlin I would recommend seeing some live music. Berlin is a beacon for artists and musicians alike and so phenomenal live music is a given. Small and large venues, big bands and emerging artists, you are bound to hear something to delight your ears and shake your hips. I jived out to Bloc Party at Astra Kulturhaus, which was life changing and amazing!
So after the weekend is over and you are crawling exhaustedly out to Tegel airport by bus at 4am on Monday morning to get back in time for work in London (or even if you are off to some great new location) just remember…. Berlin is a beautiful city and well worth the visit! It will steal your heart and push you to your limits but it is worth every second!
Ich bin ein Berliner!!
Tchuss until next time!