Insider’s guide to a weekend in Berlin

BY Anna Campbell

1st Jan 2015 Travel

Insider’s guide to a weekend in Berlin

Notorious for both its underground party scene and tumultuous political past, Berlin is a mecca for young creative types from all over the world. This charming Old World city still boasts plenty of hidden gems. 

Where to Be Cultured...

To start, the Martin-Gropius-Bau offers trail-blazing contemporary art exhibitions; one recent Anish Kapoor installation featured a cannon shooting hot wax against a gallery wall. Another must-see is the Boros Collection, a former military bunker turned art museum. The collection is private though, so make sure to reserve a spot on one of the daily English tours.

boros Collection

If art’s not your thing, the Museum of Medical History at Charité Hospital provides a fascinating look at pathological medical practices over last few centuries. It has “around 750 pathologic-anatomical wet and dry preparations on display” aka brains in jars and preserved skulls.

Where to Sneak Into...

For urban explorers Teufelsberg, literally “Devil’s Mountain,” is an abandoned Cold War spy station set atop a hill 115 metres high. The hill itself was man-made using rubble from houses destroyed during WWII in order to cover over a Nazi military training school. It’s actually possible now to buy a ticket to the site and have a proper tour, but what’s the fun in that?  


Where to Get Fresh Air...

With an abundance of tree-lined streets and sprawling parks, Berlin is one of Europe’s greenest cities. Locals are particularly fond of Tempelhof, once the city’s main airport and now a massive park with the original runways still intact -- kite landboarding, anyone?

 Monbijou Park sits along the banks of the Spree River near the bustling Hackescher Markt and offers stunning views of the Berlin Cathedral Church. Treptower Park, located on the southeast bank of the river, contains a massive Soviet war memorial depicting a Russian soldier holding a child and stomping on a swastika.


Where to Shop...

To snag some of the street style Berlin’s so well known for, take a stroll around the Weinmeisterstrasse area, nip into a few boutiques, and don’t miss Sweden’s beloved Weekday.

If second hand is more your scene, try the flea market at Boxhagener Platz in the uber-cool Friedrichshain neighbourhood. Or if you want to feel fancy, the grand, historical KaDeWe in Charlottenburg is the largest department store on the European continent.

Where to Eat...

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any street in Berlin yields a currywurst stand, but native Berliners only go to Curry Baude in the up-and-coming Wedding area. Curried out? Prenzlauer Berg’s Kollwitz Platz Market, open only on Thursday and Saturday, yields an impressive array of locally grown produce as well as fresh meats, cheeses, and fish -- including North German specialties like karpfen blau.


Where to Drink...

Anywhere, really: just grab a beer from a nearby Spätkauf and have a seat! But if you’re in the mood for a stiffer tipple, Stagger Lee in Schöneberg (the neighbourhood where David Bowie once shared a flat with Iggy Pop) offers impeccably crafted libations centering around whiskey, bourbon, and tequila.

Dvid bowie and iggy pop

And don’t miss Eschschloraque in Mitte, which is owned by a local artist and located in a graffiti-covered courtyard set back from the street by a narrow passageway.

Where to Sleep...

Berlin just might rival New York for being the City that Never Sleeps. Most clubs stay open all 48 hours of the weekend, so if you’d rather save your money drop your backpack at the cloakroom and dance until it’s breakfast time.


As for more traditional lodging options, the Airbnb scene in Berlin is welcoming and inexpensive. Look for a place in Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain to feel like a local -- these lively neighbourhoods provide easy access to other desirable areas. Of course, if you have the inclination (and means), The Weinmeister is a posh boutique design hotel in Mitte that comes highly recommended. 

With more than 377 rooms, there is plenty of space to stay at the Pullman Berlin Scwizerhof, located right in the heart of the city.


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