48 Hours In: Berlin

As the German capital prepares for the Long Night of the Museums festival, extend your enjoyment of the city's delights.



Click here for
48 Hours



In... Berlin map

Why go now?

The city at Europe's heart has awakened for the new year. On 30 January, the Long Night of the Museums ( www.bit.ly/LongNight ) provides an opportunity to binge on culture, with more than 100 museums and cultural institutions opening their doors between 6pm and 2am. A Kombiticket covering entrance fees and public transport costs €15 for adults.

Touch down

Schönefeld in the former East Berlin is now the main arrival point from the UK, with flights from Stansted, Gatwick, Bristol, East Midlands, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh on easyJet and Ryanair. The best link to the centre is the Airport-Express train, which leaves every half hour from the station a five-minute walk from the terminal. Alexanderplatz (1) and Friedrichstrasse (2) are the best stations for the city centre, while Hauptbahnhof (3) is a sparkling new addition; some good deals by train from the UK start at just €49 each way through bahn.de.

Flights from Heathrow on BA and BMI/Lufthansa arrive at Tegel airport, in Berlin's north-western suburbs. The frequent X9 bus takes you in 20 minutes to Zoologischer Garten station (4) with connections by underground to western parts of the city; for destinations in the east, get the TXL express bus to Alexanderplatz (1) and change there.

Getting around by underground (U-Bahn), overground (S-Bahn) and bus is quick and easy; the standard fare is €2.10 for a single journey and a day ticket is €6.10. The excellent free map, "Discovering Berlin by train and bus" as well as the 48-hour Welcome Card, which includes travel and 50 per cent reductions on many museum and gallery entrance fees, price €16.90, is available from information offices at the airports and in the city.

Get your bearings

The best reference point is the large, central park, the Tiergarten. East of it are the districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, where most of the action happens and most of the unmissable sights are to be found. To the south and west are the residential and commercial districts which made up the former West Berlin: Charlottenburg, Wilhelmsdorf and Schoneberg.

The main tourist offices are at Hauptbahnhof (3) (Europaplatz entrance, open daily 8am-10pm), Brandenburg Gate (5) (open daily 10am-6pm) and at Ku'damm 21(6) (open daily 10am-8pm, Sundays to 6pm); Ku'damm is the mercifully shortened version of Kurfürstendamm.

Check in

Mitte and Ku'damm have the largest concentrations of Berlin's 600 or so hotels. For a cheap, decent and central bed, try the EastSeven hostel (7) at Schwedter Strasse 7 (00 49 30 62 22 40; eastseven.de), conveniently placed for the attractions and temptations of Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg. (U-Bahn: Senefeldferplatz.) Prices range from €13 for dormitory accommodation to €31 for a single room; breakfast excluded.

In the quieter west of the city, cosy, three-star Hotel Brandies (8) at Kaiserdamm 27(00 49 30 36 41 99 0; hotel-brandies.de ) is close to the Schloss Charlottenburg but within easy reach of the rest of the city on U-Bahn line 2 (Kaiserdamm). Doubles with breakfaststart at €85.

Five-star luxury with Michelin-rated cuisine is on offer at the opulent Regent Hotel (9) at Charlottenstrasse 49 just off Friedrichstrasse, overlooking the Gendarmenmarkt Square (00 49 30 20 33-8; theregentberlin.com ). Doubles start at €199; breakfast is an extra €20 per person for "light", €35 for the full German.

Day one

Take a hike

For an impressionistic but powerful sense of the city's dramatic past, set off from Potsdamer Platz (10) along Ebertstrasse, following the course of the former Berlin Wall to the maze of concrete blocks that make up the emotionally challenging Holocaust memorial (11). Continue to the Brandenburg Gate (5) from where a short detour takes you to the Reichstag (12), with its spectacular central dome, designed by Norman Foster; admission to the dazzling top is free but be prepared to queue.

After a brief taste of Unter den Linden's lime trees and baroque facades, turn right into Friedrichstrasse, which leads past Berlin's loveliest square, Gendarmenmarkt (13) – boasting not one but two cathedrals. Complete the walk at Checkpoint Charlie (14): touristy and tacky this may be, with its fake border hut and guards, but the photos and the history recounted on the roadside panels are all too real.

Take a ride

Two double-decker bus routes – 100 and 200 – link many of Berlin's essential sights for the standard €2.20 fare. Both start from a stand at the Zoologischer Garten station (4) but you can hop on or off either as you please. The 100 takes you through the Tiergarten to the Brandenburg Gate (5) and then along Unter den Linden to Alexanderplatz (1), while the 200 takes a more southerly route to Potsdamer Platz (10). A surprisingly scenic trip is provided by the S-Bahn between Ostbahnhof and Charlottenburg as it snakes above the city roofs on viaducts and bridges.

Lunch on the run

You're rarely far from a currywurst stall. One of the best wurst experiences is to be had at the Saturday market in Kollwitzplatz (15) at the heart of trendy Prenzlauer Berg. Cost: €2.50; in winter, a glass of Gluhwein is an ideal accompaniment. (U-Bahn: Eberswalder Strasse.)

Window shopping

Ku'damm has long been the city's shopping hub. This two-mile avenue is flanked by global and local retailers, seasoned with restaurants and pavement cafes. In Tauentzienstrasse, the prolongation of Ku'damm, is the department store, KaDeWe (16).

Shortly before 10am daily except Sunday, the original iron gate dating from 1907 is lowered to allow customers in; it shuts at 8pm (9pm Fridays). The food hall alone merits a weekend break.

In Friedrichstrasse there's a competing spread of mainly upmarket shops, while the Friedrichstadtpassagen (17) reinvents the shopping mall: three inter-linked zones (called quartiers) whose individualistic and stunning architecture houses 50 designer stores and restaurants (U-Bahn: Stadtmitte).

Cultural afternoon

The cultural heart of Europe is Museumsinsel (18), the "Museum Island" in the river Spree. Remarkable collections from the ancient world and of 19th-century art, gathered by the Prussian kings, are displayed in equally spectacular neo-classical buildings. The Old National Gallery, Bode Museum, Pergamon Museum (location for the Altar of Zeus) and Old Museum are all excellent, but the star turn is the New Museum, which opened last October after being closed for an astonishing seven decades. Its main attraction is a bust of the beautiful Egyptian queen, Nefertiti. An admission ticket costing €12 gets you in to all the museums. Hours are basically 10am-6pm daily, with later opening on some nights at some museums.

An aperitif

A brief walk from crowded Ku'damm is the leafy oasis of Savignyplatz (19). Enjoy your pre-dinner drink in one of the numerous bars around the square and in the alleyway beside the railway arches; Zwiebelfisch (00 49 30 31 27 363; zwiebelfisch-berlin.de ) is a traditional establishment amongst the flashier bars.

Dining with the locals

Eat authentic Berlin cuisine in the company of authentic Berliners at restaurants such as Lindenwirtin (20) at Lindenallee 28 (00 49 30 27 74 7) where hearty and homely dishes such as Konigsberger Klopse (meatballs) cost around €10-12 (U-Bahn: Theodor-Heuss-Platz). For a modern take on traditional German cuisine, try the more upmarket Altes Zollhaus (21) at Carl-Heinz-Ufer 30, across town in Kreuzberg.

Day two

Sunday morning: go to church

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirch (22), at the eastern end of Ku'damm, is a striking blend of the ruined and the modern. The original 19th-century church was heavily bombed during the Second World War and has been preserved in its blackened state as a reminder of the destructive powers of war. Flanking it are a new church and hexagonal tower, built in eye-catching blue glass bricks. Sunday services at 10am and 6pm.

Take a view

Do it the lazy way, by lift, to the 200metre-high viewing platform of the Fernsehturm (TV tower) (23) for wide-ranging panoramas over the city and surroundings (€10.50). Harder work are the 285 steps of the spiral staircase inside the Victory Column (24) in the centre of the Tiergarten (€2.20). The reward for your effort is a fine view eastwards towards the Brandenburg Gate, while on the northern edge of the park there is a complex of stunning government buildings.

Out to brunch

Sunday brunch is a Berlin institution, with cafés serving buffets of German breakfast classics – cheese, ham, tomato salad, hard-boiled eggs, jam, fruit etc – between 10am and 3pm. A particularly good brunch spot, slightly off the beaten track between Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, is Schwarze Pumpe (25) at Choriner Strasse 76 (U-Bahn: Senenfelderplatz) where, for €4.50, you can fill yourself up with enough hearty fare until dinner.

A walk in the park

The Tiergarten, Europe's largest city park, is a beguiling sprawl of lawns, woodlands and lakes. Once a hunting reserve for Prussian nobility, it is now the place where Berliners enjoy summer picnics, sunbathing and general relaxation. A stroll across it from the Brandenburg Gate to the Zoo, via the Victory Column (24) will take an hour or so, unless you're tempted by a stop at the beer garden, Café am Neuen See (26) at Lichtensteinallee 2, not far from Zoologischer Garten.

Write a postcard

An inspiring location for a "wish-you-were-here" missive is the café in the Small Orangery of Schloss Charlottenburg (27). This grand, baroque palace, which started life as a modest, summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of the Elector Friedrich I, also boasts beautiful gardens (U-Bahn: Richard-Wagner-Platz).

The icing on the cake

Don't visit a city that never sleeps without dipping at least one toe into its legendary night life. In the lively area round Orangieburgerstrasse, in Mitte, White Trash's (28) weird combination of Asian kitsch, American memorabilia and tasty hamburgers has made it a visitors' favourite (Schonhauser Allee 6-7; open from 6pm; U-Bahn: Senfelderplatz). For a harder core experience, on the edge of Kreuzberg, Watergate (29) is a techno hotspot where the lower dance floor, which is at river level, is as close as you'll come to dancing on water.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
Arts and Entertainment
books The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?