Sprawled out over 344 square miles in the northeastern corner of Germany, lies the country’s vast, beautiful, and historically convoluted capital city.
Built on the banks of the meandering River Spree that runs through its center, Berlin is the second most populous city proper in the EU! However, thanks to its size, Berlin still manages to feel incredibly spacious and spread out, unlike many other European cities.
The story of Berlin is dark and winding: the city at the center of two world wars and divided for almost 50 years.
However, it has since come a long way! Modern-day Berlin is Germany’s cultural hub. A patchwork of architectural styles, with a dynamic culture, incredible nightlife, and lively fashionable arts scene. It’s an extremely popular tourist destination and perfectly suited for a weekend city break.
The sparse urban landscape hangs gracefully between large patches of greenery, so residents and visitors are never far from nature. The city is filled with historical landmarks, incredible museums, top-notch nightlife venues, amazing restaurants, and plenty of sporting and cultural establishments. It’s an incredible city, ready for you to drop by for an awesome couple of days!
This Berlin guide has all you’ll need to fill make the most of your weekend!
Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in Berlin
Berlin is a vast city that has a whole lot to offer. With so much to see and so many things to do in Berlin, it can be daunting and difficult to know where to start and how to organize your visit. This is especially the case when you’re visiting for a limited amount of time. We’ve put together this Berlin city break guide to help you squeeze the most out of your two days in Berlin!
Seeing as you’ll only be spending two or three days in Berlin, we suggest that you find accommodation near the attractions, shopping, restaurants, and public transport connection points.
Berlin is big, and whilst the public transport system is world-class, it makes sense to stay somewhere centrally located in order to avoid traveling long distances. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize travel time and maximize the time you’ll have available to explore this magnificent city.
We’ve put together a shortlist of some of our favorite places to stay in Berlin, all of which are ideally located for an incredible time!
Our Favorite Hostel – Grand Hostel Berlin
- Right in the heart of the city, probably the best location out of all the hostels in Berlin.
- Named ‘Best hostel in Germany’ at the 2016 HOSCARS
- Clean, comfortable, and welcoming with friendly staff and homely atmosphere
Centrally located near many of Berlin’s attractions, Grand Hostel Berlin consistently wins awards for its cleanliness and customer service. The rooms are stylish and comfortable, the bar is well stocked, and a delicious daily breakfast is available for a small fee. Kick back in affordable luxury in this homely historical hostel.
Our Favorite Airbnb: Design loft with rooftop & pool
- Chic and stylish with access to a shared pool and cool rooftop garden, this apartment is located in the heart of Berlin, in the neighborhood of Mitte.
- The compact apartment has a modern kitchen and the large windows provide plenty of natural lighting. There’s a separate desk and dining table and the apartment has free Wi-Fi. The monochrome is the best place to stay in Berlin for a couple.
Our Favorite Budget Hotel – Hotel AMANO Grand Central
- Located in the heart of Berlin, just a few minutes walk from the main station
- Stylish bar and a leafy rooftop terrace with stunning views
- Rooms are large and comfortable with a sleek modern purist design
Perfectly located in the heart of the city, this hotel offers clean and comfortable accommodation and exceptional value for money. The rooms are fully kitted out with the usual amenities including air conditioning and a flat-screen TV. Enjoy the incredible views and atmosphere on the rooftop terrace, which overlooks the River Spree.
Our Favorite Splurge Hotel – ABION Villa Suites
- Close to Berlin’s main railway station and the beautiful Tiergarten park
- Easy and quick public transport connections to all of Berlin’s main tourist and cultural attractions
- Stunning terrace with views of the River Spree
- Set on the banks of the River Spree, this luxurious and elegant hotel offers beautifully designed suites and modern amenities. The interior is gorgeous, the suites are large and comfortable, and the customer service is exceptional!
ABION is in an excellent location, and well connected by public transport. Guests have access to the sauna and fitness room, and there is even a private yacht that will take you up the river.
Know How to Get Around in Berlin
Considering its size, Berlin is relatively easy to get around in. The public transport system is well organized, the roads are easily driveable, taxis are numerous, and there is an abundance of bicycle paths (especially in West Berlin).
Berlin also has very few hills and stringent traffic regulations, making it a comfortable city to explore on foot or by bike.
While walking is generally a great way to get around and explore Berlin and it’s districts (especially the main central borough of Mitte), you’ll need to make use of public transport if you want to travel between them.
Berlin’s efficient and extensive public transport system consists of buses, trams, a subway network (U-Bahn), and a light rail network (S-Bahn). The public transport system is affordable. Day tickets for zone A and B (it’s unlikely you’ll travel outside of these zones) are available for just 7 euros.
You can buy tickets at the ticket machines in each of the stations or at one of the many BVG (public transport operator) and S-Bahn Berlin retail outlets. Find out more about tickets and plan your journeys on the BVG website.
You’ll be pleased to know that the U-Bahn lines run every 15 minutes all through the night on Fridays and Saturdays (as well as public holidays). This means that your weekend evening activities won’t be interrupted by travel restrictions or inconvenient timings!
Although there is some occasional congestion, driving in Berlin is also an option. It is, however, important to remember that trams always have right of way. You should also be mindful that drivers must yield to traffic coming from the right unless signaled otherwise or when at crossings marked with a yellow diamond-shaped sign.
It is common knowledge that Berlin has a vibrant and progressive nightlife, that offers endless diversity and an anything-goes attitude. In fact, the city’s thriving nightlife is often considered one of the most exciting in the world. Each weekend in Berlin offers a non-stop party for all types of individuals to enjoy.
From thumping techno mega-clubs in warehouses to underground bars and classy venues, Berlin has your nightlife covered for the weekend.
- Centrally located and near to our recommended accommodation, making it quick and easy to get around
- A variety of venues which make for a unique nightlife experience
- Offers more upmarket and classy venues that other parts of the city
Mitte is the first and most central borough of Berlin, and it offers a plethora of options for an incredible night on the town.
Tausend, one of the city’s few upmarket clubs, has a beautifully unique interior design and stellar lighting. The club plays a blend of disco, house, and r&b and serves delicious cocktails.
If you’re after something a little heavier, Tresor is an exceptionally popular nightclub that specializes in heavy techno and is open from midnight till mid-morning.
- The original anarchic and arty hub of Berlin
- Offers an incredible diversity of nightlife options from grungy punk bars to techno clubs
- Late night food is cheap and easy to come by
Kreuzberg offers a great range of nightlife options, offering every music genre in existence across its many stunning venues.
Watergate, with its stylish interior and LED-filled ceiling, is one of the city’s longest-running electronic music clubs. Here, you’ll hear minimal techno and tech-house bubbling from the top-notch sound system, and enjoy the gorgeous wooden deck that juts out into the River Spree.
If you’re after something a little different, SO36 regularly welcomes big-name and local rock and indie bands to its stages.
- Has a strong artistic and alternative vibe
- Famous for hosting Berlin’s most rambunctious nightlife
- Home to world famous night clubs and a surplus of late night venues
Just across the river from Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain is home to the world-famous Berghain/Panorama Bar.
Set in a former power station, this nightclub has an industrial aesthetic and a notoriously stringent door policy. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get in, the Berlin club scene is weird. Berghain is a hotspot for hardcore clubbers, and its cavernous main room can hold 1 500 people!
Cassiopeia has a more relaxed vibe and offers a variety of music genres, from reggae and rock to hip-hop and funk. Grab some late night grub at the beer garden bar and enjoy the music!
Berlin has become a melting pot for culinary exploration, offering an incredible array of foodie experiences and hearty local cuisine. Most restaurants don’t accept cards so it’s best to carry some cash when you head out to eat.
Berlin Food Tour
- Offers a small range of food tours to suit all kinds of tastes
- Takes you on an incredible culinary and cultural adventure, packed with stories and peppered with information
- With every tour, they donate meals for children in need
Berlin Food Tour offers a range of exceptional food tours that each takes you on a culinary journey through the vibrant capital city. The founder, Bastian, is a food expert and will be your local guide on the tour. You’ll get to taste a delicious range of food while learning about Berlin culture and German food craftsmanship.
Get off the well-beaten tourist track and explore a culturally diverse and culinarily fascinating side of Berlin!
- Delicious, wholesome German food in welcoming space
- Arguably the best local food in the whole of Berlin
- Unfortunately closed on Saturdays
Try out some delicious authentic German food at this unique and cozy restaurant, tucked away in a Berlinese sidestreet. Frank and Nils are a father and son duo who are exceptionally passionate about the food that they make. The experience is very personal and the food is amazing.
Boxhagener Platz Food Market
- Weekly outdoor market, hosted every Saturday
- A delicious range of food from around the globe
- Awesome atmosphere and fun to wander between stalls
Set amongst the leafy streets of Friedrichshain, this weekly Saturday food market offers a great selection of delicious eats.
The local vendors are set up by around 9 am to form a welcoming network of boutique stalls, fresh produce, and tasty street food offerings. The buzzing atmosphere sets a wonderful backdrop for you to enjoy a range of local flavors and international favorites.
Berlin is a significant sporting hub, not only for Germany but for Europe. It offers a wide range of sporting activities, whether you want to participate or simply spectate!
- Europe’s largest outdoor skating and BMX park
- Offers a wide range of other sporting activities from table tennis to basketball
- Incredible skating and BMXing opportunities
This sports park is a serious affair, comprehensively equipped with a plethora of sporting installations. From dirt jumps, half pipes, and empty pools, to beach volleyball courts and ping pong tables, this park is a sporting paradise. They even offer Stand Up Paddleboarding and have an onsite camping ground.
Jungerheide High Rope Forest Garden
- Located in the idyllic Volkspark Jungfernheide
- A thrilling range of obstacle courses nestled high up in the trees (between 10 and 22 feet)
- Nine courses for adults and three courses aimed at children
Connect with nature while you get a full body functional workout on these awesome high rope courses. You’ll get to experience a range of natural climbing elements and obstacle courses high above the forest floor. Don’t worry, you’ll be harnessed in safely!
- One of the best football (soccer) pubs in the city
- Shows important football fixtures with an energetic atmosphere
- Well maintained foosball tables so you can get involved in the football action
Football (we’re talking soccer, not American football) is the most popular sport in Germany. They love it. Always filled with passionate fans, FC Magnet-Bar is the best place in Berlin (outside of its football stadiums) to kick back with a beer and watch a match of the country’s favorite game. If there isn’t a live football fixture on in Berlin during the weekend that you’re visiting, this is the next best thing!
You should always have emergency cash hidden on you – pick up this awesome security belt with its hidden pocket before you travel, it’s perfect for hiding money, a passport photocopy.
Berlin is a multicultural landscape that is commonly recognized as a world center for culture and creative industries. The city is bursting at the seams with creative energy, and there is always something artistic to see, hear, or experience.
- There is usually at least one classical concert taking place each day
- A beautiful building with a stunning interior
- The dress code is relatively formal
Often considered one of the finest classical concert venues on Earth, Konzerthaus is a breathtaking space. The ceilings, furnished with large chandeliers, soar far overhead in this neo-classical masterpiece. The venue hosts everything from contemporary classical to symphonic works, and there isn’t a better space in which to experience them.
- Expertly performed live jazz music on a nightly basis
- A bar that serves well-priced delicious drinks
- Best to make reservations for weekends
Founded in the mid-1990s by three musician friends, B flat is a quaint jazz club in Mitte that hosts some kind of live music every night. On weekends, you’ll generally find international jazz artists performing live. The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, and the music is always top-notch.
- A rich and distinguished history reaching back over a century
- Offers a range of Broadway and West End productions, amongst other performances
- The dress code varies depending on the performance
With roots as a 19th-century circus and vaudeville theatre, this theatrical venue is now one of the largest in Europe. There is pretty much always something awe-inspiring and exciting to experience at Friedrichstadt Palast. Be sure to check their website for more information and to prebook tickets.
We recommend checking out VIVID Grand Show. It’s an incredible spectacle of music, movement, and lights without words on the biggest theatre stage in the world.
10 Other Awesome Things to do in Berlin This Weekend
Looking for more great ways to spend your 48 hours in Berlin? We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite things to do in Berlin, to help you get the most out of your trip!
#1 – Eastside gallery
Once a solemn symbol of political and social division, now a vibrant and colorful artistic masterpiece, the East Side Gallery is the longest open-air gallery in the world.
The gallery, which is understood as a monument to the fall of the Berlin wall, takes the form of hundreds of murals painted on a 4,300 foot long remnant of the Berlin wall: the longest continuous section that still stands.
One of Berlin’s most popular places to visit, the gallery sees over 3 million visitors each year and is completely free for the public to view.
#2 – Museum Island
Occupying the northern half of an island in the meandering Spree River, Museum Island is home to five museums, all specializing in different periods of human culture, the arts, and the sciences.
A visit to the museums is an adventure back in time, offering a detailed and fascinating exploration of ancient cultures and artifacts dating back thousands of years.
Between them, the Bode Museum, Altes Museum, Alte Gallery, Neues Museum, and Pergamon Museum hold everything from 19th-century paintings to ancient Greek and Roman decorative art and the famed Ishtar gate (one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World).
#3 – Tiergarten
With its beginnings stretching back nearly four centuries, the Tiergarten is Berlin’s most popular inner-city park, and one of the largest urban parks in the country. The park is veined with lazy lakes and meandering paths which weave amid the trees and grass lawns.
It is also home to the Berlin Zoo, which is one of the most visited zoological gardens in Europe and holds one of the most comprehensive collections of animal species in the world. The 20, 200 animals are housed in spacious enclosures.
#4 – DDR Museum
Plunge yourself into East German (German Democratic Republic or DDR) life at this immersive, interactive museum. The museum offers reconstructions of DDR apartments, where you can rummage through draws, sift through cupboards, and explore to your heart’s content.
In doing so, you’ll learn about daily life under the communist regime, and develop an understanding of the hardships of the time. The experience is incredibly immersive. Amongst many other things, you’ll get to drive a classic Trabant, turn on the television in a typical communist-era East-German living room, and smell the spices on the shelf.
#5 – Berlin Wall Memorial
This one-mile-long stretch of the Berlin wall commemorates the division of Berlin and the lives that were lost over the course of Germany’s separated past. The memorial offers visitors the chance to experience the wall as it was during the division and boasts a variety of amazing exhibitions along its length.
The memorial honors those affected by the DDR regime and explains to visitors some of the ways in which victims attempted to cross the border.
#6 – Take a Walking Tour
Berlin is a great city to explore by foot – it’s very walkable, and wondering around it really connects you with your surroundings. Your explorations will be enhanced by taking a comprehensive walking tour, with a well-informed guide.
This four-hour walking tour starts in central Berlin and passes by all of the city’s major sights, from Checkpoint Charlie to the Brandenburg Gate. Throughout the tour, your friendly Berlin city Guide will tell stories and facts as you explore and admire the sights. You’ll even have the opportunity to stand over the site of Hitler’s suicide.
#7 – The Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a memorial covering an entire city block in Berlin. 2,711 concrete slabs, each varying in height, are arranged artfully in a 19,000-square meter space in the middle of the city.
Walking along the uneven ground and narrow alleys between the towering slabs of concrete is a striking and somewhat disorientating experience. The memorial is expansive, and without a distinctive central point, it allows each individual to confront the challenging topic in their own personal way.
#8 – TV Tower Berlin
Berlin is not a city of many skyscrapers, but its 1,200 foot tall TV Tower is the tallest building in Germany. A trip up the striking TV tower is the best way to get a different vantage point of the city, as you ascend up to 650 feet above its streets.
When you get up to the ‘Sphere’, you’ll be able to look out over Berlin and admire the beauty of its many landmarks. You’ll also enjoy an exclusive window seat in the Sphere Restaurant, as you dine on some delicious food.
#9 – River Spree
With the original center of Berlin built on its banks, The River Spree is an important part of the city’s rich history and modern way of life. The river meanders through the whole of Berlin, presenting the perfect opportunity to explore the city from the water.
This 2.5-hour boat tour allows you to kick back and admire the city in comfort. Enjoy a light lunch on board the boat and listen to interesting facts about the city as you pass by many of its famous landmarks.
#10 – Trabi Safari
The Trabant is a classic automobile produced by a former East German car manufacturer. It is generally seen as a symbol of former East Germany (German Democratic Republic). Commonly referred to as ‘Trabis’ the cars are tiny, and have a cool retro design.
This exciting tour allows you to get behind the wheel of one of these classic cars, and putter your way around the streets of Berlin. During the 75 minute tour, you will pass by many of the city’s most famous landmarks and attractions, including Potsdamer Platz, the Brandenburg Gate, the TV tower, and Checkpoint Charlie.
Don’t forget to pack a good book! Top 10 Berlin: (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide) is our top recommendation for an awesome and inspiring read on this magical city.
By now, you’re probably stoked and ready for your upcoming Berlin travel experience, but you may have a few questions before you depart. We’ve done our best to try and answer some of the pressing questions you may have.
#1. What should I pack for a weekend in Berlin?
Outside of the usual backpacking essentials, you may be wondering what to pack for your Berlin trip. We’ve got you covered.
- Weather-appropriate clothing – Berlin gets pretty cold, especially during winter (November to March), with temperatures frequently dipping below freezing. Bring warm clothes and wrap up tight if you’re visiting during the colder months. Summers can get fairly warm, but the heat is never overwhelming.
- A European Plug Adaptor – Unless you’re traveling from another country in mainland Europe, chances are you’ll need an adaptor in order to charge your electronics. Running out of battery with no way of recharging can be quite debilitating in the modern age, especially when you’re in an unfamiliar foreign city.
- Comfortable walking shoes – As mentioned previously, Berlin is a great city to explore by foot. Uncomfortable shoes could really put a dampener on your weekend, so it’s best to bring some comfy walking shoes, as well as shoes that are appropriate for evenings out.
#2. Can I get an apartment in Berlin for the weekend?
Without a doubt! In fact, renting an apartment is a popular means of accommodation amongst those travel to Berlin for the weekend. It allows you to feel more at home, and live more like a real Berliner.
It also often allows you to cook for yourself, which can save you some cash and act as a nice break from being out and about in the city. Airbnb is the perfect platform if you’re looking to rent an apartment in Berlin. The range of options is astounding, and each apartment has its own list of benefits.
With Airbnb, you can also choose whether you want to rent out an entire place, or stay with a Berlin local who can offer you some inside tips and advice on the city.
Renting an apartment is also a great option for those traveling as part of a larger group. You can split the costs and save money, and enjoy a communal space where you can spend some downtime together.
#3. Is Berlin safe for a weekend trip?
Most crime takes the form of petty theft, with pickpocketing being arguably the most common method. Pickpocketing can occur all over the city: on public transport, in tourist areas, and in bars and clubs. As long as you’re aware of your personal belongings while you’re out and about, and mindful of your surroundings, pickpocketing shouldn’t be an issue. Consider wearing a security belt to hide your cash when you’re out as well.
It also goes without saying that you should try to avoid areas that seem seedy or unwelcoming, especially at night. It’s unlikely that you’ll venture anywhere threatening during your Berlin trip, but use your common sense and gut feeling to help you steer clear of areas and situations that may be dangerous.
There are also some scammers that operate in Berlin, so do some research into the potential scams you may encounter while in Berlin and have your wits about you.
If you do become a victim of crime, you can call the local police on 110, or make an emergency call from an international number by dialing 112.
And have you thought about getting Travel Insurance for your trip? We’ve put together a roundup of Travel Insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in Berlin
Berlin is a vast, vibrant, and multicultural city with an incredible amount to offer. Its streets and buildings are steeped with a rich and convoluted history, yet make up a refreshingly modern city with a vibrant atmosphere and a fashionable, forward facing, and creative outlook. Need a little more inspiration? Check out our 27 Cool Things to do in Berlin to get yourself excited!
Berlin is the perfect city for a whirlwind weekend adventure. The nightlife is world-class, public transport runs all night, there are enough cultural activities to keep you entertained and in awe for a lifetime, and the food will leave you sublimely satisfied with a smile on your face.
The city offers more than enough to fill up a weekend break, and it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to check off all of the activities in this Berlin travel guide. We do, however, hope that after reading this guide to Berlin, you’re feeling well equipped with options and excited to embark on your Berlin weekend break.
Want to support the site? We work hard to put out the best backpacker resources on the web, for free! It’s all about helping out our tribe of awesome backpacker readers [that’s you!]. Want to know how you can show your support – find out here!
For the sake of transparency, some of the links in our content are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation, buy a book or sort your insurance, we earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse products or services that are not up to scratch. Thanks for your support.