Technically it was four days in Berlin – but two of those were half days so let’s go with three.
Thanks to the super cheap flights from Cardiff to Tegel from Flybe, we went on a quick city break to the German capital for less than £120 return. That’s not to say we were budgeting as hard as we did in Venice, but we certainly weren’t splashing the cash (Glue Digital Studio hasn’t quite gotten me to that level just yet.)
Luckily all of the airports for Berlin are pretty much in the centre of the city, so there’s no need to try and find Ryanair flight to some remote airport and get a one – two hour long bus to where you actually want to go. Unfortunately, Tegel airport is fairly shit when you get past check in (Terminal D at least) so make sure you arrive as late as possible or take a book with you.
Before May this year, AirBNB would have been the place to look for accommodation in the city. However it’s now illegal to rent out whole Berlin apartments on the site – so a hotel is going to be your best choice for finding a place to stay.
Public transport in Berlin is wünderbar and cheap. A ticket which can be used across all forms of public transport for two hours costs €2.70 – that includes U-Bahn (underground), S-Bahn (overground train), Bus and Tram or an all day ticket will cost €7 (ish). Buy the ticket at the station and validate before you get onto a vehicle – ticket checks are rare, but there is a fine of €60 if you’re caught without a ticket so not really worth the risk.
The architecture of Berlin is quite industrial, personally I loved the look of the place – but some might find it a little imposing. We only had a couple of days while we were there so did “all the big’uns” in terms of sights – Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, Tiergarten, East Side Gallery, Alexanderplatz, Checkpoint Charlie, Topography of Terror and Berlin Cathedral. All well worth a look for a first time visit, but I wouldn’t go back to any of them if I went back to the city.
Food is cheap in Berlin – and the portion sizes are huge. We went to Curry at the Wall (right by the Trabi Museum in Kreuzberg) and got Vegan Currywurst with chips and a beer for about €7, again touristy as hell, but I really wanted see what all the fuss was about, despite being vegetarian. The sauce was delicious and the vegan sausage was good too, so well worth a try if you’re in the area. Other than that, we had food at various cafés around the city and, notably, Dolores by our hotel and Wittenburgplatz train station that serve burritos the size of my head.
Beer is also fairly cheap in Berlin, we went to a few different bars – but after a couple of intense days sightseeing our legs weren’t up to going to any of the big destinations. One place that did stand out was Klo in Charlotenburg – it’s mental. Klo means toilet in German and the whole bar is toilet themed. Drinks are served in hospital urinal bottles and the interior looks like someone raided a joke shop then plastered it all over the walls with added comedy cocks for good measure. It’s all light-hearted fun though and was a nice change from the quite serious side to Berlin we’d seen all day.
Three days is not enough time to spend in Berlin – there’s so much more to do and part of the charm is getting stuck into the culture, rather than wondering around and staring at the sights. I’d love to go back for a week and take it a bit easier, doing some work during the day and enjoying the nightlife properly, making the effort to get to Watergate or Salon Zur Wilden Renate. To be honest, Berghain isn’t on my list of places to go in Berlin, it’s just not for me Clive.