How to Spend a Staycation in Berlin
Explore Berlin with fresh eyes thanks to this list of things to do and places to see in the city.
We might all be dreaming of hopping onto a plane or train and exploring somewhere brand new, but social distancing and travel restrictions mean that instead, we get the chance to explore our own cities with fresh eyes. And Berlin is brimming with history, culture and beauty that there’s no way you’ve already seen it all. So don’t bother with passports, luggage or checking in. Pop a camera round your neck and set off for a Berlin staycation.
East Side Gallery
You won’t have to worry about brushing shoulders with the crowds at this open-air attraction. Sitting along the Spree River, it’s the perfect spot to start enjoying your cultural staycation in Berlin. Both a tangible piece of history and an art gallery, this is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall. Following its fall in November 1989, more than 100 artists from all around the world worked their magic and created colourful, moving artworks dedicated to peace and political messaging.
Sure, you’ve seen this famous landmark while out and about in Berlin, but it’s not a holiday at home until you’ve checked it out up close. You might even get lucky and have the normally-crowded site to yourself - perfect for grabbing that Berlin staycation snapshot to show the kids. Erected in 1791 as the royal city gate and crowned with a sculpture of the winged goddess of victory piloting a chariot, Brandenburg Gate is Berlin’s most iconic landmark. During the Cold War it became a symbol of a divided nation, but it now serves as a potent reminder of German unity.
Whether you want to look at famous monuments, eat a currywurst or sunbathe naked, Berlin’s most famous park can cater to you (yes, even the naked thing – just don’t forget the sun cream, please). Of course, these genial activities are essential to any staycation in Berlin. Tiergarten used to be the king’s hunting ground in the 16th century, but its tree-lined paths now accommodate socially distanced walkers and cyclists. A true local’s hotspot.
Berlin Wall memorial
The country’s central memorial to the victims of the Berlin Wall is the best place to fully understand the magnitude of how the hated barrier and border fortifications impacted the daily lives of people on both sides. While the visitor centre and other indoor elements of the memorial are closed due to coronavirus, all open-air elements are still accessible. This makes it an ideal place to learn about the history of Berlin while staying safe and socially distanced.
You might not be able to jump on a plane right now, but you can still play out your aeroplane fantasies (without the stress of airport baggage reclaim) at Tempelhofer Feld. This former airport ceased operating in 2008 and you can now stroll, cycle and even rollerskate (if you’re feeling energetic enough) down the runways where World War Two dive-bombers took off. With basketball and baseball courts, a beer garden and allotments where local residents grow vegetables, there’s no better place to spend a socially distanced day of your holiday at home in Berlin.
Does it count as a real staycation in Berlin if you don’t visit the cathedral? We don’t think so. While the guided tours of this pompous Italian renaissance-style building may have paused in the wake of coronavirus, you can still admire the magnificent dome from outside - it’s one of the main landmarks in Berlin’s cityscape. And because the interior is currently shut to visitors, you can get away with lazing on the grass outside instead of climbing the dome.
You might not guess it when you’re standing in the concrete centre of Berlin, but the area is known as the land of 3,000 lakes. And to have a truly relaxing staycation in the German capital, head there on a hot summer’s day. The Wannsee has been the place to see and be seen in bathing culture for more than 100 years. With beach chair rentals, a promenade and plenty of places to grab a delicious bite to eat, you can (literally) rest assured that you’ll be well taken care of. Waiter, could we have another round, please?
Potsdam road trip
A quick 50-minute drive from Berlin, the charming Potsdam is ideal for a day trip during your Berlin staycation. Pretty as a picture, the town is bursting with elegant parks including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sanssouci Park, five original city gates and an area with the largest number of Dutch-style houses outside of The Netherlands. While away the hours strolling around its endearing streets.
And if you're looking for a place to stay in the city, take a look at these luxury serviced apartments in Berlin.