The Ultimate Berlin 2 Day Itinerary
East meets west in a Berlin 2 day itinerary that’s so good, it could reunite an entire country. Piece together a rich history in this trendy hub.
Admit it, you sort of know about the history of Berlin, but secretly don’t really. You’ll nod along knowingly when the DDR, the Cold War and the Berlin Wall are brought up in conversations, but really you have a sort of vague idea in your mind’s eye about Tom Hanks and a bridge and some Russians (see: Bridge of Spies). Was David Bowie somehow involved or was that a dream? We’ve got you covered, with these West and East Berlin highlights that’ll help you piece together something that’ll keep cropping up at dinner parties.
Of course, Berlin is much more than the bricks in its wall. With its edgy subcultures, trendy nightlife and leafy parks, it’s a European capital like no other.
Still, the wall has left an indelible mark on the city. Pick out a Plum Guide home on either side of the former wall, and notice the difference in architecture, style and culture between East and West.
Here are our recommendations for your Berlin 2 day itinerary.
Day 1 – East Berlin
Wake up in East Berlin and be happy for a freedom you wouldn’t have had 30 years ago. Actually, you’ll find from talking to locals that many preferred the way things were and will be offended to hear disparaging marks about the DDR. Mull this over during brunch in a trendy café in Friedrichshain, between the skater hangouts and punk courtyards.
After brunch, walk to the Wall Museum to learn the whys, hows and whats about this 87-mile (140-kilometre) divider. The two sides of Berlin were separated for more than 10,000 days. Beside the museum is a lengthy portion of the wall that is still standing. Walk alongside it and admire the colourful and poignant graffiti murals that today brighten this dark memory. Watch street performers in the gaps, which open onto the Spree River.
Take a boat tour of the river and head into the Mitte area, where many of the main highlights stand, including the East Berlin hub of Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburg Gate, which was draped in Nazi flags in the Second World War, passed through on horseback by Napoleon in 1806 and placed in a no-go area during the Cold War. What a history…If that wasn’t enough history for the beginning of your Berlin 2 day itinerary, you’ll find the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag in the area. Book online to visit the dome of the latter.
You’ve walked around the whole of central and East Berlin and consumed an entire city’s history in the space of a few hours. If ever you’ve earned a nice dinner, it’s now. The Lorenz Adlon Esszimmer (don’t worry, you don’t have to say it, you just have to eat there) is right by the Brandenburg Gate, while the 1687 Restaurant & Café has a gorgeous terrace. Pop to the 1990 Vegan Living back in Friedrichshain (book online in advance) or try the nearby SkyKitchen for stunning views of the city.
Day 2 – West Berlin
It's time for orange juice and scrambled eggs at a quaint café in Kreuzberg and walk along the Landwehr Canal. On Fridays and Tuesdays, wander through the Neuköllner Wochenmärkte for fresh produce, pretzels and handicrafts. You could also put together your own little breakfast and enjoy it by the lake in the Tiergarten park.
Continue your Berlin learning curve with a trip to the fascinating and abandoned (read: slightly eerie) Tempelhofer Airport. It served as the main transportation hub between West Berlin and the rest of West Germany. Rent a bike or buggy in the adjacent park and set up a picnic on the grass. Make your way west to Charlottenburg, which was the centre of West Berlin and shows off a little with its glitz and glamour. Bring your kids to the Berlin Zoological Garden, see the partially-destroyed Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and watch opera at the Charlottenburg Palace.
As the centre of all things West, you can expect to see some of Berlin’s most exclusive hangouts and baroque architecture in Charlottenburg. Try the Italian food at the Don Camillo restaurant or go for some upscale German cuisine at the Restaurant Bieberbau (note: this has nothing to do with Justin Bieber, don’t worry.) Great French dining spots come in the form of the Heising, the Belmondo Restaurant and the Joynes Kitchen.