Berlin is one of my favourite cities in the world. I spent my year abroad there in 2013, which I can barely believe was 10 years ago. I have been back a handful of times since, but the last time was in 2018. So this summer I felt like a trip to the German capital was long overdue!
I LOVE going on holiday by myself and Berlin was this year’s solo trip. I was there for 6 days, during which I visited some familiar places, discovered new spots, and quite literally took a trip down memory lane. Here’s what my 6 days in Berlin looked like:
Where I stayed: I stayed in the Motel One Hotel on Alexanderplatz. This is a hotel chain and I’ve stayed at their hotels several times in different cities. Their rooms are sober but modern and they’re usually a lot cheaper than similar hotels. Is Alexanderplatz the most hip area? Absolutely not, but it’s about as central as you can get. I know the city quite well, so I just wanted to stay somewhere where I could easily walk to the areas I wanted to visit. I paid £400 for 5 nights in a very nice standard double room (every experience of me booking a single room has ended in me being put in a glorified cupboard in the smaller, more dilapidated building around the corner, so I’ve decided I’m not doing single rooms anymore). You can definitely find cheaper options, but considering the location and the quality of the hotel, I was very happy with this. You won’t find anything similar in London, that’s for sure.
The most famous tourist attraction on Alexanderplatz is the Fernsehturm. This bad boy is 368 metres tall and was my point of orientation during my year in Berlin. There’s also the Weltzeituhr, a gigantic clock that shows the current time in every city in the world.
Day 1: An exhausted afternoon stroll
I had a very early flight and I had only slept a couple of hours, so when I got to my hotel part of me just wanted to take a nap. On the other hand I was also ecstatic to be in my beloved Berlin again, so I decided to power through and go for a walk and some food. I decided to stay in the area around Rosenthaler Platz. This neighbourhood is full of the cutest shops, restaurants and coffee bars. It’s just the perfect place for an afternoon stroll and maybe some shopping.
I decided to go for a late lunch at Monsieur Vuong, a Vietnamees restaurant that used to be one of my go-tos when I lived in Berlin. I smiled when I saw that every meal on the menu had stayed exactly the same and ordered my regular: Spring rolls, the Wan Tan soup and Da Chanh (homemade lemonade).
One thing I need to mention is that the weather was not the best. One minute it was sunny and warm, only for a thunderstorm to appear the next. It kind of stayed like that all week. So during one of those rainshowers I also went to a bookstore called Oncelot where I ordered an iced latte and read for a bit. When I realised I had to actively work to keep my eyes open, I decided it was time for an early night.
Day 2: A day of favourites in Friedrichshain
I woke up feeling like an entirely new person. And so I got ready and decided to walk to what is perhaps my favourite area in Berlin: Friedrichshain. This area, to me, is what Berlin is all about. Its hip brunch places, adorable shops, old bars that still have smoking areas indoors, nice parks and cool street art…I love it.
Simon-Dach-Straße is the street with the most cafes in Berlin. Go here for cocktails, beer, food…whatever you want! I remember sitting outside one of these cafes when Germany won the World Cup in 2014, a memory that always comes back to me whenever I walk down that street.
Very high on my list were two of my favourite bookshops: Shakespeare & Company, where you go for books in English and delicious bagels, and Buchbox, a small charming store where I used to buy most of my books.
Around lunchtime I went to a cafe called Weder gestern noch morgen, where I had a delicious omelette. I also visited a couple of my other favourite Berlin shops: Victoria met Albert, Broke + Schön and Schwesterherz. Boxhagener Platz is the perfect park to sit and relax for a while. An actual oasis in the middle of the city.
In the evening it was time for the ultimate throwback moment: I went to Hirsch, a bar where me and the friend I made during my year in Berlin spent hours and hours ranting about struggles with flatmates and helping each other mend hearts that boys back home had broken. Sometimes all you need is a friend, a Berliner Weisse mit Grün (an iconic beer that you can order with either bright red or bright green syrup) and, back in the day at least, a pack of Marlboro Gold. Nothing about the bar had changed. Even the smoking area was still there.
Afterwards I walked to the Oberbaum Brücke (that gives you an amazing view of the city), The East Side Gallery (the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall), through Kreuzberg, all the way to Potsdamer Platz, the hypermodern square with the Sony Center as its eye catcher. I walked 24 kilometres that day. Not bad!
Day 3: Can’t go wrong with this walk through Mitte
On day three I was ready to walk around Mitte again, but this time with more energy than on the first day. I started my day with a stroll through the Hackesche Höfe, eight charming courtyards with bars and shops that are all connected. Then my walk took me to the Museumsinsel (museums that I would definitely recommend you check out but that I’ve visited more than once so I didn’t go there on this trip), the Gendarmenmarkt with its two almost identical cathedrals (my favourite square!) and some of the typical stops that are a must for every first-time visitor but that I, as a seasoned visitor of the city, also still enjoy: Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie and the Reichstag. You can visit the dome of the Reichstag building for free and it’s quite fun, but you need to book in advance.
Day 4: The perfect Sunday at the park
One of the things I absolutely wanted to do on this trip was go to the flea market in Mauerpark. You can find everything here from unique jewellery, to cool vintage clothes, to furniture, to delicious food. I found some super cute gifts for my friends who just had a baby and I got myself a cat hat and a Yoda keychain. The area itself, Prenzlauer Berg, is also definitely one of my favourites. Most shops are closed on Sunday though, so I went back on my last day!
I ended my Sunday with pizza from Lovebirds. Delicious!
Day 5: A day of nostalgia in Schöneberg
I started day 5 with a walk through Tiergarten. There, you can see the Siegessaule, a 67-metre-tall column that you can climb for an impressive view of the city.
My next stop was a special one. I walked to my old apartment where I lived exactly ten years ago. Of course I could only see the building from the outside, but since the apartment’s on the first floor I could see that, despite the fact that the curtains had already been ancient when I moved in, they were still exactly the same. I got strangely emotional and nostalgic for that time. My year in Berlin was really one of the most intense and formative of my life and I just can’t believe it has been ten years already.
After my little crying session I walked to Wittenbergplatz. KaDeWe is one of the biggest department stores in Europe and as the name (Kaufhaus des Westens) suggests, it was the symbol of capitalism in West Berlin. The most impressive thing to see here is the gourmet department on the sixth floor.
Eventually I ended up at Savignyplatz, another cosy square where I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had at Die Stulle. I ordered eggs with mozzarella and it came with a feta salad that blew my mind. If you’re ever in the area I would 100% recommend this place!
After this excellent but very late lunch I walked all the way back to my hotel, which took another couple of hours. Berlin has a very large Turkish community which comes with endless Turkish food stalls, so for dinner I got a döner kebab to-go that I devoured in my hotel room. Sometimes I love chill, early nights when on holiday!
Day 6: (Book)shopping in P’berg
The last day 🙁 Thankfully my flight was in the evening so I could still enjoy a couple of hours in Berlin. I walked to Prenzlauer Berg, the area where you can find Mauerpark, but like I said, I wanted to go back there to actually visit some of the shops that had been closed on Sunday. I mostly enjoyed the street art and browsed a couple of bookshops (one of my favourite activities).
After this very chill day in Prenzlauer Berg it was time to head to the airport. I was a little sad but oh so happy with the week I had. This trip proved that my love for Berlin is still strong. I’ll be back soon!
- Spend an afternoon in Friedrichshain: Grab a beer or go for lunch, enjoy the many charming shops and end the day with a walk by the East Side Gallery and the Oberbaumbrücke
- Hackesche Höfe
- Flohmarkt am Mauerpark
- Topographie des Terrors: This free documentation centre focuses on Germany’s history with different institutions of terror, including, of course, the Nazis and the SS
Why I love Berlin:
One of the great things about Berlin is that, for a European capital, it’s actually relatively affordable. At least in comparison to places like London, Paris or Amsterdam.
If you like vegan restaurants, Berlin is absolute paradise. I think the first time I actually became aware of vegan food was when I was living in Berlin.
Berlin does not give two fucks if you like it or not. It has so much character and personality, which has to be my favourite thing about it. Don’t expect to go there and immediately fall in love with the city’s beauty. Berlin is beautiful, but I think it’s the kind of place you need to get to know a little and then you’ll be a fan forever. Go here for the vibes and you will have the best time.
Thank you for reading! Have you ever been to Berlin, or would you like to go? Let me know in the comments below!