For the 3rd stop on our interrail journey, we spent a whirlwind 48 hours in Berlin.
Berlin is a city with more history than you can shake a stick at! It’s also well known for its quirky hipster vibe that can be felt wherever you go.
That means Berlin really does have something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff wanting to see all the sights. Or you’d rather spend your days sleeping and your nights in one of Berlin’s infamous clubs, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Read on to see how we spent 48 hours in Berlin, and hopefully, it’ll inspire your own trip.
After a quick breakfast at the hostel to fuel us for the day, we headed out to explore.
Once again, we decide to start our trip with a free walking tour from Sandemans New Europe. These tours are completely tip based, so they cost as much or as little as you can afford. Meaning they’re great for budget travellers.
They’re also perfect if, like us, you want to see all the main sites but only have a short amount of time in Berlin.
Highlights of the tour included; Brandenburg gate (where the tour starts), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Hitler’s Bunker, the former headquarters of the Luftwaffe, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, Gendarmenmarkt, and Bebelplatz.
When I said the tour covers all the main sites I did mean all of them!
Oddly one of my favourite stops was the site of Hitler’s Bunker. It’s something I definitely wouldn’t have found by myself. In fact, I was actually a little confused when our tour guide stopped us in the middle of a car park.
It was such a strange feeling to be stood above a place where so much of evil took place. It was very weird to think about what happened there and how it shaped our history.
The bunker itself has been destroyed and is completely inaccessible.
If you do want to visit the site on your own, it’s across the road from the Holocaust Memorial, and there’s a sign that gives you more information on the site and the bunker itself.
Fun Fact: When Hitler knew he’d lost the war, before he committed suicide, he ordered two soldiers to burn his body. After standing with the burning body for over 8 hours, the two soldiers became concerned about the incoming Soviets. So much so they decided to just abandon Hitler’s half-burnt body!
I’d also definitely recommend taking the time to see Bebelplatz Square. Our tour guide nicknamed it the book burning square as it’s the site where the Nazis burned around 20000 books that they believed went against their ideals.
There is now a memorial to the event under the square. It takes the form of empty bookshelves big enough to hold to 20000 burned books. It’s an incredibly moving sight.
As well as its place in history, the square is also home to some pretty spectacular buildings. These include the Opera House, St Hedwig’s Cathedral and Humboldt University Buildings.
After all that I had just enough energy to fit in one more Berlin sight. (Mark decided that he definitely didn’t and headed back to the hostel)
I wandered about 10 minutes north of our last stop in Bebelplatz and came across the incredibly impressive Berliner Dom. Or Berlin Cathedral in English.
The Cathedral is definitely something you should try and see. It’s probably one of my favourite cathedrals in Europe. And if you’ve travelled Europe you know that’s a big statement!
It costs €7 to go inside and that includes being able to go up to the dome. Which is worth it for the most incredible views over Berlin.
After climbing the 264 stairs to the top of the dome I was definitely finished for the day. And more importantly, it was time for food!
Mark was craving schnitzel so he found a little place near our hostel called Schnictzelei. At €18.50 for a classic schnitzel and potatoes, it wasn’t cheap but it was very very good!
We sat outside in a lovely little courtyard, that’s well away from the busy streets of Berlin. Add in an Aperol Spritz and the evening sun and it was the perfect end to the day!
The first stop on day 2 was the East Side Gallery. The gallery was top of the things I wanted to do in Berlin, so I was really looking forward to seeing it.
We took the metro to Schlesisches Tor (€7 for a day pass) and from there it’s about a 10-minute walk to the gallery.
The entire gallery is about 1.3km long and takes about 40 minutes to an hour to walk. That’s including plenty of stops to take photos.
The gallery is lot more moving than I expected it to be and is a real tribute to the human spirit in the face of adversity.
After the gallery, I wanted to head back into the city centre to visit the museum underneath the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Or simply known as the holocaust memorial.
The museum is free to enter. All we had to do was queue for about 5 minutes to go through security checks. You can also purchase an audio guide for the museum. However, as all the displays are in English as well as German I don’t think this is necessary.
The museum itself takes you through the history of the Holocaust from the setting up of the ghettos through to the concentration camps.
But the main part of the museum focuses on the victims and their individual stories. One of the most harrowing and moving rooms had a selection of letters, postcards, and diary entries, all revealing the horrific crimes of the Holocaust from those that suffered them first hand.
One of the last rooms you visit is the Room of Names. This aims to put names and stories to the often faceless numbers you hear when learning about the Holocaust.
You hear the names of every identified victim, and a short biography is read out as well as projected on screens. If you were to sit and listen to every single one it would take over 6 and a half years.
After you’ve visited the museum make sure you take some time to wander through the memorial and think about what it represents. Our tour guide told us to really take our time and think about how it makes us feel. The memorial is meant to be interactive so I do think it’s really important you don’t just rush through or past it.
Fun fact: There are 2711 blocks that make up the memorial but no one knows why. The architect has given very few details about the memorial to let each individual interpret it in their own way.
After the memorial, we took a wander under Brandenburg gate and then explored some more of the city.
Fun fact: The statue on top, known as the Quadriga, was stolen by Napoleon the celebrate his victory over Prussia. After Napoleon was defeated the Quadriga was returned to its rightful place. Nowadays if you look at the Goddess sat atop the gate you may notice she is keeping a close eye on the French embassy…
That evening we headed to Prater Biergarten for some German beer and German food.
The beer garden had a really cool vibe and got slowly busier throughout the evening. There was a small selection of traditional street food as well as quality German beer. I opted for a traditional bratwurst (€3.50) and a Berliner Weisse, which is beer mixed with a sweet syrup (€4).
Both were very good, and it was such a good way to end our time in Berlin. Of everything we did, I would recommend this the most!
If I’m honest I left Berlin feeling completely overwhelmed. There is so much to see and I don’t think we even scratched the surface of what Berlin has to offer. I actually left feeling somewhat deflated thinking about how much we hadn’t got to see or do.
But looking back on it now, and seeing it written down, we actually managed to do an awful lot in such a short space of time! You’re never going to be able to see everything and I think that’s important to remember. At the end of the day, I did everything on my must do list, and had a wonderful time doing it all. Which is definitely more important.
Although I really do wish we’d gone to see the Reichstag building. But I guess that just leaves something for next time!
All my love,