A laid-back long weekend in Berlin
The capital of Germany, Berlin is a hip and stylish metropolis where history and modern culture collide. With all the sights to see, it’s easy to go nuts trying to pack it all in in this sprawling city.
Instead, relax and enjoy a long weekend taking in not only the attractions, but also the local sights, sounds, and flavors.
Whether you want to go out on the town or soak in the city’s history, Berlin has something for everyone. Choose a neighborhood and just wander – chances are you’ll be able to fit in historical sites, shopping and great food and drink in any area. And with an expansive and user-friendly public transportation system, you can get from one end of the city to another in no time.
Many of the city’s most famous monuments, such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust Memorial and remnants of the Berlin Wall don’t require advance planning or a ticket to visit -- there’s no need to rush to get to them by closing, and you won’t have to spend precious hours waiting in line. Instead, get a sense of where they are on the map and when you might be nearby anyway so you can sneak a peek.
With more than 170 museums, Berlin offers something for everyone. The Neues Museum offers an incredible collection of antiquities in a beautiful setting, the Jewish Museum tells the story of German-Jewish history and the DDR museum explores life during the Cold War. There are numerous art museums ranging from 19th century European art to contemporary international art, and even a Madame Tussaud's wax museum. There’s no way you can visit them all in a weekend, or even a lifetime, so pick one or two that really interest you and enjoy them.
Germany is one of the birthplaces of beer gardens, and there’s no better place to sip some fine German suds. Check out the enormous Prater Garten near the flea market, Berlin’s oldest beer garden. Try one of four kinds of beer on tap as well as food that’s perfectly suited to soak up the alcohol, like sausage, baked potatoes and meatloaf.
There’s no better way to spend a lazy, relaxing day than at Berlin’s 520-acre park, the Tiergarten. Stroll through its shaded paths, enjoy its peaceful ponds and picnic on the grass. While you’re there visit the impressive Berlin Zoo, with more than 17,000 animals in a beautiful setting. You could easily spend a day here alone. The aquarium next door is worth a visit as well.
If you’re in Berlin on a Sunday, then the flea market in Prenzlauerberg’s Mauerpark is a must on a nice day. Besides the expansive rows of stalls selling everything from vintage clothes to ancient knickknacks, the market also has an incredibly social, lively vibe. Grab some killer street food or snag a seat at one of the mini beer gardens set up within the flea market and spend your afternoon eating, drinking, shopping and people watching.