You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

How to spend a weekend in Berlin on the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

The i logo The i 3 days ago
a person walking down the street in the rain © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

When to go

Normally, summer shows off the region formerly known as East Berlin at its best, and winter at its gloomiest, but there is a week-long festival starting on Saturday celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. It will involve concerts, film screenings, poetry slams and pretty much any other cultural event you can think of. For more, see visitberlin.de.

a close up of a map © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

Where to stay

The Michelberger (1) is in the heart of the Friedrichshain district’s clubbing and street art frenzy. There’s a café/bar spread across a huge interior courtyard containing ping-pong tables, a lounge area with lampshades made of magazine covers and musical instruments to play. Doubles from €85 (£73), room only.

The Weinmeister (2) makes a big play of its art credentials, with rooms decorated by muralists and artists. Washbags and slippers are tucked away in wooden boxes, beds are given centre stage in the middle of the room and the rooftop terrace has a small, circular plunge pool. Doubles from €148 (£127), room only.

a person sitting at a table with wine glasses © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

The Oderberger (3) is inside a former public baths complex – with the retained pool an added bonus. There is a simple, Scandi-chic feel to most rooms, but the real charm is how the quirks of the original building – from wooden pillars to split levels – are embraced. Doubles from €155 (£133), room only.

a group of people sitting around a car © Provided by Johnston Publishing Ltd

How to get around

The modern-day districts that once formed East Berlin include central Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, and further out Pankow, Weissensee, Lichtenberg, Treptow and Köpenick.

The city is spread out, but public transport is extensive, including buses and trains. One-way tickets for zones A and B – which cover almost everywhere you might want to go – cost €2.80 (£2.40). If flying into Schönefeld Airport (4), which is in zone C, it’s €3.40 (£2,90) for a ticket into central Berlin, and once there you’re better off buying day tickets for €7 (£6).

Berlin’s other airport, Tegel (5), isn’t connected to the train lines, but the various buses departing from there are covered in zone AB tickets. See bvg.de for maps, fares and journey planning.

Read More:

Celebrating 30 years without the Berlin Wall - in art and at the Stasi secret police HQ

SATURDAY

Start the day

For a surprisingly entertaining taste of what life was like in East Berlin during the Cold War, the DDR Museum (6) (€5.50/£4.75) is a winner. It delves into all sorts of topics – from scratchy jeans and substandard washing powder, to the oppressive observation state and the penchant for nudist holidays. It can get crowded later in the day, so aim for 10am.

Germany’s excellent reputation for beer did not apply to Berlin until recently, but the city has fully embraced craft beer (Photo: Adam Berry/Getty)

Hit the shops

The Mitte district, now very much the centre of Berlin. is one of the city’s most impressively revamped areas in the past 30 years. Hackescher Markt (7) is overflowing with terrace cafés; it is also a good hub for independent shops, with the interesting finds continuing up Rosenthaler Strasse. If picking just one, try Who Killed Bambi? (8) at Litfassplatz 2 for vintage gear and upcycled dresses.

Don’t miss

Museum Island (smb.museum) – where Berlin’s heavyweight, serious museums cluster – was hidden behind the Wall during the Cold War. The best to focus your time on depends on taste – trying to tackle all five in one day is a one-way ticket to mental exhaustion. The Egyptian collection, including the bust of Queen Nefertiti, is the star of the Neues Museum (9). Meanwhile, the Ishtar Gate from Babylon is the pinnacle of the wide collection from ancient worlds at the Pergamon Museum (10).

Time for a drink

Germany’s excellent reputation for beer did not apply to Berlin until recently, but the city has fully embraced craft beer. The Castle (11) near Nordbahnhof station in Mitte is a good place to try a few, with 15 beers on tap.

Dinner reservation

Weinbar Rutz (12) is all about the extravagant tasting menus, but park yourself in the bar and it is much more laid-back and affordable. As well as being a good place to get to know German wines, it is a spot that aims for modern, light and flavoursome rather than belt-loosening hearty feasts. The chef has uncompromising principles, too – any requests for steak well done or medium will be refused.

SUNDAY

The Trabant was the iconic vehicle of East Germany – partly because no one wanted it (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty)

Go for a stroll

The East Side Gallery (13) is the most famous remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. It is not the best – that runs along Bernauerstrasse (14) and is now an open air museum. But the peace-and-love-style murals painted on the East Side Galley are regularly made over, and the walk along its path offers a vision of how Berlin is changing. A few scrubby hangouts remain, but it is mostly bold new riverside developments.

Lunch break

The Friedrichshain around the Spree river and the train tracks is furiously cool, but step back a few blocks into the area around Boxhagener Platz and the district is much more relaxed and craftsy. There is also some good eating to be done here, too. Ryu Asian-Fusion Kitchen (15) is an excellent bet, with several playful dishes and some top-drawer smoothies. The €5.90 (£5.10) Bangbang Waffle – with crispy chicken strips and chilli mayo inside a spinach waffle – is superb.

Time to relax

The Museum of Computer Games (16) (€9/£7.75) offers plenty of opportunities to waggle joysticks, blast aliens and explore digitally generated worlds. But it also works well as a museum, tracing the history of computer games from simple, text-based adventures to modern blockbusters. For some, the collection of old consoles will be a mighty nostalgia trip, too.

Have a treat

The Trabant was the iconic vehicle of East Germany – partly because no one wanted it – and the spluttering old vehicles have become a centrepiece of the booming East German nostalgia industry. Trabi Safari has capitalised on this, selling tours of East Berlin’s highlights on which you can get behind the wheel and attempt to wrangle it through the streets past the likes of Checkpoint Charlie and the East Side Gallery. Tickets cost €49 (£42).

Ask a local

“There are two good vegan Vietnamese places in Friedrichshain: 1990 does delicious tasting plates, plus amazing cocktails, while I walked out of Nora’s Garden feeling seriously healthy and content” — Samantha Wareing, musician.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The i

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon