City breaks in Berlin
Book a short stay or weekend break in the German capital
Laid-back, modern and packed with character, Berlin is the perfect choice for a short city break. Leave more time for exploration and save money on travel by choosing a central hotel like the Radisson Blu Hotel Berlin.
Berlin is a city infused with urban cool, modern glamor and traditional character – all in equal measure. The streets swell with stories, with Berlin’s intricate and complex past declaring itself at every turn. Post-war architecture sits alongside opulent buildings, adding unique accents to an already textured history. Berlin is a city that has been re-shaped over the years, and the evidence can still be explored in all its glory, even on the shortest of city breaks.
Of course, there’s not just history to be discovered on your German city break. Berlin is also home to a fantastic array of shopping and some of Europe’s most inviting restaurants and street food vendors. In Germany, enjoying delicious food and the world-famous beer is just as important as sightseeing.
Speaking of which, Berlin certainly isn’t short of things to do. From prominent landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie to tourist hotspots like Zoo Berlin and Hackescher Markt, attractions in Berlin are varied. There’s also Museum Island – a World Heritage Site with 5 museums and breathtaking scenery.
Our top 3 Berlin attractions
- The Holocaust Memorial
- Checkpoint Charlie
- Zoo Berlin
Our top 3 Berlin museums
- Pergamon Museum
- Neues Museum (New Museum)
- Altes Museum (Old Museum)
Our top 3 German foods
- Wiener schnitzel
Use our Berlin map to see our pick of the top attractions
Locations and Neighborhoods
Location and neighborhoods
Discover some of Berlin’s districts
Best for sightseeing: Mitte
Berlin’s most central borough, Mitte is home to the TV Tower, Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and of course, the Radisson Blu Hotel. It’s the perfect district to explore on a Berlin city break, as you’ll find plenty of big attractions within close proximity. Head to Rosenthaler Platz for some of the city’s best bars and cafés.
Best for counterculture: Kreuzberg
Don’t miss the unmistakable Bohemian vibes of this vibrant neighborhood, born out of anti-establishment values. Affectionately known as Xberg, this district had a big music scene in the 1970s, and was often visited by Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Today, cafés, thrift stores and music venues make this part of town fun and lively.
Best for nightlife: Neukölln
Designer stores and hip cafés welcome you during the day, and bars, restaurants and clubs await at night. This is a great neighborhood for experiencing the bewitching urban character that Berlin is famous for. There’s a big Turkish population here too, so the area is often referred to as “Little Istanbul”.
Best for a look at local life: Friedrichshain
Part of the former East Berlin, this area also contains some of Berlin’s best nightclubs. If you’re visiting Berlin at the weekend, Boxhagener Platz hosts a farmer’s marker every Saturday and a flea market every Sunday. Be sure to visit Volkspark Friedrichshain, a public park complete with beautiful walks, the Marchenbrünnen (Fairy Tale Fountain) and summer film screenings.
Best for green spaces: Prenzlauer Berg
This eastern district is packed with lots of excellent parks and outdoor spaces. The popular flea market, busy parks and sprinkling of high-end shops, bars and restaurants lead to an interesting blend of city life and small-town comforts. Explore the neighborhood’s miscellaneous offerings, or choose a bench from which to people-watch.
Best for high-end exploration: Charlottenburg
This area is best known for Charlottenburg Palace, the last surviving royal palace in Berlin. Some of the city’s oldest homes can also be found here, their opulent facades and marble floors bordering the cobbled streets. You can also take your pick from a variety of sophisticated boutiques, cafés and restaurants.
Where to Stay
Book a Radisson Blu hotel in Berlin
City breaks can be full of surprises. Book your stay with Radisson Blu and look forward to exploring everything Berlin has to offer.
Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin
Featuring the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium in its lobby, the Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin welcomes guests to relax in stylish rooms with either aquarium or city views. Conveniently located, the hotel offers delicious on-site dining options, a tranquil spa and modern, well-equipped meeting facilities.
© 2015 The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. All rights reserved.
Things to do in Berlin
Must-sees, must-eats and must-dos
Landmarks and attractions
- The Brandenburg Gate: Built in the 18th century, the Brandenburg Gate is one of the country’s best-known landmarks. Despite it being a symbol of division during the Cold War, it has come to symbolize German unity. It’s an important monument, and a city icon.
Directions: Just a 22-minute walk from the Radisson Blu Hotel.
- Reichstag building: This is Germany’s historic parliament building. It was heavily restored after WWII, amidst much debate. Today, the roof terrace and dome offer spectacular views of Berlin, but you must register to visit or book a tour.
Directions: Just under a half-hour walk or 10-minute bus ride (catch the TXL bus from Spandauer Straße / Marienkirche) from the Radisson Blu Hotel.
- The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie: The Berlin Wall was, of course, famously knocked down, but around 2km of it still stands. Visit the East Side Gallery to see murals painted in 1990, and again in 2009 on the 20th anniversary of the wall’s demise. You can also learn about the construction of the wall and the history of this once-divided city at the Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center. Be sure to visit Checkpoint Charlie, too. This famous crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin is now a famous tourist attraction.
Directions: For the East Side Gallery, take the S-Bahn to Berlin Ostbahnh. For the Berlin Wall Memorial and Documentation Center, take the U-Bahn to Bernauer Straße. For Checkpoint Charlie, take the M48 bus to U Stadtmitte / Leipziger Str.
- The Holocaust Memorial: Also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, this poignant attraction was built between 2003 and 2004 and inaugurated in 2005, 60 years after WWII ended. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. Eisenman’s project text states that the whole sculpture “aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason”.
Directions: Just a 5-minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate.
- Zoo Berlin: Opened in 1844, this is Germany’s oldest zoo and a world-famous attraction. You will meet over 15,000 animals here (the zoo has the most diverse range of species in the world), most of which live in large, open areas. Don’t miss the birdhouse, which is home to 550 species.
Directions: Take the U-Bahn to either the Zoologischer Garten stop or the Kurfürstendamm stop.
- Alexanderplatz: Thanks to its central location, this large public square is a popular meeting spot in Berlin. The TV Tower (the Fersehturm) is also located here – standing at 368 meters, it can be seen from almost any position in the city. If you’d like to check out the view from the visitor platform, buy tickets online to beat the queues.
Directions: The Radisson Blu is around a 10-minute stroll from Alexanderplatz.
German foods to try in Berlin
- Wiener schnitzel: A thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet. This is actually an Austrian national dish, and is usually served with a fresh or potato salad.
- Currywurst: Delicious sausage that is steamed and then fried. It’s served with curry ketchup, and usually a side of fries. A Berlin street food staple.
- Sauerkraut: Finely chopped cabbage with a distinctive, sour flavor. It is usually served warm with pork or sausages.
- Eisbein (pork knuckle): These tasty pork knuckles are boiled or steamed for several hours, often in sauerkraut. In Berlin, the dish is usually served with pease pudding.
- Hoppelpoppel: This delicious dish can be found at street food stalls and in many cozy pubs. It’s also known as a farmer’s omelet, and contains meat, eggs, potatoes, onions and seasoning.
- Beer: Not a food, per se, but we couldn’t discuss German cuisine without mentioning the beverage the country is most famous for! Wheat beers (Weizen) are Germany’s most famous variety of ales.
- Friedrichstraße (Frederick Street): This is a major shopping street in central Berlin. You’ll find plenty of big brands, department stores and upmarket boutiques, as well as some interesting 1920s architecture.
Directions: Just under a 20-minute stroll from the Radisson Blu Hotel.
- Hackescher Markt: Berlin’s unofficial old town, full of independent boutiques and designer stores, as well as international chains. There’s a great selection of hip cafés to take a break in, too.
Directions: Less than a 10-minute walk from the Radisson Blu.
- Oranienstraße and Bergmannstraße: These creative, colorful streets are home to excellent thrift emporiums, skater stores and fashion boutiques. Pick up some unique vintage clothes or accessories to take home with you, then reward yourself with a coffee and a bagel. Directions: These streets are based in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood, which is just a 10-minute bus journey from Alexanderplatz (take the 248).
- Kurfürstendamm: Known colloquially as Ku'damm, this is one of Berlin’s most famous avenues. It’s lined with glittering stores, restaurants, and even car showrooms. A great place to visit for high-end shopping.
Directions: Kurfürstendamm has a U-Bahn station of the same name. It’s on the U1 and U9 lines.
- Museum Island: Discover a treasure trove of artworks and artifacts spanning over 6000 years on this famous island in the River Spree, right in the center of Berlin. Museum Island is a World Heritage Site, and a beautiful work of art in its own right. There are 5 museums to explore, all based on the north side of the island.
Directions: The island is less than a 10-minute stroll from the Radisson Blu. Simply cross the scenic bridge to Schloßplatz.The following museums are located on Museum Island.
- Pergamon Museum: This magnificent building was constructed over the course of 20 years, from 1910 to 1930. It is divided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum and the museum of Islamic art. It houses some monumental structures, including the Pergamon Altar, which dates back to the 2nd century BC.
- Neues Museum (New Museum): This museum was severely damaged during WWII and only reopened in 2009. It contains fascinating exhibits on ancient Egypt, prehistory and early history. A key object is the bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.
- Altes Museum (Old Museum): Once you’ve marveled at the exterior of this striking neoclassical building, step inside and discover a collection of captivating antiquities, including Greek and Roman art and sculptures.
- Bode Museum: This building is designed to look as though it is rising from the water. Discover a collection of sculptures, coins, medals, and Byzantine art. The Bode Museum was reopened to the public in 2006 after extensive renovation.
- Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery): Exhibits include collections of Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and early Modernist art. You will also find some of the largest 19th-century sculptures and paintings in the country.
Travel in Berlin
All you need to know about the city’s transport
Berlin is a wondrous city to explore, with history and attractions at every turn. Stay at a central Berlin hotel like the Radisson Blu, and you’ll be able to reach the key attractions on foot. When in Berlin, however, it’s worth trying out the city’s public transport. It’s known for its efficiency and is very simple to use. The U-Bahn (subway) is fast and frequent, making it perfect for those on a short city break.
Whether you would like to use Berlin’s public transport to explore the city, or would just like to learn the easiest way to reach the city center from the airport, here’s everything you need to know:
Tegel Airport is the city’s main international airport. It’s just over a 30-minute car journey from the Radisson Blu, Berlin. You could also take the bus – you’ll find bus stops outside Terminals A and B. Choose from regular local buses or express buses. The best option is the TXL JetExpressBus. Disembark at Spandauer Straße/Marienkirche, which is just a 2-minute walk from the hotel.
Schönefeld Airport is where many budget airline flights land. Based in south-east Berlin, it’s still only a 43-minute car journey from the Radisson Blu. The airport also has its own train station, from which you can reach the city center in 30 minutes. To get to the Radisson Blu, get off at Berlin Alexanderplatz – just a 10-minute stroll from the hotel.
Berlin Central Station
Berlin’s main railway station is Berlin Hauptbahnhof, or Berlin Central Station. It’s just a 10-minute walk (or very quick taxi ride) from the Radisson Blu Hotel. The station serves regional and long-distance routes, as well as the U-Bahn.
Berlin has a U-Bahn (underground railway) and S-Bahn (suburban railway). During a short city break, you’ll likely find the U-Bahn more useful. Serving 173 stations, it has 10 lines, and is the most extensive underground network in the country. Most lines run from 4am until 1am on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends.
Like the buses, trams and S-Bahn, the U-Bahn is part of the Transport Association Berlin-Brandenburg VBB. This means your ticket will be valid no matter how you choose to travel. A single fare ticket is valid for one passenger and a 2-hour journey. If you need to travel back in the direction of your starting point, you’ll need to buy a new single ticket.
You can also buy a day ticket (tageskarte), which allows you to travel as much as you like in those 24 hours. You can purchase tickets on subway platforms or at ticket counters at larger stations. You can learn more about tickets on the official BVG site.
There are also plenty of buses in Berlin. Night buses run on weekdays when the U-Bahn ends. Metro buses M11 and M85 also operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can find bus travel information on the BVG site.
Berlin is also a very bike-friendly city. Among cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, it has one of the highest rates of bicycle commuting. You’ll find a variety of bike paths and lanes, as well as Fahrradstrassen (bicycle streets). Bikes have priority on these streets, and other vehicles are limited to a speed of 30kmh. If you’re looking for a cycle route to give you a good feel for the city, try the Berliner Mauerweg – the Berlin Wall Trail. This circular route will take you along the former German Democratic Republic border fortifications that surrounded West Berlin.
There are plenty of places to rent a bike in Berlin. Try Fat Tire – they have a station at the Alexanderplatz TV Tower, which is less than a 10-minute walk from the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Facts and Useful phrases
Language, costs, useful phrases and more
Top 10 German phrases:
|Goodbye||Auf Wiedersehen||Ouf vee-der-zey-en|
|Do you speak English?||Sprechen Sie Englisch?||ShprêH-en zee êng-lish?|
|Where are the bathrooms?||Wo sind die Toiletten?||Voh zint dee toy-lêt-en?|
|How much does… cost?||Wie viel kostet . . .?||Vee feel kos-tet…?|
|Sorry (excuse me)||Entschuldigen Sie bitte||Ent-schlu-deegen see beet|
|Yes / No||Ja / Nein||Jah / nine|
|I’m sick||Ich bin krank||Ick bin krânk|
Population: 3.5 million (2016)
Average cost of travel: A short metro trip will set you back €1.40.
Most defining feature: The magnificent Museum Island.
Average cost of a pint: 3.00 €
Top 5 Berlin facts and tips:
- Berlin has a lot more bridges than Venice along its 180 km of navigable waterways.
- The city is known for its nightlife. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people head to the clubs every weekend.
- The annual International Berlin Beer Festival features the longest beer garden in the world.
- Look out for the city mascot, the Berliner Bär (Berlin Bear)! He crops up all around the city.
- Berlin is home to Europe’s largest train station.
Summers in Berlin are hotter than you might think, with temperatures reaching 25 to 30°C. They can often be humid, too. Fall is a fairly mild season, and winters are cold. The coolest month is January, with lows of -3°C. It’s a good idea to carry an umbrella, as rain can fall all year round.