To start off with, give yourself as much time if possible. Book your trip from Thursday to Monday and make it a long weekend.
Berlin is so big with so much to see and do. We started by having a meal in the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower) in Alexanderplatz (a five minute walk from the hotel). This was probably the best experience we had all trip. €20 gets you to the viewing deck where you have a 360° view of the City of Berlin from 207 meters in the sky. There is information signs under each window giving you facts on the view from that window. Pretty cool.
We decided that we would have a meal and drinks in the restaurant to soak in the atmosphere and views of the city. This restaurant is even better than the viewing deck area. We were lucky enough to get a window seats so we could take in all the city had to offer at night. Our seats slowly rotated around giving us a new view of the city every time we looked up!! The restaurant was decorated stylishly for Christmas and had live music with a guy playing piano adding to the beautiful setting.
The food was delicious. Portions are small but tasty. I got lamb which came to €27 so it’s not cheap. We got a wine and beer (Some kind of strawberry beer which was delishous) and took our time for the evening, taking in the views of the City of Berlin. This was such a perfect was to start off the trip, I would throughly recommend it if you are thinking of visiting Berlin. (Note: Check weather updates though as a friend of mine didn’t enjoy it due to the view being hindered by clouds. He also warned us of long waiting times in ques, even though we didn’t experience this.)
To get a hold of the city and the history behind it we decided to get a Berlin CitySightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus at Alexanderplatz. I would not recommend using these guys as there is better alternatives!
It cost €20 each which does each person for 24 hours so we could get a bit of use out of it the next day too. There is a choice between 3 or 4 companies to do this tour with. (You can tell the different tour companies by the colour and style of the busses. This is harder to do than you might think). We later found out there is also a cheaper way of getting to see the main attractions of the city and that is by getting local bus 100, but this would not include the tour guide that you get with the hop on hop off bus tours.
As we began our tour on the Red Line of the Hop on Hop off bus we began to gain a grasp as to the size and scale of Berlin. We saw Rotes Rathaus/Neptunbrunnen, Lustgarten/Museumsinsel/Altes Museum and the memorial garden.
Our first stop was the Brandenburg Gate. A very impressive gate into Tiergarten from the City. Here we walked down the main Street of Uter Den and came across a small group of people in a semi circle and a man in the middle with a mat and three small card board boxes (like the trays you get in a matches box). With the three boxes he was keeping a small ball hidden underneath and the group around were betting €50 to guess which box the ball was under. A set up if I have ever seen one. They even asked us to join in on the game as we walked past.
We then walked over to the Reichstag building. A beautiful government building that you can go for a walk around.
Getting back on the bus we saw Siegessäule Victory Column and continued back into the city stopping at Potsdamer Platz to walk around the Potsdamer Platz Christmas Market. This is where we got a traditional German Frankfurter and chips. It was really good and only cost €6 for two Frankfurters and a portion of chips. We continued to explore the beautiful the market stalls that had all kinds of food, drinks and beautiful hand crafted gifts. Some of the items you could tell took hours to make. We wandered into one particular stall call … They sold very impressive hand crafted Christmas gifts. A lot of these gifts were ornaments or decorations for Christmas made from wood. There was a video of the process of making the gifts inside. It really was truly amazing to see the skills some people have.
After enjoying the market we got back onto the bus and went to Checkpoint Charlie. Here you can get your passport stamped and get a picture with a guard for €3 each. We didn’t bother doing this as it just seemed a little bit dodgy and unofficial. I managed to get in a photo without the guard although strickly this is probably against their rules. Rules are made to be broken! “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”
The next place we visited was across the road from Checkpoint Charlie. There is a small Museum here and a real piece of the wall! Some of the posters and photos in this area can really make you feel what it might have been like for the people living in this era.
After this we got the wrong Hop On Hop Off Bus back to Alexanderplatz. Oops ha. This tour seemed better than ours though as the bus was new, their was an option to buy snacks and drinks (even mulled wine! 🙈) and when we plugged our headphones in the tour guide was very interesting and engaging. Unlike the useless shite we were listening to on our own tour with Berlin CitySightseeing Hop On Hop Off.
At Alexanderplatz we went to the Alexanderplatz Christmas Market soaking up more of the Christmas atmosphere. We watched some people ice skating and then decided to go for a drink in the Christmas Market Bar. The mulled wine here is beautiful.
The next day we went to Cafe Oliv for breakfast. It was gorgeous. We got scrambled eggs with bacon, salad and some sourdough bread. (And coffee and orgaange obviously) Great start to the day.
We then went to the other Christmas Market at Alexanderplatz and decided to try a few driferent foods and drinks…
I bought a drink called Grog.
My God! It was warm Rum and it was so strong! Not my cup of tea so I used it as a handwarmer, walking around the rest of the market with the cup warming my cold hands. Nuts covered in different flavors were lovely also!!
(then we got the express train back to the airport). Really easy to get to and from the airport.
Go to Berlin for Christmas Markets
Enjoy the mulled wine 🍷
Wrap up warm
Watch out for scammers
Enjoy the food and drinks
Oh there was also a Hot Air balloon in the city I forgot to mention! (Not sure why it was there but my guess it you can go up in it to view the city!)
Finally before you go I would recommend reading a book to gain some background as to the history of Germany. I would recommend ‘The Shortest History of Germany’ by James Hawes.