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A weekend in Berlin: the ultimate itinerary

Heading to the German capital? Here’s how to cram Berlin’s best food, nightlife and culture into 48 hours

Nathan Ma
Written by
Nathan Ma

Keen to visit Berlin for a whirlwind weekend? You’re not alone. The German capital is one of Europe’s most popular city break destinations, pulling in visitors from around the world eager to enjoy its world-class art scene, weekend-long parties, tasty bites and even tastier beverages

The key to enjoying Berlin is in understanding its recent past as a cultural and clubbing hotspot while also understanding its pace, which is far slower than you might think. So if you want to get to know the real Berlin – while still exploring all its best bits – we’ve got the weekend itinerary for you. From first-time visitor essentials to real hidden gems and insider recommendations (including the city’s more low-key nightlife spots), this is how to spend 48 hours in Europe’s coolest capital – according to Berlin local Nathan Ma.


📍 The best things to do in Berlin
🍳 The best Berlin brunches
🍲 The best restaurants in Berlin
🏊🏼‍♀️ Berlin’s best lakes for wild swimming
🖼 The best museums in Berlin
🛏 The best Airbnbs in Berlin

Planning your next trip? Check out our latest travel guides, written by local experts.

A weekend in Berlin

How to get there
Photograph: Shutterstock

How to get there

If you’re travelling by train, most national and international services will arrive at Hauptbahnhof, Berlin’s main train station. (And if you’re travelling from Brussels, Amsterdam or Rotterdam, there’s a brand-new night train to Berlin launching in May 2023). Here, you’ll find inner-city connections with buses and the S-Bahn, a train system that branches from the city centre out to the far corners of Berlin. 

If you’re arriving by plane, you’ll also want to use the S-Bahn to travel from Berlin Brandenburg Airport into the city. The best way to get around Berlin is with a weekend train pass, which can be bought from a ticket machine or via the BVG app. Most of Berlin is contained within the AB region, but make sure to get an extension that covers the C region if you’re travelling to and from the airport.

There’s a lot to love about all of Berlin’s neighbourhoods, but Kreuzberg is particularly beloved by visitors. Here, you’ll find cocktail bars alongside bowling alleys and indie nightclubs alongside top-tier eateries. When choosing where exactly to stay in this rather expansive enclave, the area around the iconic train station Schlesisches Tor and Warschauer Strasse is a good bet. This corner of the city is particularly well-connected with the S-Bahn, as well as the U1 train line for ease of access to the former West.

If you’re looking for upscale lodging, you’ll have your pick of hotels: Michelberger Hotel and nhow are excellent choices for a weekend in the lap of luxury. Budget travellers will find plenty of options in Kreuzberg as well, including Industriepalast and Sunflower Hostel Berlin. Airbnbs are few and far between due to city-wide restrictions, but you can use the platform to find a room in a shared flat or a hostel.

READ MORE: The best hotels in Berlin

Friday: Get your bearings
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Friday: Get your bearings

Arriving in the early afternoon, start with getting your bearings in the city with a walking tour.

Tour the city’s storied streets

When it comes to walking tours, you’re spoiled for choice in Berlin. Catch up on the city’s past with a historic walking tour through Mitte (Sandemans is just one reliable tour operator), or explore the local sites on a graffiti tour of Kreuzberg (Original Berlin Tours is particularly popular). If you’re interested in exploring the sociopolitical side of the city, Revolutionary Berlin offers its own take on Berlin as a site of change. Here, you’ll learn about everything from Berlin’s key political thinkers to the city’s underground and student movements. Regardless of which tour you book, be sure to bring cash to tip your tour guide.

Dinner and drinks 

Now you’re starting to settle into the city’s pace, it’s time to fuel up like a local with a grilled dinner at Adana Grillhaus, which is just one of the many tasty Turkish restaurants in Berlin. For a meatless meal, Berlin’s got you covered: try Con Tho or Miss Saigon, where you’ll find fresh and filling Vietnamese food and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options. After dinner, head out for a drink – and a dance, if you fancy – at Bohnengold or Lido. Both spots tend to have a more relaxed and friendlier vibe than the city’s major clubs. 

READ MORE: The best restaurants in Berlin

Saturday: Scout out the local hangouts
Photograph: Pani Garmyder /

Saturday: Scout out the local hangouts

Stroll around a disused airfield

There are two things to know about parks in Berlin: they are plentiful, and they are beautiful. Today, you’ll be hanging out at one of the most iconic. Start the day with a hearty fry-up at Lonely Hearts Café, then grab a coffee from Gorilla Bakery and make your way to Tempelhofer Feld. The disused airfield is a favourite hangout for locals and out-of-towners alike – at the slightest sign of sun, you’ll find hundreds of people laying on the grass and rollerblading across the tarmac.

Get to know Kreuzberg 

In the afternoon, make your way back to Kreuzberg for a spin around the local shops on Oranienstrasse. Browse the latest designer wares at Voo Store, one of Berlin’s favoured fashion concept stores. If music is more of your thing, head to CORETEX Records, where you’ll find an unmatched selection of vinyls. Smaller boutiques and bookstores line the surrounding streets  (Curious Fox is a local favourite for English-language and secondhand books). If you work up an appetite, you’re in luck – there’s loads of treats around Oranienstrasse. Try the fried chicken at Angry Chicken, or pop into goldies for the best truffle chips in town.

Leave your dress shoes at home: Berlin parties hard, so you’ll want to wear something more comfortable for a night out. Most major clubs are either in or just a short trip from Kreuzberg, including Berghain, Tresor, Wilde Renate and ://about blank. If long queues or hard techno aren’t your thing, make your way to Monarch or Paloma Bar instead, where you can enjoy live DJ sets and plenty of people watching. Or, if you’re in the mood for a quieter evening, imbibe fresh cocktails at Fahimi Bar, Café Luzia or Principal Kreuzberg.

READ MORE: The best clubs in Berlin

Sunday: Kick back, Berlin-style
Photograph: Bokehboo Studios /

Sunday: Kick back, Berlin-style

Breakfast of champions

There’s heated competition over Berlin’s best brunch – and you’ll find many contenders in the Friedrichshain neighbourhood. The egg sandwiches at 44 Brekkie are legendary, and Berlin’s top bagel shop-slash-bookstore Shakespeare & Sons is just a short walk around the corner from the market. Other options include Silo Coffee (one of Berlin’s first third-wave coffee bars) and NEUMANNS, a stylish café with a wide selection of sourdough toasts, including warm goat cheese with braised fennel or buffalo mozzarella with ham and snow peas. 

Bargain hunt at Boxhagener Platz

After brunch, check out the local flea market at Boxhagener Platz, open every Sunday morning. You’ll find second-hand homeware, clothes, art and trinkets for cheap. Bring cash and be prepared to bargain – a little bit of haggling goes a long way when finding the perfect souvenir. 

And if you’re staying one more night…

There’s nothing like a hot, hot sauna followed by a quick cold shower to cure even the most resilient hangovers. Berlin is dotted with great spas, including Liquidrom in Kreuzberg, and Vabali, which is a short walk from Hauptbahnhof. Both spas are incredibly popular so book your slot in advance. You can rent a towel and bathrobe on-site if you haven’t brought your own, but beware: many saunas and steam rooms in Germany are textile-free, so be prepared to leave your bathing suit in your locker.

READ MORE: The best spas in Berlin

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