Six days: two days in the city centre + two days in Berlin’s former East + two days in Berlin’s former West
Germany’s capital city is made up of 12 unique districts, each totally different from the next, but all of them unmistakably Berlin! You could spend weeks here if you wanted to see absolutely everything. But for those with less time at their disposal, our ‘road trip’ provides a great overview of the varied metropolis, covering three different districts and stopping at three Motel One hotels, each of which embodies the atmosphere of its respective neighbourhood.
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By the way, our flexible rebooking options mean you still have plenty of possibilities even if your plans change at short notice!
Stop 1 - Mitte
The heart of the city – Alexanderplatz is the perfect place to start your Berlin adventure. In and around this square, first-time visitors can easily tick off all the ‘must-see’ attractions and returning visitors can get their fix of that unique Berlin atmosphere. It is home to one of the city’s major landmarks, the TV Tower, and is also not far from other attractions, such as the Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate, the Rotes Rathaus (literally ‘Red Town Hall’) and the Museum Island.
Nikolaiviertel (Nikolai Quarter): Mitte isn’t just the centre and beating heart of the vibrant metropolis that nowadays bustles by the river Spree; it is also where the city first began, around 1200, as a small settlement. With its little alleyways, restaurants, museums and the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’ Church), the reconstructed Nikolaiviertel still offers a glimpse into Berlin’s past.
A shopping spree by the Spree: From Alexanderplatz, you can browse big brands in the Alexa shopping centre or discover Berlin’s own trendy labels and little boutiques at Hackescher Markt – you’re spoilt for choice around here!
If you’d rather spend your money on tasty treats, you should head over to the Arminius Market Hallin the Moabit area. This is one of the oldest market halls in Berlin, complete with ornate arches, floral details made from cast iron and arched windows set high up in the walls. At this market, you can enjoy all manner of fancy treats in a beautiful setting.
Some alternatives to walking: On a river cruise down the Spree, you can see all the top attractions from the comfort of the boat, and then stop for a drink at one of the riverside bars, e.g. by the Jannowitz Bridge. You can also explore Mitte by bike – simply rent one from any of our Berlin Motel One hotels! Click here to view our recommended route or you can just cycle wherever the wind takes you. After all, it’s all about the journey, not the destination!
ART AND CULTURE – WITH A TWIST
Auguststrasse – one of Berlin’s most vibrant hotspots for contemporary art. This street is home to several galleries, as well as some very special exhibition spaces such as the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, a former margarine factory, now a laboratory for art.
An underground adventure – head down into the Gesundbrunnen U-Bahn station, Berlin’s deepest underground train station! Down here, you’ll find the Berlin Underworlds Museum, where you can learn all about Berlin’s vast underground structures in exciting exhibitions and on guided tours.
A must-see for art lovers – explore one of the most fascinating private collections of contemporary art in existence, located on Reinhardstrasse in the safe room of a large former World War II bunker. This is now the home of the Boros Collection . In this renovated bunker, measuring 3,000 square metres, parts of the collection are displayed in rotating exhibitions.
Hotchpotch: DesignPanoptikum is a museum of strange objects – from dentist’s chairs to shop mannequins. The only advice we can really give you is this: expect the unexpected!
Let the music play! The Piano Salon Christophori houses an extensive collection of historical pianos and grand pianos produced at the beginning of the 20th century. At night, the restoration workshop becomes a small concert venue, where classical and jazz musicians perform in an intimate setting. We recommend booking tickets in advance. Click here to view the programme.
Stop 2 - Kreuzberg
A BREATH OF FRESH AIR: BERLIN’S FANTASTIC OUTDOOR ATTRACTIONS
Go with the flow: Ask any Kreuzberg resident and they’ll tell you: their district is the coolest by far. It’s a testing ground for alternative lifestyles, a stage for creative minds, a playground for artists, an incubator for start-ups. The beating heart of the district is Bergmannstrasse, one of the most colourful streets in Berlin. Just take a stroll in any direction and soak up Kreuzberg’s unique atmosphere.
All aboard: This is the perfect starting point for exploring Berlin by water. If you’d prefer to make your own way on the water rather than board a great big cruise ship, you can rent a boat here or take your own rubber dinghy along the Landwehr Canal (but watch out for the tourist boats!): the lawn right in front of Vivantes Hospital by the ‘Urbanhafen’ inland harbour is an ideal place to start your journey. Start by heading towards Potsdamer Platz until you reach the Altes Zollhaus, a half-timbered house built at the end of the 19th century. At that point, you can turn around and head back to Treptow. After the Admiralbrücke bridge, you’ll sail past an impressive, neoclassical-style synagogue on Fraenkelufer, as well as some beautiful stately buildings to your left and right on Planufer and then further along on Paul-Lincke-Ufer. After Kottbusser Bridge, you can moor up whenever you fancy and take a break on dry land. Once you’ve got your strength back, you can continue on to the junction of Landwehr Canal and the Neukölln Ship Canal (approx. 1.5 to 3 h depending on your personal fitness level).
See what all the fuss is about! The idyllic Stralau peninsula and Rummelsburger See, a river bay in the Spree in the heart of Berlin, is a popular recreation area, complete with beer gardens, boats for hire and much more. Fun fact: some scenes from The Legend of Paul and Paula, one of the most successful GDR films, were shot here (approx. 20 min by car + public transport).
Roll the film! Just around the corner from our Motel One hotel, you’ll find the Bethanien Creative Quarter: a former hospital converted into a hub of art and culture. If you like the idea of spending a balmy summer evening watching a great film in a spectacular setting, the Freiluftkino Kreuzberg, an open-air cinema event held here in the inner courtyard, is perfect for you (by the way, all films are shown in the original language with subtitles).
DISCOVER BERLIN’S SECRETS
Spreepark: Berlin’s famous abandoned amusement park was first opened as ‘VEB Kulturpark Plänterwald Berlin’ in 1969 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the GDR. Since 2001, it has been rotting away among the trees of the wooded area of Plänterwald. With its rusting roller coaster, solitary pirate ship and scattered remnants of a ‘Wild West’ town, it looks just like a scene from an apocalypse film. You can explore this strange place on a guided tour (approx. 25 min by car/40 min by public transport.).
Tempelhof: Tempelhof Airport, built between 1936 and 1941 and officially recognised as an historic civil engineering landmark, was closed in 2008. Since then, it has become a popular recreation area, where members of the public skateboard on the former runways or enjoy picnics on the vast green spaces. The largest architectural monument in Europe is also open for tours, which provide in-depth insights into the interior (and underground) spaces of this former airport, such as the air-raid shelter from the Third Reich and the basketball hall used by the American GIs who were stationed there (approx. 20 min by car/30 min by public transport).
‘Eat differently and shop differently’ – that’d be the best way to translate the slogan of Markthalle Neun. If you’re someone who really cares about where your food products come from and how they’re made, you’ll want to pay a visit to this weekly market. It offers everything from everyday products to specialities from around the world. Many of the vendors are local farmers or growers who produce their own stock; others are traders who would be happy to tell you the fascinating story behind their products. A glass-fronted bakery, butcher’s and pasta manufacturer, an in-house brewery and tofu manufacturer. In summary, this market is an attempt to make food production less cold and anonymous and more transparent and open.
Stop 3 - Charlottenburg
THE OTHER SIDE OF BERLIN
Let’s go window shopping: Charlottenburg is rather a dignified place. This district, located in western Berlin, was shaped by the upper classes of the ‘Gründerzeit’ period – and this influence is still clearly visible today. Everything is that bit more elegant, stylish and traditional. The beating heart of this district is the Kurfürstendamm, a street that was at the centre of West Berlin when the wall was still standing and is located just five minutes away from our Motel One hotel. With its shopping complexes, such as KaDeWe and Bikini Berlin, galleries and restaurants, City West is now a popular meeting point for shopping and going out. Fancy a snack while you browse? On Kurfürstendamm, you’ll also find one of the most famous currywurst stands in the city, Bier’s Kudamm 195, where you can order your hearty snack with a glass of champagne.
A whistle-stop tour: If you haven’t yet taken the classic tour of Berlin’s ‘must-see’ attractions starting at Alexanderplatz, you can pay EUR 2.90 to take Berlin’s cheapest city tour, which lasts just one hour. The no. 100 bus route starts at Zoologischer Garten station and ends at Alexanderplatz. On this ‘tour’, you can see the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Victory Column, Bellevue Palace, Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Cathedral... and enjoy an authentic experience of Berlin’s public transport system!
Experience animals up close: Zoo Berlin, opened in 1844, is the oldest zoo in Germany. Today, its 33-hectare site is home to approximately 20,000 amazing animals from around 1,200 species. Here’s a particular highlight: this summer, for the first time, the zoo will also be opening its gates in the evenings between 5 and 9 pm, offering visitors a very special insight into the animals’ nocturnal activities. Buy tickets here.
How the other half lives: The splendid villa district of Grunewald, built in 1889, has always attracted celebrities, especially stars of the film industry. For example, F. W. Murnau, who directed Nosferatu, lived in a villa at Douglasstrasse 22 from 1919 to 1926, and Hildegard Knef lived at Bettinastrasse 12 for a while. Even if you don’t get to see any famous faces, it’s still worth taking a stroll through this picturesque quarter just to gaze at the incredible houses (approx. 20 min by car/ 25 min by S-Bahn train).
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
The green district of Grunewald: Grunewald isn’t just known for its beautiful villas – ‘Grunewald’ translates literally as ‘green forest’ and, with its huge forest, the district lives up to its name! It isn’t far from the city centre, yet it feels miles away. Whether you’re there for a relaxed stroll, a hike or a bike ride, Berlin’s largest green space is the perfect spot to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Saddle up: Fancy a great day out on two wheels? Just rent a bike from our reception desk and set off! Our recommended route starts at the Grunewald S-Bahn station (S7), from the Eichkampstrasse exit. You can then cycle along Schildhornweg for around 2.5 kilometres through Grunewald, past the large sand dune (see below) and straight to Teufelssee (literally ‘Devil’s Lake’). Cycle on towards the Havel to the Kuhhorn bathing area. From there, you can continue along the banks of the Wannsee lake. En route, you’ll find the Grunewald Tower, the Lieper Bucht, a bay with several great swimming spots, and the Strandbad Wannsee, an open-air lido. If you like, you can also take a detour to the Schwanenwerder peninsula, and then head back to Nikolassee S-Bahn station via Wannseebadweg and Spanische Allee. And then you’ve smashed it!
The living desert: The sand dune in the heart of the Grunewald is a striking and extremely surreal sight. Once it could no longer be used for industrial purposes, this former gravel pit was filled with sand, creating an entire ecosystem for plants, birds, insects – and people, too. So, pack a picnic and a bucket and spade, and don’t forget to roll down the sand dune at some point – that’s the best bit (approx. 30 min by car/40 min by public transport incl. a 15 min walk from Grunewald S-Bahn station)!
Teufelsberg – measuring 120 metres, this is the second-tallest ‘mountain’ in Berlin. It is an artificial hill made from tonnes of wartime rubble and topped with a former 1950s US spy station from the Cold War. At the top, you’ll find a 360-degree view of the city and surrounding area. Graffiti fans are in for a real treat here, as the former spy station has become the (self-appointed) highest street art gallery in Europe, that is to say: graffiti artists have really run riot here! And the walk up through the dense Grunewald is a little adventure in itself.
Keep fit for free: At ‘Schwitzen im Park’ (‘Get sweaty at the park’), a regular fitness event held in Rudolph-Wilde-Park, participants can exercise for free, whatever the weather. The fully trained instructors make sure that everyone works up a good sweat. Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
Don’t forget your swimming gear! Tired of swimming and looking for a new way to experience the famous Wannsee lake? Rent a barbecue raft! You don’t need a boating licence to rent one of these incredible vehicles. Starting in Pichelsdorf, you can take it up and down the river Havel – don’t forget to pack your steaks (or your tofu burgers) and swimming gear (approx. 20 min by car/40 min by public transport)!
Finish on a high: Our Cloud One bar and rooftop terrace is an ideal spot to enjoy an evening cocktail – even if we say so ourselves. Just take the lift up to the top and enjoy a stunning view of the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and Berlin. It’s the perfect spot to propose a toast to a brilliant stay in Berlin. Cheers!