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Credit: Clara Lock
September 2017

If we could only recommend one city in Germany, it would be Berlin. Germany’s capital is a historical city, but it’s also gritty yet glamorous, full of nooks and corners where you can peer into its storied history and explore its vibrant culture. 

Berlin is also relatively flat and pedestrian friendly, and what better way to see a city than on foot? Sign up for walking tours to make the most of your time, and let experienced guides do the navigating. They’ll also tell you stories about Nazi Germany, the Cold War and Berlin’s alternative culture after it emerged from behind the Iron Curtain – highlighting sights you might otherwise stroll past. 

Here’s the best way to take in Berlin on foot if you only have 72 hours to see it all.


Day 1

1. Berlin’s most essential tour


Image credit: Tripsavvy

 

Hit the ground running on day one with a free walking tour by Sandemans. The company is well-known for slick and professional walking tours that cover most of Western Europe. Best part? It’s (almost) free. Guides work for tips, and you can decide how much to contribute after the tour.

We recommend starting with this tour as it helps frame Berlin’s history on a timeline, so you can better appreciate the sights that come later. It’ll also help you familiarise with the city, and cover main sights such as the Brandenburg Gate, Holocaust memorial and Berlin’s Reichstag, or Parliament.

Price: Pay what you wish

Address: Tours meet in front of Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate (S/U-Bahn Brandenburger Tor). Look for guides with red umbrellas and Sandemans T-shirts.

Opening Hours:
Tours run at 10.00am, 11.00am, 12.00pm, 1.00pm, 2.00pm and 4.00pm daily and last about 3 hours
No bookings needed

 


2. Pub crawl


An alternative pub crawl
Image credit: Like a local guide

 

Berlin is known as an alternative city, and what better way to see it than by hitting up its watering holes? Pub crawls are dime a dozen throughout most of Europe, but we like how the 666 Anti Pubcrawl by Alternative Berlin Tours introduces under-the-radar pubs we’d be hard-pressed to find on our own. 

Tour guides decide on the itinerary depending on the group’s size and interest, including stops such as Berlin’s oldest bar from Soviet times, a ping pong bar, and an electronic dance hub. Large, rowdy groups such as stag parties are discouraged from joining the tour, which helps solo travellers and small groups interact more easily.

 

Price: 12 Euros (SGD19.25)

Address: Tour starts from Tati Goes Underground (formerly Yesterday Bar), Metzer strasse 2, U2 Senefelderplatz

Opening Hours:
Tour runs at 9.00pm daily
Tour can be either booked online or tickets can be bought at the meeting point
Limited places available 


Day 2

3. Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial - Berlin’s most important day trip


Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial - Berlin’s most important day trip 

 

You can’t come to Berlin without seeing a bit of history, and nowhere does it come to life more than at The Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial. The former concentration camp, which was used by the Third Reich during World War 2, is a grim but important stopover for most visitors in Berlin. The memorial is less well known than its more famous counterparts Auschwitz and Dachau, but seeing the gas chambers and prisoners quarters up close is no less chilling.

 

Price: 16 Euros (SGD 25.66)

Address: Tours meet in front of Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate (S/U-Bahn Brandenburger Tor). Look for guides with red umbrellas and Sandemans T-shirts.

Opening Hours:
Tours run at 9.00am and 11.00am daily and last about 5-6 hours
Tours can be booked online or during the free Sandeman’s walking tour

  


 4. Kreuzberg


Kreuzberg: Time to unwind

 

Staring history in the face can be uncomfortable, so hit up the trendy Kreuzberg neighbourhood once you’re back to unwind and refuel. Kreuzberg is full of craft beer bars, cafes and laid-back restaurants, but our favourite joint is Burgermeister -- a burger bar located under the U-bahn tracks. Perch on one of the padded railings that serve as benches, and tuck into a solid beef burger elbow-to-elbow with Berlin locals. The food is great, but the atmosphere is half the experience.

 

Price: From 3.50 euros (SGD5.61)

Address: U1 Schlesisches Tor, Oberbaumstraße 8, 10997 Berlin, Germany

Opening Hours:
11.00am to 4.00am 
 


Day 3

5. Alternative Berlin


Alternative Berlin: Street art and sub-cultures

 

You’ve seen Berlin’s alternative culture at night on the pub crawl, now see it in the day with an Alternative Berlin walking tour that takes in street art, graffiti, and iconic artists that give the city its look and feel.

Wander into alleys bursting with colour, and uncover unexpected sights like the Young African Art Market. This urban beach along the Spree River is a beach club and gallery that hosts events such as live bands, flea market and beach yoga. The tour ends at the East Gallery of the Berlin Wall, which artists have adorned with murals depicting peace and reconciliation. 

 

Price: Pay what you wish

Address: Tours start at Alexanderplatz TV Tower next to the tower entrance in front of Starbucks. Berlin Alexanderplatz Bahnhof, Dircksenstraße 2, 10179 Berlin

Opening Hours:
Tours run at 11.00am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm daily for approximately 3h
No booking needed

*Pro-tip: We recommend taking the 11.00am tour, which will end in time for you to hop on the Red Berlin tour later.


6. Red Berlin


Red Berlin: Secrets of the communist capital
Image credit: Hole in the donut cultural travel

 

Hop on this tour for some gripping tales of Berlin during the Cold War, when the Iron Curtain kept East Berlin apart from the rest of the world. Guides will take you to iconic spots around the Berlin Wall, and tell you about some daring escapes from Soviet Germany. We won’t spoil the surprise, but our favourite story involves a zipline and the roof of a government building. 

 

Price: 14 euros (SGD 22.45)

Address: Tours meet in front of Starbucks at the Brandenburg Gate (S/U-Bahn Brandenburger Tor). Look for guides with red umbrellas and Sandeman’s T-shirts.

Opening Hours:
Tours run at 2.30pm daily and can be booked online or during the free Sandeman’s walking tour


Where to Stay

 

1. Monbijou Hotel

The Monbijou Hotel feels less like a hotel and more like a friend’s luxurious home, with a well-stocked library and a fireplace warming its cosy lobby decorated in dark wood. The hotel is located just 400m from the UNESCO-heritage Museum Island.

Price: 72 - 207 euros (SGD 115.51 – 332.08)

Address: Monbijouplatz 1, 10178 Berlin, Germany

*Pro-tip: Check out sites such as Expedia and Agoda for deals before making a booking. They might have better deals than directly from the hotels.

 

2. Plus Berlin

This affordable and friendly hostel, located five minutes from the Warschauer Straße U-Bahn station, is close to supermarket chain Lidl so you can load up on groceries and save on food.

Price: 25 euros (SGD 40.11) for a 4-bed ensuite dormitory

Address: Warschauer Platz 6 D-10245 Berlin Germany

*Pro-tip: Make the most of your hostel’s activities -- many offer discounts on pub crawls or walking tours if you sign up with their front desk.


Getting Around


Image credit: Wikiwand

 

For short hops within the city, take the S-Bahn or U-Bahn trains, which both offer well-connected networks. Berlin operates on a zone system, with most tourist attractions located within zones A and B. If you’re taking multiple rides, consider buying a day ticket for seven euros, which covers both zones.

If you’re getting out of Berlin, multiple companies such as Intercity and Deutsche Bahn connect the city with other parts of Europe or Germany. Book early for discount fares.

 

Price: 2.80 euros (SGD 4.49) per trip, or 7 euros (SGD 11.70) for a day pass within zones A and B 

Operating Hours:
Weekdays: 4.30 - 1.30am 
Weekends: 24 hours

Official Website: https://www.berlin.de/en/public-transportation/1746751-2913840-sbahn.en.html

*Pro-tip: Berlin’s trains don’t have gantries – instead, the city’s honour-based system means you buy tickets on the platform and validate them before your trip. You might be tempted to fare-dodge, but getting caught carries a hefty 60-euro fine.


There’s heaps more to see in Berlin, but you’ll have covered most of its main attractions with this itinerary, and enjoyed some of the city’s food and drink as well. Put your feet up on a plane, train or bus on your way out of the city, and give them a well-deserved break from all that walking. Prost! 


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