At the end of 2023, I spent a couple of weeks in Central Europe. The last of the 4 major cities visited was Berlin, where I spent 4ish days. Here’s the major things I got up to!

In total, I was in Berlin from the afternoon of Tue 27th December to just after lunch on Sat 30th.

Note: This is part 4 of 4 from this trip: Zurich, Vienna, Prague, and Berlin.

Day 1 (26th December): Arrival

We arrived a little later than expected, so our first day was just the usual “hotel and food”. We were getting a little hangry so made a lazy choice for dinner, oops! We had 10,151 steps (4.05 miles) walked, mostly from before we arrived in Berlin.

berlin 26th

Steigenberger Hotel ★★★★✰

This hotel has a great location, being approx 100 metres from one of the two exits from Berlin main station! This makes it easy to get trams or trains to anywhere else, or walk into Berlin centre via the Reichstag.

The room itself was pretty standard, however we were very lucky to have one of the few rooms that can see the sunrise over the Reichstag! This was a completely unexpected surprise, and provided a great view every morning.

Unfortunately, being high up facing the sunrise had the disadvantage that the gym was directly above us. This meant hearing weights being dropped, or the repetitive noises of a treadmill, at all hours of the day. Particularly obnoxious was the ~8am run another guest clearly did, waking us up most days. Whilst we usually do a hotel breakfast, the 29 euros each made it a non-starter, and it seems surprisingly high considering there are nearby cafes and restaurants.

Overall a pretty standard large hotel experience.

Original review (5 photos)

Hans im Glück ★★★★✰

We popped in here for a quick meal since it was one of the few places open quite late. Whilst the food and drink was pretty good, although a little expensive, the service was a bit of a problem.

Our food arrived without cutlery, tissues, etc, and I had to grab them from a nearby table. Similarly, getting the waitress’ attention to order, get the bill etc was quite tricky. This might have been due to our seating location near the windows, the other side from most of the larger tables.

I had their festive special burger which was… unique. Good, I think, but unique! Their Berliner Weisse (raspberry) was an unusual experience too, but one of the few places I saw this traditional drink offered.

Original review

Day 2 (27th December): Historical

Google Maps seem to have had poor tracking on this day, but this was a quite heavily planned day where we walked in a large b shape to cover all the main historical landmarks. We got a surprisingly fast train back from Potsdamer Platz, taking a total of 2 minutes!

This route resulted in 14,468 steps (6.41 miles) walked.

berlin 27th

Tucano Cafe ★★★★★

We initially visited this cafe since it was closest to our hotel, but enjoyed it so much we ended up visiting almost every morning!

Whilst the menu is somewhat limited, every item on there is excellent. All of it can also be taken away to eat in the nearby park, even trickier meals like pancakes or porridge. Staff were friendly and helpful, and it had a relaxed atmosphere.

I highly recommend the “Hippie Cookie”, a nutty chewy flapjack-y thing that we ended up buying to take with us on walks. Additionally, the chicken wrap is simple but excellent. Careful when eating it since the dressing has a tendency to drip out towards the end!

Original review

Spreebokgenpark ★★★★★

A great park to walk through on your way between the train station and other areas, or eat breakfast on one of the many benches. There’s often musicians playing, and eating breakfast whilst watching the sunrise and listening to jazz was a lovely experience.

Even at nighttime it is quite populated and well lit, giving a safe feeling. There is also a great riverside walk cutting through it, worth taking if you have the time.

Original review (2 photos)

Murdered Jews Memorial ★★★★★

Obviously it’s hard to review a memorial objectively. However, this was an excellent two-part structure, and a highly recommend taking the time to experience both parts.

The upper part, the rectangular slabs, is a unique experience. Whilst the outer blocks feel like a collection of obstacles, the ground dips towards the middle resulting in a surreal experience somewhat similar to a very claustrophobic forest. There are often a few children running around (and into!) the blocks, but I highly recommend walking slowly and making a little noise with your feet to avoid any collisions.

The underground part, the exhibition, is absolutely worth queuing to enter and paying the small fee (3-4 euro) for an audioguide. Note that there is an airport-style security check before getting in. The audioguide takes around an hour, and guides you through the entire exhibit. Whilst you can just read the information, being guided through the highlights and having it put in context really helps.

I really appreciate the combination of historical information underground, surreal sculpture above ground, and the areas where it overlaps (parts of the underground). A moving memorial.

Note: No Google Maps review available, as “This place is currently more likely to receive content that violates Google’s policies. To prevent this, Google has turned off posting.”!

Mall of Berlin ★★★★✰

A cosy mall with a wide variety of shops. Navigating can be a little confusing due to the two halves and multiple floors, the supermarket on the bottom floor is useful.

Original review

Panoramapunkt Berlin ★★★★✰

There are 3 distinct parts of Panorampunkt: The mini-museum, the viewpoint, and the cafe. They are accessed via the fastest elevator in Europe(!), with a friendly guide operating it as it zooms up the floors in mere seconds, making your ears pop.

First, the outside mini-museum (which also has views). There is lots of well written information about the history of Berlin, specifically Potsdamer Platz. This provides plenty of information about the stages it has gone through, why it looks the way it does, and major events that have taken place. It’s worth reading every board, as they provide a comprehensive overview.

Next, the viewpoint. Whilst you do have excellent view from the mini-museum layer, going upstairs to the viewpoint lets you walk in a loop around all 3 sides of the building. This provides plenty of excellent views wherever you look, especially if you stand in a corner of the triangle!

Finally, the cafe. This is unfortunately the weakest point in our experience. It seems a little confused about whether it is a cafe for tourists (due to the location), or is an upscale restaurant (table service only). This confusion is reinforced by only accepting cash, and not warning customers until AFTER they have eaten! The menu is quite limited, with only a few items of food available, and some of those are actually out of stock.

Staff in the cafe were friendly enough, but it can be hard to get their attention if seated at one of the higher tables with the best views.

Overall I’d definitely recommend visiting the mini-museum and viewpoint, and maybe a small snack at the cafe if you remember to carry cash in 2023!

Original review (10 photos)

Topography of Terror ★★★★★

This museum is actually a combination of multiple areas. A large section of the wall, essentially in its “natural” state, a slightly underground section detailing further information about the Gestapo, the wall, and the location, and finally a large building with very detailed exhibits.

The large building will definitely take longer than you expect, we spent an hour in the single large room and could easily have spent longer. It covers all elements of the Gestapo, WW2, political prisoners, and much more.

A personal highlight is a section showing what happened to the higher-ups after the war. Disturbingly, the answer seems to usually be “they escaped”, and were eventually caught decades later.

Note: No Google Maps review available, as “This place is currently more likely to receive content that violates Google’s policies. To prevent this, Google has turned off posting.”!

Checkpoint Charlie ★★★★✰

This is a somewhat surreal historical area, since everyone there has seen the famous photo of the superpower tank showdown that was one of the crucial moments of the Cold War.

However, without the Wall, this checkpoint is… essentially just an island in a random intersection! There are a few historical signs nearby, but the juxtaposition between them and typical fast food adverts is a little jarring.

I also find it strange wanting to take a selfie here, I didn’t expect it to be that sort of attraction!

Note: No Google Maps review available, as “This place is currently more likely to receive content that violates Google’s policies. To prevent this, Google has turned off posting.”!

Curry Mitte ★★★★★

Unbelievably good currywurst! We ordered delivery from here twice during our short trip here, and it was one of our favourite meals despite being fast food.

I highly recommend the meatball, but the original sausage is excellent too. Chips are basic but generous. 3 sausages and 1 chips will be the perfect amount for 2 hungry people’s dinner, I wish I could get this back home!

Original review

Day 3 (28th December): Sachsenhausen

We took a day trip to the nearby former concentration camp Sachsenhausen, in Oranienburg. Despite taking a train to the town, a walk at each end and plenty of walking within the camp meant 17,608 steps (7.83 miles) walked.

berlin 27th

Sachsenhausen ★★★★★

We made the trip to this free former camp from Berlin main station (direct train every hour, then a 15-20m walk from Oranienburg station) and it was one of the most engrossing experiences I’ve ever had. We ended up spending around 4-5 hours here, and only left because it was getting a bit unsettling being in such a horrific place with the sun not shining.

Unfortunately an English map wasn’t available when we visited, but English audioguides were. There are maps scattered around the former camp, plus indicators at key areas, however the audioguide definitely adds significant value.

There are around 15 areas that can be visited, most specialised museums about a specific part of the former camp, however the map will show 5-6 key locations in red. These are always worth looking at, even if some of them (such as the main gate, with a view over the entire camp) have somewhat hidden entrances round the side.

The scale of the camp only becomes clear after spending a few hours there, when what seems like a relatively small area becomes so saturated with history and long walks between areas that it becomes easier to see how so many could have died here.

All information is very well written and clear, providing further reading wherever possible. This includes information on both it’s Nazi and Soviet past, intentionally not making any attempt to compare or contrast them. The camp was so deeply engaging yet touching that taking any photos or eating etc just didn’t feel right. This is a sober place, selfies etc would feel disgusting.

This should definitely be a location visited during any Berlin trip, it’s the most accessible former camp for anyone in the capital city.

Note: No Google Maps review available, as “This place is currently more likely to receive content that violates Google’s policies. To prevent this, Google has turned off posting.”!

Bavaria ★★★★★

Excellent authentic food and drink that is worth prebooking.

We came here on a whim one evening and just about managed to get a great seat. Throughout our time there couples and other groups were being turned away, and I can absolutely see why: the food was amazing!

I had the Bavarian crusted roast, and it was some of the tastiest pork I’ve ever tried. Staff were friendly, and when they mixed up drinks (and food) with the table next to ours we got a slight discount without asking whatsoever.

The bathroom route is a little bizarre, with lots of odd items on the way. This doesn’t take away from the very tasty food and drink though!

Original review (3 photos)

Day 4 (29th December): East

This day was pretty relaxed, walking the full length of Unter den Linden and getting the train back. Since we were looking at shops etc on the way, only 11,057 steps (4.39 miles) walked.

berlin 29th

Neue Wache ★★★★✰

This is a surprisingly haunting statue in the middle of a large, empty room. Some information is depicted outside the room in many languages, and I’d recommend visiting briefly if you’re in the area.

Original review

Lustgarten ★★★★★

A great place to relax between museums, with a view of the stunning Berliner Dom. There are lots of benches to sit on, and plenty of happy tourists enjoying themselves.

Original review

Schlögl’s ★★★★★

A cosy friendly restaurant offering traditional German food. Make sure you take the small path from the main road via a tunnel, NOT the larger road near Spielplatz!

We came here for lunch, and discovered a great deal on Berlin currywurst with fries (around 9 euro each). The food arrived quickly, and was simple but perfectly sized. We had the apple strudel for dessert and it was one of the best we’ve ever tried.

Definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area and need an affordably priced German meal.

Original review

DDR Museum ★★✰✰✰

This was one of the worst museums I’ve visited, primarily due to the overcrowding. Firstly, the entry queue was a mess. Whilst you can book online, this only lets you skip the final few people, you still have to do the vast majority of waiting!

When we entered, we took what looked like the quietest path and ended up in an area made to look like an apartment during DDR time. For the most part, it looked… pretty similar to any other apartment you’ve seen from the time period. Unfortunately it was hard to look too closely due to the large numbers of small children running around and essentially treating it like a play house. This, plus the crowds in every corridor made it a deeply unpleasant start.

After this, we went back into the main room. Here, there is some quite interesting information, but it is inexplicably hidden behind self-closing cupboards and drawers with no hints on them of the contents! If we were here alone, we could have worked our way through every door looking for ones that interest us, but with the crowds it was just impossible. Opening a door requires someone else to close their door, and invasion of personal space is constant.

Information is somewhat scattered all over the place, but it was hard to get an impression of the overall layout when the vast majority of our time was spent just trying to negotiate around other people. Looking at the pictures here, I must have missed quite a few areas presumably because they were obscured by the masses of bodies!

I really recommend the organisers introduced some sort of maximum capacity, or mandatory online time slot booking, ensure children understand it’s not a playground, and provide at least a few words of description on openable hatches. It could be so much better, and doesn’t feel worth the current price.

Original review

Alexanderplatz ★★✰✰✰

This was the only place in central Berlin where I didn’t feel completely safe! Rubbish was all over the place, people were begging for money, plenty of people lurking in dark corners. Whilst the clock was interesting, it didn’t redeem the square itself.

No idea if we just got unlucky with timing, but I won’t visit here again unless I have to.

Note: No Google Maps review available, as “This place is currently more likely to receive content that violates Google’s policies. To prevent this, Google has turned off posting.”!

Aldi ★★★★★

Pretty standard ALDI with great prices and plenty of options, within easy distance of the nearby hotels and train station. Checkout was quick and efficient, nothing to complain about.

Original review (1 photo)

Day 5 (30th December): Tiergarten

This was meant to be a chill day, not sure how we ended up with 19,557 steps (7.65 miles) walked! We explored Tiergarten and did a bit of shopping at the other side of it, before getting the train back to our hotel then the airport.

berlin 30th

Victory Column ★★★★★

This column is accessed via 2 tunnels, each with 2 entrances, accessible from all sides of the roundabout. This makes it a convenient way to get from one side of Tiergarten to the other.

The tunnels nearby both had musicians in when we visited, and they gave it a very pleasant atmosphere. We didn’t go up the column itself, but the base is a great place to notice surrounding statues and look up information about the individuals.

Original review

Tiergarten ★★★★★

We walked all the way across Tiergarten, from Berlin Hbf to Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church starting with the riverside path. It was an excellent walk, and the park contained wide, open paths with plenty of options for navigation.

Part of the park was closed for some sort of event whilst we were there, and we had to reroute due to the park being split due to the zoo. Once you cross Lichtenstein bridge you have to go left or right, you can’t make your way through the South-West part of the park as that is actually the zoo.

Original review


Admittedly, Berlin had a very tough act to follow: Prague. However, we never really… found the unique appeal. As people who have spent a lot of time in London, Berlin felt exactly like that, just in German.

Sure, there is tons of history, tons of famous locations, plenty of restaurants, but the overall atmosphere was almost identical. I’m sure if we were more interested in clubs, or other things Berlin is known for, we might have had a better time.

As it is, Berlin was unfortunately the weakest of the 4 places visited. I’d happily go again, but only if it was for a specific event / reason: same as London! Additionally, of the cities we visited Berlin was the most likely to not have English menus, and a few people we spoke to spoke no English (or not to us, at least!). I’m hopefully not too much of an ignorant tourist, it was just a little surprising for such a globally visited city. I can of course get by with Google Translate, and it’s totally my obligation.

Unrelated to Berlin itself, I found it interesting that five of my reviews were automatically removed from Google Maps due to places being unreviewable. I can only assume this is due to antisemitism, although I’m not sure how a plaza (Alexanderplatz) can attract that.

My favourite part of Berlin? Well, visiting places like Checkpoint Charlie that I’ve read about for years, and as silly as it sounds… Currywurst sausages!