For Christmas this year, we went home to Norway to celebrate the holidays with my family. We booked tickets last minute and they ended up being fairly expensive so to get our moneys worth, I wanted to add another destination to our trip. I don’t know why I always think I’ll get a good deal if I wait another day or week to book the tickets. Intercontinental tickets tend to be more expensive and I recommend booking those as soon as you know you’re going. Traveling within Europe is usually fairly affordable and more flexible for last minute planning.
New Years eve is usually a very affordable day to travel so for the past three years, we’ve spent the last day of the year flying home from Norway and landed just in time for dinner, but so jetlaget we’re in bed by 10 pm on New Years Eve. Not that exciting, I know. My birthday is right after New Years Eve and even though this was a big one, I didn’t want to have a big celebration. After all the holiday festivities, I am ready to detox and get back into the routine of everyday life.
We decided to go somewhere around Europe for New Years as a double celebration and ended up with Berlin! We debated different places to go and I used some of my top travel research resources to find the best place to go (more to come on that). I had never been to Berlin so I was excited to explore the city.
I did not prepare for how cold Berlin would be and I made the mistake of leaving my big winter parka jacket in Norway so I was freezing the entire time. If you’re going to Berlin during the winter season, I’d recommend bringing tons of layers, gloves, a beanie, a huge scarf and a knee length warm coat.
Where to stay in Berlin
We stayed at the Hilton hotel in the Mitte region, which was a great starting point to explore the city. The rooms were fairly big for European hotels and I like having all the amenities of breakfast in bed with 24 hour room service. It’s convenient with a subway station right outside, it’s close to the main shopping street area on Friedrichstraße and in walkable distance to almost anything in the downtown area.
What to do in Berlin with 24 hours
- Berlin Wall
- Brandenburger Tor
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
- City Air Balloon ride
- Eat sausages and drink beer
Brandenburger Tor is one of the key monuments in Berlin. At the plaza in front, you can see some of the larger embassies along with really cool architecture. During our visit, the plaza was filled with news vans and people were preparing for the fireworks show the next day.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was so special to experience. You know the history, but to see this kind of reminder was incredible. The memorial spot is huge and has these concrete blocks in various sizes with narrow tunnels in between. Right across the street you can see where Hitler’s old bunker used to be. The German government did not want his bunker to exist as reminder and destroyed it a while back. If you have extra time, they have plenty of guided walking tours where they go more into detail of the history behind each monument.
The first day when arriving in Berlin, I noticed this hot air balloon up in the sky and thought it was just one of those commercial ballons flying around. After a while I noticed that it kept going up and down, which made me realize this was a thing you could go up in! I immediately wanted to go up, but we decided to get lunch first and I forgot all about it. We were supposed to go back the day we were leaving, but because it was New Years Day, it was closed. In other words, I have to go back to Berlin just so I can take this hot air balloon!
I forgot to take a picture of all the sausage and beer, but trust me it’s delicious. We went to Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt because it was close to our hotel, but it was a great spot! Very typical German with wood interior design, sausage, sauerkraut and beer on the menu.
What to do in Berlin with 48 hours
- Walk along Spree river
- Museum Island
- Postdamer Platz
- Shopping (Mall of Berlin or Ka De We)
- Walking tour or walk around to see amazing mixed architecture
I love walking around and getting lost in a new city. Berlin was no different and the walk along Spree river is really nice. On one side of the river you can see museum island, which is filled with interesting museums and grand architecture. On the other side you’re close to Alexanderplatz and the east side gallery of the Berlin wall.
Alexanderplatz is a huge plaza where they have the famous TV tower. You’ll also find a huge mall here. We walked along the river and up along Oranienburger Street to get to Alexanderplatz and I loved the area. The narrow streets had that cozy European city feel with small mom & pop shops on every corner. Great area for shopping or a cup of hot chocolate while watching people go by outside.
While walking around one day we spotted these telephone booths filled with books along the sidewalk. After loser inspection, we realized they were free mini libraries. How cool is that?
What to do in Berlin for New Years Eve
I love traveling during the holidays because everything is decorated with string lights and you get most big cities to yourself. We decided to celebrate New Years in Berlin this year and didn’t have set plans until we arrived in Berlin. I strongly advice you to book things in advance as you need reservations for almost anything on New Years Eve. We got lucky and the concierge at our hotel helped us get reservations for both dinner and the fireworks show.
We had dinner at Manon, which was amazing! It’s a traditional steak and seafood restaurant with great value. We were supposed to see the fireworks at Brandenburger Tor, but due to the recent terror attack we were advised to stay clear of crowds. Along with the freezing weather, we decided to find a sky bar to see the fireworks instead. Solar was only a few blocks away from our hotel and after securing our reservations we walked over. Is was fairly expensive at 75 euro per person, but it was New Years Eve so everything would be expensive. It was well worth it to be inside, have that view and a few glasses of champagne with great music.
Have some “Gluhwein” or mulled wine at the Christmas markets along with sausages or waffles with ice cream. They have markets all over the city, but I have marked a few on the map below.
I couldn’t get the video in here, but it was so nice to have a 360 degree view of the fireworks without worrying about the crowd, the cold weather or sparks flying everywhere. In Berlin, anyone can fire up fireworks anywhere they would like which made me quite nervous.
We focused mostly on the Mitte/downtown region for our trip, but I am sure there are tons more to explore! Have easy access to everything the city has to offer by downloading the offline Berlin map within the Google app. Save the map below and have my recommendations with you in your back pocket. I have heard great things about Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Charlottenburg as well if you’re looking to explore more of Berlin.
Have you ever been to Berlin? What was your favorite thing to do, see or eat? Where should I go next?
Until Next Time, Hadet På Badet!