The German capital has managed to maintain an undeniable buzz after all these years. These days, however, the city’s innovative restaurants and world-class galleries are just as famous as its hard-partying techno clubs. Berlin has always had a powerful creative streak, one that has remained strong even as the city matures. While 36 hours may not be enough time to see it all, the following itinerary can help you pack plenty of culture into a short stay.
Afternoon: Start your visit off with a solemn examination of one of the more troubled parts of the city’s past. The Jewish Museum Berlin, which opened in 2001, provides in-depth insight into the history of Judaism in Germany from the fourth century to the present day. While the thought-provoking exhibits are the main draw, the striking architecture by Daniel Libeskind greatly adds to the overall complexity of the museum. Afterwards, walk to the nearby Berlinische Galerie, which features a well-curated mix of modern and contemporary art.
Evening: For a glimpse of the cutting-edge of Berlin’s rapidly evolving dining scene, head to Nobelhart & Schmutzig, a Michelin-starred restaurant that only serves food harvested, foraged or raised near Berlin. That means no olive oil, black pepper, vanilla or other common imported staples. It might sound a tad rigid, but the results are eye-opening. After dinner, swing by the classic Victoria Bar for sensational craft cocktails.
Morning: Breakfast at Roamers in a hip enclave of Neukölln is an absolute must, although you’ll want to arrive early before the hordes of Instagram influencers descend en masse. The leafy interior of the café may be almost too photogenic for its own good. Nevertheless, the gorgeously garnished toasts and brunch dishes are worth the early wake-up call. Next, delve into the nuances of Berlin’s most famous artistic medium: street art. Urban Nation explores the history of graffiti and muralism as both a tool of political protest and expression.
Afternoon: You’re going to want plenty of time to explore the dazzling architecture and fascinating exhibits of Museum Island. In lieu of a sit-down lunch, grab either one of the butter-drenched cinnamon buns or a savoury Brötchen (roll) at Zeit für Brot bakery in Mitte, then make your way to the Neues Museum, which houses the famed bust of queen Nefertiti. Pack in as many of the other museums as you can manage.
Evening: For dinner, plan to dine at Panama, a whimsical eatery that serves truly inspired global cuisine in a psychedelic space decked out with contemporary art. It’s easy to while away a whole evening here, but if you find yourself craving a nightcap, wander over to Tiger Bar next door.
Morning: For a classic German breakfast, it’s hard to go wrong with the impeccably elegant Café Einstein Stammhaus, a historic Viennese-style spot with a lovely garden out back. Since the café has its own roastery, all the coffee is excellent, as are the platters of eggs, cheeses and cold cuts. For a decadent start to the day, the warm, flaky apple strudel served in a puddle of luscious vanilla custard sauce is sublime. If you can bear to tear yourself away from the space, visit The Feuerle Collection, an exceptional private art collection housed in a World War II bunker.
Afternoon: For the grand finale, catch a concert or dance performance in the grand Spiegelsaal (mirror hall) at Clärchens Ballhaus, a ballroom dating back to 1913. Although the current owners restored much of the space, they also intentionally left certain parts with a touch of dilapidation. The cracks in the mirrors and the fading paint add to the ambiance. Should you find yourself feeling famished after showing off your dance moves, the beer garden in the courtyard out front serves an textbook schnitzel.
Where to stay
Budget: The Circus Hostel
Mid-range: Monbijou Hotel
High-end: Hotel Zoo
Holiday Rental: Gorki Apartment