Berlin’s confidence and restless energy is intoxicating. It’s an unpretentious city that doesn’t care what people think of it; it doesn’t settle and it never plays it safe. A place for the adventurous and the thrill-seeker; David Bowie said it best when he called Berlin “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.”
If you hail from the sort of place that locks down over winter, then Berlin – with its vibrant atmosphere – makes for an ideal weekend trip! It’s tenderness feels like it will never let you leave and it’s impossible to talk about this city without it turning into a declaration of love.
Here’s where you need to go on your Scandinavian Berlin getaway:
Where to Stay
The 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin will make hearts beat a whole lot faster – particularly if you’re a design lover – with its vibrant bedroom decor and quirky interiors. Guests can hang loose in the hotel lobby’s hammocks where they can refuel at any time by plucking a banana from the bunches at reception!
The hotel overlooks the Berlin Zoo, so if you’re lucky you might even be able to hear the monkeys over breakfast up on the roof terrace. The breakfast buffet is really fresh with loads of tasty treats, including home-made Currywurst and Shakshuka. And for the sweet-toothed amongst you, there’s warm rice pudding teamed with apple compote, as well as raw honeycomb.
And on top of all this, the hotel is environmentally conscientious.
Grab a Coffee
Bonanza Coffee Roastery, like most great discoveries, is a little bit off the beaten track and you probably wouldn’t find it without a local leading the way (unless you had say, a really helpful insider guide like this one). It’s located just a stone’s throw away from Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, so don’t be confused when you turn off into a little side street and walk past ponies and donkeys, you’re still in Berlin, we promise!
Keep going until you come to the courtyard of a redbrick factory building, your caffeinated rewards will be plentiful! The place has a real Scandinavian feel to it – even though it was designed by Dutch Marick Baars – and is so spacious that it will never feel over-crowded. They serve really great coffee; try their frap – with crushed salted pistachio garnish!
Monday – Friday 09:00am – 6.00pm
Saturday & Sunday 10:00am – 6.00pm
Soda — which first opened its flagship shop in Munich — holds an unrivalled collection of design and off-beat titles. Its crisp white interiors invite you to have a lengthy browse through the shop’s range of art books and magazines including titles covering: architecture, fashion and interior design. The store caters for Berlin’s international audience offering hard-to-find publications including Novembre, Frankie magazine and Marfa Journal.
D – 10119 Berlin
Monday – Friday 11:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday 12.00am – 7:00pm
Mykita is a brand that really embodies the futuristic visions of the city and feels like the perfect opportunity to give your personal style a little bit of an upgrade. The eye glasses design and manufacture brand was launched in 2003, making it light years ahead of the city’s start-up scene. The ultra weightless steel frames are photochemically etched, the same way computer chips are made and the glasses’ hinges don’t need screws, an amazing innovation! You’ll be hard-pressed to find wilder glasses than these, even Queen B has been spotted in a pair.
Monday – Friday 11.00am – 8.00pm
Saturday 11.00am – 6.00pm
Chrome Store is a vintage-lovers paradise; located in Neukölln, this treasure chest stocks both vintage designers — find anything from a Céline handbag to an old school adidas t-shirt — and new up-and-coming labels including Thone Negrón, Das Cape Mädchen and Maiami.
Monday – Friday 13:00 – 8:00pm
Saturday 11:00am – 7:00pm
The Happy Shop Alliance concept store is a mecca for Berlin’s fashionistas. Designers include Andreea Tavitian, whose leather handbags are like mouthwatering pieces of candy with their bold and colourful graphics. Other names worth checking out are: Waxman Brothers, whose wax cotton coats in bright colours are top of our wish list as well as ppaayyss’ crazy knits.The space also includes a cafe and co-working area for the city’s young creatives.
Tuesday – Friday 11:00am – 7:00pm
Saturday 12:00 – 5:00pm
Ambra Fiorenza is an independent fashion designer-come-goddess who creates striking, ethereal garments printed with the most stunning screen prints and tie-dyes. We visited her Berlin-based studio last year after falling in love with her amongst the stylish crowds of Berlin Fashion Week and discovered what it takes to go it alone as a designer.
Temporary Showroom is a fashion-lovers wet dream, a beautiful spacious multi-floored area stocked to the brim with the hippest new young designers coming out of Europe, there’s lots of Scandinavian favourites too, including Stine Goya and Han Kjøbenhavn. Originally founded as a collective artist’s studio, the space has now transformed into a towering temple to the fashion deities and we’re pretty thankful. Their sneaker collection is also unrivalled!
Monday – Saturday 11:00am – 7:00pm
The best way to get to grips with the city is to wander through its wide streets which seem to stretch on for miles.
Head to Neukölln first, the city’s hippest neighborhood which boasts a bustling art scene. Try LoopHole space or Cell63 – and a weekly Saturday farmers market at Schillerkiez’s Herrfurthplatz, great for organic goodies.
Kreuzberg is another must-visit area of Berlin; take a wander through Tempelhofer Freiheit, a former airfield, followed by the East Side Gallery which displays over 105 paintings from artists all over the world painted on section of the old Berlin Wall. If you do one thing during your time in the city, this should be it.
Walk, run, cartwheel, whatever you like, just go!
The Vabali spa is the perfect place to unwind in the evening after a long day of urban exploring. And in amongst the bustle of Berlin, it can feel you’ve entered an entirely different domain where relaxation is King. There’s eleven different saunas – both indoor and outdoor – as well as steam rooms, relaxation rooms, massage pavilions, and a Kneipp basin. There’s also indoor and outdoor pools if you fancy a dip. And don’t worry if you forget your bather, vabali spa is a textile free area – apart from the restaurant where, sorry, but you will have to wear a bathrobe – so you’ll be able to fully embrace German Freikörperkultur (free body culture).
There’s an array of complimentary treatments handed out in front of the saunas – choose from a coconut scrub or chocolate masks, good enough to eat! You can supplement these with a choice of massages and other wellness treatments. To complete the wholesome experience vabali’s WellFit restaurant serves fresh, regional organic food and drink.
Monday – Sunday 09:00am – 00:00pm
Clärchens Ballhaus has been a Berlin institution since it was first opened back in 1913 by Fritz Bühler. After Bühler tragically died in the first world war, his widow Clara – who gave the hall its name – took over.
The stunning building has weathered the turmoil of the 20th century well though. A highlight of the Clärchens Ballhaus is the Spiegelsaal, the mirror saloon, whose faded decor whispers of past splendours. There are even notable tracks left on the wall by WWII aerial bombs and stray bullets – relics from the fierce Battle of Berlin.
Depending on the day of the week, you’ll be transported back into different decades from waltz, to swing or disco. And if you’re unsure if you’ve got the right moves, don’t worry, they offer dance classes too!
Opening Hours: from 11am daily, until the last guest leaves.
Do you have any Berlin tips to add? Share them in the comments!