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10 May 2021   |   Blog   |   

48 Hours in Berlin with Sports Travel International

Berlin has long been known as a hub of culture and the creative industries. It is famed for its festivals, nightlife, and active role in modern contemporary arts. The city is home to no less than 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites; Museum Island; the Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin; and the Berlin Modernism Housing Estates.

With rich political history, a plethora of unique and intriguing architecture, as well parks, zoos, and plenty of open spaces to explore, there is always something to see or do in the German capital.  Berlin also boasts a thriving food and drink scene. The city houses some 65 craft breweries and in excess of 350 restaurants catering to vegetarians and upwards of 80 tailored to vegan diets!

Offering so much to see, do, create and discover; it can be hard to know how to fit the most in to a short break in Berlin. Fortunately, here at Sports Travel International, we’ve had a few ideas. Here’s our guide to our perfect 48 Hours in Berlin!

Leichtathletik Berlin 27.09.2015
BMW Berlin Marathon

Getting into the City 

The distance from Berlin Brandenburg Airport to the city centre (Alexanderplatz) is around 27 kilometres / 16.8 miles. By car, the journey time is 45 mins. However, the easiest, cheapest, and most efficient means of transport, from the airport to the city centre, is by public transport, in particular by train.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport has two train stations. It is a maximum 10-minute walk from Terminal 1 Arrivals and Terminal 2 Arrivals to the trains. The RE7 and RB14 offer the most frequent connection to the city centre, There is a travel option to and from the airport every 5 to 10 minutes. It is also possible to travel to the city centre by Intercity train and S-Bahn S9, however the Intercity runs less frequently and S-Bahn S9 (via Terminal 5) takes 15 to 20 minutes more to reach the city centre. The price for a ticket is €3.60 for adults and €2.60 for children (aged 6 up to 14 years).

DAY 1

Arriving into Alexanderplatz

Hosting more than 360,000 visitors daily, Alexaderplatz is, by some accounts, the most visited site in the city of Berlin, and the perfect place for any tourist to start their adventure. Right in the heart of the city, Alexander Platz, or ‘Alex’, is set in the centre of Berlin’s Mitte district and surrounded by many tourist attractions including the Fernsehturm (TV tower), the Nikolai Quarter and the Rotes Rathaus (Red city hall) which is situated nearby. It is certainly worth taking some time to explore when you arrive. From the top of the Fernsehturm you can enjoy an impressive 360-degree panorama over the city. Tickets for the speedy lift in the tower start at €15.50.

Wandering away from Alexanderplatz you will be trated to some impressive, lesser known landmarks of the city, including St. Mary’s Church and Neptunenbrunnen (Neptune Fountain).

Museums and More

Of all the museums in Berlin the DDR Museum gives you a unique insight into life behind the Iron Curtain in East Berlin. The museum offers a uniquely interactive visitor experience, and is one of the MUST – SEE museums of the city – even if you’re on a limited time!

Just over the river from the DDR, and stood impressively on the banks of Museum Island, the next place on our must see tour is the imposing, Baroque style, Berlin Cathedral (or Berliner Dom). Although a place of worship has stood on this site since the 1450s, the current structure is the 4th incarnation. The building was completed in 1905 and restored after the second world war.

The cathedral itself features a whole host of styles. Renaissance, Brick Gothic, Baroque, Neoclassical, and Prussian historical architecture. Inside you can admire the ornate frescoes and pillars, but that’s not where the delights of the Beliner Dom end. You can head upstairs onto the cathedral’s Dome Walkway. Here, you can enjoy fantastic panoramic views over Berlin. Alternatively, sink down to the Hohenzollern Crypt. One of Europe’s most important royal burial places. In the crypt you will find several examples of late-Gothic style coffins and monuments.

Berliner Dom on the bank of Museumsinsel – overlooking the River Spree

Berliner Dom itself is situated on the aptly named Museumsinsel (Museum Island). Here you will find an absolute treasure trove for any fans of history, art, culture and curiosities. Museumsinsel was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1999.

Museum Included on Berlin’s Museumsinsel Include…   
  • The Altes Museum (Old Museum) was completed in 1830 on the orders of Karl Friedrich Schinkel.
  • The Neues Museum (New Museum) was constructed in 1859 according to plans by Friedrich August Stüler, The museum was destroyed during World War II, however was rebuilt under the direction of David Chipperfield for the Egyptian Museum of Berlin. It re-opened in 2009.
  • The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) was also designed by Friedrich August Stüler and was completed in 1876. The museum was constructed to host a collection of 19th-century art donated by banker Joachim H. W. Wagener
  • The Bode Museum can be found on the island’s northern tip. It opened in 1904 under the name of the Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. The museum specialises in sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art.
  • The Pergamon Museum was constructed in 1930. It contains several reconstructions of historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
  • The Humboldt Forum, the newest museum on the island, opened in late 2020 in the Berlin Palace opposite the Lustgarten park. It incorporates the Ethnological Museum of Berlin and the Museum of Asian Art.

To make the most of the attractions on Museumsinsel, why not invest in one of these Berlin Welcome passes?

The Berlin Pass

The ultimate pass for sightseeing in the German capital. The Berlin Pass offers admission to over 60 attractions across the city. The list includes the top museums on Museumsinsel.

Berlin WelcomeCard

This 72-hour pass is perfect if you’re planning a slightly longer break in the capital. The welcome card includes a transportation pass and  free entry to ALL the museums on the island. You’ll also get discounts on hundreds of other attractions elsewhere in the city.

Stop for Lunch

There are loads of traditional, German dishes that should be on your ‘must do’ list while you’re in Berlin. Here’s a few of our favourites;

  • Currywurst
  • Spätzle
  • Schnitzel
  • Eisbein
  • Bratwurst
  • Pretzels

Although often considered a meat lovers paradise, due in no small part I’m sure to the seemingly endless variations of the humble sausage on offer all over the city; Berlin has undergone somewhat of a food revolution in recent years. The city now boasts food options from every corner of the world, including some of Europe’s finest gluten- free (gluten-frei) and vegan restaurants and eateries.

If you fancy something completely different, why not head over to Hackescher Markt for a bite. Around the distinctive, red brick S-bahn station, the square below offers a variety of eating options and is also the gateway to Berlin’s famed bar and nightlife scene. Here, you can also get a quick & interesting glimpse into pre-WWI Berlin.

Green Space and Time to Relax 

Chances are, if you’re on a Sports Travel International trip, you’ll be taking on an amazing event on Sunday morning like the BMW Berlin Marathon or the Generali Berlin Half . So, you might want to spend some time relaxing your legs ahead of your race tomorrow. Fortunately, there are plenty of green spaces in Berlin, where you can relax, unwind, and prepare for tomorrow’s race.

A Stroll through History

Just a short walk from the Museuminsel you will find yourself strolling down one of Berlin’s most notable streets, Unter den Linden. As the name suggests, the street is named after the tress that line the sides of the grassy pedestrian mall. The boulevard runs from The City Palace, on Museum Island, to the iconic Brandenburg Gate. As you stroll, under the shade of the trees be sure to look out for some of the city’s most iconic sights like the Berlin City Opera, the River Spree (offering stunning views back to Berlin Cathedral), the Old Palace, Bebelplatz and the Cathedral of St. Hedwig, and the impressive statue of King Frederick II of Prussia.

Although both the Berlin half and full Marathon feature the Brandenburg Gate en route, taking some time to appreciate it is a real must. This huge, 18th Century, neoclassical monument was built on the site of a former city gate, situated the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel.

The Brandenburg Gate

Throughout its history, the Brandenburg Gate has been the site of some of Germany’s most significant and at times tumultuous moments, and it once stood as part of the barrier between East and West Berlin, the Gate now stands as a symbol, not just of German, but of European, unity and peace.

The Brandenburg Gate is also a significant site and symbol of hope for runners in Germany. It was here, in 1990, the the Berlin Marathon first passed through the gate, just months after the wall had fallen and indeed before the reunification of Germany in October 1990. Roger Robinson describes that moment in his book When Running Made History. 

Passing under the Brandenburg Gate arches, we clapped, cheered, raised our skinny arms in victory, hugged one another, paused to pat the stonework for luck, openly wept, took pictures, posed for pictures, ducked clumsily round to go through the Gate again, shook hands, linked arms, and said “Guten Tag” to innumerable Japanese and Italians. I have never been kissed by so many soggy-bearded foreigners. 

Into the Tiergarten

Known as the green lung of the city, Tiergarten Park is Berlin’s most popular inner city park. The history of the park can be traced back as far as 1527. Tiergarten Park has been at the heart of  Berlin city life for centuries. In summer the park is popular with joggers, cyclists, walkers, and, of course, those who want simply to relax in the sun. In winter, it is sometimes possible to go ice skating on some of the park’s ponds.

The park is home to Germany’s oldest Zoo. The Berlin Zoological Garden was opened in 1844, and these days is the most visited zoo in Europe. Each year, more than 3.3 million visitors, from all over the world, pass through the gates.

The park is home to some of the City’s most notable statues and monuments such as, The Victory Column and several WW2 memorials, including the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma victims of National Socialism. It is also close to some of the city’s other most notable sites, such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, and the central square, Potsdamer Platz.

The Berlin Marathon starts (and finishes) on Straße des 17. Juni, which runs east–west through heart of the Tiergarten. So perhaps the Park would be the perfect place for a warm up jog, or a gentle walk to get you ready for your big day!

Day 2 

It goes without saying that your Sunday in Berlin will start running either the BMW Berlin Marathon or the Generali Berlin Half .

The beauty of being on a Sports Travel International tour however, is that we pick your hotels in the most convenient locations, and make sure you’re sorted for transportation to and from your event. So, if you have the energy, there is plenty of time left to explore Berlin.

The East Side Gallery

Without doubt the coolest and most creative way to experience the relics of the Berlin Wall is by taking a trip to Berlin’s East Side Gallery. This open air gallery in the heart of the city features a series of murals painted directly onto 1,316 m of what remains of the wall. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings, created in 1990, by artists from 21 different countries. It was painted on the east side of Berlin, on the “hinterland mauer”, which closed the border to West Berlin.

This symbol of European Unity attracts some 3 million visitors a year. Particularly iconic segments of the wall include Dmitri Vrubel’s Fraternal Kiss, and Birgit Kinders’s Trabant Breaking Through the Wall.

The gallery is a unique and memorable way to experience the infamous Berlin wall. If you do go, be sure to pack a camera, to capture some of the postcard famous images for yourself. Warschauer Straße and Ostbahnhof railway stations offer excellent start points for a walk along the gallery, which could be the perfect short walk, to stretch your legs following a marathon effort.

Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, & The Holocaust Memorial 

Other unmissable landmarks of Germany’s first city include the Reichstag, the great German parliament building. Inside, you will find the most impressive dome which offers a 360-degree view of the surrounding city below. The main debating chamber of parliament can also be seen, below, from inside the dome. It offers a unique way to get an inside look at German politics today.

Checkpoint Charlie was perhaps most famous of all the crossing points of the Berlin Wall. These days ‘Checkpoint C’ is home to both the open-air “BlackBox Cold War” exhibition and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The latter of which, with over 850,000 visitors a year, is one of the most popular museums in all of Germany.

Before leaving the German Capital, you might want to pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial consists of close to 3000 concrete slabs or “stelae”, arranged to form grid pattern across a 19,000 metre square field. The stelae are 2.38 metres (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 metres (3 ft 1 in) wide and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.7 metres (7.9 in to 15 ft 5.0 in). At the memorial, you will find an attached  “Place of Information”  which holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims.

Retail Therapy

If however, you have had enough of sightseeing after your race and simply want to relax and enjoy a bit of retail therapy, Berlin will not disappoint. Here at Sports Travel International, we pride ourselves on selecting high quality city hotels. Our hotels have great facilities and, of course, are in the best location for your race day and tour experience. But, we also select hotels within easy reach of public transport and close to some of the most popular shopping areas in all of Germany.

From the famous 6 story Ka-De-We department store, with over 100 years of history and offering over 650 000 square feet of the best in high- end and luxury retail, to the ever intriguing Mauerpark Flea Market with its many hand crafted gifts, antiques, artisan eateries (including great GF and vegan options), street performers, and more; Berlin is a delight for every kind of shopper.

Then there’s Bikini Berlin – The Concept Shopping Mall. A first of its kind in Germany.  Here, you will find a wide range of high quality fashion and shoes, as well as great collections of modern design. There are ‘pop-up boxes’, where both established shops and new start-up businesses can temporarily present their products. There is always something new to be found. The mall and its terrace look out over the monkey enclosure of Berlin Zoo. From the food market at Bikini you can enjoy spectacular, panoramic views over the zoo and the wider Berlin cityscape. This could be the perfect ending to your perfect weekend in Berlin.

Do it ALL with Sports Travel International 

From historical sites to cultural delights, parks, open-spaces, shopping and more; there is so much to see and do in the German Capital, you might struggle to fit it all in. But, with ideally located hotels, and second to none staff services; you can do it all with Sports Travel International. What’s more, whatever your distance preference, our range of Berlin races mean that you can enjoy this great city in the best way we know how… By running it!

Official tour partner for the biggest races on the planet