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5 Handpicked Christmas Market Breaks With 4-Star Hotels From €194pp

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Choose one of my handpicked Christmas market breaks to Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Berlin or Krakow, from only €194!

 

Some cities are best seen in winter and Christmas market breaks provide the best excuse to visit. Market stalls have the perfect stocking fillers, aromas of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine waft through the crisp cold air, and if you are lucky you might even catch a Christmas concert. Many markets open late November and stay open until the New Year so you can choose a pre or post Christmas break.

christmas market breaks

I have searched the web to bring you some of my favourite Christmas market breaks, so hopefully there will be a break here to suit you. All 4-star hotels are highly rated on Tripadvisor and all breaks are for three nights. If you want to travel at a different time, or for longer or shorter duration, just click on the links below and edit the search to suit your requirements.
 

 

 

Prague, 10th December, 3 Nights, €208pp

christmas market breaks

Prague’s Christmas markets are the perfect picture postcard. The old town square, Charles bridge and Prague’s famous castle are all magically illuminated – it is a stunning sight to behold. The old town square and Wenceslas Square are transformed with market stalls selling local hand crafts, traditional hearty food and plenty of mulled wine.
 

 

 
Enjoy school choirs performing in traditional costumes, or better still go to a classical concert. Housed in ancient churches and grand concert halls around the city, it will add a touch of style to your Christmas market break. Prague’s markets are open from 30th November to 6th January.
 

 

 
Fly from Dublin on Thursday the 10th of December and enjoy a three-night stay at the 4-star Art Hotel for only €208 – with breakfast included! This hotel offers free amendments before the 5th of December and a €10 deposit secures a booking. The Art Hotel is highly rated on Tripadvisor and was awarded a Certificate of Excellence.

View flights here €130pp

View hotel here €78pp
 

 

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Budapest, 5th December, 3 Nights, €294pp

Budapest Christmas market

Budapest has several Christmas markets, but Vörösmarty Square is the most popular. Gerbeaud House is transformed into an enormous Advent Calendar and a new window opens daily at 5pm. Street artists perform, Santa makes an appearance and there are plenty of places to relax and take it all in.
 

 

 
St Stephen’s Basilica, is lit up at night time and resembles a Disney like castle – it is spectacular. Take time to visit the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue, which are all UNESCO world heritage sites. Most markets open from 22nd November until 1st January. 
 

 

 
Fly from Dublin to Budapest on the 5th December and enjoy a three-night stay in the 4-star La Prima Fashion Hotel, with breakfast included for just €294pp. Rated as excellent on Tripadvisor, this is a great choice to explore all that Budapest has to offer.

View flights here €142pp

View hotel here €152pp
 

 

 

Berlin, 6th December, 3 Nights, €199

Christmas market breaks in Berlin

Berlin has a staggering 50 Christmas markets! Winter World at Potsdamer Platz offers ice skating and tobogganing and is perfect for families, while Alexanderplatz and Charlottenburg have traditional wooden stalls and beer houses. Most open late November but some close before New Year. For a full list of Christmas market dates click here. Don’t miss the Spandau market where rock concerts are usually held every Friday and there are over 500 stalls.
 

 

 
Try to make time to see some of Berlin’s top sights too, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate – the list is endless. 

Read my city guide to Berlin here.
 

 

 
Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 6th of December and enjoy a three-night stay in the highly rated Heckers Hotel for only €199 per person. This hotel receives excellent reviews on Tripadvisor and is superbly located to explore this vibrant city. This hotel rate also allows for free cancellation. 

View flights here €96pp

View hotel here €103pp
 

 

 

Krakow, 8th December, 3 Nights, €194!

christmas market breaks in Krakow

The old town of Krakow has Europe’s largest market square, and is packed with market stalls selling local hand crafts and tasty food. The city comes alive at night time with live bands playing in trendy basement clubs.
 

 

 
Krakow is a great choice for a city break at any time of year. The historical centre is very easy to navigate and I loved its relaxed vibe. Take time to visit the stunning Wawel castle, walk through the Jewish quarter to see Oscar Schindler’s factory, and if you can bear it, visit nearby Auschwitz . Krakow’s Christmas Market is open from the 27th November until 26th December.
 

 

 
Fly from Dublin to Krakow on the 8th of December and enjoy a three-night stay in the highly rated Ostoya Palace Hotel. Centrally located with great reviews on Tripadvisor, this is superb value to enjoy a Christmas market break in Krakow.  

View flights here €113pp

View hotel here €81pp
 

 

 

Vienna, 11th December, 3 Nights, €279pp

christmas market breaks

Christmas markets in Vienna have been a tradition since 1298. Would you believe there are over 20 different markets here? International choir singers perform free of charge and the Christmas atmosphere is truly magical. The Viennese Christmas Market in front of the City Hall is the most popular and even offers a specific children’s area, where they can learn how to make Christmas cookies and decorations.  
 

 

 
Vienna’s markets start a little earlier than most but most close on the 26th of December– see more here.  
 

 

 
Fly from Dublin on the 11th of December and enjoy a three-night stay in one of Vienna’s most popular hotels, the Zeitgeist Vienna Hauptbahnhof Zeitgeist Hotel. Rated as excellent on Tripadvisor this hotel will ensure a memorable stay in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities.

View flights here €104pp

View hotel here €175
 

 

 

Looking for more inspiration for Christmas market breaks? 

 

Read: Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Market Breaks 

 

This post contains affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.
 

 

 
Sarah

 

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City BreaksEurope

Europe’s Top 10 Christmas Markets

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Pottering around wooden market stalls, listening to carol singing and sipping mulled wine in crisp December air – visiting Christmas markets is a great way to kick off the festive season. But which one should you choose?

 
My top tip if you are visiting any of Europe’s Christmas markets is – watch your dates! Although some markets are open earlier, the majority do not not open until the last weekend of November. There is not much point booking Prague for the 22nd of November if the market doesn’t open until the 30th… All of these favourites are chosen with accessibility in mind, so there are direct flights from Ireland to all of the cities below. Check out my list of Europe’s top 10 Christmas markets and get planning…

Krakow | Berlin | Cologne | Budapest | Prague

Copenhagen | Vienna | Rome | Barcelona | Brussels

 

 

 

Krakow 

Krakow has one of Europes top Christmas markets

Home to Europe’s largest market square, Krakow is an an excellent choice for a Christmas market break. The massive square in the centre of the old town comes alive with hundreds of market stalls. Visit Wawel castle, the fascinating Jewish quarter, and if you are feeling up to it you can take a day trip to nearby Auschwitz. The Christmas Market is expeted to open from 26th of November to January 2nd 2022.

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Berlin

Berlin Christmas Markets

Believe it or not, Berlin has over 50 different Christmas markets to choose from. The Winter World at Potsdamer Platz has super activities including ice skating and tobogganing, and is great fun destination. The traditional Christmas Markets at Alexanderplatz and Charlottenburg house wooden stalls and beer houses.

Christmas markets are expected to open from the 22nd of November to the 29th December. And last but not least, the market in Spandau has over 500 stalls at weekends, with rock concerts every Friday – this usually closes on the 22nd of December. See more here.
 

 

 
Suffice to say Berlin has a market to cover all tastes! Of course with so many other sights to see and some great nightlife, Berlin is a great city to visit at anytime.

Read my city guide to Berlin here.

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Cologne

Cologne Christmas Markets

Cologne has been one of the most popular destinations for Christmas markets for many years now. Many choose to visit the large market near the Cathedral which offers live music and an ice skating rink.
 

 

 
However, there are several other Christmas markets in Cologne including a specific LGBT Christmas Avenue market, which has a great party atmosphere and lots of stage events. All markets are expected to open from 23rd November to 23rd December.

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Budapest

Budapest Christmas markets

Like many other cities Budapest offers several Christmas markets – the most popular is in Vörösmarty Square. Gerbeaud House is transformed into a giant Advent Calendar and each day a new window opens at 5pm. There are many street performances and Santa Claus programs, and lots of places to chill out and watch them.
 

 

 
At night time visit the market at St Stephen’s Basilica, the whole area is lit up like something from a Disney movie. Most Christmas markets do not open until 19th November, but they usually many remain open until 2nd January – this makes Budapest ideal for a post Christmas market break too.  See more here.

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Prague

Prague Christmas markets

Prague is the picture postcard of Christmas markets. With the old town square, Charles bridge and its famous castle all magically lit up, it is a stunning sight to see. Both the old town square and Wenceslas Square are transformed with market stalls offering local decorations, traditional hearty food and of course plenty of mulled wine.
 

 

 
You can enjoy the school choirs performing in traditional costumes or better still go to a classical concert. Housed in ancient churches and grand concert halls around the city, it will round off your weekend break in style. Markets are open from 27th November to 6th January, see more here.

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Copenhagen

Copenhagen Christmas markets

 

Copenhagen’s most popular market is at Tivoli Gardens, and it attracts over 1 million people each year. This winter wonderland comes with reindeer rides, rollercoasters and of course the traditional market stalls. The Nyhavn Christmas market is expected to open from 12th November to 22nd December, while Tivoli Gardens from the 19th November to 2nd January.
 

 

 
Copenhagen is also popular for a post Christmas break, where you can enjoy some fantastic entertainment and firework displays. See more here.  

Read: My guide to Copenhagen here

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Vienna

europes best christmas markets

Christmas markets in Vienna have been a tradition since 1298. Would you believe there are over 20 different markets here? There are international choir singers performing free of charge and the Christmas atmosphere is truly magical.
 

 

 
The Viennese Christmas Market  in front of the City Hall is the most popular and even offers a specific children’s area, where they can learn how to make Christmas cookies and decorations. Vienna’s Christmas markets start at various times, but most are expected to run from 17th November until 26th December – see more here.  

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Rome

Rome Christmas Markets

Rome may not offer markets on the same scale as some of it’s European counterparts, but that does not make it any less attractive. The Piazza Navona houses the annual Christmas market with traditional stalls and souvenirs. It is usually open until the 6th January, making it a good choice for a post Christmas break too. Santa makes regular appearances and there is a carousel to complete the festival atmosphere.
 

 

 
However, it is the magical crib displays and nativity scenes in numerous churches, that make Rome very special at Christmas time. What better time to visit the Vatican and the beauty of Rome.  

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Barcelona

Barcelona Christmas markets

Another market that dates back many years is Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llucia market. Dating from 1786 this once traditional market now has over 300 stalls selling everything from Christmas trees to Spanish tapas.
 

 

 
From the 27th November to 23rd December you can buy handcrafted Christmas decorations and enjoy plenty of festive cheer. There are elaborate crib displays and plenty of live entertainment for the whole family. Barcelona is also a great city for high street shopping too, you could easily do all your Christmas shopping in one weekend.

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Brussels

Brussels Christmas Markets

Brussels is becoming increasingly popular with visitors at Christmas time. The city is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 240 market stalls. It also offers tobogganing, ice skating and a massive Ferris wheel, covered in lights. The Christmas market is expected to open from 26th November to 3rd January, so Brussels is also a great option for post Christmas break.

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Munich

Munich Christmas market

Germany’s Christmas markets are renowned all over the world, and Bavaria’s capital has some of the best. Christmas Markets in Munich are expected to open from 22nd November through to 24th December 2021, and there are over 20 markets to choose from.  Check out my travel guide on the best Christmas markets in Munich.

 
Please note that all dates are correct at time of issue, but may change. Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is makde, but at no additional charge to you.

 

Like this post? You might like my best alternative Christmas market breaks.

 

 

Sarah

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3 Christmas Market Breaks, Budapest, Berlin or Krakow, 3 Nights, €199 or Less!

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Some cities are best seen in winter. Christmas decorations are everywhere, market stalls sell the perfect stocking fillers and aromas of roasted chestnuts and mulled wine waft through the crisp cold air. Of course winter time offers the best value too! Take your pick from my Christmas market breaks – all €189 or less!

 

Budapest

Budapest has several Christmas markets with Vörösmarty Square, being the most popular. Gerbeaud House is transformed into an enormous Advent Calendar and a new window opens daily at 5pm. Street artists perform, Santa makes an appearance and there are plenty of places to relax and take it all in. St Stephen’s Basilica, is lit up at night time and resembles a Disney like castle – it’s quite spectacular!  Most markets are open from the 27th of November to the 2nd of January but Vörösmarty Square opens from the 11th of November. Take time to visit the Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue which are all UNESCO world heritage sites!

Christmas market breaks

Fly from Dublin to Budapest on the 11th of December and enjoy a three night stay in the centrally located Agape apartments for only €198 per person.

Click here for more details.

 

Berlin

Berlin has a staggering 50 Christmas markets to choose from with some starting in early November so it’s a great choice for anyone who can’t travel in December. Winter World at Potsdamer Platz offers ice skating and tobogganing and is perfect for families.  Alexanderplatz and Charlottenburg have traditional wooden stalls and beer houses and open late November. Don’t miss the Spandau market where rock concerts every Friday and there are over 500 stalls! Try to make time to see some of Berlin’s top sights too, the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate – the list is endless. For more info on Berlin, read my blog here.

Christmas market breaks

Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 14th of December and enjoy a three night stay in the Ivbergs Hotel Charlottenburg for only €189 per person.

Click here for more details.

 

Krakow

The old town of Krakow has Europe’s largest market square, and is the picture postcard of Christmas markets. This enormous square is full with market stalls selling local hand crafts and hearty food, and is full of Christmas cheer. The city comes alive at night time with live bands playing in trendy basement clubs. Take time to visit the stunning Wawel castle, walk through the Jewish quarter to see Oscar Schindler’s factory and if you can bear it, visit nearby Auschwitz . Krakow’s Christmas Market is open from the 27th of November to the 23rd of December.

Christmas Markets Weekend in Krakow by The Travel Expert

Fly from Dublin to Krakow on the 6th of December and enjoy a three night stay in the centrally located Leone apartments for only €199 per person.

Click here for more details:

So the only problem now is, which one of my Christmas market breaks will you choose?  Please note that if the above dates don’t suit, check DEALFINDER to find the best possible prices for the dates you want to go.
  
Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by ClickandGo.com but all views, as always, are my own 🙂
Sarah

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5 Cities, 4 Stars, 3 Nights, ALL €199 Or Less!

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Thinking of city break but not sure where? I’ve got you covered! Take your pick from Prague, Rome, Berlin, Budapest or Barcelona. Thats 5 cities, 4 stars, 3 nights, ALL €199 or less!

Prague – €199

Prague

One of Ireland’s most popular city break destinations and once you visit, you will understand why. Not only is it visually beautiful but it combines medieval with contemporary in the best possible way. Wenceslas Square, Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, every where you turn there is an architectural masterpiece. One of its gems is that it is so compact, so you should get to see most of the city in your three day break. Once you have seen the sights make sure you check out Prague’s fantastic night life and of course their world famous beers!

Fly from Dublin to Prague on the 19th of December and enjoy a three night stay at the Atos Hotel for only €199!

Click here for more details.

 

Berlin – €199

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin by The Travel Expert

One of Europe’s culture capitals, Berlin’s modern history is evident on every corner.  Take a stroll along the Berlin Wall and marvel at the murals, see the soldiers at Checkpoint Charlie and catch the sunset at the Brandenburg gate. There are a staggering 175 museums to choose from and Berlin is home to some of the best nightlife in Europe! For more tips and advice on discovering this fantastic city, check out my blog here.

Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 13th of December and spend three nights in the 4* California am Kurfuerstendamm for only €199.

Click here for more details:

 

Budapest – €199

Budapest Christmas market

The romantic Danube splits Budapest into two cities, Buda on one side and Pest on the other – so technically you get two cities for the price of one!  The Banks of the Danube, the Buda Castle Quarter and Andrássy Avenue are all UNESCO world heritage sites so you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to sightseeing. The famous Christmas market at Vorosmarty Square is open from the 11th of November so you can enjoy the Christmas atmosphere with mulled wine and local crafts. Prices are very reasonable in Budapest too. Not only is this deal amazing value, but you should find that you won’t need too much spending money while you are there!

Fly from Dublin to Budpest on the 13th of December and enjoy three nights in the 4* Kings Hotel from only €199!

Click here for more details

 

Rome – €199

The Travel Experts top picks for Easter breaks

The Vatican, the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, need I go on?  You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate the stunning architecture that is all over. Rome is visually stunning and will blow you away no matter how many times you visit.  In between ancient buildings and UNESCO world heritage sites you will find designer shops and trendy restaurants. Rome is magical – go see it!

Fly from Dublin to Rome on the 30th of November and spend three nights in the 4* Delle Province hotel form only  €199 per person.

Click here for more details

 

Barcelona – €164

Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert reviews Barcelona

Full of famous landmarks like the Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, but Barcelona is as much about the simple things as the world famous sights. Strolling along the Ramblas, watching the street artists and stopping off for some tapas and a glass of Rioja is pretty special too. Barcelona is buzzing. There is great shopping, great nightlife and of course great food! You can also spend a day at the beach, take a trip to Port Aventura, Europe’s largest theme park, or visit one of the world’s biggest football clubs. It’s safe to say, there is something for everyone in Barcelona.

Fly from Dublin to Barcelona on the 13th of December and enjoy a three night stay in the 4* Zenit Borrell hotel for only €188.

Click here for more details

 

So there you have it, 5 cities, 4 stars, 3 nights, all €169 or less! The only decision to make is which one to choose?  Please note that if the above dates don’t suit, check DEALFINDER to find the best possible prices for the dates you want to go.

 

Prices are correct at the time of issue but are subject to change. This post was sponsored by ClickandGo.com but all views, as always, are my own 🙂

Sarah

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Christmas Market Breaks:

Christmas markets are very much back in vogue. Ryanair have added extra capacity to many cities throughout the winter with lots of low priced airfares available.  I chose Berlin as it has over 50 markets to choose from and something to appeal to everyone. Sip some mulled wine while enjoying Christmas carols at the traditional markets of Charlottenburg Castle or the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Check out one of the Christmas Rock concerts at the Spandau Old Town market or try Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run at the lively Potsdamer Platz market. For more info on Europe’s top Christmas markets read my blog here.

Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 1st or 8th of December and spend three nights at the Mark Hotel for only €199. Click here for more details.

Christmas market in Berlin by The Travel Expert as seen on SundayAM TV3

Girls Weekend Away:

Marbella is a great choice for a girls weekend away. There is plenty of style and glamour with a beachfront location, what more could you ask for! Sip a cocktail in Sinatras and simply people watch or dance the night away in the many bars or night clubs. There are lots of great shops in the old town that wont break the bank or if you want to flash the cash, there is no better place with lots of designer shops in the port to tempt you.

Fly from Dublin on the 6th of May and stay at the 3* San Cristobal Hotel for three nights for only €219 per person. Click here for more details.

The-Travel-Expert-offer-on-Marbella as seen on TV3

Family Holiday to Florida:

Florida is THE bucket list destination for families. There are over twelve theme parks and four waterparks so it is an adventure as well as a holiday! Enjoy the magic of Disney and marvel at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Shop till you drop at the outlets or swim with the Dolphins at Discovery Cove. I have chosen the 3* Ramada Gateway Kissimmee Hotel which is close to Disney but also offers a free shuttle bus to all the other main parks.

Fly from Dublin on the 8th of June and spend two weeks here for only €2399 based on two adults and 2 children. Click here for more details.

Universal Studios, Florida by The Travel Expert as seen on TV3

 

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Sarah
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Berlin, Christmas Markets, 2nd December, Flights & 4 Star Hotel, €278

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

There are are so many Christmas market breaks to choose from but for me Berlin is one of the best!

 

There are over 50 Christmas markets in Berlin so I think it is fair to say if Berlin doesn’t get you into the spirit of Christmas, nothing will! Enjoy shopping for local hand crafts while sipping some mulled wine at the traditional Charlottenburg Castle market. Listen to some gospel singers at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church market while gazing at the 20 meter high Christmas tree. Take in a Christmas Rock concert at the Spandau Old Town market where over 400 stands combine to bring you one of Berlin’s largest markets. And if you are looking for something a little different, check out the Winter wonderland in Potsdamer Platz. The market in the Sony Centre’s 4000 square meter event area is sure to please. If you are feeling adventurous you can try Europe’s largest mobile toboggan run or ice skate on the 500 meter open air rink!

Berlin, Christmas Markets by The Travel Expert

Of course the beauty of Berlin is that it’s one of Europe’s top culture capitals. You can choose from over 175 musems, marvel at the murals on the Berlin Wall, pass through Checkpoint Charlie and watch the sun go down over the Brandenburg gate. Berlin is a city that just has to be explored, for more tips and advice on discovering this fantastic city, check out my blog here. Fly from Dublin to Berlin on the 2nd of December and spend three nights in the highly rated Hotel Amano Grand Central, for only €278 per person. Located in the heart of Berlin in Mitte, you are within walking distance of the Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie.

 

Click here to book flights: €101pp

Click here to book hotel: €177pp

 

Prices are correct at time of issue but are subject to change. Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links where I receive a small commission if a booking is made.

 

Sarah

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Berlin City Break, Valentine’s weekend, 3 Nights, €259!

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Surprise your loved one with a weekend in Berlin for Valentine’s Day!

 

The city is steeped in history, there is so much to see and do, and it has some of the best nightlife you are likely to find in any European city. Wander around the historic centre, marvel at the Brandenburg Gate, see the city from Europe’s highest accessible building or chill out on one of its many squares with great German beer! If museums are your thing, there are 175 of them so I think you will find plenty here to satisfy you! Walk along the Berlin wall and meet with the US soldiers at checkpoint charlie, Berlin will astonish you at every corner.

The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery, Berlin Wall

With a city as big as Berlin it is important to stay central, although it has a fantastic public transport system, you don’t want to spend all your time on it. I found a great hotel, well located in trendy East Berlin, the Best Western Hotel City Ost. This gets great reviews on tripadvisor and was awarded a certificate of excellence.  The total price including flights and three nights accommodation on the 12th of February is only €259 per person.

Berlin is superb, I can’t say enough good things about it, go see it!

 

Click here to book: (Price shown is total cost for two people)

 

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Sarah

The Travel Expert

City BreaksDestinationsEuropeTravel Guides

My City Guide to Berlin

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Berlin, I finally got around to visiting a city that has been on my wish list for many years and boy was it worth the wait!

 

The atmosphere in Berlin is almost palpable. Walking around the city you cant help but be taken by the enormity of what happened here. The Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, all the various memorials and of course the numerous museums are all fascinating, even to someone who is not that up on her history! It is also renowned for amazing nightlife and must rival New York for the title of ‘the city that never sleeps‘. There are basement nightclubs, cocktail bars, craft beer houses and even beer cabins. You name it, Berlin probably has it.

What to see:

So where do I begin, there really is so much to see, I had four full days and really could have done with another four. Before you do anything, buy the Berlin Welcome Card. This allows you free transport on all buses, trains and the underground. It also gives you 25-50% off many top attractions and even some restaurants. If you are smart you can even use it to get to and from the airport to save on taxi fares. The train system is great and you will use it, as the city is too large to navigate on foot.

I would start at the Brandenburg Gate, it is the only remaining city gate which used to represent the separation of the city between east and west. It is extremely well kept and was one of the highlights for me. From there walk to the Reichstag building (German parliament) which has a spectacular glass dome with incredible views over the city. TOP TRAVEL TIP: You need to register to do this online to gain access otherwise you will have to stand in line for over two hours.

From here you can walk to the Jewish Holocaust Memorial complete with 2,711 concrete slabs, arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. Then on to the west side of the Berlin wall. Depending on energy levels you may be able to continue on to Checkpoint Charlie where you just have to get the obligatory photo with the American ‘GI’s”! Incidentally Check Point Charlie was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.

The Travel Expert, Sarah Slattery, Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie

Would you believe there are 175 museums in Berlin so I think it is safe to say you won’t get to see them all! The visit berlin website is worth checking out as it is best to try to plan what museums you want to see before you go. Museum Island has five world renowned museums and is considered part of UNESCO world heritage and that is probably the most popular choice. However if you are looking for something a little different try the museums of technology, science, the spy museum or the interactive DDR museum.

One of the things most people do when they tour a city is find a high point to get an aerial view. In Berlin there are several of these. The TV tower is the most popular. It is now an icon for Berlin and is the highest publicly accessible building in Europe. Try to book online for the best choice of tickets. Failing this you can see a similar view from “Panoramapunkt” at Potsdamer Platz – it’s outside so might be windier than the TV tower, but still very nice. It’s also only  €6.50 to enter, so also cheaper than the tower which starts at €13.00. The view from the dome of the Reichstag is very impressive too so try to plan in advance which one you want to see and it may save you some time and money.

The Reichstag Building, Berlin, Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert
The Reichstag Building

The east gallery of the Berlin wall for me was another of the highlights. It is a 1.3 km-long painted stretch of the former Berlin Wall and is the largest open-air gallery in the world, with over one hundred original mural paintings. The murals represent freedom and reconciliation and it is well worth a visit. I really enjoyed the experience and the combination of the bright coloured murals and the riverside setting makes for superb photographs.

The Berlin Wall, Sarah Slattery, The Travel Expert, Berlin
The East Berlin Wall

Berlin is full of wonderful squares too or ‘Platz’ as the locals call them. Alexanderplatz has plenty of market stalls and a typical beer house with outside tables and sometimes, live music. It is a great spot to relax and enjoy a German beer and take in the atmosphere. On the quieter side is Gendarmenmarkt, a square with stunning buildings and remarkable architecture. There are plenty of good restaurants here and lots of places to enjoy an alfresco coffee. Last but not least if you get nice weather, a boat trip along the Spree river is a nice way to see the city from the water.

Where to stay:

One thing that I did underestimate was the size of Berlin and how much there was to see. Yes, the underground system is remarkable and the S and U Bahn trains take you all over the city. For me though, I like to walk around a city and discover places that are not always in the guide books, I found it difficult to do this in Berlin. The tourist area close to the Brandenburg Gate is walkable and I would recommend staying near here if sightseeing is your main objective. Likewise if you are visiting for nightlife stay in east Berlin, Mitte, Friedrichshain or Kreuzberg are the most popular choices. I stayed in West Berlin near the famous Kurfurstendamm shopping district but I felt it was too far out of town, if I was to return, I would choose to stay in a more central location. The Adina Apartments at Checkpoint Charlie are a good choice, they are spacious and come with a kitchenette and have an indoor pool too.

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Brandenburg Gate, Berlin by The Travel Expert
Brandenburg Gate

What to do with the kids:

This was the first ‘proper’ city break that I have brought my kids on and although I would definitely do it again I would probably resign myself to the fact that you wont get to see everything you want to see. My kids are 7 and 4 so I couldn’t exactly drag them into the holocaust museum and there is only so much sightseeing kids can take!

On the other hand if you are looking to bring kids to a city, Berlin is a great choice as there is plenty for them to do too. Choose a hotel with a swimming pool, it is a great start to the day or else a great way to finish off a days sightseeing. The Lego discovery centre was a big hit with my two, mind you they are lego fanatics! You could not compare it to Legoland though, it is really only somewhere to spend one and a half to two hours at a maximum. Don’t bother with sealife and the aquadom, the one in Bray is just as good!

The aquadom is one of those things that sounds great in theory but is really just a lift that lasts five minutes so trust me, don’t waste your money! The DDR museum is a good choice as it is an interactive museum so unlike most museums, kids are encouraged to touch things and interact! The National History Museum has three huge dinosaur skeletons,  including the largest skeleton in the world, and let’s face it, kids love dinosaurs! The Zoo is one of the most popular in Europe and there are numerous technology and science museums that are very child friendly. My kids loved the Holocaust Memorial, obviously not for what it represents but because it is maze-like and they navigated their way through it.

Lego Discovery Centre, Berlin by The Travel Expert
Lego Discovery Centre

Where to eat:

There are numerous eateries all over the city but as I had my kids with me, we probably played it a little safe. Vapiano is a place you have to try, there are lots of them in Berlin, it is fast food but with an edge. There is a strong emphasis on fresh food with pasta, pizzas, antipasti and salads all ordered directly from the chefs in front of you, and prepared as you watch. Ask for your favourite dish and they will try to provide it. The modern interiors make you feel like you are somewhere special but the prices certainly don’t. A great choice for a quick stop or a leisurely lunch.

Another good find was Amici on Gendarmenmarkt square, excellent value for such a prime location and the food and design was very good. If you are short on time and trying to fit in some extra sightseeing you could try a currywurst (like a hotdog but with tomato /curry sauce), they are on every street corner and are the staple street food in Berlin! The 12 Apostles, close to museum island is a nice family restaurant if you have kids with you, good pizza, pastas etc. Just be aware that the 12 Apostles and other restaurants we found only accept cash and no credit cards! If you are planning to visit the Reichstag building the roof top restaurant here is excellent and is a good way to gain access to the dome, you will need to book in advance.

Vapiano, Berlin Restaurant by The Travel Expert
Vapiano Restaurant

Berlin has so much to offer that I can safely say I would recommend it for everyone. Over the last one hundred years, this is a city that has seen the rise and fall of the Nazis, was destroyed, rebuilt, and then divided into two very different ‘cities’. You get the distinct impression that the residents of Berlin both past and present can handle anything that is thrown at them, they just live for the moment and enjoy life. That is something that will resonate with me for a long time to come.

 

Sarah

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