Berlin was one of those places that so many people talk about and love, me on the other hand I didn’t expect to love it quite as much.
Until I visited for a long weekend last November – December. Naturally the Christmas markets were top of my list to see. I have a blog post dedicated to a number of Berlin Christmas markets here.
I expected the café scene to be fairly big after hearing about it from a number of people, which it was – if you love coffee, you NEED to visit! – but I didn’t know what to expect from the vegan foodie scene. Spoiler: I’m happy to report that I was very pleasantly surprised, but more on that later.
If you’re looking for a long weekend getaway this year, Berlin is a must. Read on to discover how I spent my 72 hours in Berlin.
After arriving at 9.40am in Berlin at Schönefeld airport I popped to the tourist desk, which is located just outside of the arrival doors (you literally exit and turn hard right and it’s there), to purchase the Berlin Welcome card for 72hrs (cost for the standard 72hr ABC area card is 32€). The Berlin Welcome card is incredibly usual for travelling around Berlin on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn and buses. Making all your travelling needs catered for without you having to worry about continuously buying a daily ticket.
The next most important thing was dropping off my bags at my sister-in-laws apartment, and then decided to wonder round Berlin. One place I researched before coming to Berlin was a vegan doughnut café called Brammibal’s Donuts, so naturally I had to sample a couple, especially as I needed the sugar rush after a very early morning – hello 2am alarm. Stay tuned for my thoughts further in this travel guide.
After sampling some amazing vegan donuts I was in need of some coffee, so I headed for the best café in Europe: The Barn (fyi: they won this award in 2018, so you know they’re good). If you like a fruity and gently roasted coffee then this is the place for you. Plus they have oat milk, so I was very happy.
After a much needed caffeine boost I headed to Alexanderplatz to explore one of the Christmas markets. Naturally, I also ending up in the amazing department store Galeria Kaufhof. The beauty and food departments were particularly good – hello mini Sephora and apple pie coffee syrup! I realise that might sound disgusting to some of you, but I love, correction: LOVE apple pie, so of course I purchased a bottle. (If you love apple pie too then make sure you check out my vegan apple pie recipe here).
Exploring the Christmas market was great, but I wanted to do a little bit of sightseeing as I had never been to Berlin before. So I jumped on a train and headed to Brandenburger Tor to see the Brandenburg Gate, which gathered a crowd even in the evening, and accidentally, or not so accidentally, ended up in the Starbucks that was directly opposite this gorgeous piece of architecture.
In the evening I grabbed a table at Chez Dang, a Thai restaurant that had pretty good reviews online, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Although I didn’t venture outside my comfort zone with the cuisine, the tempura veggies and Thai green curry with tofu was very delicious. So much so that I swear I almost licked the bowl clean.
I’m usually someone who wakes up early, especially on holiday – I’m one of those people who wants to do a million and one things in the shortest space of time haha. However on day 2 I woke up a lot later than normal, because I had fallen ill with a very had head cold (why me?!).
After a slow start I headed back to the Christmas market at Alexanderplatz to sample some of the treats that were on offer. You can check out all about the Berlin Christmas markets I visited here. I then travelled to the Weihnachts Zauber Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market and spent a while there soaking in the atmosphere in the tented area restaurant area. At this point I think I used up most of my energy so it was the perfect time to sit down and chill.
On the way back to the apartment I stopped off at a pretzel place called Ditsch inside Alexanderplatz station, although I believe they have a few dotted around Berlin. I’m not a big pretzel person, but these ones converted me.
Sadly due to being ill I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening at the apartment to rest and chill out, plus it was an excuse to play more of Overcooked on Switch.
Hallelujah I’m starting feel better!
Where else could I go for breakfast/brunch but Brammibal’s Donuts – again. Brammibal’s does the BEST vegan donuts I’ve ever had. After trying them on the first day I decided to buy a box of four: apple pie, hibiscus, maple toasted coconut and chocolate peanut fudge (see photo below). All of them were so yummy it was hard not to eat them all, but the apple pie and toasted coconut ones were especially tasty.
Back to The Barn for a flat white and a little work, and a little wonder to burn off my sugar rush before indulging on another amazing vegan find: Lily Burger. Lily Burger is a meat and vegan restaurant that does burgers – obviously – brunch and much much more. The vegan burgers use seitan, a meat substitute that I’ve never tried (if you’ve read my other food posts you’ll know I’m not a meat substitute fan and rarely use any of them). I was dubious about trying seitan, but I was happy I did because I didn’t really notice it in my burger. It added that extra texture as well as bulking the burger up, but didn’t give a meaty taste. Sounds strange, but I personally prefer a meat substitute that doesn’t taste like meat. I’m sure you could make it more ‘meaty’, but I’m much more of a plant-based vegan. If that makes any sense…
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around Berlin. Berlin is one of those cities where you can just wander and discover so many interesting and diverse places. Getting ‘lost’ for a few hours is quite enjoyable in this city.
For my final Berlin Christmas market exploration I headed back to Alexander Platz. There are actually two markets near this station, the one I visited my first and second days and one of the older Christmas markets called Weihnachtszeit am Roten Rathaus. This market was the biggest and best one I visited during my trip, and is also very traditional. Don’t expect a Winter Wonderland experience here, instead get treated to a proper German Christmas market experience.
I didn’t do anything special on my final day in Berlin seen as my flight was at 3.15pm. Top tip for Berlin at Schönefeld airport: there’s not much within the airport, including seating, so if you have time before your flight I’d suggest spending your time at the restaurant just outside the arrivals / departure doors.
Are you planning a trip to Berlin? Or have I inspired you to visit?