February fun in Berlin

February fun in Berlin

In search of #culture, and fun winter break, I headed to #Berlin for a trip which ended up being a mix of star-studded glamour and grunginess. February is #unique, the perfect time to spot celebrities on the red carpet and casually wandering around town, as it’s the annual film festival. Vibrant Berlin is a haven of creativity, it has something for everyone.


What better destination could a girl choose than Berlin for a city break in the month of February? Hmm, crazy as it may sound, Berlin is actually a pretty decent winter destination, all things considered. The big draw is Berlinale, the highly-esteemed annual film festival. The second plus point is that Berlin is so used to long dark winters that it’s really well prepared for them. There are loads of warm and welcoming cafes and bars, with insulation provided by thick curtains in doorways to keep out the draft. Preparing for arctic temperatures, my friend and I armed ourselves with thermal gear and woolies, and we were soon Berlin bound.

Berlin is actually a pretty decent winter destination

Our destination was the trendy and upmarket area of Prenzlauer Berg, just north of the city centre, not far from the famous Alexanderplatz TV Tower. We chose to stay in Old Town Apartments because we had researched the area and liked the look of the location and decor of the studios, not to mention the convenience and homely feeling of staying in an apartment rather than a hotel. 

from  $119.12

Hotel Old Town Apartments Zehdenicker Strasse

 Zehdenicker Strasse 5, Berlin, Germany
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I love that feeling of being right! The area was fantastic, full of independent shops and restaurants, and the studio was clean and great value, considering the location. I enjoyed the 30-minute walk to the centre, but there were also U-bahn stations a few minutes away in either direction. Going to Impala cafe for their delicious bagels and coffee was our breakfast routine, and base of operations whilst planning the day ahead.

The first day we had reserved the Discover Berlin Walking Tour with Original Berlin Walks. It was a great way to get ourselves acquainted with the main sights - and for a history geek like me, tracing the history of imperial Germany, Nazism and the Cold War, was fascinating. We stood over the bunker where Hitler killed himself and looked upon the university where Einstein worked as a professor, but for me, the personal stories of everyday citizens’ attempts to traverse the Berlin Wall were equally interesting.

for a history geek like me, tracing the history of imperial Germany, Nazism and the Cold War, was fascinating
from  $14

Discover Berlin Walking Tour

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 Berlin, Germany
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Our guide gave us the heads-up that it was the opening night of Berlinale, so that evening we headed to Potsdamer Platz, hoping to catch some celebrity action, but not really knowing what to expect. Well, we got really lucky because we arrived as the cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel were arriving on the red carpet, so we saw Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum and drum roll... the one and only Bill Murray, amongst a load of other stars. It was a great buzz, but we never watched any films at the festival because all the main ones had sold out and we were more interested in seeing the sights with the little time we had.

We got really lucky because we arrived as the cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel were arriving on the red carpet

Another top priority for us was checking out the street art. Berlin is heaven for street art lovers, and the obvious place to start is the East Side Gallery, which consists of over 1km of the Berlin Wall. It was painted by international artists during the year after the Wall came down. The paintings aren’t to everyone’s taste, but some really capture the euphoria, sense of freedom and hope that resulted from the collapse of the Wall. While we were by the East Side Gallery, we saw an odd contraption and went to investigate; it was a beer cycle and yes, true to national stereotypes, it was full of British guys on a stag weekend. They invited us over and seemed to be having a great time, but it’s anyone’s guess as to how they managed to pedal and drink at the same time!

some really capture the euphoria, sense of freedom and hope that resulted from the collapse of the Wall

We said farewell to our inebriated new friends and wandered over the bridge to Kreuzberg, where there was an abundance of art. We were using a street art app, so it was easy to guide ourselves, but if you want a professional tour, the guys at Alternative Berlin Tours have a good reputation. 

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Street Art Walking Tour & Street Art/Graffiti Workshop

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 Lichtenberg, Berlin, Germany
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Speaking of alternative, if you want a good night spot, check out Dr Pong’s in Prenzlauer Berg, no it’s not a Chinese medical practitioner... it’s a dive bar with ping pong. We had so much fun, it was both grungy and cheap and full of a mix of locals and tourists in the know. Everyone joins a big game of ping pong, taking turns around the table until they’re out - which I inevitably was almost immediately.

We had so much fun, it was both grungy and cheap and full of a mix of locals and tourists in the know

Berlin has made it into my top five favourite cities in Europe, which surprised me, given that I usually prefer traditionally beautiful cities and Berlin seems to be an eternal construction project. However, what it lacks in cobblestoned quaintness, it more than makes up for in its vibrant art scene, fascinating museums, quirky boutiques and alternative nightlife. Best of all, in February 2014, Berlin was having freak mild weather and I didn’t need all those thermal undies I had packed!

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