An Anything-But-Dull Visit to the Grey City
With over 40,000 runners making their way through a city whose history is at once dark and triumphant, the Berlin Marathon is an exceptional opportunity to experience a European race during a beautiful season. Whether you live in Berlin, or plan to travel there for the race in September, you are in for an incredible time.
We have a few highlights to share, and for you to consider if you are plotting out your itinerary and planning for your upcoming time in Berlin:
Where to Stay
Das Stue is a boutique hotel located just on the edge of Tiergarten, the massive and lush park that is central to Berlin, which also happens to be the location of the marathon’s Start and Finish. The hotel is housed within the former Royal Danish Embassy, and the richness of the building’s history is preserved in the beauty of its architecture. Inside, the hotel is modern and clean, with deep accent hues of purples, oranges, and blues in the form of throw pillows and accessories.
The morning of the marathon, Das Stue does a beautiful job taking care of their runner guests, including putting out a small table with green juices, fruits, and a sign wishing all marathoners good luck in both German and English. Those small, considerate touches can make a big difference on race day, and can help make the hotel feel like a true home away from home.
If you are traveling as a family, or a group of friends, the hotel’s location allows you to easily walk your runner to the start of the race, and greet them again at the finish. Families with young children can enjoy a walk through the beautiful grounds of the park while the runner is out on the course, and those looking to cheer along the route will find themselves in close proximity to several different mile markers as the marathon goes around Tiergarten in several spots.
Where to Eat & Drink
Every runner has their own pre- and post-marathon preferences, but some of the most common choices include pizza, pasta, and burgers. If you are traveling to Berlin as a couple, you may want a more refined meal at some point once you get past your carbo-loading, so we have a suggestion on that front as well.
For the burger eater
Zsa Zsa Burger is a casual, reliable burger bar that provides the perfect post-race respite. A relatively short walk from Tiergarten, the restaurant serves a range of different burgers, fries in both the standard and sweet potato variety, as well as a selection of drinks. Slightly off the beaten path on marathon day, so you can anticipate grabbing a table with relative ease if you choose this for your post-race meal.
For the pizza eater
ZOLA opened in 2015 and has gained a steady and loyal following in the years since. The wood-fired crust is fluffy, the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese are fresh, and the original chef was recruited to Berlin specifically to bring his Neapolitan pizza-baking skills to the city. They do simple pizza incredibly well, and whether you’re in the market for loads of toppings or a classic margherita, ZOLA will not disappoint. Be aware, you can only reserve a table for groups of 4 or more, so depending on the size of your party, plan to show up a little in advance of when you want to eat in case there is a wait.
For the pasta eater
Trattoria Muntagnola offers classic Italian fare in a rustic setting, serving up generous helpings of antipasti, salads, pasta, pizza, and fish. Perfect for the whole family to dine out the night before the race, or celebrate and refuel the evening after the marathon is complete. You’ll enjoy a low-key atmosphere, authentic Italian food, and classic red-checked tablecloths in this family-run establishment.
For the more refined meal
Patio is a restaurant on a houseboat, serving gourmet food with views of the water. At sunset, the setting is particularly stunning, as pink and orange hues reflect on the water outside the restaurants panoramic windows. The food is exceptional, and not over-priced. A beautiful spot fit for foodies if you’re in the mood for a romantic meal during your trip.
Fragrances Bar at the Ritz Carlton is a must, if for no other reason than the fact that their unique approach to cocktail mixing is one you will be telling friends about for years to come. Lining the walls with perfumes, Fragrances focuses on the way that our scent preferences are connected to our palates. As you walk through the bar, you can smell a variety of perfumes by a wide range of designers, and once you find a favorite, the bartender will mix you a drink that they predict you will enjoy based on your preferred scent. Be aware that the bar is shut on Sundays and Mondays!
Monkey Bar is a casual, bohemian bar with a view located upstairs in the 25Hours hotel. With popular Israeli restaurant Neni also located within 25Hours, the bar attracts a combination of hotel patrons, diners waiting for their Neni table, as well as visitors just looking for a unique place to grab a cocktail. Accented with cozy cushions and an abundance of greenery, visiting the Monkey Bar is a bit like spending an hour in a tropical jungle, giving you a fun respite from city living.
What to Do
It’s always a good idea to save your legs for race day, so consider taking a Boat Tour along the Spree the day before the marathon. You’ll get to take in the city from the comfort of your seat, and depending which boat you take, you may have the opportunity to enjoy a German beer while you cruise!
For a birds-eye view of the city, head to the top of the Fernsehturm television tower (386 meters up!) where you can take in 360 degree views. This is a bit of a tourist attraction, but worth it to see Berlin from a different angle.
You can’t visit Berlin without making it to at least one museum (there are over 175 of them). The city’s history is out on display in the form of remaining pieces of the Berlin wall, as well as the outdoor Holocaust memorial, as well as many beautiful buildings and monuments that you will take in as you explore. Indoors though, venture into the Pergamon Museum for artfifacts uncovered during archaeological digs, the Stasi Museum to learn about surveillance methods, and the Jewish Museum to absorb details of Jewish life in Germany, including during the dark days of WWII. The opportunities for learning through Berlin’s museums are endless, so tailor your experience based on the group you are traveling with, particularly as some of the WWII and holocaust-related exhibitions may not be suitable for young children.
And of course, in and amongst all of this, don’t forget to take in a little running during the BMW Berlin Marathon...
Spectator Sports wants to wish the best of luck to everyone running in September, it’s a beautiful course through a fascinating city. And extra congrats to anyone who will be completing their Abbott World Marathon Majors with the Berlin Marathon, what an accomplishment!