A Berlin Football Weekend was the result of two factors. Firstly, when I looked at the calendar in December there were few weekends left available to squeeze in a trip. Secondly, we were in the process of booking a customer a Covert Football Trip to Berlin and when we researched it knew we had to go. This was actually a 5th trip to Berlin but the first which would take us to The Olympiastadion, Berlin.
The Olympic Stadium, known as The Old Lady, has a massive capacity of 74,475 making it the third largest stadium in Germany behind Signal Iduna Park (Dortmund) and The Allianz Arena, home of Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich. I had stood in-front of the stadium twice before, first back in the Summer of 1997 on an Inter-Railing holiday and then in 2016 we visited on the way to The Dresden Cup for a pre-season tournament (it was easier to fly to Berlin and train to Dresden). On both occasions there was no football but the stadium, as old as it is, looks magnificent and has that Old Wembley feel about it.
The mission therefore was to quickly find a gap in the calendar which matched the fixtures. The first match we looked at was the next available date, Sunday 19th January 2020 – a home match against Bayern Munich. A quick check and this WAS possible however it would need to become a day trip. We had only ever done one in-out same day trip before as there is always a risk of delays and missing the match. However the prices were good and we booked the flights.
The flight was to leave Stansted at 09.50am arriving in Berlin Schoenefeld at 12.40pm local time. With the match to kick off at the traditional 3.30pm local time, we needed that famous German efficiency. The return flight was scheduled for 21.25pm allowing more than enough time to reach the airport comfortably after the match to arrive back in the UK at 22.20pm for what would be a perfect Berlin Football Weekend.
Who are Hertha Berlin?
Hertha Berlin play in The Bundesliga, the top division in Germany. They have been tenants at The Olympiastadion since 1963. Originally formed in 1892, they had a name change in 1923 from BFC Hertha 92 to Hertha BSC.
Getting to Olympiastadion
As with some other clubs in Germany, public transport to the match 5 hours before, and 5 hours after, is free. This includes the train from Berlin Schonefeld airport. On arrival in Berlin we paced for ten minutes to the S-Bahn and caught perfectly the scheduled S9 train in the direction of S Spandau Bhf which is a direct service and took approximately 1 hours and 15 minutes.
On arrival at the station, it was a 5 minute stroll to the stadium. There is ample space to have a good walk around the outside, and although very bland, the stadium dominates the landscape more than compensating for that. The below video shows the front of the stadium. Please visit our You Tube Channel and click the “Subscribe” button.
The Olympiastadion has an additional perimeter which is where you show your tickets, you can just about see that in the video above. Once inside the gates it is very open and this is where you will find souvenir kiosks and stalls selling various food and draught beer. There are some large beer marquee’s but also some pop-up mobile kiosks which are very similar to a set-up you would see an RAC sales person have at a motorway services. These are quick and efficient queues. The beer cups are good quality with a series to be collected which we rated as an 8/10 using our beer cup score card.
This day was extremely cold and the openness of the outside arena was difficult to enjoy, so we spent little time here and headed towards the concrete arena which offered absolutely zero improvement to the temperature. If you are heading to Olympiastadion for a match in the winter wrap up – the only place of warmth were the toilets where I found dozens of people just lingering for a few minutes before facing the outside weather again.
We entered the stadium a good 20 minutes before kick-off and for anyone wondering, yes you can take your beers to your seat. The Olympiastadion also have people on hand walking up and down the rows dispensing beer from what looks like a Proton pack worn by Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters.
Ahead of kick-off the most memorable part of the pre-match singing was the Hertha Berlin fans “Nur Nach Hause” which is sung to the melody of Rod Stewarts “Sailing”. Please visit our You Tube Channel and click the “Subscribe” button.
The match itself was a very one-sided affair with the visitors having the bulk of possession and registering 20 efforts on the Hertha goal. However it wasn’t until the second half that Bayern Munich really shone as they scored four quick-fire goals in a 24 minute rampage. As you may have predicted the evergreen Lewandowski notched one from the penalty spot. The eventual 0-4 result was a fair reflection of that dominance. Jurgen Klinsmann would quit his role as head coach three weeks later after just 76 days in charge.
After the match we took the opportunity to walk to the other end of The Olymiastadion and we would encourage others to do the same. The view is one of the most breath-taking I have seen at a football match. The darkness of the evening merged with the lighting in and around the stadium was magical. Look deeper and you will see preserved stone signs to remind you that the stadium was built for the 1936 Olympics.
After the match we finished our day trip to Hertha Berlin by heading straight back to the airport (using our free public transport tickets). When travelling home from Berlin Schoenefeld we recommend stopping immediately outside the airport and having your last meal and drinks at Almhütte. I am sure I am not alone in finding the airport on the way home the most depressing of places. This restaurant allows you to continue your weekend till the last possible moment and enter the airport perhaps just an hour before your flight reducing time spent in the airport itself.
We purchased tickets direct from the Hertha Berlin on-line ticket office and these arrived in the post 3 days later. If you are planning a Berlin Football Weekend to see Hertha, we would recommend a match against one of the larger teams. Due to the capacity of the Olympiastadion tickets are frequently available however some matches only see the stadium half full.
If you enjoyed reading this, please take a look at our other Bundesliga trips such as this trip to Dusseldorf.
Check back next Friday for our latest blog.