You’ve got just a few hours – maybe a day – to discover Berlin? Here’s the page for you! “The perfect day in…Berlin” provides information about THE things to see and do in a day in Berlin.
8:00 – 09:00
Take advantage of the breakfast at your hotel, as it will usually be included in the price anyway. And is really good, at least in the hotels that I reccommend, which are: either the Steigenberger Hotel am Kanzleramt
or the Hotel Park Inn Alexanderplatz at the Alexanderplatz (see my recommendations below).
Both hotels will give you easy access to the S-Bahn and Underground. And this you require for getting around fast in Berlin.
09:00 – 10:30
My suggestion: start your tour at the Kanzleramt, the office of the German Chancelor. From the Park Inn hotel you take the S-Bahn to the main station. The Steigenberger Hotel am Kanzleramt is located directly vis-à-vis the main station. From the square in front of the main station you will already see the Spree river:
and just on the other side of the river, there’s the building of the Kanzleramt, the office of the German Chancelor:
It’s a mere five minutes walk from the train station to the entry of the Kanzleramt,
and there you are already in the “heart” of the German government district; here you see the Swiss Embassy on the left side and buildings belonging to the German Parliamanet on the right side of the picture:
Very close by, just 5 minute walk through a small park,
there’s the famous Reichstag building:
For the Reichstag building, the admission is free, but you will have to make a reservation many weeks in advance on this website: https://www.bundestag.de/en/visittheBundestag/dome/registration-245686. The Cupola is worth a visit, as it provides a great view of the whole area around the Reichstag.
The next landmark, also close by, is the famous Brandenburger Tor, the Brandenburg Gate:
…and the Paris Square. With the Brandenburg Gate in your back, there’s the luxurious Hotel Adlon at the far right corner of the Square.
They offer a nice (but pretty expensive) 5 o’clock tea. Further on the right, there’s a building of the arts academy, “Akademie der Künste”. It’s a nice new building with an interesting staircase inside:
You can leave the building on the other side and will end up directly on front of the Holocaust Memorial, the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”. This is basically a large square, filled with 2,711 concrete “stelae” (blocks), arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.
The stelae on the outside are merely 50 cm high, but the pathways between them go down to the inside, leaving you with stelae almost 5 meters high…
…which really gives a kind of creepy feeling. In particular on a day with few visitors. It’s easy to feel lost, left behind and threatened inside.
However, usually there are lots of visitors that will cross your way frequently.
At the eastern end of the Memorial, there’s an information center:
which includes an underground exhibition:
11:00 – 11:30
From the south-western end of the square it’s only a stone’s throw to the Potdamer Platz, the Potsdam Square.
The Potsdam square has been rebuilt in the 90ies, after the German reunification. Thus, there is a lot of modern architecture to look at, like this small one:
…a building of the German Railways, Deutsche Bahn:
And the Sony center with its well-known cupola:
In front of the Sony Center Square, there’s an old building that has been integrated into the new architecture:
Here you should treat yourself with a small coffee break. In the vicinity of the Potsdam Square, there are lots of opportunities to sit somewhere, inside or outside. View the architectural highlights, which even extend to the underground station:
11:00 – 12:30
From the Potsdamer Platz you can take the Underground (“U-Bahn”) line 2, direction Ruhleben, get off at the station “Wittenbergplatz” and have a look at the former Western Berlin city center. The first building you will see is the “Kaufhaus des Westens” (short: KaDeWe, https://www.kadewe.de/en/das-kadewe-die-geschichte/).
The KaDeWe is a famous department store, opened in 1907 at the Wittenberg Square. Nowadays, it’s an international department store, featuring “the usual” international designer goods and exclusive brands and being visited by up to 100.000 visitors a day. As soon as the historical iron gates open:
By now you might already feel a little bit hungry? Then it’s time to try THE typical snack in Berlin, the “Currywurst” (curry sausage):
There are small stands all over Berlin offering Currywurst. The Curry Sausages come with different prices and qualities, and there’s no direct relation between the one and the other…but most of them are good, so you can just try any. However, one of the cheapest is the “Curry 36” stand at the “Bahnhof Zoo” station. For just 2 Euros you will get a tasty sausage as well. And close to the KaDeWe, there are also several stands, which are quite OK.
The Curry Sausages come with different prices and qualities, and there’s no direct relation between the one and the other…but most of them are good, so you can just try any. Personally, my favorite is the (quite expensive) Currywurst at the Tegel airport:
A little bit further down the Tauentzienstraße, you can visit a modern sculpture…
…and in western direction, you can already glimpse the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche,
the church that has been destroyed in the second world war and has been left this way as a second world war memorial.
If you continue around the corner of the Tauentzier street, you will enter the “Kurfürstendamm (short: Kudamm, the major shopping street in the former Western Berlin). Just on the opposite side of the street there is another shopping mall, the “Bikini Berlin”, and just a few meters further there’s the station “Zoologischer Garten” (Zoo), with the above mentioned “Curry 36” in front.
and the “Zoo Palast” cinema, which is one of the cinemas of the “Berlinale”, the Berlin cinema festival, which takes place usually around the 20th of February.
12:30 – 14:00
Lunch break! If you could resist the curry sausage stands, you will certainly be hungry by now. Time for a change of location, as the area around the KaDeWe and the Zoo station does not really feature nice places to sit outside. My suggestion: take an S-Bahn to the station “Hackescher Markt”. The area around this S-Bahn station is full of restaurants – the perfect place for lunch.
If you’re lucky, you can sit outside. If not, then there’s a choice of small restaurants under the rail tracks, where you can sit inside.
14:00 – 15:00
Time to explore the area of the “Hackesche Höfe” (http://www.hackesche-hoefe.de/?page=24). This is an old residential area and comprises the largest single courtyard complex in Germany.
Built at the end of the nineteenth century, these courtyard complexes consist of front buildings, facing the street, and several more buildings in the backyard, which you can enter through small tunnel passages in the front buildings. The complex of the “Hackesche Höfe” consists of eight interconnected courtyards, accessed through a main arched entrance at number 40 Rosenthaler Street,
…and a second entrance called “Rosenhöfe” further down the Rosenthaler Street:
Nowadays, there a lots of small shops on the ground floor:
Just around the corner you’ll find the equally nice (and less populated) “Kollwitz” Quarter, with buildings from the same era, and small shops and restaurants. And a famous “Currywurst” stand close by: Konnopke’s at the Schönhauser Allee 44b (closed on Sundays!).
15:00 – 16:00
From the Hacke’sche Höfe go back via the S-Bahn station and further along the bank of the river Spree towards the bridges that lead to the “Museum island” in the river (https://www.museumsinsel-berlin.de/en/collections/overview-of-the-collections-on-the-museum-island/ ).
This island accommodates some of the most famous museums in Germany, most notably the following ones:
- “Pergamon Museum” (https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/pergamonmuseum/home.html), which exhibits the famous Pergamon Altar, Unfortunately, the building is refurbished at the moment and will be fully accessible around 2025/2026.
- The “New Museum” (Neues Museum, https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/neues-museum/collections-research/about-the-collection.html), that displays – despite the name – the archaeological collections of the Egyptian Museum, including the beautiful and famous bust of the Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
- “Bode Museum”, which offers changing art exhibitions and houses the permanent exhibition of the Sculpture Collection and the Museum of Byzantine Art.
Of course, there are more interesting museums in Berlin – here’s a comprehensive collection, including links: https://www.berlin.de/en/museums/
16:00 – 16:30
I confess: my suggestion for “the perfect day in Berlin” includes a lot of walking, so again you might be grateful for some time to rest and sit down. Treat yourself to a coffee break at the “Vera-Brittain-Ufer”, the nice promenade (on the left river bank of the picture below) along the river Spree next to the Museum island, with lots of opportunities to sit outside and enjoy the view and the people passing by. It’s equally just a 5 minute walk either from the “Museum island” or the “Hackesche Höfe”.
16:30 – 18:00
From the river banks at the “Vera-Brittain-Ufer”, it is a nice walk via the “Berliner Dome”, the Dome of Berlin – a nice picture during the day…
…as well as by night:
the Television tower(great views from above!):
You will pass the Radisson Blu Hotel, Berlin, which features in its lobby the biggest cylindric Aquarium of the world:
On the opposite side of the street, you will see the construction side of the re-built old Berlin City Palace. This place is special, as there used to be the “palace of the republic” during the times of the German Democratic Republik. After the reunification the building turned out to be infested by asbestos, followed by a long discussion about what to do. Finally, the German Parliament decided to break the building down and replace it by a new City Palace. Three of the ancient wings will be reconstructed, the fourth – western – one will be built in mordern style. The main cupola will be rebuilt, as well as a corner rondel. All interior rooms will also get a plain, modern and functional style. At the moment, the facades are almost finished, and the first opening is scheduled for September 2019.
and close by the “Rotes Rathaus”, the red City Hall of Berlin:
Turn towards the western direction and walk down the street “Unter den Linden”, featuring the opera…
…large car company showrooms:
A bit further down, turn lefts towards the “Gendarmenmarkt” Square:
On the Gendarmenmarkt, there is a famous restaurant, which is frequented by German politicians as well as celebrities, the “Borchardt”:
From Gendarmenmarkt, you can visit one of the major shopping streets, the “Friedrichstraße”, which houses many high-profile shops of the famous and expensive brands.
A little further into the direction of the Potsdamer Platz, there’s the “Mall of Berlin”, just in case the Friedrichstraße does not provide enough shopping opportunities…
An alternative, if you’re less interested in the shopping district and more in modern art: located in a neo-classical building, the museum “Hamburger Bahnhof” reopened in 1996 as a museum of contemporary art (https://www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/hamburger-bahnhof/home.html). This is currently the best chance to see modern art in Berlin, as the well-known “Neue Nationalgalerie” is closed for refurbishment since 2015 (scheduled to re-open in 2019, but at the moment – March 2019 – still closed). The “Hamburger Bahnhof” is located close to the Berlin main station, in case you’re stationed at the “Steigenberger am Kanzleramt”.
18:00 – 19:00
Time to get some rest and get ready for the evening. From the station “Friedrichstraße” there’s a direct S-Bahn line to the main station (“Hauptbahnhof”), in case you’re staying at the Hotel Steigenberger Kanzleramt, or the Underground line 2 to the Alexanderplatz in case you’re staying at the Park Inn Hotel.
19:00 – 22:00
Hopefully refreshed, it’s time for a nice Dinner! My personal favorite is based on the great views that it offers, and is the Solar Restaurant at the “Anhalter Bahnhof” station. From both hotels, you will have to go by S-Bahn to “Friedrichstraße” and from there by the lines S 1 or S 25/S26 to the station “Anhalter Bahnhof”. Now it gets a bit complicated, as the restaurant as well as its club above are a bit tricky to find. Try with google maps – you will have to enter a pretty dark backyard. From there it’s a colorful illuminated elevator up to the upper two floors of a quite unremarkable building.
The view from there over to the Potsdamer Platz is great, and the food (medium to upper price range; main dishes around 20-25 Euros; menus between 61 and 81 Euros, depending on the number of courses) is nice as well.
Berlin features many excellent restaurants in any price range. If you’re not in favor of the “Solar, just check Tripadvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurants-g187323-Berlin.html
If you would like to enjoy some drinks and fancy music, you just can go upstairs into the “Solar Lounge”. Or – if you prefer a change of location, here are some alternatives with a view:
Monkey Bar in the “Bikini Haus” (https://www.25hours-hotels.com/en/restaurants-bars/berlin/monkey-bar)
Puro Sky Lounge (http://www.puroberlin.de/club/) – celebrities spot
Rooftop Bar at the Hotel Zoo (https://www.hotelzoo.de/en/food-drink/rooftop/) – outside sitting area
For more alternatives: https://www.top10berlin.de/en/cat/night-life-259/rooftop-bars-1323
Or – if you feel more like dancing the night away: the most well-known club in Berlin (but also one of the biggest and most crowded is the “Berghain Club” (http://berghain.de) in “hip” Friedrichshain Quarter.
And finally, some general hints for your visit to Berlin:
1. Where to stay?
If you’ve got only little time, then look for an accommodation that gives y ou easy and fast access to the old town. Which I would define as the area between the Vatican in the west, the Piazza del Popolo in the north, Piazza Venezia in the south and the Piazza della Repubblica in the east. In between there are hundreds of options for accommodation, from 5 star hotels to rental apartments via the usual portals like Tripadvisor. Preferably there should be a metro station nearby, in order to save time for getting around. Here are some hotels that I have visited and found OK. My experience is that you can get good bargains from time to time.
Steigenberger Hotel am Kanzleramt
It’s a five star hotel, very centrally located (just around the main station, the government quarter and the Brandenburger Tor), decently priced – sometimes you might get a bargain like 80 Euros per night. Excellent breakfast!
I’ve been staying at this hotel numerous times, starting in 2004. I confess: it’s not the newest hotel in the world. But: the view and the location are hard to beat! And – altough it looks as if all the rooms are the same – they are not! There are very tiny rooms, shower integrated in the middle of the room. And there are very nice, spacious rooms. All in all, there are around 1000 rooms in the hotel, one of the biggest places in Berlin. And – as it’s a high rise building – there are many rooms in high floors – just ask for them. And ask for the view in western direction! The view certainly compensates for some flaws that this very busy hotel might come with. Check out the rooftop terrace as well! And look for bargains: you should get a room around 80 Euros per night.
Now, these are my two personal favorites. I go to Berlin quite often for business, and that’s the places where I usually stay, if I stay for just one night. However, Tripadvisor ranks more than 1.300 hotels in Berlin – so there are LOTS of others, just check out the hotel reservation portals, like Trivago or Tripadvisor. Not to speak about the lots of B&Bs and vacation rental apartments.
Here two more recommendations, if getting around fast is not of crucial importance for you:
Both hotels are in the area Friedrichstraße / Checkpoint Charlie, and both are in the same price range as the above mentioned (around 80 Euros, including breakfast). However, it’s a bit more complicated to get there from the airports and the Berlin landmarks, and takes a little bit more time. No problem, if you don’t mind that.
2. Best travel time:
From late spring to early autumn, the chances of blue sky and warm temperatures are certainly higher than in winter. That’s when I personally recommend going to Berlin. Once, I spent an early October weekend in Berlin with sitting outside in T-Shirt and Shorts. But in some years, there might already be the first snow in October…Berlin has got a rather continental climate, compared to the western parts of Germany. Meaning: warm and dry summer, cold winter. Quite often in winter, the channels around Berlin are completely frozen. So, it gets cold in Berlin.
3. Transfer from the airports:
First of all, the issue “airport in Berlin” is an ongoing source of jokes and mockery, not only in Germany, but everywhere. Rightfully – as the new major airport “Berlin-Brandenburg” was supposed to open in 2012. However, four weeks ahead of the opening, a failure of the fire protection system during the test phase officially lead to the delay of the opening. Since then, numerous disastrous news came out on a regular basis. And today (March 2019) the opening still seems far away…it’s embarrassing for the people responsible and – in addition – costly for us, the German tax payers….
Anyway, there are still two airports in the Berlin vicinity, that currently being used: Berlin Tegel is the one most major airlines go to, and Berlin Schoenefeld, a little bit outside of Berlin, being used by low-cost carriers like Ryanair.
Tegel is not connected to the public transport by S-Bahn or Underground, but by buses. However, there is a direct bus line called “TXL” that goes from the airport via the main station to the Alexanderplatz. So, for both of my hotel recommendations, you can take this bus, and it will take about 20 minutes to the main station and 45 minutes to Alexanderplatz.
Schoenefeld at least has got a direct connection with the S-Bahn system (however, it’s a ten minute walk from the airport terminal to the train station. From there it will take you approximately 40-60 minutes to Alexanderplatz or main station, depending on whether you might just have missed a train at the airport or not – they leave only every 30 minutes.
4. Getting around in Berlin:
Berlin has got a decent net of public transport: the city trains (“S-Bahn”), the metro lines (“U-Bahn”), and buses as well. The cheapest approach to travelling in Berlin is to buy a day ticket. It costs you 7 Euros for the inner city areas (which is sufficient if you’re using the Tegel airport; if you’re arriving at the Schoenefeld Airport, you will need the extended ticket for 7,90 Euros).
My suggestions for “the perfect day in Berlin” do include a lot of walking. Now, if you’re not so much in favor of this much walking, you might prefer to discover Berlin by Bus or even by Boat, if you prefer: the city of Berlin (https://www.berlin-city-tour.de/en.html) offers different tours.
There are 3 different “Hop-on – hop-off” sightseeing tours on offer: the “classical” one, which will lead you to the well-known sights in Berlin like the Brandenburg Gate, the city center part of the former Western part of Berlin around the famous KaDeWe department store, and Checkpoint Charlie, just to name a few.
A second tour is called “Wall and Lifestyle” and focusses more on the Wall remains and the “hip scene” neighbourhoods, like Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, including the East Side Gallery.
The third tour is by boat on the river Spree and will bring you past many famous buildings in Berlin as well.
Each tour takes about 2 hours (if you go non-stop) and is available in many different languages; they even offer a new “mixed reality” tour, where you can get additional information about the sights that you pass online on your smart phone. You can hop-on and hop-off at many different stops on the way – just check the timetables and stops on the website. You can also buy a ticket that combines both tours and gives you access to free “hop-on / hop-off” for the entire day along the tour routes.
5. Further Reading: Lonely Planet Berlin Travel Guide
Greetings from Berlin!
*According to a German Court decision, all texts containing links to commercial pages (e.g. links to Tripadvisor, Airline, hotel or restaurant websites) have to be identified as “commercial” (in German “Anzeige”). As my texts do contain links like that, I therefore identify each post and page containing a link as “Anzeige”. However (and referring to the “About Me” page) I would like to point out that I do NOT post any sponsored content in my texts; I pay for all my trips myself.