This is one of the big cities in Europe. Seeing all of Berlin in 2 days is not possible. But you can get a taste of what Berlin has to offer.
Berlin is one of the big cities in Europe and seeing all of Berlin in 2 days is not possible. But what is possible is to get a taste of what Berlin has to offer. The former divided capital of Europe stands today as a testimony of the hardships that divided the entire Europe up to the 90’s.
Today, Berlin doesn’t has many historical buildings on display, as it was destroyed during the war, but it does has plenty to see if you’re into the Nazi history of Germany.
What I find most interesting about Berlin is that it tries its best to pay tribute to those targeted by its former regime. Berlin is a city of monuments and sadness, but history is not to be forgotten or repeated.
Where to stay in Berlin?
In the first 30 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Berlin was a big attraction for anyone looking for a cheap city in Germany. Even Berlin Mitte was an affordable place to stay for tourists and locals alike.
Today, If you’re wondering where to stay in Berlin, I’d recommend a place that you can afford, close to an S-Bahn or U-Bahn station. Berlin has a great public transport system, and since prices have gotten crazy in the centre of the city, you’re best bet for a comfortable stay in Berlin is further from the centre but close to public transport.
Some of the best neighbourhoods to stay in Berlin are Kreutzberg, Wedding, and Mitte if you can afford it, and I’d personally recommend Lichtenberg as a quiet place to stay for a weekend in Berlin.
How many days in Berlin
After visiting Berlin more than five times and having stayed up to 3 weeks at a time, I would say that you’d need at least 2 to 3 days to explore Berlin on your first visit. It’s worth noting that Berlin is quite different to most other European cities, and some visitors don’t find it that appealing.
If you’re not keen on visiting museums, and recent European history makes you sad beyond reason, then Berlin will not be a good holiday destination for you, and more than 2 days will be too much in Berlin.
Top Berlin attractions
Berlin itinerary for 2 days
That’s why I want to focus on the Berlin 2 days itinerary as a starting point for anyone looking to explore Berlin for the first time. This can then be turned into 3 days in Berlin or longer if you want to explore more because there are plenty of spots to explore in the city. But these 2 days in Berlin are enough to give a pretty complete picture of what Berlin is all about.
Some years ago, I asked some locals to summarise Berlin in one word, and it was pretty surprising what they answered.
Day 1: Historical Berlin
9:00 am: Brandenburg Gate
How to get there: Get the metro to Brandenburger Tor.
When: This is a public space, and it’s open 24/7, but going early in the morning will give you the best light for pictures and fewer crowds.
Start your trip with a visit to this iconic Berlin landmark. A symbol of German unity, the Brandenburg Gate is a must-see and provides excellent photo opportunities. This is the place we’ll see in the famous 89’ David Hasselhoff´s legendary performance.
The gate was built between 1788 and 1791, following the orders of Prussian king Frederick William II. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, the gate was inspired by the Propylaea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens.
During the Cold War, the gate stood desolate, right near the Berlin Wall, separating East from West Berlin. It became a symbol of a divided city and country. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the gate transformed into an emblem of unity and freedom.
The gate consists of twelve Doric columns, forming five passageways. The columns are made of sandstone and are about 15 meters high.
The most striking feature is the Quadriga, a sculpture of a chariot drawn by four horses, led by Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. Initially, the sculpture faced the palace of the Prussian monarchs but was turned around to face the city after Napoleon’s defeat in 1814.
Today, the Brandenburg Gate is not just an architectural masterpiece but a venue for various cultural events and political demonstrations. It’s a gathering point for New Year’s Eve celebrations, and various other public events and performances take place here throughout the year.
The area around the gate is pedestrian-friendly, making it easy for you to take your time, snap photos, and soak in the atmosphere.
If you have the time, I’d recommend checking it again during the evening, when the gate is illuminated, and it provides a different but equally compelling aesthetic.
10:00 am: Reichstag Building
Cost: Free. But you need to book your visit in advance here.
How to get there: A 5-minute walk from Brandenburg Gate.
I’d recommend visiting the Reichstag Building because it is a unique experience that combines historical gravitas with modern innovation.
The building underwent a significant restoration in the 1990s. Today, the Reichstag Building features a striking glass dome designed by British architect Norman Foster.
This transparent dome not only serves as a metaphor for the transparency of government but also offers visitors a gorgeous 360-degree view of Berlin’s cityscape.
To make the most of your visit, you can pick up an audio guide that explains both the architectural elements and the political significance of the Reichstag as you ascend the spiral ramp inside the dome.
11:30 am: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (The Holocaust Memorial)
How to get there: A 10-minute walk from the Reichstag Building.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is a poignant and thought-provoking site located in the heart of Berlin, near the Brandenburg Gate.
Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, the memorial consists of 2,711 concrete slabs, or “stelae,” arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field.
The varying heights and tilted angles of the slabs create a sense of disorientation and unease, meant to symbolise the unimaginable suffering endured during the Holocaust.
While walking through the narrow alleys between the stelae, you’ll feel enveloped in an atmosphere of solemnity and reflection. I believe that visiting the Holocaust memorial is a deeply personal experience, regardless of our religious or political convictions.
12:30 pm: Lunch at Potsdamer Platz
Cost: Depends on lunch choice.
How to get there: A 5-minute walk from the Holocaust Memorial.
Potsdamer Platz is a bustling square and transportation hub situated just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Once divided by the Berlin Wall, the square has been reborn as a symbol of the new, united Berlin and is now home to modern architecture, large shopping centres, and entertainment complexes. A striking feature is the Sony Center, an architectural marvel with a futuristic roof, where you’ll find cinemas, restaurants, and shops.
For your lunch, Potsdamer Platz offers a wide array of dining options, catering to all kinds of culinary preferences—from upscale restaurants serving gourmet meals to casual eateries offering local and international fare.
It’s a perfect place to relax and people-watch while enjoying a meal, as the area is always buzzing with locals and tourists alike.
And since you’re already here, I’d add the
1:30 pm: Panoramapunkt Berlin
Cost: €9. Book here.
How to get here: Get to Kollhoff Tower in the Potsdamer Platz.
Although it is not the only one, Panoramapunkt is a popular observation deck located in the Kollhoff Tower at Potsdamer Platz.
One of its main attractions is the speedy elevator, touted as one of Europe’s fastest, which takes you to the 24th floor in just about 20 seconds.
Once you arrive at the viewing platform, you’re greeted with stunning 360-degree views of Berlin, providing a unique vantage point to see iconic landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, and even the Reichstag Building.
On the deck, you’ll find informational displays and telescopes, allowing you to get a closer look at various points of interest across the city.
There’s also a café where you can enjoy a coffee or snack while taking in the views.
If you’re into photography, then you should definitely add Panoramapunkt to your Berlin itinerary. The only thing that would make your visit even better is to add this stop later in the day. If your 2 days in Berlin allow it, add this stop during the evening, as it offers a fantastic opportunity to capture Berlin’s skyline, especially during sunset when the city is bathed in golden hues.
Beyond the views, Panoramapunkt also hosts exhibitions and events, adding an educational and cultural layer to your visit. It’s a great spot for both first-time visitors to get their bearings and for those already familiar with Berlin to see the city from a different perspective. With its easily accessible location at Potsdamer Platz, it fits seamlessly into any Berlin itinerary.
2:45 pm: Topography of Terror
How to get there: Walk from Potsdamer Platz for 15 minutes.
The Topography of Terror is one of Berlin’s most impactful museums, located on the site of the former Gestapo and SS headquarters. This museum serves as a chilling reminder of the atrocities committed during the Nazi regime.
The main exhibition is set up in a modern, minimalist building, and much of the display is also open-air, situated along the remnants of the Berlin Wall that run adjacent to the site.
The museum delves into the complex history of Nazi atrocities, offering a thorough examination through photographs, documents, and multimedia displays.
Topics covered include the rise of the Nazi party, the suppression and persecution of various groups, and the mechanisms behind state-organized terror. There’s also a focus on the individuals who were responsible for these acts, as well as the victims who suffered under this brutal regime.
The Topography of Terror is a must-visit for those interested in understanding the darker aspects of 20th-century history.
It’s a place that encourages deep reflection and offers a solemn space for understanding the consequences of unchecked power and the violation of human rights. The museum is free to enter, making it accessible for everyone, and audio guides are available for those who wish to delve deeper into the stories behind the exhibits.
You can spend more than 2 hours here, but I’d recommend skimming through and then continuing with the Berlin itinerary if you only have 2 days in Berlin.
4:30 pm: Checkpoint Charlie
How to get here: Walk for 5 minutes.
Description: Once a crossing point between East and West Berlin, this place is now a tourist attraction and a reminder of Cold War tensions.
Checkpoint Charlie is one of Berlin’s most iconic landmarks, serving as a vivid reminder of the city’s Cold War past.
Located at the intersection of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, this former border crossing point was the site where East Germany’s communist regime met the democratic West.
Established in 1961, it became the most famous of several checkpoints between East and West Berlin and was designated for use by foreign tourists and Allied forces personnel.
The guardhouse and signage that once marked the border crossing have been meticulously reconstructed, transforming the area into a popular tourist attraction in Berlin.
Today, I believe that Checkpoint Charlie is a bit commercialised, with actors dressed as soldiers posing for photos. But you can’t miss it if this is your first time in Berlin, because it’s also an area of deep historical importance.
Checkpoint Charlie witnessed several tense standoffs between U.S. and Soviet forces, and many daring escapes from East to West took place in its vicinity.
Adjacent to the checkpoint, you’ll find the Checkpoint Charlie Museum (Mauermuseum), which offers more context and history. The museum showcases a collection of artefacts related to escape attempts—from homemade hot air balloons to modified cars—and provides information about the geopolitical climate of the Cold War era. Various exhibitions, photographs, and displays inside the museum bring to life the stories of those who risked everything to escape from East to West.
5:30 pm: Berlin Wall Memorial
How to get there: Take the U-Bahn U2 from Stadtmitte, change with U8 at Alexanderplatz and get off at Bernauer Straße (20 minutes).
The Berlin Wall Memorial is a compelling historical site that commemorates the division of Berlin and the lives affected by the Wall.
Located along Bernauer Straße, it stretches over 1.4 kilometres and is one of the best-preserved sections of the Wall.
Unlike other tourist spots, this memorial offers a sombre, authentic look at the physical and emotional divisions created by the Wall.
The site features the original Wall, a “death strip,” watchtowers, and various other fortifications, all of which have been preserved to give visitors an understanding of the Wall’s grim functionality.
As you walk along the grounds, you’ll come across various plaques and information boards that provide historical context personal stories, and explain the significance of each segment of the site.
The Documentation Center (free to visit), a part of the memorial complex, delves into the history of the Wall’s construction and the political climate that led to its erection.
It also focuses on the lives lost in escape attempts and the impact of the Wall on daily life in both East and West Berlin.
Interactive exhibits and haunting photographs enrich the visitor experience, offering a deeper understanding of this dark chapter in human history.
One unique feature is the Window of Remembrance, dedicated to the victims who lost their lives while trying to escape from East to West Berlin. It serves as a poignant reminder of the human costs of political decisions and ideologies.
The Berlin Wall Memorial offers an unparalleled educational and emotional journey, allowing you to grasp the complexities and tragedies of the Cold War era.
As I said in the beginning, visiting Berlin is a difficult journey that will take you back to the past and call out extreme hopelessness feelings that once belonged to those divided by the wall.
7:30 pm: Alexanderplatz & TV Tower
Cost: Free (€24.50 if you want to go up the tower. Book the Berlin TV Tower here.)
How to get there: Take the U-Bahn U8 from Bernauer Straße to Alexanderplatz (10 minutes).
Alexanderplatz, commonly known as “Alex,” is a large public square and transportation hub in the central Mitte district of Berlin.
It’s one of the city’s most visited areas, bustling with shops, restaurants, and attractions.
Named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I, the square has undergone significant transformations over the years and is now a modern space that serves as a meeting point for both locals and tourists. If you want to stay in the centre of Berlin, this is the spot.
The most iconic structure overlooking Alexanderplatz is the Berlin TV Tower or Fernsehturm.
Built between 1965 and 1969 by the government of East Germany, this 368-meter (1,207-foot) tower is the tallest structure in Germany and the second tallest in the European Union.
Its spherical observation deck, located at a height of 203 meters, provides stunning 360-degree views of the city. You’ll notice the huge queue for visiting the Berlin TV tower. I’d recommend booking your ticket in advance here.
Inside the TV Tower, you’ll find a bar and a rotating restaurant that completes a full turn every 30 minutes, offering diners a constantly changing view as they enjoy their meal.
The tower itself is not just an architectural marvel but also a symbol of Berlin’s historical and cultural evolution. It was originally intended to demonstrate the strength and efficiency of a socialist society, but today it stands as a universal Berlin icon, drawing tourists from all over the world.
However, if you want to have the best view of Berlin, with the tower in sight, then I would recommend skipping the TV tower and instead visiting the Panorama Terrace at the Park Inn Berlin at Alexanderplatz. The rooftop has a €6.00 entry ticket (ask at the Service Desk in the lobby of the hotel).
Day 2: Cultural Berlin
9:00 am: Pergamon Museum
How to get there: Take the U-Bahn to Museumsinsel
Observation: The Pergamonmuseum closes completely to visitors on 23 October 2023 (for renovations). Only the Panorama remains open for visitors, which shows the ancient city of Pergamon on the west coast of Asia Minor.
The Pergamon Museum is a must-visit for first-timers in Berlin because it houses one of the world’s most significant collections of ancient artefacts, making it an incredible journey through history and culture.
The museum is located on Museum Island, which is itself a UNESCO World Heritage site, adding an extra layer of historical significance to your visit.
One of the museum’s standout exhibits is the Pergamon Altar, an ancient Greek temple facade that leaves visitors awestruck with its intricate details and grandeur.
The museum also features the impressive Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market Gate of Miletus, allowing you to traverse different civilisations under one roof.
Visiting the Pergamon Museum provides not only an educational experience but also a sense of wonder, making it an unmissable highlight for anyone looking to delve into the rich tapestry of human history on their first trip to Berlin.
11:00 am: Berlin Cathedral
How to get there: A 5-minute walk from Pergamon Museum.
The Berliner Dom, or Berlin Cathedral, is a fantastic place for first-time visitors to Berlin.
First of all, its stunning Baroque architecture is a visual treat, serving as a prime example of Germany’s rich historical and artistic heritage.
As you enter, the intricate interior with its magnificent dome, ornate pulpit, and grand organ immediately captures your attention, giving you a glimpse into the city’s religious and aesthetic sensibilities.
Besides its architectural splendour, the cathedral also offers an excellent opportunity for panoramic views of the city.
You can climb up to the dome’s observation deck, which provides a 360-degree vantage point to see key landmarks like the TV Tower, Museum Island, and the River Spree.
Note that the cathedral often hosts concerts and events. If you’re lucky enough to attend one of its concerts, your Berlin visit will get a musical and cultural dimension.
1:00 pm: East Side Gallery
How to get there: Take the S-Bahn S5 from Hackescher Markt to Warschauer Straße (15 minutes).
The East Side Gallery is a remarkable open-air gallery in Berlin that consists of a 1.3-kilometer stretch of the Berlin Wall, making it the longest preserved section of the Wall.
Located along the River Spree in Friedrichshain, it serves as a vibrant canvas featuring over 100 murals and graffiti artworks from artists around the world. Created shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990, the gallery is a symbol of freedom and the end of divided Germany.
Each artwork carries its own message and emotion, touching on themes such as freedom, unity, and political commentary.
One of the most famous pieces is Dmitri Vrubel’s “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love,” which depicts the fraternal kiss between Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker. The art here is not just visually striking but also steeped in history, serving as a living testimony to a tumultuous period.
This site is not only a must-visit for art enthusiasts but also for anyone interested in Berlin’s complex history and its transformation over the years. Best of all, it’s free to visit and open year-round, making it a flexible option for any Berlin itinerary.
3:00 pm: Kreuzberg Neighborhood
How to get there: Walk from East Side Gallery.
Kreuzberg is one of Berlin’s most eclectic and vibrant neighbourhoods, known for its alternative culture, edgy street art, and diverse population.
Located just south of the city centre, it’s a melting pot of various cultures, making it a great area for global cuisine, particularly Turkish food, given the neighbourhood’s large Turkish community.
One of the main attraction points in Kreuzberg is the Landwehr Canal, a picturesque waterway perfect for leisurely strolls or boat trips.
The canal is lined with cafes and bars where you can sit and watch the world go by.
For those interested in history, the Jewish Museum in Kreuzberg offers a deep dive into Jewish history and culture, housed in a striking building designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. If you’re looking for green spaces, Viktoriapark offers a lovely hillside setting with a waterfall, providing excellent views over the city.
When it comes to nightlife, the area around Oranienstrasse and Görlitzer Park is a hub of activity, teeming with bars, clubs, and eateries that stay open until the early hours.
Görlitzer Park itself is a popular meeting spot for young people and often hosts various outdoor activities like picnics and small-scale concerts.
From East Side Gallery, walk to Görlitzer Park to explore a bit, then head to Markthalle Neun to see a local market and find a spot for lunch.
I’d recommend Sahara Imbiss Sudanesische Spezialitäten if you love falafel and can eat peanut sauce. It’s my favourite spot to eat in Berlin (they have multiple locations.)
Then continue to SO36 bar, a historic bar in Berlin (it’s closed during the day) where artists like David Bowie and Iggy Pop used to frequent this place. Then continue towards U Kottbusser Tor.
From there, walk on Kottbusser Str up to the next stop on this itinerary, Tempelhof. Or you can take the U-Bahn for 4 stops up to Leinestraße.
7:00 pm: Tempelhofer Feld
How to get here: You can enter from all sides; if you’re coming by U-Bahn from Kreuzberg, you need to get to Leinestraße stop.
Tempelhofer Feld is one of Berlin’s most unique public spaces, originally serving as an airport before its transformation into an enormous urban park.
Covering 300 hectares, this park has a variety of recreational activities that make it a cool place to visit. Whether you’re interested in cycling, skateboarding, or even kite-flying, the expansive runways provide ample space for all sorts of activities.
What sets Tempelhofer Feld apart is its blend of history and modern urban living.
The site was once an airport terminal built during the Nazi regime and later played a crucial role in the Berlin Airlift. Nowadays, it’s an example of Berlin’s progressive urban planning, having been saved from development through a public referendum and turned into a park for the community.
The openness of the space makes it an ideal hangout spot with friends.
Many Berliners come here for picnics, barbecues, and, yes, enjoying a beer while watching the sunset.
In Germany, it’s generally allowed to have a beer in public areas like parks, making Tempelhofer Feld a popular spot for casual get-togethers and relaxed afternoons.
In addition to leisure activities, the park also hosts a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, from food markets to music concerts, adding to its appeal as a social gathering point.
All in all, Tempelhofer Feld is more than just a park—it’s a slice of Berlin’s multifaceted culture.
Since this is a huge space, I’d recommend coming here with your bike so you can explore more of it. Check the public transport section to see how to get a bike while in Berlin.
Practical Berlin Travel Tips
Berlin has a great public transport system, which consists of trams, buses, and trains. All public transport uses the same ticketing system – VBB.
There are three zones in Berlin (A, B and C). The Berlin Airport is in Zone C, but all the other Berlin attractions are in Zone A and B.
You can purchase a single ticket, a short trip ticket, a short trip ticket, or a daily ticket. It’s worth noting that if you’re planning to take public transport more than 3 times during a day, it might be worth it to buy the 24-hour ticket.
Unless you’re travelling to or from the airport (which is in zone C), get the AB ticket for either a single ticket or a day ticket.
In Berlin, the daily ticket is a 24-hour ticket, which is valid from the moment you stamp it at the station (see the yellow machines for stamping) up to the next day at the same hour.
You can either buy the tickets from the machines in each station or use the VGG app.
Public bikes in Berlin
If the weather is nice, you can also rent a bike in Berlin. There are many companies offering bike rental – Tier, NextBike, Bolt, Lime Bike, and Donkey Republic.
I have tried Donkey Republic, and I was pleased with the service. Depending on your schedule, you can pay as you ride or get a monthly subscription to the service. Check it out and see which offer works best for you.
Bolt is also very easy to use, and you might already have the app on your phone, as Bolt is a very popular taxi service app in Europe.
Germany isn’t a world-famous destination for foodies (my humble personal opinion), but it is famous for its currywurst.
You’ll find different currywurst locations (e.g., Curry 61 in Berlin Mitte is a good location) scattered throughout the city. Most of them also offer vegan options, which is a delight for me because I don’t eat meat. Curry 36 is another popular one. It’s up to you and your Berlin itinerary to find the most convenient Berliner wurst place for you.
It’s not the most health-conscious meal, especially if you get a menu with fries, mayo and ketchup, but you can’t truly feel the Berlin spirit without a wurst, can you?!
If you have more time in Berlin and wish to explore more of this multicultural city, then I have a few self-guided walking tour guides for you:
- Berlin Before and After the Wall: How the West Won (and Where It Got Them)
- Berlin Before and After the Wall: Central Berlin
- Berlin Before and After the Wall: Berlin’s Culture
These are more in-depth guides that take you to specific locations, some of which are not so popular with tourists.