Berlin. Just the mention of the name conjures images of division and unity, war and peace, angst and optimism. While visiting the city, the horrific history is palpable, yet the mood is brightened by the vibrant and expressive side of Berlin. The sprawling center is teeming with sights: museums, memorials and parks – and we pack it all into our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary.
We understand how overwhelming planning a trip to Berlin can be – so we’re helping by sharing our detailed Berlin 3-Day Itinerary. It is ideal for first-timers to Berlin who want to see as much of the city as possible – even on limited time. Our itinerary for 3 days in Berlin includes everything you need to plan your trip!
About our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary
Before we dive right into what to do in Berlin in 3 days, we have a few tips for using our itinerary.
Self-Guided Berlin Walking Tour and Map Directions
The sights in our itinerary for Berlin are listed in order in the form of a walking tour for three days of sightseeing. We include a link to Google Maps for each day’s sightseeing adventures. Additionally, we provide step-by-step walking directions and a map link to each attractions – so you can easily navigate to it from any location. Pro Tip: At the end of the post, we have included a Berlin Map of Sights.
Each sight listed includes a brief summary of the attraction. If appropriate, we have also linked to additional information about the sight, so that you can read more about it. If there is a charge to visit a sight, it is indicated. If it is not indicated whether a sight requires a ticket or is free, it is open public space.
Berlin Food and Drinks
Of course, local fare and German beers are not to be missed on a trip to Berlin – so we made sure to include those in our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary as well.
Berliners have an affection for kebabs and currywurst – and while German beer consistently ranks as some of the best in the world, in Berlin young brew masters are enhancing the tradition with a new wave of craft beer that is pouring through the city.
The route of our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary incorporates getting a taste of kebabs, currywurst and craft beer, including specific restaurant and food tour recommendations.
Berlin Sightseeing Pace
We have packed our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary to the brim! It is possible to see each day’s activities in one day; however, timing will vary based on your walking pace and how long each sight holds your interest. Be aware of opening and closing times and adjust according to your schedule and preference.
How Many Days in Berlin
We designed our Itinerary for Berlin for 3 days – but we know other travelers might have more (or less!) time in the city. Therefore, we offer additional sightseeing tips – for longer and shorter stays – at the end of the post.
Berlin Travel Tips
Visitors need to know more than just what to see in Berlin! We provide essential information at the end of the post – like how to get around and where to stay.
Our 3-Days in Berlin Itinerary contains everything you need to know! Save, Pin or Bookmark this Berlin Blog Post so that you can easily access it during your trip!
Berlin Itinerary 3 Days
Set out on foot to explore the iconic sights of Berlin in 3 days. In our Berlin Itinerary, you will see the most poignant memorials and best museums in the city.
Day 1: Berlin City Center Sights
Start Day 1 of your 3-Day Berlin Itinerary in Pariser Platz at the Brandenburg Gate. Station: Brandenburger Tor.
MAP. Start your tour of Berlin in Pariser Platz at Brandenburg Gate. It is, perhaps, Berlin’s most famous landmark. The Brandenburg Gate has marked the entrance to the city since 1791, although it was blocked by the Berlin Wall that surrounded West Berlin from 1961 until 1989. The gate, with six columns and topped with a horse-drawn chariot carrying Victoria, has served as the backdrop to political speeches (like President Reagan’s 1987 ‘Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!’ speech) and demonstrations.
Pariser Platz is home to both the US and French embassies, as well as the historic – and high-priced – Adlon Hotel. The hotel opened in 1907 and, today, the Royal Suite fetches more than $27,000 a night. Many dignitaries and celebrities have been guests of the hotel – like Queen Elizabeth II and President Obama. Michael Jackson has also stayed at Adlon Hotel…it’s where he so infamously dangled his baby from the second-floor balcony.
Map Directions from Brandenburg Gate to Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. From Pariser Platz, walk through Brandenburg Gate. Look up to your right to see the glass dome of the Reichstag Building. Look directly across the street to the Tiergarten, Berlin’s largest, inner-city park. (You’ll visit both sites on Day 3.) Turn left and walk south on Ebertstrasse. Look for the double-line of bricks that cut across the street: this is where the Berlin Wall used to stand. You will see tracks like this throughout the city. Continue walking south to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Information Center
MAP. The memorial acknowledges and remembers the estimated 6,000,000 Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. The expansive memorial, which was completed in December 2004, is unusual and striking. There are 2,711 concrete slabs of various heights arranged in a grid that cover more than 4.5 acres of land. The pathways created between the concrete slabs allow visitors to walk through the memorial and contemplate the events of the Holocaust.
On the east side of the memorial, stairs descend into the Information Center. The center is small, but the exhibitions are powerful. Visitors can review a timeline of the events and terrors that occurred between 1933 and 1945 at the hands of the National Socialist Party (Nazis) and then read letters and diary entries left from victims. One room features the stories of 15 Jewish families and how they were impacted by the Holocaust. In another room, the names of the victims, along with a short biography, are read for every known Jewish Holocaust victim. To listen to the names and stories of every victim on the list in its entirety would take 6 years, 7 months and 27 days.
Note: The Information Center is free to enter, but it is important to note opening times. Hours of Operation: from April to September, open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 8pm (last admission 7:15pm); from October to March, open Tuesday through Sunday from 10am to 7pm (last admission 6:15pm). Closed Mondays – and closed December 24, 25, 26 and December 31 at 4pm.
Map Directions from Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe to Hitler’s Bunker. From the southeast corner of the Memorial field, walk south on Gertrud-Kolmar-Strasse to the parking lot. Sixteen feet below the surface was Hitler’s Bunker.
MAP. Hitler’s bomb shelter, the Fuhrerbunker, is where he spent the last months of his life and ultimately committed suicide. The bunker was partially destroyed and sealed from public entrance. Apartment buildings and a mundane parking lot were constructed over the bunker in an effort to dismiss the notion that the site was of any particular significance. It wasn’t until 2006 that a small plaque was erected at the corner of the parking lot acknowledging the site.
Map Directions from Hitler’s Bunker to Potsdamer Platz. From the parking lot above Hitler’s Bunker, continue walking south on Gertrud-Kolmar-Strasse to the intersection (In den Ministergarten). Turn right (west) and walk to Ebertstrasse. Turn left (south) and walk to Potsdamer Platz.
MAP. The contemporary Potsdamer Platz with sleek, soaring high-rise buildings has come a long way since it was a trading post in the 1600s. In the 1850s, a railway ran through the center of Potsdamer Platz and, in the 1920s, it was it was buzzing center of the city. The square was flattened in World War II and laid a wasteland during the Cold War when the Berlin Wall divided it (which is now marked by a double-line of bricks and a few panels of concrete wall).
After the wall fell in 1989, the square was revitalized with contemporary buildings, including the Sony complex and Kollhoff Tower. Panoramapunkt – a viewing platform accessed by Europe’s fastest elevator – is located in Kollhoff Tower.
Map Directions from Potsdamer Platz to Topography of Terror. From the Potsdamer Platz S-Bahn Station, walk south on Stresemannstrasse to Niederkirchnerstrasse. Turn left (east) and walk to the Topography of Terror.
Topography of Terror
MAP. Free Entry. The Topography of Terror documentation center is located on the previous site of the Secret State Police Office (Gestapo), the SS (Protection Squad) and the Reich Security Main Office. The complex also housed a prison. Inside the building is a permanent exhibition documenting the rise of the Third Reich, the crimes they committed once they established power and the consequences at the end of the war.
From spring until fall, a second exhibit is displayed outdoors in front of the remaining cellar walls. Above the exhibit, on ground level, a 650-foot portion of the Berlin Wall stands.
Map Directions from Topography of Terror to Checkpoint Charlie. From the Topography of Terror, walk east on Niederkirchnerstrasse to Wilhelmstrasse. The buildings to the north are some of the only remaining Nazi government buildings. Continue walking east (the street name changes to Zimmerstrasse) to Friedrichstrasse. Just south of the intersection is Checkpoint Charlie.
MAP. Checkpoint Charlie – or Checkpoint C (as there was also Checkpoint A and B, among other crossings) – was the best-known transfer point between East and West Berlin during the 28 years that the Berlin Wall stood. Today, Checkpoint Charlie is a bit of a tourist ruse. A replica hut – complete with actors holding American flags who will pose with tourists for photos in exchange for a few euros – stands near the original border crossing. The shack sits under the watchful eye of a Russian soldier…with the image of an American soldier facing the opposite direction.
On the northwest corner of the intersection is an outdoor exhibition on Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall that is highlighted by stories, photographs and one section of the Berlin Wall. The Black Box museum details the history of the Cold War.
Map Directions from Checkpoint Charlie to Hasir for lunch. Note: It’s a bit of a detour to reach Hasir – and it’s best to use the bus (get info in the Map Directions link), but it’s an institution and a must-try while in Berlin! If not interested in lunch at Hasir, continue the walking tour from Checkpoint Charlie to Gendarmenmarkt. Map.
LUNCH at Hasir
MAP. It’s time for lunch and, in Berlin, that means a kebab. Hasir opened in 1984 (this location in Kreuzberg is the original location, there are now six restaurants in the city) – and many Berliners and visitors swear they make the best kebab in the city. It’s even recommended by international foodies, like the late Anthony Bourdain.
Map Directions from Hasir to Gendrmenmarkt. It is best to use the map for accurate schedules, but in general, retrace your route – walk north on Adalbertstrasse to the intersection, take the M29 bus toward Grunewald, Roseneck, ride 6 stops and depart at Charlottenstrasse. Walk north on Charlottenstrasse to Gendarmenmarkt.
MAP. Origins of the square date to the late 1600s when the square was used as a marketplace. However, it wasn’t until about 100 years later, in 1773, that buildings surrounding the square were enhanced by the grand architecture.
The centerpiece of the spacious and elegant square is the Concert Hall, which is flanked by two nearly identical churches (the French Church on the north side and German Church on the south side). The Concert Hall – which is known as one of the best acoustical halls in the world – is home to the German Orchestra, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, and is free to visit.
A statue of German poet, Friedrich Schiller, stands in the middle. During World War II, the concert hall and German church were heavily damaged. At Christmas, Gendarmenmarkt is the site of one of Berlin’s best Christmas Markets.
Map Directions from Gendarmenmarkt to St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral. From the northeast corner of Gendarmenmarkt, walk east on Franzosische to Hedwigskirchgasse – a pedestrian street on your left. Turn left (north) and walk to St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral.
St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral
MAP. Free Entry. St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome…just on a smaller scale. It was the first Catholic church built in (then) Prussia post-Reformation. Inside, an organ clings like a barnacle to the wall above the entrance. In the lower church, there are several small chapels and a small museum of artifacts.
Map Directions from St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral to Bebelplatz. Exit the church and walk left (west) into Bebelplatz.
MAP. The large square was designed in the 1740s and today is ringed by St. Hedwig’s Catholic Cathedral, Humbolt University and the Opera House. It was in 1933, however, that it gained infamous status as the site of a Nazi book burning ceremony. On the occasion, 20,000 books by authors such as Heinrich Mann, Karl Marx and Albert Einstein, were burned.
In the middle of the square, a memorial below ground level can be viewed through a glass pane: a room of empty bookshelves that could hold 20,000 books. A plaque next to the memorial displays an ominous quote written 100 years prior to the book burning event. It reads: “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bucher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen,” which translates in English to: “That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.”
Humbolt University was founded in 1811 and is one of Berlin’s oldest universities. In its time, the university has either produced or employed 40 Nobel Prize winners – including Albert Einstein. Today, the university library – from which the books were destroyed – holds 6.5 million volumes, making it one of the largest university libraries in Germany.
The Berlin State Opera House (Staatsoper Unter den Linden – or Lindenoper) was first built in 1741. Through the many years, the building has suffered damage by fire and war; as a result there have been several reconstructions as well as a number of name changes.
Map Directions from Bebelplatz to Berliner Dom. From the north end of Bebelplatz, walk east on Unter Den Linden (the street curves slightly to the left and changes name to Scholosspl.) to Berliner Dom.
MAP. (Ticket required, 7 euros per person.) Berliner Dom – or Berlin Cathedral – is, in fact, not a cathedral, as it has never been the seat of the bishop. The formal name of the Evangelical church is Oberpfarr- und Domkirche zu Berlin – or Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church of Berlin. The church parish dates to 1451, but the church as it stands today was built in 1905. It is the largest church in the city of Berlin. The church is located on ‘Museum Island’ a small strip of land in the middle of the Spree River that is home to five Berlin museums (which you will visit on Day 2).
Part of the church was damaged during the war in 1940 and 1944 – and further damaged under communist reconstruction (including the removal of crosses and the demolition of an entire wing). In addition to services and concerts, the church can be toured, including a climb up to the dome and down to the crypt.
Map Directions from Berliner Dom to Radisson Blu AquaDom. From the church, continue walking northeast on Schlosspl (the street name changes to Karl-Liebknecht-Str) to Radisson Blu. Walk into the lobby to the AquaDom.
Radisson Blu Lobby and AquaDom SeaLife
MAP. (Ticket required for entry, cost varies but starts at about 15 euros per person; free to take a quick peek from the lobby, but if staying longer, order a drink from the lobby bar.) While the Radisson Blu hotel isn’t exactly a Berlin attraction, the lobby is worth a quick peek inside for one distinctive feature: the world’s largest freestanding aquarium, AquaDom.
The 80-foot-tall cylindrical aquarium holds more than 1,500 fish – and a 2-story, glass elevator is installed in the middle of it. The AquaDom is part of a bigger attraction, SEA LIFE Berlin. Getting a look at the AquaDom from the Radisson Blu lobby is free; if you are staying longer than a moment or want to take photos, consider purchasing a coffee or drink from the lobby bar.
Map Directions from Radisson Blu to Hackescher Markt. From the Radisson Blu, continue walking northeast on Karl-Liebknecht-Str to Spandauer. Turn left (north) and walk to Hackescher Markt.
MAP. Featuring boutique shops, cafes, restaurants and bars, Hackescher Market is a hub of activity for locals and tourists. An outdoor market is held on every Thursday and Saturday. Hackesche Hofe is a series of eight connected courtyards featuring specialty shops, which is accessed via the archway at Rosenthalerstrasse 40.
Evening Berlin Food Tour
Cap off your day of sightseeing with a Beer & Currywurst Tour by Berlin Food Tour. We recommend reserving your spot in advance – because the tours do fill up!
Beer and Currywurst are two of things that Berlin does best! And there’s no better – or more entertaining – way to discover these treasures than on the Beer & Currywurst Tour. The tour, which is often led by the Berlin Food Tour founder, Bastian, features multiple stops. We ate and drank at the top spots for beer and currywurst in the city. In the small group setting, he encouraged interaction, welcomed questions and provided excellent tips and advice for visiting Berlin.
The tour meeting point is at Brauhaus Lemke. Map Directions from Hackescher Markt to Brauhaus Lemke. From the north side of the Hackescher Markt S-Bahn Station, follow the tracks east to Brauhaus Lemke.
Tip and Maps for Day 1 of our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary
- If a self-guided tour of Berlin isn’t your style, join a Berlin Walking Tour to explores the highlights, history and hidden sights of the city.
- Looking for a different kind of culinary tour? Check out the Berlin Food Tour by Bike.
- Link to Google Maps for sightseeing in the morning (before lunch)
- Link to Google Maps for sightseeing in the afternoon (after lunch)
Day 2: Berlin Museums, Art and Architecture
Start Day 2 of your 3-Day Berlin Itinerary in the city center at…
MAP. Ticket required for museum entry, cost varies/combo ticket available, including Museum Day Pass with Skip-the-line access and tour; it is free to wander the Museum Island grounds. The northern tip of the island that sits in the middle of the Spree River houses a museum complex consisting of 5 museums – and together they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museums can be visited with individual tickets, a combination pass or for free with the 72-hour City Centre Berlin + Museum Island Welcome Berlin Card.
Spend the morning visiting one or several museums – or simply wandering the grounds and admiring the architecture. Below is a list of the museums and information.
- Pergamon Museum – Open daily 10am to 6pm and Thursdays until 8pm. The building dates to 1930. The features are the Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon and the Market Gate of Miletus. Collections include Antiquity, Middle East and Islamic Art. It is one of Germany’s largest museums and the most visited art museum in the country.
- Bode Museum – Open Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm and Thursdays until 8pm; closed Mondays. The building dates to 1904. Exhibits include sculptures and art from the late Antique and Byzantine periods, as well as a collection of coins and medals.
- Neues Museum (New Museum) – Open daily 10am to 6pm and Thursdays until 8pm. The building dates to 1859, but was destroyed during World War II and was only recently reconstructed in 2009. On display are Egyptian, Prehistory and Early History collections. The most notable item is the bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
- Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) – Open Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm and Thursdays until 8pm; closed Mondays. The building dates to 1876. The featured collections include Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and Modernist artwork.
- Altes Museum (Old Museum) – Open Tuesday through Sunday 10am to 6pm and Thursdays until 8pm; closed Mondays. The building dates to 1830. Housed in the museum is the Collection of Classical Antiquities.
Note: Berliner Dom is also located on Museum Island; if you didn’t have time to visit on Day 1, visit on Day 2.
Map Directions from Museum Island (from Berliner Dom) to Alexanderplatz. From any of the museums on Museum Island, walk south toward Berliner Dom. At Schlosspl., turn left (northeast) and walk to Alexanderplatz. On the walk, you will pass St. Marienkirche and the Berliner Fernsehturm.
Alexanderplatz & Fernsehturm Berlin TV Tower
MAP. Originally a cattle market, today Alexanderplatz is a busy transportation hub (including arrival and departure points via U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram and bus) and pedestrian zone.
The top attraction on the square is the easy-to-spot TV Tower, Fernsehturm, which is more than 1,200 feet tall and features a viewing platform and rotating restaurant in the bulbous sphere. The tower has been a symbol of Berlin and Germany since it was built in the 1960s. It ranks as the tallest structure in Germany and the second-tallest structure in Europe. Also on Alexanderplatz is the cylindrical World Time Clock, which displays all 24 times zones and the major cities in each zone.
Map Directions from Alexanderplatz to Tekbir Doner for lunch. From Alexanderplatz, take the U8 toward Hermannstrasse. Ride 4 stops to Kottbusser Tor. Exit the station and walk east on Skalitzer to Tekbir Doner for lunch.
LUNCH – Tekbir Doner
MAP. For a completely different-tasting kebab and a truly local experience, head to Tekbir Doner for lunch. We got a tip from a local to dine at Tekbir Doner – and it didn’t disappoint. The small shop has only a few seats and everyone else in the place will surely know each other. The meat is veal – no chicken here – and the toppings are basic, but they combine to make an incredible kebab. Oh – and a cup of the Turkish tea is on the house!
Map Directions from Tekbir Doner to Treptower Park and Soviet War Memorial. From Tekbir Doner, retrace your steps and walk west on Skalitzer back to Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn Station. Take U1 toward Warschauer. Ride 2 stops to Schlesisches Tor. Exit the station and walk north across the street to the bus stop. Take Bus 265 toward Schoneweide OR Bus 165 towards Kopenick, Muggelscholsschenweg. Ride to Herkomerstrasse. Depart the bus and walk east through the gate into Treptower Park and the Soviet War Memorial.
Soviet War Memorial and Treptower Park
MAP. Treptower Park, which lies to the southeast of the city along the west bank of the Spree River, was the location of the 1896 Great Industrial Exposition of Berlin. The main feature today – in addition to the open space and plentiful pathways – is the dramatic Soviet War Memorial (Sowjetisches Ehrenmal Treptow).
The vast monument was designed as a cemetery for 5,000 Soviet soldiers and to commemorate the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died fighting in the Battle of Berlin. The memorial includes a 40-foot-tall statue of a Soviet soldier carrying a German child while standing over a broken swastika, as well as 16 sarcophagi featuring carved depictions of war scenes and quotes from Stalin.
Map Directions from Treptower Park and Soviet War Memorial to Oberbaumbrucke Bridge. Walk the length of the memorial and any other parts of the park (if time allows), then exit through the gate opposite of where you entered the park to Puschkinallee, the road that cuts through the center of the park. Walk to the bus stop (to your right on the opposite side of the road). Take Bus 265 towards Stadtmitte OR Bus 165 towards Markisches Museum to Falckensteinstrasse. Depart the bus and walk east on Falckensteinstrasse to Oberbaumbrucke Bridge.
MAP. The double-towered, double-decked bridge crossing the Spree River is one of Berlin’s most striking landmarks. Originally built in the 1700s and named for the tree trunk barriers that used to prevent smugglers from crossing at night, the wooden bridge was replaced in 1896 with the brick bridge. The bridge connects the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg (in the west) and Friedrichshain (in the east), which were once separated by the Berlin Wall. During the time that the wall stood, the bridge was used as a pedestrian crossing…for West Berlin residents only.
Map Directions from Oberbaumbrucke Bridge to East Side Gallery. Cross the bridge and turn left (north). Stay on the left (west) side of the street and walk the length of the East Side Gallery.
East Side Gallery
MAP. In 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, artists from around the world were invited to create works of art on the east side of a ¾-mile-long stretch of Wall that had not been dismantled. The project included individual murals from 105 artists that depict scenes of freedom and hope.
Among the most popular is the painting by Dmitri Vrubel of Leonid Brezhnev (General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union) and Erich Honecker (General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany) engaged in an open mouth kiss, with the words, “God, help me stay alive among this deadly love,” written in Russian.
As time has passed, much of the open-air art has been defaced (by punks) or removed and destroyed (by developers). An effort to preserve and restore the art has been undertaken, but not without controversy. A fence has been erected to protect the wall (an odd twist in the story of a wall everyone wanted torn down).
Map Directions from East Side Gallery to Friedrichshain. East Side Gallery is in the Friedrichshain neighborhood. Stay in the area and explore on foot the neighborhood of Friedrichshain.
MAP. Developed in the 1920s as a working-class neighborhood, Friedrichshain is now a trendy area undergoing gentrification. Wander the streets aimlessly or join a guide on a walking tour of Friedrichshain. Stay in the neighborhood for dinner and drinks – and, if you are into clubbing, definitely check out Berghain Bar (or at least try to get in!)
Tips and Map for Day 2 of our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary
Tip: If you are more keen on learning about the artistic side of Berlin, we suggest taking the Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Workshop tour.
Day 3: Berlin Parks
Start Day 3 of your 3-Day Berlin Itinerary south of the city at…
MAP. Ticket required for entry, 1 euro per person. Natur-Park Sudgelande, which opened in 1999, is set in an abandoned railyard. The water tower – once used to power steam engines – is covered in rust and trees have taken root between tracks. The railyard was built in 1889, but was closed in 1952 and was left to the mercy of nature. Besides the many lines of overgrown railroad tracks, a 1940 train engine and an original railyard turntable are top features of the park.
Map Directions from Natur-Park Sudgelande to Tempelhofer Feld Park. Exit the park (using the same gate you entered) at the S Priesterweg S-Bahn Station and take the S2 toward Bernau OR the S25 toward Henningsdorf. Ride one stop to Sudkreuz and depart the train. Switch to the S42 Loop, S46 towards Konigs Wusterhausen or S47 towards Spindlersfeld. Ride one stop to Tempelhof. Depart the train and walk east across the street to Tempelhofer Feld Park.
Tempelhofer Feld Park
MAP. The Tempelhofer Feld Park is one of Berlin’s most historic and popular adaptive re-use projects. The first Tempelhof Airport opened in 1923, but plans for an improved airport were already in the works by 1936. During the war, construction ceased – and then it was used in 1940-41 as a forced labor camp. After the war – from 1945 until 1993, the airport was used as a base by the US Air Force.
In 1948, when the Soviet Union imposed a food and supply blockade on West Berlin, the airport was used as an ‘air bridge’ to fly in provisions needed for the people living in West Berlin. (More information on the ‘air bridge’ here.) The airport became an evacuation point for Berliners who wanted to flee the region and reestablish their families and lives elsewhere in Germany and Europe.
In the 1960s and 70s, the airport functioned as a civilian airport – in 1971 the airport saw 5.5 million passengers, but closed when the Tegel Airport opened. Due to increased travel through Germany in the 1980s, the airport was reopened. However, in 2008, the Tempelhof Airport officially closed.
In 2010, the runways and vast land of the airport were opened as a massive city park. While the taxiway signs remain, the pavement is now used for joggers, bikers and stroller-pushers, not planes. The grassy lawn is used for lounging and BBQ’s in the summertime.
Map Directions from Tempelhofer Feld Park to Mustafa’s for lunch. Exit Tempelhofer Feld Park through the same gate you entered and retrace your steps (walk west through the gate and acrosss the street) to the Tempelhof U-Bahn Station. Take the U6 towards Alt-Tegel. Ride 3 stops to Mehringdamm. Exit the station to the south and walk to Mustafa’s Gemuese Kebab for lunch.
LUNCH – Mustafa’s Kebab
MAP. Mustafa’s Gemuese Kebab stand is Berlin’s trendiest – and perhaps tastiest – of all the kebabs in the city. The line is long and full of selfie-taking tourists, but the kebabs are phenomenal and well worth the wait. The menu is short and the only meat is chicken (although veggie kebabs are also available). We highly recommend ordering the Durum with everything (ask for it ‘not spicy’ if you don’t like hot sauce). The kebabs at Mustafa’s rank as some of our favorites in the world!
Pro Tip: Too hungry for the 25-minute wait? Continue walking south to Curry 36 and order a currywurst snack as an appetizer – and eat it while standing in line at Mustafa’s.
Map Directions frmo Mustafa’s to Reichstag Building. From Mustafa’s, head back into the Mehringdamm U-Bahn Station. Take the U6 toward Alt-Tegel. Ride 5 stops to Friedrichstrasse Station. Walk north out of the station to the Spree River. Follow the river west to the Reichstag Building.
MAP. Free entry; pre-registration required; the free tour of the glass dome includes a (free) audio guide, a small display on the history of the Reichstag Building and spectacular 360 degree views over the city.
In 1894, Berlin’s Reichstag Building opened as home of the German Parliament, which it remained until 1933 when the building was almost completely destroyed by fire. The fire – and accusation that it was a plot by Communists – was used by Hitler to further advance the establishment of the Nazi Party and led to the subsequent signing of the Enabling Act.
The building was not reconstructed after the fire and fell into a state of ruins after it was targeted during the Battle of Berlin in 1945. After the war ended, the West German government moved to Bonn – and the building, which was no longer being used, was only minimally restored. After Germany’s reunification, the decision was made to move Parliament back to Berlin.
The building was completely restored in 1999 – including the glass dome, which was a key feature of the original design that represents the transparency of Germany’s government.
Map Directions from Reichstag Building to Victory Column in Tiergarten Park. From the Reichstag Building, ride Bus100 (towards Zoologischer) – or walk – to the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park.
Tiergarten Park and Victory Column
MAP. Tiergarten is Berlin’s 520-acre, inner-city park. It was originally designed in 1527 as hunting grounds for royalty. As the desire to hunt waned and the city grew, the land was converted into the city’s first public park. Wide paths, statues and monuments were added to the park. The most notable – and visible – monument is the Victory Column (Siegessaule). The bronze ‘Victoria’ that tops that column is 27-feet tall. The column was erected in 1873 to celebrate Prussian victories, but was moved to its current location in the 1930s.
Map Directions from Victory Column to Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church. From the Victory Column, ride Bus 100 towards Zoologischer (or continue walking southwest through the park) and depart at Breitscheidplatz. Walk to the Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church.
Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church
MAP. Free entry. The Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church – also known as the Gedachtniskirche – was built in the late 1800s. After being damaged by bombs in 1943, it was debated whether the church should be completely demolished or salvaged. In the end, it was decided that the damaged spire would be preserved – so that today the church contains both new and historic elements. The church is one of Berlin’s many landmarks.
Map Directions from Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church to Mauerpark. From Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church, walk northwest on Budapester to the Berlin Zoologischer Garten U-Bahn Station. Take the U2 toward Pankow. Ride 16 stops and depart at Eberswalder. From the station, walk west on Eberswalder (the street curves slightly to the left and the name changes to Bernauer)– and continue past the stadium (on your right) to Mauerpark.
MAP. The name – Mauerpark – directly translates to Wall Park. During the years that the Berlin Wall stood, the long strip of land was known as the Death Strip. The Wall blocked access from East to West, but the area around the wall was often referred to as No Man’s Land – or the Death Strip. Watchtowers manned by armed guards looked over the land where sand, traps and spikes were placed to deter East Berliners from attempting escape into West Berlin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the open space was converted into a park.
Today, the park is well-known for the Sunday flea market, where shoppers can find almost anything imaginable. The park is also the site of the famous Sunday summer Bearpit Karaoke Show. Crowds – which often number into the thousands – gather around the small amphitheater to cheer and boo brave karaoke singers.
Map Directions from Mauerpark to Volkspark Humboldthain. Walk to the north end of Mauerpark to Gleimstrasse. Turn left (west) and walk under the tracks. Continue in the same direction (the street name changes to Rugener) to Brunnenstrasse. Cross the street and enter Volkspark Humboldthain.
MAP. Berlin’s northern park, Volkspark Humboldthain, opened in 1872, featuring greenhouses, a church and the city’s first park playground. Near the end of World War II, the park was the site of two Flak Towers, built to defend the city from aircraft attacks and to serve as above-ground bunkers (they could accommodate 15,000 people).
After the war, in which much of the park was devastated, one tower was destroyed and reduced to rubble, while the other remains partially standing and serves as a viewing platform. A tour of the interior of the tower is possible by guided tour, but only in the summer, as it is a sanctuary for bats in the wintertime.
Map Directions from Volkspark Humboldthain to Castle Pub Craft Bar. From the Flak Towers in Volkspark Humboldthain, exit to the north via the pedestrian bridge and turn right (east) onto Hochstrasse. At the intersection, continue walking straight ahead on the narrow cobblestone street towards the Holiday Inn Hotel. Past the hotel entrance is the Castle Pub Craft Bar.
More Craft Beer and Currywurst
For a final taste of some of Berlin’s finest beer, head to Castle Bar (map) for a pre-dinner pint. Opened in 2013, Castle Pub serves craft beer from Berlin and beyond. Featuring on-site brewers, Two Fellas Brewery, Castle Pub has 34 taps and about 100 bottled beers. Craft beer connoisseurs will also want to check out nearby Vagabund Brewery.
Then for dinner, walk to Curry Baude (map). Located at the Gesunderbrunnen Station, Curry Baude has been making currywurst since 1989 – using a sauce based on a secret family recipe. The spot is a local favorite – and some claim the currywurst is the best in the city. Pro Tip: Try the Special Currywurst, which comes with corn, paprika and sauce.
Note: If the currywurst is just a snack – or if you’re simply craving a change in fare to something international – head to the Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, the international restaurant options are endless. In the mood for burgers? We recommend eating at The Bird.
Map for Day 3 of our 3-Day Berlin Itinerary
Berlin Tour Map
A Brief History of Berlin
To really appreciate Berlin attractions, it is essential to have a basic understanding of the history of the city. Although Berlin has a relatively short timeline by most European standards, the history of the city is complex and profoundly marked by events of the 20th century.
Originally settled by the Slavs, Berlin officially became a city in the year 1237 under the rule of the Margraves of Brandenburg. The city quickly grew and, in 1451, it became the royal residence of the Brandenburg electors. In the late 1500s, many citizens fell victim to Bubonic plague and died – and in the early 1600s, half of Berlin’s population was lost in the Thirty Years’ War. In the mid-1600s, under Elector Frederick William, the population surged due to open policies regarding immigration and religion.
In 1701, when Elector Frederick III named himself King of Prussia, Berlin became the capital of the kingdom. Throughout the 1700s, not only did the city see the construction of many churches and buildings (some that survive today), but also the rise of education, transportation and the arts. The strong economic growth seen in the early 1800s attracted an influx of immigrants to the city, which resulted in much of the population suffering from poverty and ultimately led to a middle-class revolution in 1848.
The German Empire
In 1871, the German Empire (or German Reich) was established and the nation became the most powerful in all of Europe – and Berlin became the center of European politics. The industrial city boomed until World War I, when supplies and morale were both running short. At the end of the war, the monarchy was overthrown and in 1918 Germany became the Weimar Republic, with Berlin remaining as the capital city. Political unrest ensued.
To pay reparations owed by Germany as agreed to in the Treaty of Versailles, the German government simply started printing money – and inflation peaked in 1923 when 1 US dollar equaled 4.2 trillion marks (that’s 4,200,000,000,000). However, things turned around in 1924 and Berlin became a cultural center of Europe highlighted by exhibitions and a vibrant nightlife…until 1929 and the Great Depression.
Bankruptcy and unemployment led to demonstrations and chaos in the government. In 1933, Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor and the Nazis took control of the nation. In the same year, the boycotting of Jewish-owned businesses was organized, book burning ceremonies took place and the first concentration camps were opened – all while Hitler continued toward his goal of constructing Welthauptstadt Germania. Jewish citizens continued to be targeted, terrorized and killed.
World War II
On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany declared war on Poland – and thus the start of World War II. Berlin was first bombed in August of 1940, but it was during the Battle of Berlin (November 1943-March 1944) that nearly half of the city was destroyed. World War II came to end in April/May 1945 when the Soviets captured Berlin and Hitler committed suicide.
A City Divided
The city of Berlin was subsequently divided into four sectors to be administered jointly by The United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. As the Western Forces banded together, relations with the Soviet Union dissolved and the city of Berlin was soon divided into East Berlin (Soviet/Communist) and West Berlin (Western Forces) – and, thus, became the focus of the Cold War.
As East Berlin conditions deteriorated under a suffering economy, East Berlin residents fled to West Berlin. In order to prevent a complete mass exodus, in 1961 the East German government built the Berlin Wall encircling West Berlin. Checkpoints allowed for Westerners (with the proper paperwork) to pass through into East Berlin, but East Berlin residents were not permitted into West Berlin.
The Berlin Wall stood for 28 years – separating the city, families and friends – until November 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. The city was reunited and the Cold War ended. Since the reunification of the city, Berlin has experienced rapid growth.
More information for your 3-Day Berlin Itinerary
Now that you know what to see in Berlin in 3 days, we have a few more tips for your trip!
Berlin is a big city, but it is well-connected with public transportation. In our Berlin Sightseeing Guide, we recommend using public transportation to get to sights that are spread out over the city. It is helpful to have a basic understanding of Berlin’s public transportation system, BVG, prior to arriving to the city.
Routes can easily be determined using the Journey Planner or by using Google Maps (with the links we have provided to each sight). However, in order to use the links while out sightseeing, you will need a wifi connection (although carrying a route map is very useful). To stay connected while we travel, we use a GlocalMe Mobile WiFi device.
Tickets (single ride, daily, weekly or monthly) can be purchased at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations or on buses and trams. Visitors who purchase a Welcome Card (or the Welcome Card plus Museum Island) will have the added benefit of free public transportation.
Berlin Welcome Card
Tourists visiting Berlin will most likely benefit from purchasing a Berlin Welcome Card, which includes all public transportation and various discounts for the specified number of days. (Available for 48 or 72 hours – or 4, 5, or 6 consecutive days in Zones A & B or A, B & C. The Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island has the additional benefit of museum entry.
With the card, we never had to worry about buying or stamping tickets – which made using public transportation a breeze. We wouldn’t go to Berlin without a Welcome Card!
For more information about sightseeing in Berlin, go to Visit Berlin, the official Berlin Tourist site.
Berlin Day Trips
With more time in the city, consider a day trip from Berlin. A few of the most popular Berlin Day Trips are: Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp, Potsdam and Dresden (but read our 3-Day Dresden Itinerary to see why you might want to stay longer than a day!)
For a longer European itinerary to includes a stop in Berlin, check out Intrepid Travel’s Berlin to Venice 15-day trip.
Where To Stay in Berlin
During our visit to Berlin, we stayed in an Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? (Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) We have found that staying in apartments is often less expensive than hotel rooms – with the added benefit of a kitchen and, usually, more space.
However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Berlin hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: Casa Camper Berlin, Regent Berlin and Hotel am Steinplatz.
Getting To Berlin
Berlin can be reached by plane, train, bus or car.
Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSetting Fools, after all!) and we start our search for the best deals on airline tickets on Skyscanner.
To get from city to city when flights are not possible, we usually rely on public transportation and take trains or buses. In Europe, our preferred bus company is FlixBus – as it is economical, clean and comfortable with on-board wifi and a toilet. We aren’t keen on driving abroad, but renting a car can often save time and money (especially when traveling with more than two people) – and it allows for greater discovery.
Best Time To Visit Berlin
Brrrrrrr-lin. That’s how we pronounced the city as we were there in the middle of winter. It was freezing cold and snow blanketed the city, but it didn’t keep us from exploring! With the well-connected public transportation and bevy of museums, churches and pubs, we stayed plenty warm.
While many people may not think winter is the best time to visit Berlin, there are many pros to visiting during the colder months, like fewer crowds and less expensive hotel rooms. Tip: If you are visiting Berlin in the winter, pack clothing that can be layered and good, winter shoes or boots.
Berlin: How Many Days
We created a 3-Day Itinerary in Berlin because we think three days are just enough time to get to know the city. However, we understand that other visitors may have more – or less – than 3 days in Berlin. Use our Berlin travel planner tips below to plan your perfect trip.
Berlin One-Day Itinerary
If you are trying to create a plan of things to do in Berlin in one day, we advise following our tips from Day 1…and perhaps adding the Reichstag and Tiergarten into your sightseeing.
2 Days in Berlin Itinerary
To create a Berlin 2-Day Itinerary, we think it is best to simply follow Days 1 and 2 of our above Three Days In Berlin Itinerary (but, again, add the Reichstag and Tiergarten into your first day, if possible!).
4 Days in Berlin Itinerary
A Berlin 4-Days Itinerary allows for more regional exploration. With 4 days in Berlin, we recommend adding one of the above day trips from Berlin to your trip.
What You Need To Pack for your 3 Days in Berlin
We have just a few final tips for your Berlin trip!
Our Berlin 3-Day Itinerary covers some ground! Make sure to pack comfortable city walking shoes for your trip. I like to wear these shoes by Columbia and Kris likes to wear Merrell shoes for city walking.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
We Want To Know: What would you add to our Berlin Itinerary? What is your Must-See tip for spending 3 days in Berlin? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments below!
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We would like to thank Visit Berlin for assisting us with our trip to Berlin. While we did receive support from Visit Berlin, all of the opinions contained in this post are our own.