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What to do in Berlin in 3 days: an amazing 3 days itinerary through the highlights of the capital city of Germany.
It’s very easy to visit Berlin in 3 days.
Moving around the city highlights is so simple thanks to a very efficient public transportation system. There are also two double-decker bus lines, the bus number 100 and the bus number 200, that serve the main streets of Berlin and do pretty much the same route that the more expensive panoramic buses do.
We chose to get around by bus to see and enjoy the city while moving around. I suggest buying the Berlin City Tour Card that allows you to take unlimited trips on public transportation for 72 hours in the AB zones that include the highlights of the city and Tegel Airport for €23,90 per person.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTRE FROM THE AIRPORT.
In Berlin there are two international airports: Tegel and Schönefeld.
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTRE FROM TEGEL AIRPORT.
You can buy your bus tickets and the Berlin City Tour Card at the information desk located in the B terminal.
Once you’re outside the terminal, you’ll see the bus stops. The bus line TXL connects Tegel Airport with the Hauptbahnhof Central Station and many other tourist attractions.
A single ticket from the airport costs €2,80 (single ticket fare for the A-B zone).
HOW TO GET TO THE CITY CENTRE FROM SCHÖNEFELD AIRPORT.
Schönefeld Airport is located in the C zone. It’s cheaper if you buy just a single ticket (€3,40) for the A-B-C zone to reach the city center and then use the A-B zone pass only from your first trip in the city center.
I don’t recommend then to buy the 72 hours A-B-C zone pass because the main attractions are all located in the A-B zone.
From Schönefeld Airport you can take the S9 metro line or the RE7 or RB14 express trains to reach the Hauptbahnhof Central Station and the other main areas.
The airport is also served by many other bus lines. Click here to plan your journey.
WHERE TO STAY IN BERLIN.
We stayed at Hotel Rossi, a few minutes walking from the Central Station of Berlin.
Besides being in a very convenient location for visiting the city, the hotel offers an amazing breakfast.
We recommend it for sure!
ITINERARY TO VISIT BERLIN IN 3 DAYS.
And here’s the itinerary that we planned to visit Berlin in 3 days. We started it off with a few ideas that we changed all the time according to our energy and especially because of the cold weather. In fact we had a few moments where we were freezing so bad that we had to take a break in bars, restaurants or any places with the heat!
And finally, after a few reviews, this is what I think it’s the best itinerary to explore Berlin in 3 days.
DAY 1. REICHSTAG DOME, BRANDENBURG GATE, BERLIN WALL AT THE EAST SIDE GALLERY.
VISIT THE REICHSTAG DOME.
We decided to start our visit to Berlin in 3 days by visiting the glass dome of the Reichstag. And I strongly recommend that! By doing that you can have a first glance to Berlin from above thanks to a spiral staircase that will give you a 360-degree view of the city.
The Reichstag is the palace that hosts the German Parliament (the Bundestag) meetings.
The wonderful glass dome of the palace was built after the German reunification.
The glass dome was also built to let its visitors see the Chamber of Parliament below them, as a symbol of its transparency and public access.
Believe it or not, you can visit the dome for free. You only need to submit a booking request on the Bundestag website by choosing your visit date and time and providing a list of the visitors.
Well, I would really like to thank all the people who work at the entrance of the Reichstag. They all have made their best to let my aunt in. She joined us on our journey at the very last minute and she was not on the list. So thank you for being so kind and helpful!
THE BRANDENBURG GATE.
From the Reichstag we walk towards the symbol of Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate, which design was inspired by the Acropolis temples in Athens.
The Quadriga which is on top of the gate was stolen by Napoleon as a war trophy and taken to Paris. After the abdication of the Emperor, the statue finally returned to Berlin.
The Brandenburg Gate is located on the route of the Berlin Wall. It’s exactly here where Reagan said: “Come here to this gate, Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of the new unity.
During our visit to Berlin I asked my family what would be the first thing that comes in their mind when they think of Berlin. They said in one voice “the Brandenburg Gate!”. For me instead it’s the Berlin Wall. And you? What is the first thing for you?
We leave now Platz des 18 Mars behind and cross the Brandenburg Gate to get to Pariser Platz, the oldest square in Berlin.
In Pariser Platz you will see the American and the French Embassy and the elegant Adlon Hotel.
Parisier Platz is located at the beginning of the long lime trees boulevard: Unter den Linden.
Just a little fun fact about the Adlon hotel: do you remember when Michael Jackson was dangling his son outside a window? It was a window of the Adlon Hotel!
THE HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL.
Near Parisier Platz you can visit the Holocaust Memorial.
The Memorial is a labyrinth of concrete slabs placed in remembrance of the murdered Jews of Europe.
This place is a little enigmatic. I think some people don’t even know what this is. There are some teenagers jumping from one slab to another and others putting on their best smile for their selfie to post on Facebook and Instagram.
Please don’t do that! Take your time instead to think about the real meaning of this Memorial and spare a thought for the victims of this horrible tragedy.
EAST SIDE GALLERY.
Let’s take now a leap forward in history and head to the longest section of the Berlin Wall: the East Side Gallery, which is located along the Sprea River.
From the Memorial walk to the bus stop “Leipziger Str. / Wilhelmstr.” and take the M48 bus direction “S+U Alexanderplatz”. Get off at the bus stop “Berlin, Fischerinsel” (5 stops) and at the same stop take the bus 248 direction “S+U Warschauer Str.”. Get off at the bus stop “Berlin, Tamara-Danz-Str.” (11 stops).
You will be in front of a very long section of the Berlin Wall with beautiful mural paintings made by artists from all around the world.
To learn more about the East Side Gallery and the remains of the Berlin wall read my post FINDING THE REMAINS OF THE BERLIN WALL.
Walk along the wall and finally let it all out with selfies and hashtags on Instagram! The East Side Gallery is a colorful and joyful place that celebrates the end of an oppressive chapter of German history.
Take a stroll along the Spree river until you reach the beautiful Oberbaumbrücke bridge.
THE OBERBAUMBRÜCKE BRIDGE.
The Oberbaumbrücke is a wonderful bridge that crosses the Spree River. The bridge is so beautiful that it looks like it was stolen from fairytale land.
The Oberbaumbrücke was built in replacement of the old wooden bridge that used to protect the city.
From the bridge you will have an amazing view over the Mitte on one side, and the Molecule Men on the other side. The Molecule Men is an aluminum sculpture that represents the intersection of the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts.
DAY 2. ITINERARY ALONG UNTER DEN LINDEN FROM ALEXANDERPLATZ TO THE TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR.
We start the second day of our visit to Berlin with Alexanderplatz, the square located at the end of Unter den Linden.
Alexanderplatz is always busy with people, trains and cars and it’s surrounded by shops. In the middle of the square you will see the modern Fountain of International Friendship and the Clock of the World.
But the main attraction of the square is the Television Tower. The tower, together with the Brandenburg Gate, is the most famous landmark of Berlin.
CLIMB THE TELEVISION TOWER IN BERLIN.
The Television Tower (365 meters tall) is the tallest building in Germany and dominates the skyline of Berlin.
An elevator takes us to the observation deck in just 40 seconds where we can finally enjoy a breathtaking view at 203 meters high.
If you want you can book a table in the Sphere restaurant located just a few meters higher (207 meters). The “specialty” of this restaurant is that it revolves a full 360° so that you can slowly rotate while simply sitting by the window.
Just a little fun fact about the Television Tower of Berlin: the GDR ordered the construction of the tower to show the supremacy of the socialist system on technology. Also the GDR ordered to take down the crosses from the churches located in East Berlin to reiterate the atheist nature of the regime. But only after the tower was built, people realized that when the sun hits the sphere its reflection forms a cross over the city. This fact was called “THE POPE’S REVENGE”.
VISIT INFORMATION ON BERLIN TELEVISION TOWER.
Berlin Television Tower Opening Hours:
- March – October: Every day 9:00 am – Midnight (last entrance: 11:30 pm)
- November – February: Every day 10:00 am – Midnight (last entrance: 11:30 pm)
- Last Entrance to the Restaurant: 11:00 pm
Berlin Television Tower Ticket Fare:
- Observation Deck: €14 adults, €9,50 4-14 years old children, free for children under the age of 4
- Observation Deck. Fast View Ticket (skip the line): €19,50 adults, €12 4-14 years old children, free for children under the age of 4. Click here to book your fast view ticket.
- Sphere Restaurant. Window table: €23,50 adults, €15 4-14 years old children, free for children under the age of 4. Click here to view the menu.
- Sphere Restaurant. Inner circle. €19,50 adults, €12 4-14 years old children, free for children under the age of 4. Click here to view the menu.
VISIT THE MARIENKIRCHE.
And now we go take a closer look at what we saw from above.
After just a few meters from Alexanderplatz we are in front of the Marienkirche: one of the oldest churches in the city.
The Marienkirche, that dates back to the late Middle Age, was built as a Catholic church but it turned into a place of protestant worship after the Lutheran reform.
What struck us here is the weird contrast between the simple and ancient church and the modern Television Tower in the background.
Marienkirche Opening Hours:
- January – March: Every day 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- April – December: Every day 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
THE NEPTUNE FOUNTAIN AND THE ROTES RATHAUS.
In the same big area of the Marienkirche we can also see the Neptune Fountain and the Rotes Rathaus, the town hall of Berlin.
The fountain reminds us a little of the Fountain of the Four Rivers in Rome, our city, with its statues symbolizing the four main rivers of the world.
In fact, also the statues of the Neptune Fountain represent four rivers. They are the four main rivers of Germany: Rhine, Oder, Elbe, Vistula. You will also see a crocodile, a snake, a turtle and a seal “playing” in the water.
The Rotes Rathaus is right behind the fountain. Rotes Rathaus means Red Town Hall, but there’s nothing political in that! It just refers to the color of the bricks that make up the facade of the building.
UNTER DEN LINDEN.
We leave now the big square and start walking on Unter den Linden, the main boulevard of the city (1,5 km) that connects Alexanderplatz with Pariser Platz, the square of the Brandenburg Gate.
Unter den Linden means the Lime Trees Boulevard. It takes its name from the lime trees that once lined the street.
If you don’t want to walk all along the boulevard, you can take the bus number 100 or 200, which are two double-decker buses that serve Unter den Linden and stop in front of the top attractions of the boulevard.
We used them a lot! And I must say they really saved us! Sometimes we were just too cold and our hands were literally freezing. When we couldn’t feel our hands anymore we would just jump on one of these two nicely heated buses to “defrost” and be “transported” cozy and warm to the destinations of our itinerary.
Where and what to eat near Unter den Linden:
- Treffpunkt. Typical German tavern on Mittelstrasse 55/ Ecke Friedrichstrasse. Try the pork knuckle with sauerkraut and the apple strudel. And of course their great German beer.
- Bandy’s. You can’t leave Berlin without trying a Currywurst, the typical German sausage cut in pieces with tomato and curry sauce. Pass by Bandy’s in Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1 for an organic currywurst to go.
THE MUSEUM ISLAND.
We keep walking on Unter den Linden and we cross the bridge to reach the Museum Islands.
The Museum Island is the northern part of the natural island on the Spree River.
On the island there are the main museums of the city and the wonderful Berlin Cathedral.
Due to its artistic and cultural relevance, the island was inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage.
The museums of the islands are:
- Altes Museum (Old Museum): Greek and Roman antiquities. Opening Hours: Monday Closed; Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Ticket Fare: Adults €10; Children €5.
- Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum): ancient architecture. The main artwork of the museum is the Pergamon Altar. Opening Hours: Every Day 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Ticket Fare: Adults €12; Children €6.
- Neues Museum (New Museum): Egyptian and Etruscan sculptures and archeological finds. The main artwork of the museum is the Nefertiti Bust. Opening Hours: Every Day 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Ticket Fare: Adults €12; Children €6.
- Bodemuseum (Bode Museum): paintings from the Late Byzantine to the 19th century. Opening Hours: Monday Closed; Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Ticket Fare: Adults €10; Children €5.
- Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery): 19th-century paintings. Opening Hours: Monday Closed; Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am – 8:00 pm. Ticket Fare: Adults €10; Children €5.
If you want to visit all the museums you should buy the Museum Pass that you can use for 3 days in a row for €29 per person (€14,50 for children). To buy the Museum Pass click here.
Keep in mind that it takes time to visit the museums. We only had 3 days to visit Berlin, so we decided to skip the museums and continue our visit towards the other city attractions.
THE BERLIN CATHEDRAL.
The beautiful Berlin Cathedral is on the same island of the Museums. The church is another symbol of the city.
The Cathedral has been damaged, tore down and rebuilt several times. During its different stages of reconstruction, the architecture of the cathedral has interchanged a baroque style with others more neoclassical and inspired from the Renaissance.
The famous organ inside the Cathedral is played during the religious functions and for special concerts.
The church is a place of Protestant worship. It is also the burial place of the Hohenzollern family, including the king Frederick I and his wife Sophia Charlotte.
You can climb up to the dome for a beautiful view over the city.
Berlin Cathedral Opening Hours (last entrance 1 hour before closing time):
- April – September: Monday – Saturday 9:00 am – 8:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 pm – 8:00 pm
- October – March: Monday – Saturday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm; Sunday 12:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Berlin Cathedral Ticket Fare:
- Full price: €7
- Reduced price (children, students, disabled, unemployed): €5
We leave the Museum Island and keep walking on Unter den Linden. We are now in front of the prestigious Humboldt University.
This important building is associated with many Nobel prize winners and great men like Einstein, Karl Marx, Hegel and the Grimm brothers, to name but a few.
Bebel Platz is a large square right in front of the Humboldt University.
The square was the place where Frederick the Great wanted to start his ambitious project of a large Cultural Forum (Forum Fridericianum) inspired by Ancient Rome. The project though was abandoned because of the high war expenses that the State had to face.
The square is known as the site of an unhappy event. On 10 May 1933, during the Nazi period, thousands of books from the University were thrown onto the fire because they were considered against the regime. In one day we lost forever important works written by philosophers like Karl Marz and other authors who were considered to be “un-German”.
The German people built an underground library as a memorial dedicated to this inglorious event. The library consists of bookshelves with no books to represent the emptiness that was left after the burning of such important works of knowledge. You can see the bookshelves through a glass plate placed on the ground of the square.
Unfortunately we couldn’t see it because the glass plate was covered by a thin ice sheet. So instead of empty bookshelves we were staring at the reflection of our big faces! Just like when you are ready to take a photo with your phone but the camera is in the selfie mode!
P.S.: I came back to Berlin in September and finally the ice sheet is gone! Unfortunately I can’t say the same about the reflection but if you look hard enough you can see an empty bookshelf!
In Bebel Platz you can also see other buildings, including St. Hedwig’s Cathedral and its copper dome inspired by the Pantheon of Rome.
We are leaving now Bebel Blatz and Unter den Linden and we walk towards Gendarmenmarkt.
Gendarmenmarkt is for sure one of the most gorgeous squares in Berlin. Here you will see buildings like the French Cathedral and the German Cathedral with their twin domed towers, and the Konzerthaus, the Concert Hall.
Nearby there are the most exclusive hotels and restaurants in Berlin.
Within a ten-minute walk from Gendarmenmarkt you will be in one of the most important points of interest of Berlin: Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie is the former border crossing between East Germany and West Germany where they used to register members of the American, French and English Forces and the foreigners who were authorized to transit. In October 1961 the Soviet and the American tanks faced each other in this crossing point but eventually the firefight never occurred.
Checkpoint Charlie also witnessed the most desperate attempts to escape. The most famous one was the attempt made by Peter Fechter, an 18 years old boy who was shot and left bleeding to death while he was trying to climb over the Wall from East Berlin.
Today the area is a replica of how the border crossing looked like, including men dressed up as soldiers.
If you want to learn more about the attempts to escape at the time, visit the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie Museum. The Museum contains the documentation on the attempts to climb over the Wall.
TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR.
The Topography of Terror is the Nazi persecution Documentation Centre built over the former SS high command, the cellar of the Gestapo and the Reich Main Security Office.
It’s located 500 meters from Checkpoint Charlie and it contains documents and photographs that illustrate the history of the terror system from the rise of Nazism to the end of the Second World War.
The Topography of Terror is open every day from 10 am until sunset and its visit is free.
The entrance is next to a long fragment of the Berlin Wall. See FINDING THE REMAINS OF THE BERLIN WALL.
DAY 3. FROM THE OLYMPIC STADIUM TO POTSDAMER PLATZ.
VISIT THE OLYMPIASTADION.
Champions of the World! Champions of the World! Champions of the World! Champions of the World!
For us Italians the Olympiastadion in Berlin has a special meaning: it’s here where on 9 July 2006, after the last penalty scored by Fabio Grosso, Italy won the FIFA World Cup Final for the fourth time.
If you are an Italian football fan, being in the exact place where we won the World Cup is definitely exciting.
If you are not Italian or if you just don’t care about football, the Olympiastadion is anyway worth a visit for the historical significance that it had during the Olympic Games of 1936, in the middle of the Nazi period.
The Olympics of 1936 were spectacular and for the first time they were shown on television. Hitler used the event for propaganda purposes to promote the Nazi myth of the supremacy of the Aryan race extended also to sport and physical skills.
His crazy racist propaganda was totally crushed though by the outstanding results achieved by Jesse Owens, a brilliant Afro-American athlete who won 4 gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, 4×100 meter relay and long jump, breaking 3 world records.
This was absolutely an extraordinary event in a place where fierce racial discrimination was spread in the regime ideology.
The names of the winners are still listed on the plates placed in the Marathon Gate.
Olympiastadion Visit Hours:
- April – October: Every Day 9:00 am – 7:00 pm
- November – March: Every Day 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Visits are not possible during the sport events
Olympiastadion Ticket Fare:
- Full Price: €8
- Reduced Price: €5,50 disabled, students, unemployed; €4 6 – 14 years old children
- Free Entrance: children under the age of 4
- Family Card: €16 for 2 adults and 3 children under the age of 16
- Multimedia Guide: +€4 on top of the regular ticket fare
- Guided Tours: €11 adults; €9,50 disabled, students, unemployed; €8 6 – 14 years old children; free entrance for children under the age of 4; family card €24 for 2 adults and 3 children under the age of 16
Metro Station: Olympiastadion
Before we get back to the city center we pass by Charlottenburg Palace.
From the Olympiastadion go to the bus stop “Berlin, Flatowallee / Olympiastadion” on Heerstraße and take the bus M48 direction Berlin Hertzallee. Get off at the bus stop “U Wilmersdorfer Str. / Kantstr.” (11 stops), cross the street and take the bus 309 direction Berlin Schlosspark – Kinik. Get off at the bus stop “Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg” (7 stops).
The construction of Charlottenburg Palace, or Schloss Charlottenburg, was commissioned by Frederick III, Elector of Brandenburg, as a summer residence for his second wife Sophia Charlotte. Then Frederick III was crowned King Frederick I of Prussia and after his wife’s death he ordered to expand the castle. His successors continued to enlarge the palace adding a beautiful garden.
We take a nice stroll in the park behind the Castle and get to the little lake to take a good look at the Schloss Charlottenburg and its garden.
Charlottenburg Palace Opening Hours:
- January – March: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 4:30 pm; Monday closed.
- April – October: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:30 pm; Monday closed.
- November – December: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Monday closed.
Charlottenburg Palace Ticket Fare:
- Full Price: €10
- Reduced Price: €7
STROLL IN THE TIERGARTEN.
And now go back to the bus stop “Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg” and take the bus M45 direction Berlin Hertzallee. Get off at the bus stop “S+U Zoologischer Garten Bhf” (11 stops) and use that to take a picture of the Zoo, located next to the station where the film based on the book “We children from Bahnhof Zoo” was set.
Go to the bus terminal and take the bus 100 direction “Alexanderplatz Bhf / Memhardstr.” and get off at the bus stop “Berlin, Nordische Botschaften / Adenauer-Stiftung” (6 stops).
Take a nice stroll in the Tiergarten, the green lung of Berlin.
The Tiergarten was founded as a hunting ground for the Royal Family. Now the area is a large city park where you can relax, run, walk, skate, you name it!
Running is a passion of mine. While I was walking through the park I was thinking that I would have loved to run through all these countless paths!
So when I came back to Berlin in September, one of the first things I did was to run in Tiergarten and was absolutely amazing!
But if you have no intention at all to run, simply walk on the little streets that cross the park, look at the little lakes and take a picture of the statues that you see along the way.
If you’re passionate about European painting, you can’t miss the visit to the Gemäldegalerie, the Picture Gallery. The museum displays in its 72 rooms over a thousand works from the 13th to the 18th centuries.
My dad loves Caravaggio’s paintings and we couldn’t absolutely miss the room that exhibits the wonderful “Amor Vincit Omnia” by Caravaggio.
Gemäldegalerie Opening Hours (last entrance 30 minutes before closing time):
- Tuesday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Thursday: 10:00 am – 8:00 pm
- Monday closed
Gemäldegalerie Ticket Fare:
- Full Price: €10
- Reduced Price: €5
Let’s get now to the last destination of our 3 days itinerary: Potsdamer Platz.
In the square you will see some fragments of the Berlin Wall with some illustrative boards. See FINDING THE REMAINS OF THE BERLIN WALL.
Walk to the building complex of the Sony Center. Go inside its Forum, an indoor square with a magnificent umbrella roof made of glass that changes color. The roof is supported by a large steel ring that lays on the surrounding buildings.
Inside the Forum there are many bars and restaurants where you can taste some meat and toast to Berlin with some great German beer. Just like we did!