One of the most culturally significant cities in Europe, Germany’s capital offers up much for visitors to enjoy - from the world-famous institutions of Museum Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to the iconic Brandenburg Gate, long a symbol of peace and of Germany’s reunification after decades of Cold War division. But with so much to see and do, where do you start during a short city break? Here is a well-chalked-out itinerary if you are planning a trip. This itinerary will give you some ideas of sights you can see and places you can enjoy during 48 hours in Berlin, Germany.
Day 1: Afternoon - Check out the Berlin Wall, then visit the Brandenburg Gate
Your 48-hour trip to Berlin begins with two of its most famous landmarks - the Berlin Wall and Brandenburg Gate. The wall, which once cut off East and West Berlin during the Cold War, became an infamous symbol of Soviet oppression - a symbol which has been completely transformed following the famous celebrations surrounding the wall’s demolition in 1989. That symbolic act set the ball rolling towards German reunification and has become a potent symbol of peace. So much so, in fact, that while much of the wall has since been ground into dust, sections of it have been sent to locations all over the world to mark the human spirit’s unbreakable yearning to be free. Today segments of the wall can still be seen in several parts of Berlin - such as in Freedom Park, but also at the likes of the Allied Museum, American Embassy and Friedrichstrasse, the latter of which was the site of the famous ‘Checkpoint Charlie’ access point between the two segregated parts of the city. The route of the wall is also remembered at a number of sites, such as the Brandenburg Gate. This 18th-century neo-classical landmark has long been an icon of the city but took on added symbolism when it was closed off by the wall during the Cold War. Following the collapse of Soviet control, the gate opened back up to the public, and this has seen it become a potent symbol of Germany’s reunification and peace in general. Today the Gate - which is styled after the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens - and the surrounding Pariser Platz is pedestrianised giving you ample space in which to marvel at its striking architecture and take a moment to remember the tumultuous history it has witnessed.
Address: Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin
Day 1: Evening - Enjoy dinner at Rüya Gemüse Kebab then go watch the night sky at the Wilhelm-Foerster Observatory
By now you’ll no doubt be feeling peckish, so why not make a beeline for the tasty delights of the Rüya Gemüse Kebab. This inexpensive fast food eatery - which offers a mix of Turkish and Middle Eastern dishes - is one of the most popular spots in the city. Indeed, it is so beloved of fast food fans that many a diner has hailed its doner kebabs as the best in the entire city - will you be tempted to find out for yourself? After you’ve filled up, the next must-see location in the city is the Wilhelm-Foerster Observatory. Located in the city’s Schöneberg area, the observatory and its planetarium will delight visitors of all ages. It is home to a refracting telescope which was once the largest of its kind in the whole of Prussia, as well as a reflecting telescope that is computer-controlled for greater sensitivity. What’s more, you’ll be sure of a magical time, regardless of whether the cloud and weather conditions behave themselves. For, while you’ll be able to gaze upon moons and planets on clear days, you’ll also be able to enjoy the planetarium’s artificial night sky when the weather doesn’t want to play ball.
Address: Munsterdamm 90, 12169 Berlin
Price: 4.60 to 9.19 USD (full price)
Day 1: Night - Enjoy music and drinks at Club Der Visionaere
Wrap up your first day in the city in style with drinks and music in the canal-side Club Der Visionaere. This popular riverside bar is well known for its electronic music and the sun terrace from which to enjoy the open air and the picturesque canal-side setting. Located between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park, the club is small and intimate, with only a few dozen people capable of dancing on the dance floor at any one time. It welcomes a host of different DJs, but the programme is fairly flexible and laid-back and specific acts are often only finalised a couple of weeks before their performance. And, after enjoying a chilled out evening of electronic dance, the club is also next to a pizzeria which will help satiate any late night hunger pangs.
Club Der Visionaere
Address: Am Flutgraben, 12435 Berlin
Opening hours: 2 pm to 2 am (Mondays to Thursdays); Midday to 4 am (Fridays to Sundays)
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Day 2: Morning - have breakfast or brunch at Distrikt Coffee then visit Museum Island
Day two kicks off with breakfast or late brunch - and lucky for you, the city is home to plenty of top-notch coffee shops. Dictrikt Coffee, which is located within Bergstraße, is a fine example. Regarded as one of the city’s best places to eat - and to grab a coffee or tea - its rustic stylings, which feature exposed brickwork and rural charm, were a popular draw with customers who adored the atmosphere. The food and service are also incredibly highly-rated, with the poached eggs proving especially popular. And after you’ve satisfied your brunch craving, it’s off to the next destination - Museum Island. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, in reality, the northern end of an island that sits in Berlin’s Spree river, Museum Island is home to numerous museums with internationally-renowned reputations. These include the old and new museums as well as the Old National Gallery. Their impressive collections include everything from archaeological marvels from the ancient world to extensive art collections. The latter range from antique and Byzantine art and sculptures up to modern and 19th-century works. Another museum - the Humboldt Forum - is expected to open in 2019 as part of wider efforts to restore the complex and make it a self-styled ‘Louvre on the Spree’. But in the meantime, there is still enough to keep you exploring for hours - including stunning reconstructed buildings from antiquity such as the Pergamon Altar and Babylon’s Ishtar Gate.
Address: Am Kupfergraben, 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: 10 am to 6 pm daily (closed Mondays, 8 pm finish on Thursdays)
Price: 13.77 USD (6.89 USD reduced)
Day 2: Afternoon - Tour Berlin Cathedral, check out Checkpoint Charlie, then find a coffee shop and rest your feet
Next, it’s onto one of the city’s iconic buildings - the nearby Berlin Cathedral. Otherwise known as the Evangelical Supreme Parish and Collegiate Church, the current building is an excellent example of Neo-Renaissance architecture and was built in the late 19th and early 20th century to replace a smaller building. Today, the cathedral, which has historic links to the Prussian monarchy, is one of the most popular tourist spots in the city. The impressive dome is one of the highlights, as is the museum, which showcases the history of the church and its predecessors on the site. Audio guides are available, enabling you to tour the site at your leisure. And, after you’ve enjoyed those sites it’s onto one of the most famous/infamous locations of the Cold War - Checkpoint Charlie. This checkpoint, which separated democratic West Berlin and the communist-controlled East, was actually just one of eight different crossing points in the city but became an icon of those spy-laden times. It finally closed with German reunification in 1990, but a replica of the guard house can still be viewed on its old spot in Friedrichstraße. The original guard house also still survives, having been dismantled and re-erected in the Allied Museum in the city’s Dahlem neighbourhood. And, after a busy afternoon, you’ll likely want to stop for a quick coffee or bite to eat. In which case, there are plenty of coffee shops in the Friedrichstraße area in which to recharge those batteries - including the likes of the stylish Westberlin, which gets its name from the area’s past as a gateway between east and west.
Address: Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin
Price: 7 USD (5.74 USD reduced)
Day 2: Evening - have dinner then catch a movie at an open-air cinema
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
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Movie fans will likely enjoy the next step on the itinerary. After grabbing a meal at one of Berlin’s many top restaurants it’s on to one of the city’s cultural highlights - its various open-air cinemas. Time your visit right and the balmy temperatures of summer will make for a great environment in which to relax and enjoy a movie in the great outdoors. Now entering its 25th year, the Freiluftkino Kreuzberg is one of the city’s oldest open-air cinemas. What’s more, you don’t have to be fluent in German to enjoy some of its screenings, as its rotating programme features cinema from all over the world and it takes pains to ensure that foreign films are presented in their original form with German subtitles. Similarly, many of its German films screen with English subtitles - just make sure to check what the subtitle/sound options are when looking to book your ticket.
Address: Landsberger Allee 15, 10249 Berlin
Price: 8.61 USD
Day 2: Night - Party at Berghain or Watergate nightclubs
And, after you’ve enjoyed a good movie in good company, your second day in Berlin comes to a close with a party. The clubs of Berghain and Watergate are just some of the popular nightspots that are open in the city - and are a true must-see for dance music fans. Berghain, in particular, is one of the most exclusive nightclubs in the city and is famously difficult to get into, owing to its popularity for techno music. Opened as recently as 2004, this 1500-capacity venue is located within a former power plant. Its cavernous interior is legendary, as is the club’s reputation - it having been voted into the top 20 of the world’s best clubs by readers of the famous DJ Magazine, even topping the list in 2009. Watergate, meanwhile, is another notable nightspot which attracts international-calibre DJs. The club, which is located on the riverside, also boasts an outdoor terrace and floor-to-ceiling windows from which to enjoy the beautiful view of the water while dancing away.
Address: Am Wriezener Bahnhof, 10243 Berlin
Day 3: Morning - Have breakfast then visit the Reichstag building
Another raft of fascinating sites awaits on day three of your Berlin visit - meaning you’ll want to tackle the day on a full stomach. First up on the day’s itinerary is a trip to the Reichstag - or German Parliament. And if you’d rather not eat at your accommodation, and instead look to grab something while out exploring the city, then the Käfer Roofgarden will be a good place to start. This fine-dining space is actually located on the rooftop of the parliament itself, meaning you’ll be perfectly placed for a wander around the site before or after your meal - just make sure to book in advance.
The Reichstag, meanwhile, has a fascinating story to tell and has gone through many upheavals in its 130-year history. The building, which was only erected in the late 1800s following the unification of Germany, has experienced a tumultuous history that has included fire, air raid bombing and years sat at a near ruin during the Cold War. Following the reunification of East and West Germany at the end of the Cold War, the Reichstag was reconstructed, using designs from celebrated architect Norman Foster, and today it is once again the official seat of the German Parliament. Its modern glass dome - which replaced the war-damaged glass cupola that was demolished in the mid-20th century - offers 360-degree panoramas of the Berlin skyline, as well as views down onto the debating chamber below. Just make sure to register your intent to visit in advance or you risk being prevented from entering.
Address: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin
Opening hours: Dome is open from 8 am to midnight daily (last admission at 9.45 pm).
Day 3: Afternoon - Tour the Spy Museum then go shopping at the mall of Berlin
And after your visit to the seat of government, it’s on to one of Berlin’s newest attractions - and a chance to relive some of the intrigues that engulfed the city during the Cold War. The Spy Museum Berlin, which is located in Leipziger Platz, opened to the public in 2015 and is home to more than 1300 exhibits which explore the murky world of the spy, as well as Berlin’s key role in espionage during the 20th century. As well as interactive and multimedia exhibition spaces, it is home to all manner of fascinating equipment, including a famous Enigma code machine from World War II, and all manner of listening devices that were used during the Cold War. And, after you’ve finished exploring the world of the spy, it’s on to the neighbouring Mall of Berlin for a little retail therapy before you head home. The mall is home to around 300 outlets and a host of noted international brands - from Lacoste to Tommy Hilfiger and more. What’s more, it - and the Spy Museum - are conveniently placed for the Berlin Potsdamer Platz station, so you’ll not have far to go for onward travel following your trip.
Spy Museum Berlin
Address: Leipziger Pl. 9, 10117 Berlin
Opening hours: 10 am to 8 pm
Price: 13.77 USD (9.18 USD discounted). Different prices for tours/students.
Day 3: Evening - Relax at a coffee shop as you await departure
Speaking of which, why not take a moment to grab a coffee or bite to eat before taking the train? Or, alternatively, grab a relaxing drink and bite closer to your accommodation as you prepare to leave? The city is home to many popular coffee houses - from the likes of Berlin Coffee or Einstein Kaffee at the Mall of Berlin to the top-rated Bonanza Coffee Roasters in Adalbertstraße, which is one of the city’s best-reviewed coffee shops.
Bonanza Coffee Roasters
Address: Adalbertstraße 70, 10999 Berlin
Opening hours: 9 am to 6 pm (weekdays); 10 am to 6 pm (weekends)
Price: 11.50 USD
So much to see
There are so many fascinating and beautiful sights in Germany’s capital that you’ll likely be champing at the bit to return after your flying visit.
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