7. Brandenburg Gate, 8. Reichstag, 9. Holocaust Memorial, 10. Gendarmenmarkt, 11. Potsdamer Platz, 12. Topography of Terror, 13. The Jewish Museum, 14. Checkpoint Charlie, 15. East Side Gallery, 16. Kreuzberg
How much can you include in a 3-day Berlin stay – and what to visit, if you want to cover as many historic places, attractions and other famous things & sites as possible in the remarkable German city?
Below, you will find a 3-day itinerary including all the best of Berlin in three days. Day 1 will take you to some of the real iconic places in Berlin – and includes some of the absolute top museums in the city! Day 2 will take you round to a large number of famous sights located in the city centre (Berlin Mitte), and Day 3 will show you some of the amazing outdoor attractions in the German capital.
2. Television Tower
6. Prater Biergarten
Your first day in Berlin is an itinerary that covers both iconic places and a selection of some of the great Berlin museums.
You will begin your day at Alexanderplatz in central Berlin, the perfect spot for people-watching. Afterwards, you will enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Television Tower which is also a famous landmark in Berlin.
Well down at ground level again, it is time for a museum experience. You can for instance pick the Pergamon Museum for ancient art, Bode Museum for sculptures and artifacts that combine Italian, medieval and Renaissance art, or Altes Museum for Greek, Roman and Etruscan art.
In the afternoon you may visit and marvel at the neo-Renaissance Cathedral which was bombed during World War II. At the end of the day, find your way to Mauerpark and spend the evening in the traditional and popular Prater Biergarten – maybe having Bratwurst or Pretzels…
For a more detailed description of the Day 1 itinerary, see our Berlin 1-day travel guide.
Today is the day you will visit all the traditional visitor spots, attractions & ‘must do’ things in the city of Berlin – so what to see? Most of the attractions are located within a short distance from each other in central Berlin.
The neoclassical structure Brandenburg Gate, or Brandenburger Tor, is today one of the most significant landmarks and attractions in Berlin city. Since Berlin’s division into East and West and the reunification, it has become a symbol of the reunified Germany.
Constructed between 1788 and 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was the first Greek revival building in the city of Berlin. It was designed by the architect Carl Gotthard Langhans with inspiration from the architecture of the Greek Acropolis, resulting in elements like the six Doric columns.
In 1793, the gate was topped with the Quadriga statue, designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow. As an interesting detail, the French Emperor Napoleon had the statue transported to Paris in 1806 as a symbol of his victory. In 1814, it was then returned to Berlin where it again found its place on the Brandenburg Gate.
When the Wall fell, a hundred thousand people gathered here in front of the Brandenburg Gate, which had by then for many years been in the Soviet sector of the city. People now celebrated the reunification of the two sides, and the Brandenburg Gate became the symbol of it.
Next, you will visit another important site in Berlin city, the Reichstag building, which is the seat of the German National Parliament.
In 1894, the impressive Reichstag construction was erected with the purpose of housing the Parliament, at the time known as the Imperial Diet in the German Empire. For unknown reasons the building was set on fire in 1933. During the Second World War it was severely damaged – and was not appropriate for use in the following years. However, decades later, after the German reunification, the building was restored, and it now became the seat of the new German Parliament.
A British architect, Norman Foster, made an innovative and inspiring design of the new Dome, connecting the old part of the building with the new glass structure in an elegant way.
Today, the construction has become one of the top attractions in Berlin – come to see it for yourself!
If you want to see the Reichstag from inside, you will need to make a reservation for a tour in advance. You will also need to register here if you would like to visit the roof terrace and the dome of the Reichstag Building.
Continue a short distance down to the Holocaust Memorial, also situated in Berlin Mitte. This is the memorial for the Jews in Europe who lost their lives as victims of the Holocaust.
The memorial was designed by the architect Peter Eisenman and the engineer Buro Happold. Ingeniously designed, it consists of 2,711 concrete slabs in an intricate grid pattern on the sloping ground.
Moreover, you will find the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims, received from the Israeli museum Yad Vashem.
You may include the Gendarmenmarkt in your stroll through Berlin city. One of the things, that the square is known for today, is its famous Christmas market.
Friedrich Schiller is immortalised as a statue in the centre of the square Gendarmenmarkt. Flanked by Berlin Concert Hall, as well as the French and German churches, the vibrant square is worthy of a small detour. It was designed by Johann Arnold Nering at the end of the 17th century and remodelled by Georg Christian Unger in 1773. Originally, it was a marketplace, and it was named after the Gens d’Armes, which had established stables here.
Established as a Schauspielhaus in 1821, Berlin Concert Hall (Konzerthaus) is the most recent building on the Gendarmenmarkt. It was erected on the site of the former National Theatre. Also this building was damaged under the War – and reconstructed as late as in 1984, transforming it into the Konzerthaus Berlin.
Another interesting and famous square and intersection in Berlin is Potsdamer Platz, which is known for its city architecture. It is named after the small city of Potsdam to the southwest of Berlin. Potsdam Gate was where the old road passed through the Berlin city walls.
Potsdamer Platz began as a trading post where several country roads converged just outside Berlin’s old customs wall. The history of Potsdamer Platz can probably be traced back to 29 October 1685, when the Tolerance Edict of Potsdam was signed. Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia from 1640 to 1688, allowed large numbers of religious refugees, including Jews from Austria and Huguenots expelled from France, to settle on his territory.
As an example Sony erected their new European headquarters on the triangular site adjacent to the Daimler-Benz complex.
Go to see the intriguing architecture and skyline for yourself! If you love electronics, don’t miss the opportunity to enter another interesting site in the city, the Berlin Sony Centre!
Now, you have the opportunity to visit another phenomenal museum in Berlin, documenting crucial history. You may want to choose between this museum, the Topography of Terror, and the Jewish Museum, as you will probably not have time for both today. They show two different sides of the cruel and heartless history.
Topography of Terror, or Topographie des Terrors, is both an outdoor and indoor historical museum, located precisely where the headquarters of the Nazi Sicherheitspolizei, SD, Einsatzgruppen and Gestapo used to be in Berlin.
Since 1987 it has been a memorial and exhibition area where the dreadful history has been displayed. Moreover, the torture cell and the execution site have been excavated, culminating with a joint East German and West German exhibition in 1989.
In 1992 the first steps were taken to establish a permanent museum, but it took several decades, before the museum saw the light of day.
Designed by the architect Ursula Wilms and landscape architect Heinz W. Hallmann, the new structure stood ready for visitors in 2010.
Instead of visiting the Topography of Terror, you may want to pick the Jewish Museum, or Jüdisches Museum, from 2001. In case you have a fourth day in Berlin, you may also keep it for later.
It is the largest Jewish museum in Europe and documents the Jewish history in Germany. Moreover, it is one of the most visited museums in Europe.
Besides giving insight into Jewish history, the museum also features magnificent pieces of Jewish art to make the Jewish history come alive here.
There are two buildings, the former Berlin Museum, the baroque Kollegienhaus, and Libeskind’s modern building, connected to the other building via an underground passage.
The permanent exhibition “Two Millennia of German Jewish History” introduces Germany’s history from a Jewish angle.
If you are curious abort the Jewish history, this is a must-see museum.
No Berlin visit without Checkpoint Charlie. So the famous crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin was nicknamed by the Allies.
Its history goes back to 1961, when the East German leader, Walter Ulbricht, obtained Soviet Union’s permission to initiate the construction of a wall separating East Berlin and West Berlin. The objective was to prevent the crowds from fleeing from the East to the West.
Checkpoint Charlie became one of the links between the two sectors – and became a symbol of the Cold War. Here America and the Soviet Union could potentially confront each other, which happened at an occasion in 1961.
There were two other border crossings between East Berlin and West Bering: Checkpoint Alpha and Checkpoint Bravo. What characterised Checkpoint Charlie was that only foreigners could pass here. It was the gateway where the Allied diplomats and foreign visitors could pass into the Soviet sector in Berlin.
The former East German watchtower has been torn down. Although the guard house in the street today is not the original construction, but just a copy, Checkpoint Charlie is still one of the main tourist attractions in Berlin and probably a must-see during your visit! For some years ‘fake guards’ in uniforms would stand here for pictures, but this approach to tourism has been abandoned.
Instead, you can visit the nearby Mauer Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie for more info and pictures.
Another open-air Wall experience is the East Side Gallery. You can access it in Mühlenstraße in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg.
On a 1,316 m (4,318 ft) long section of the former Berlin Wall, a series of colourful murals adorn the brick surfaces. Painting the Berlin Wall was a project undertaken in 1990 on the east side of the Wall as a monument to the fall of the Wall.
In 2018, the State of Berlin transferred the East Side Gallery to the Stiftung Berliner Mauer, which took over the responsibility for the preservation of the murals. Several restoration works have been carried out to maintain the bright paintings.
The East Side Gallery has today become an iconic and popular landmark in Berlin with over three million visitors per year – definitely one of the top attractions to visit!
At the end of the day you will end up in Kreuzberg, where you will easily find a restaurant among the numerous ethnic eatery options.
Kreuzberg is the trendy, multicultural neighbourhood you cannot miss. Street food, antiques, art galleries, parks, cool bars and clubs – these are some of the things you can experience here in the streets, intersected by the picturesque Landwehrkanal. A visit here is one of the hip things to do in Berlin, and you will probably love to explore the vibrant area and chill lifestyle in Kreuzberg.
You may well opt for one of the genuine Turkish restaurant experiences here. If you like ethnic food, it is an excellent neighbourhood of Berlin to spend your evening in.
Day 3 is not as ‘museum-heavy’ as the two previous days. Today you will be able to indulge in shopping in the city and enjoy a couple of fabulous outdoor attractions in Berlin.
You will start out with a fascinating shopping experience in KaDeWe – Kaufhaus des Westens, the renowned department store at Tauentzienstraße, which used to be exclusively for West Berliners.
You will absolutely need to cross through the captivating food section with the most enticing delicacies and luxury food. Grab a quick bite here before exploring the rest of the eight floors!
After a couple of hours in KaDeWe you are ready to continue your sightseeing in the city.
On your way to Berlin Zoo you will pass the Gedächtniskirche at the 3.5-kilometre long Kurfürstendamm, one of the most famous shopping boulevards in Berlin. It was named after the prince-electors, or Kurfürsten, who took this way to go hunting in Grunewald.
Wilhelm II stood behind a magnificent neo-romantic church with all five spires, built by Franz Schwechten in the years 1891 – 1895. Moreover, the church bells were impressive and were some of the largest in German churches.
Instead, a new church was being projected, and the architect Egon Eiermann planned to integrate the ruin in the new church structure. Already in 1961 a new church with an octagonal shape was inaugurated, and the old spire was included as a memorial against war and destruction.
Do absolutely include the rare church structure in your itinerary today – it is incredibly original! Afterwards it is time to enter Berlin Zoo, just opposite.
In the afternoon you will visit another of the famous attractions in the city of Berlin, Berlin Zoo, which is situated near the vast Tiergarten park – and designed in the 1830s for hunting purposes.
Enter the Zoo through the famous Elephant Gate, or Elefantentor, from 1899, presenting two sculptured sandstone elephants carrying the sophisticated columns of the gate topped with a oriental golden upper part.
You will find no less than 20,000 animals in the Zoo, and, in particular, you should not miss the Cat House, or the Hippopotamus House. There is also a nocturnal animal house and a whole World of Birds.
Chill out for a few hours here and consider having lunch in one of the restaurants or at one of the food stalls inside the Zoo.
Don’t confound the Berlin Zoo with the Tierpark. The Tierpark used to be Berlin’s zoo in East Germany (GDR), and it didn’t open until 1955. It is located around 10 km away from central Berlin and covers an area which is 4 times as large as Berlin Zoo.
If you despite the two previous days of historical, cultural experiences – still prefer to squeeze in a last museum visit (which is definitely not boring!), you may opt for the intriguing DDR Museum to learn more about life in the former East Germany. Otherwise, if you prefer (or have a fourth day in Berlin for this), you can also skip this and instead move on to explore another iconic shopping opportunity in Berlin, the Hackesche Höfe.
You may be tempted to enter the DDR Museum to gain insight into the everyday life in the former GDR, or East Germany.
No doubt it is an unconventional museum, since you are allowed to touch, interact and even try a simulated drive in a Trabant car, explore an ordinary East Berlin tower block apartment and more to get a personal experience with the former GDR. You really have to come to see (and feel) it for yourself!
The DDR Museum, which opened back in 2006, has over the last years become a very popular museum among tourists and has achieved nominations for the ‘European Museum of the Year’ award. It is definitely one of the fun historical things you can do in Berlin!
In the 1700s the Hackescher Markt was designed by the commandant Hans Christoph Graf von Hacke. It soon became a Jewish neighbourhood, and a synagogue was planned and erected at Oranienburger Straße in 1866.
As was the case with many buildings in Berlin, it was damaged during the Second World War. Nevertheless, in 1993, a comprehensive restoration was initiated and this was the new beginning of a popular and flourishing spot in Berlin.
Today, it is one of the hip places to go for shopping, eating and nightlife! There is a wealth of bars, restaurants, clubs and other attractions, and this may be the perfect place to spend your last evening in Berlin!
What things to see and do if you have more than 3 days in Berlin? You may then additionally consider including the following attractions in your Berlin visit:
Charlottenburg: Enjoy the beauty of Berlin’s largest palace, built by Elector Friederich III in 1699. It was named after the first Queen consort in Prussia, Sophie Charlotte, and used to be a royal summer residence. A baroque-style garden surrounds the palace.
Berlin Botanical Garden and Botanical Museum: Explore the Botanical Garden consisting of awesome botanical pavilions such as the Cactus Pavilion, the Pavilion Victoria (containing orchids, giant water lilies and an amazing collection of carnivorous plants) and the Great Pavilion (containing tropical plants).
Tempelhofer Feld: Visit an abandoned airport and parade ground, which closed down in 2008. It has today been turned into a lovely recreational area, where you can have a picnic, sunbathe, jog or perform some other outdoor activities.
Sanssouci: Make a day tour to the Sanssouci Palace, built by Friedrich the Great in 1747 as a convenient summer residence among vineyard terraces outside Berlin. The Palace features the spectacular Neues Palais (New Palace), Neue Kammern (New Chambers), Chinese House and Orangery, as well as the Charlottenhof Palace.
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Berlin Attractions & Things to Do / Visit in the City:
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