What to Do in Berlin in 3 Days
Berlin is a city of rich past, vibrant present and exciting future. It’s one of the freest cites that you can find. This freedom can be felt in everything – in what people do, how they behave and how they look. Cathedrals, parties, businesses, hipsters, artists, concerts and tons of beer are just several things that represent a melting pot which Berlin is.
You will probably need a month to explore this city thoroughly and see all the hidden gems that cannot be found in tour guides. The list of things to do in Berlin is just endless. What makes it even more difficult is that it’s as lively during the night as it is during the day. You can walk for 10 minutes and hear 5-7 different events or concerts taking place in the same area. But, since only a few travelers can spend a month in one city, we’re offering you a 3-day itinerary full of activities and new impressions. Get ready because that will be very busy 3 days in Berlin!
What to Do in Berlin in 3 Days
3 Days in Berlin Itinerary: Day 1
The first day in Berlin mostly includes must-see sights that one should definitely see while visiting this city. It starts with Victory Column.
1. The Victory Column. This epic monument was designed to commemorate the victory of Prussia in the Danish-Russian War. Originally, it stood in front of Reichstag but was relocated by the Nazis shortly before the beginning of the Second World War. On top of the Victory Column, there’s a viewing platform from which you can get an excellent view of the city. Remarkably, Barack Obama chose the Victory Column over the Brandenburg Gate for his speech to the people of Berlin in 2008.
2. The Brandenburg Gate. Arguably, the most popular monument of Berlin, and one of the best-known German landmarks, the Brandenburg Gate was built in the 18th century on the site where former city gate stood. Because this gate had its role in major historical events it is now considered a symbol of European peace and unity. It is from here Ronald Regan said his famous phrase “Mr. Gorbachov – tear down this wall!” Just one block separates the Brandenburg Gate from the Reichstag building.
3. The Reichstag. This building has a rich history with several dramatic events and a happy ending. It was used as a parliament until the fire in 1933. The Nazis used the Kroll Opera House instead of Reichstag and there were no attempts of its proper restoration until the reunification of Germany. Starting from 1990 it was undergoing a reconstruction until it was completed in 1999 and became a seat of the reunited Germany’s parliament. Today the word ‘Reichstag’ refers to the building and the word ‘Bundestag’ is used to describe the institution.
4. Unter den Linden. This beautiful boulevard is the oldest in Berlin. It’s located between Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Cathedral and its best to walk it starting from the Brandenburg Gate. Unter den Linen strolls along the 1.5 km long road and it can easily be called the heart of Berlin. As you walk along this street, you will have a chance to take a look at numerous interesting buildings, such as Zeughaus, the Staatsoper, the Neue Wache and the Humboldt University. It’s also a great place to stop by and get some food and drinks.
5. Museum Island. This complex is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and it consists of five museums. A heaven for a museum people and devotees of art, Museum Island’s collection represents the evolution of humanity’s artistic endeavor.
If you’re into museums, you can get a museum pass that will grant you access to over 30 museums in Berlin.
Since 1999, Museum Island has been going through a full-scale renovation that is expected to be finished by 2025. Despite massive renovation works, you can still visit Museum Island today.
6. Berlin Cathedral. You can’t miss seeing the largest church in Berlin. Since the Middle Ages, this monument to high-renaissance baroque has gone through several stages of renovation, but it still looks authentic. Berlin Cathedral is beautiful both from the inside and the outside. You can take a tour or an audio guide to find out more about this magnificent place. There’s also a cozy lawn in front of the Berlin Cathedral where you can rest before proceeding to the next place of interest.
7. Television Tower. As high as 365 meters (just like days in the year), Berlin Television Tower is the tallest building in Germany that gets about 1 million visitors a year. Interestingly, it’s the only city TV tower in Europe. This attraction wasn’t positioned at the end of the first-day list by accident. If you reach it by the end of the day, you can get to the tower’s top and see the city in beautiful sunset shades. And, probably, get dinner at the restaurant that revolves around its axis every hour.
8. Alexanderplatz. Television Tower is a part of Alexanderplatz’s ensemble that you’re about to explore. Berliners simply call it ‘Alex’. Interestingly, it was named this way to honor the Tsar of Russia, Alexander I when he visited Berlin in 1805. In 1989, the largest anti-government demonstration in the history of GDR took place on this square. Today it’s a shopping area and a transit junction. In addition to Television Tower, notable places to see at Alexanderplatz are the World Time Clock, Fountain of Friendship amongst Peoples, Berolina House and The Alexa shopping mall.
FIRST DAY BONUS: If after all you have seen, you still have the stamina for further exploration of Berlin, then you can enjoy a two and a half hour evening boat cruise along the River Spree. You will see some of the places that you explored today (Museum Island and Berlin Cathedral) from the water, feel the heartbeat of the city and learn interesting facts about Berlin. Cruise starts at Friedrichstraße. You can see more details here.
3 Days in Berlin Itinerary: Day 2
1. St. Nicholas Church. While Berlin Cathedral is the largest church in Berlin, St. Nicholas Church is the oldest one (it was completed in 1230). However, today it’s more a concert hall and a museum rather than a church. It’s located in the oldest district of Berlin, not far from Red Town Hall. It received a severe damage by fire and bombings during the Second World War. Nowadays, it doesn’t look that authentic after reconstruction, but it is still a beautiful sight to visit. You can still find the elements originating from the medieval age inside the church and you can also climb it to get a view of the city.
2. The Egyptian Museum. A spectacular museum located on Museum Island that you visited on a previous day. The collection of ancient artifacts in this museum is really impressive. Collection of Egyptian Museum features books of death, decorated coffins, sculptures of Pharaohs and many other objects brought from graves and temples of ancient Egypt. The most popular item of the museum is Nefertiti’s bust – a 3,300 years old artifact that takes a separate room. The collection of Egyptian Museum gets larger as more items from Ancient Egypt are being discovered.
3. Gendarmenmarkt. Arguably the most beautiful square in Berlin. Two church buildings with the concert house form a perfect harmony that lures both tourists and locals to spend time in this place.
You can expect to see a Christmas market here during winter holidays and to listen to classical music during the Classic Open Air concert series in summer. Don’t miss these events if you’re in the city when the time is right.
Tip: for a great traditional German meal we recommend the Augustiner am Gendarmenmarkt, located right across from the Gendarmenmarkt. Try the pork knuckle a popular Bavarian dish.
If you’re planning to visit Berlin in autumn, make sure to see the Berlin Festival of Lights. It is held every October and turns the whole city into illumination artwork. Many of the attractions that you will see following this 3-Day Berlin Guide will be staged with light. If you’re there in October, consider this 2-hour boat tour during the festival. It’s a lot of fun!
4. Checkpoint Charlie. This is a reminder of the former border crossing between Eastern and Western Germany. It was featured in many spy novels and thrillers including a James Bond movie. In October 1961, exactly in a month after becoming an official crossing point, there was a tank confrontation on the border. Forunately, it didn’t end with a fight. There’s a lot of information on the sight, where you can find out more about its history.
5. Dali Museum. Here, you can probably take the deepest dive into Dali’s creative universe. Private collectors from all over the world contributed a staggering amount of 450 exhibits that you can now see in the museum. You will ‘get inside the genius mind’, see the impressive collection of his art as well as illustrated books, movies, sculptures, three-dimensional installations, photographs and numismatics of surrealist artists.
6. Potsdam Square. Potsdam Square can easily compete with Unter den Linden for the title of ‘the heart of the city’. Before the reunification, it was just a grey wasteland, but after it, the square became a completely different place.
Now it’s a very busy square with an abundance of modern architecture, high-rise skyscrapers, shopping centers, theaters, cafes, and cinema. In addition to shopping, you can take the fastest elevator in Europe (in the Kollhof Tower), and go to The Filmhaus in the Sony Center. And if you look downwards, you can see a metal strip that marks the route of the Berlin Wall.
7. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. A place of warning, remembrance, and contemplation. Located not far from Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin, this memorial was opened in 2005 and it is very unusual. A huge area where you will see 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights will either give you a lot of food for thought and contemplation or leave you puzzled. If you want to learn more about what this place is about, visit the underground information center with numerous rooms and exhibitions.
3 Days in Berlin Itinerary: Day 3
1. Mauerpark. You can greatly enhance your stay in Berlin by visiting one of the flea markets that are usually held during the weekend. That’s where you can feel the real Berlin charm! They’re all over the city and one of the places where you can combine visiting a flea market with recreation is Mauerpark. It is best to visit it on Sundays. In addition to exploring the flea market in Mauerpark, you can sing karaoke, look at the city panorama or just have a drink and sit on a lawn.
2. Berlin Wall Memorial. This place will give you more information about the times when Berlin was divided. If you don’t know much about this moment in time, you will be surprised how many dramatic events and life stories it produced. An open-air exhibition will deepen your insight into the times of the Berlin Wall.
3. Natural History Museum. Many people know about the Natural History Museum in New York, but the eponymous museum in Berlin also deserves our attention. It houses more than 30 million paleontological, mineralogical and zoological specimens (only 1 of 5000 specimens is exhibited) and is famous for the exhibit of the largest mounted dinosaur in the world and an exhibit of the earliest known bird.
4. Tiergarten. The most popular Berlin Park among locals that’s ideal for picnic, stroll and outdoor activities. The area of the park is huge so you will surely find a secluded place to reflect on your time in Berlin or to relax. Popular places in the park include Neuer See (a small beautiful lake), the English Gardens and Rousseau Island.
5. Zoo Berlin. It’s the oldest zoological garden in Germany with almost 20,000 animals that live on 33 hectares. You can even find giant pandas there! It’s a perfect place for animal lovers and families with kids. Zoo Berlin is a non-profit organization that heavily relies on our support. If you want to donate to the Zoo Berlin, you can do it here.
6. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. One of the most famous landmarks in Berlin. Seeing it for the first time, you may wonder why it wasn’t properly reconstructed. It’s because it was turned into a war memorial, or better to say into an ‘anti-war memorial’. The ruined West Tower was deliberately preserved in this condition to remind people of the horrors of war. Exhibits contain photos of the area before and after the war.
NOTE: Natural History Museum, Tiergarten and Zoo Berlin are big and you can spend a whole day there. It is advised to choose one of the three attractions to have time for everything else.
THIRD DAY BONUS: If you’re wondering how to finish your 3-day trip to Berlin, here’s an excellent option. The pub crawl tour allows you to visit Berlin’s best bars and get access to the coolest nightclubs. It’s probably one of the best things to do for those who come to Berlin for its vibrant nightlife.
Now you know what to see in Berlin in 3 days. But the guide doesn’t end here, because we can’t let you go without recommending some great tours and places to stay and eat.
Places to stay in Berlin:
- Circus Berlin – located in the center of the city, it provides a comfortable space to unwind and relax. They offer yoga on the rooftop terrace.
- Novotel Berlin at Tiergarten – a 4-star hotel that has a Mediterranean restaurant, modern rooms, terrace with panoramic views, gym and wellness area. Located close to Tiergarten and Berlin Zoo.
- Hotel Oderberger – chic hotel with a swimming pool in a historic building. A daily breakfast buffet is included in the price of the room. The restaurant is famous for serving delicious local specialties.
- Garden Boutique Hotel – as the name suggests, this hotel has a beautiful garden in Mediterranean style. The rooms are soundproof and very well decorated. Located in walking distance from Alexanderplatz and Museum Island and Unter den Linden Boulevard.
- AMERON Hotel – perfectly placed elegant 4-star hotel. Some rooms provide scenic views of the River Spree. The hotel has spacious rooms, fitness studio, and sauna.
Places to eat in Berlin:
- Monsieur Vuong – an excellent place for those who love Asian and, specifically, Vietnamese food.
- Nola’s am Weinberg – elegant Swiss restaurant with a panoramic terrace located in the park. Both views and food are terrific.
- La Focacceria – do you love pizza, focaccia and everything Italian? Then it’s a place for you.
- Schneeweiss – premiere German restaurant where you can taste authentic food and enjoy the cozy atmosphere.
Recommended Berlin tours:
- Highlights of Berlin Walking Tour – a four-hour walking tour that allows you to explore Berlin like a local. It covers main sights as well of some little known locations. You will see the Memorial Church, the Victory Column, Hackescher Markt, Museum Island, Hitler’s Bunker, Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and many more. An excellent option for those who like history and tours.
- 75-Minute Trabi Safari – use this unusual vehicle to see the vibrant streets of Berlin. Just go through the short manual and let the adventure begin! Trabant driver’s license at the end of the tour is included.
- Cruise on River Spree from East to West – we’ve already recommended an evening boat ride for the end of your first day in Berlin. In case you prefer to take boat trips during the day-time you can take this interesting tour. Day-tour has a different route compared to the night-tour.
- Hop-on Hop-off Bus – there are people who love hop-on hop-off buses and there are people who don’t. In case you belong to the former category, this is an excellent way to have fun and explore Berlin.
- 2-Hour Berlin Wall Tour – a great tour for those who are interested in history, especially in the history of Germany and Europe. You will travel through the events of the Soviet-era Berlin and follow the original line of the Berlin Wall. It’s a trip from 1961 to 1989, but it will take you only two hours. Includes a visit to the Berlin Wall Memorial.