Berlin Itinerary: Planning Your Time

By Rick Steves

While most European capitals have a handful of clear-cut "must-see" sights, Berlin is more of a "choose your own adventure" destination. There's plenty to see and do here. These suggested itineraries from my Berlin guidebook will help you prioritize Berlin's many sights, whether you're spending one day, two days, three days, or up to a week in Berlin.

Art lovers could spend days museum-hopping, never once thinking about Hitler or the Berlin Wall. History buffs could be on cloud nine without ever looking at a single canvas. And plenty of visitors have a blast just hanging out in Berlin's funky neighborhoods and leafy parks, never stepping through a turnstile. My suggested plans incorporate a bit of everything. Though jam-packed, they work if you're energetic and well-organized. If you have more time, spread out these activities to give yourself some breathing room.

With that in mind, here are my recommended priorities:

Berlin in One Insane Day

9:00  Ascend the Reichstag dome (reserve in advance).

10:00  Follow my Berlin guidebook's Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate Walk (a.k.a. the first third of the "Berlin City Walk" or "Best of Berlin Walk" in my Germany guidebook, Best of Germany guidebook, and Northern European Cruise Ports guidebook, and available as a free audio tour).

11:30  Follow my Berlin guidebook's Unter den Linden Walk (or the second third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk").

13:00  Grab a quick Currywurst lunch near Museum Island.

13:30  Do an "express tour" of the Pergamon, Neues Museum, and Old National Gallery; or, if you prefer history, tour the German History Museum and/or DDR Museum.

16:00  Follow my Berlin guidebook's Communist East Berlin Walk (the final third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk").

17:00  Ride the S-Bahn from Alexanderplatz to Nordbahnhof and tour the Berlin Wall Memorial (a self-guided tour in most of my books covering Berlin).

18:30  Ride tram #M10 to Prenzlauer Berg for dinner.

20:00  Explore Prenzlauer Berg before collapsing at your hotel.

Berlin in Two Days

Day 1

9:00  Ascend the Reichstag dome (reserve in advance).

10:00  Follow my Berlin guidebook's Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate Walk (a.k.a. the first third of the "Berlin City Walk" or "Best of Berlin Walk" in my Germany guidebook, Best of Germany guidebook, and Northern European Cruise Ports guidebook, and available as a free audio tour).

11:30  Follow my guidebook's Unter den Linden Walk (or the second third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk").

13:00  Grab a takeaway lunch to enjoy on a Spree River cruise.

14:30  Choose from these Museum Island area sights: Pergamon, Neues Museum, Old National Gallery, German History Museum, or DDR Museum.

17:00  Follow my guidebook's Communist East Berlin Walk (or the final third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk"), or stretch your museum time.

18:00  Head to Hackescher Markt (take the S-Bahn from Alexanderplatz, or walk from Museum Island) and explore the market and nearby sights (laid out as the "Scheunenviertel Walk" in my Berlin guidebook).

19:00  Have dinner in the Scheunenviertel.

Day 2

9:00  Head to Checkpoint Charlie and see the sights, including the Topography of Terror exhibit, en route to Potsdamer Platz (with my Berlin guidebook, follow the "Fascism & Cold War Walk").

11:00  Tour the Gemäldegalerie; have lunch at a museum café or on Potsdamer Platz.

15:00  Ride the U-Bahn (U2 from Potsdamer Platz to Senefelderplatz) and stroll the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, from Senefelderplatz to Kollwitzplatz to Kastanienallee, Oderberger Strasse, and the Mauerpark (with my Berlin guidebook, follow its Prenzlauer Berg Walk).

16:30  Take tram #M10 to Nordbahnhof and tour the Berlin Wall Memorial.

18:00  Return to Prenzlauer Berg (tram #M10 or walk along the rest of the memorial) for dinner.

Berlin in Three (or More) Days

Day 1

9:00  Ascend the Reichstag dome (reserve in advance).

10:00  Follow my Berlin guidebook's Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate Walk (a.k.a. the first third of the "Berlin City Walk" or "Best of Berlin Walk" in my Germany guidebook, Best of Germany guidebook, and Northern European Cruise Ports guidebook, and available as a free audio tour).

11:30  Take my guidebook's Unter den Linden Walk (or the second third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk").

13:00  Take a Spree River cruise with a picnic lunch.

14:30  Follow my guidebook's Communist East Berlin Walk (or the final third of the "Berlin City Walk" / "Best of Berlin Walk").

15:30  Take the U-Bahn to Senefelderplatz and stroll the heart of Prenzlauer Berg, from Senefelderplatz to Kollwitzplatz to Kastanienallee, Oderberger Strasse, and the Mauerpark (with my Berlin guidebook, follow its Prenzlauer Berg Walk).

17:00  Take tram #M10 to Nordbahnhof and tour the Berlin Wall Memorial.

18:30  Head back to Prenzlauer Berg (tram #M10 or walk along the rest of the memorial) for dinner.

Day 2

The timing of this day depends on how much museum-going you want.

Morning:  Binge on your choice of Museum Island area museums: Pergamon, Neues, Old National Gallery, German History Museum, or DDR Museum.

Midday:  If you're still going strong with museums, take a lunch break at the Bode Museum café or under the S-Bahn tracks on Georgenstrasse; if you're done early, walk to the Scheunenviertel for lunch.

Afternoon:  Explore Hackescher Markt and nearby sights (laid out as the "Scheunenviertel Walk" in my Berlin guidebook), then visit the Palace of Tears; with additional time, choose from the "Days 4–7" options, below.

Evening:  Have dinner in the Scheunenviertel or Prenzlauer Berg.

Day 3

9:00  Head to Checkpoint Charlie and see the sights, including the Topography of Terror exhibit, en route to Potsdamer Platz (with my Berlin guidebook, follow the "Fascism & Cold War Walk").

11:00  Tour the Gemäldegalerie and nearby Kulturforum sights; have lunch at a museum café or on Potsdamer Platz.

15:00  Your choice: Take bus #200 to City West for sightseeing and dinner, or head to the Jewish Museum and/or Berlinische Galerie, then to Kreuzberg for exploring and dinner.

Days 4–7

Choose from:

  • City West sights: Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Käthe Kollwitz Museum, strolling Ku'damm, and browsing KaDeWe and Bikini Berlin stores; with more time, extend your explorations into the adjacent Schöneberg district
  • Jewish Museum and/or Berlinische Galerie
  • Kreuzberg (you could add on Treptower Park or Tempelhof Field)
  • Charlottenburg Palace and nearby modern art museums
  • Friedrichshain and 20th-century sights: East Side Gallery, Stasi Museum, and/or Karl-Marx-Allee; Treptower Park is also nearby
  • Day-trip to Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum
  • Day-trip to the palaces at Potsdam
  • Day-trip to the Martin Luther sights in Wittenberg