I did not know exactly what to see in Berlin when I bought tickets for ITB, Berlin’s biggest travel fair. But I began to document myself thinking that I would use the afternoons to explore the city. When I saw how many things to see in Berlin were on my list, the afternoons turned into half a day, and I designed a 2-day Berlin itinerary to reach all the main attractions.
We spent four days in the city: 2 were for the travel fair and 2 for exploring, so we had to decide what to do in Berlin in 2 days.
Our 2-day Berlin itinerary was:
Alexander Platz and Berlin TV tower:
Located on both sides of the S-Bahn line, Alexander Platz and the Berlin TV Tower are usually visited together. In Alexander Platz I saw the world clock and I entered some shops. In Alexander Platz you can find the first C&A store in Germany. It is said that the view from the tower is amazing, but the top was covered in mist, so we decided not to climb. I don’t think we would have seen something. From Alexander Platz we reached by foot our next stop: Nikolai viertel.
Nikolai viertel Berlin
The oldest part of Berlin is Nikolai viertel neighborhood. An authentic piece of Berlin, Nicolai viertel, is a reconstruction of the old city after Berlin was bombed in the Second World War. This was my favorite place in Berlin: cobble stone paved streets, the oldest church in Berlin Nikolaikirche, the one that gives the name of the neighborhood and a welcoming, warm atmosphere. The charm of the place is given by details: a dragon-headed fountain, a building with many years of history and the city’s famous symbol: the bear. From Nikolai viertel we went to see the Berlin Cathedral, but on the way, we stopped at berlin Aqua Dom.
Berlin Aqua Dom:
Situated in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel near the Berliner Dom, the Aqua Dom is a huge aquarium with an interior lift. Visitors admire the fish as if they were in the middle of the ocean. I was very curious how it looked like, so we went inside the hotel. If you visit Berlin with kids, this is an interesting experience for them.
The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom):
The Berlin Cathedral is undoubtedly the most impressive church in the German capital. We visited it on a cold day in March, so we felt warm and welcomed here.
Known as the Berliner Dom, the Protestant cathedral completed in the early 20th century is the third church built on the Museum Island, now replacing the first two. It was bombarded and partially destroyed in the Second World War, but then rebuilt and reopened in 1993.
Outside the church you can buy access tickets with the credit card. At the entrance there is a stand where you can pay cash.
The interior looks much like other churches we saw: a huge organ, benches for those who want to pray and statues around. We found interesting its round shape. You can climb the dome to reach the terrace.
After a walk through a long and narrow labyrinth that seemed to go nowhere, we finally found the door through which we walked out onto the terrace. Along with the Parliament’s dome, this was the other point of view from where we could admire Berlin from above. We made a complete tour of the terrace and took some pictures despite the weather.
The last stop after the terrace was the Berlin Cathedral’s crypt.
This was the place that changed our minds that the dome is a welcoming place. The Crypt of the Berlin Cathedral (the Hohenzollern crypt, as it is called) shelters over 90 sarcophagi of the members of the Prussian royal family (the Hohenzollern family). The 90 sarcophagi arranged in the crypt (some simple ones, others richly ornate, some imposing and others small, probably children) did not leave me a pleasant feeling. I do not know if it was the diffused light, the thought that children were buried there or the fact that I did not know that the tour included this place, but I felt the urge to get out as quickly as possible. I have seen other crypts before and I even visited some ossuaries, but I left with that sadness feeling.
Museum Island in Berlin:
It was already afternoon when we arrived on the Museum Island. If you have a whole day at your disposal and you are passionate about history, Museum Island is Heaven on earth! Otherwise, if you spend 2 days in Berlin visiting all the museums here it is not doable. We wanted very much to see the Gate of Babylon, but unfortunately it is being restored for a few years, and it takes a few more to get ready. So, we did not enter, but it was left on the list. Museums on the island can be visited individually, but there is also a ticket to see them all.
We walked the Unter den Linden street to see one of the most known places in Berlin: the Brandenburg Tor.
The Brandenburg Gate:
Considered the symbolic place of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was built in the 18th century. It was part of the Berlin Wall and it is one of the top places to see in Berlin. Every time we passed by, it was full of tourists taking pictures.
We decided to end our first day with the Brandenburg Gate and a dinner at one of the Italian restaurants of Berlin. On our next visit in Berlin we saw a magnificent show: VIVID show and now I think that it’s a perfect way to end the first day if you have only 48 hours in Berlin.
Recommended on all the blogs I’ve read, I think the Parliament Building in Berlin should be the first on the list of places to see in Berlin. The visit is free, but online programming is mandatory to join organized groups at fixed hours. At the entrance they asked us to confirm the booking (good luck that we could show it on our phone) and ID cards. We booked only a visit of the glass dome, but there is also the option of touring the building. We walked the bridge built inside the glass dome of German parliament, admiring the important buildings in Berlin that the audio guide was telling us about. If you don’t know where to start your tour in Berlin, the Reichstag building is a great idea. You can find out from the beginning what are the attractions to see in Berlin and some details about them.
Tiergarten and Tempelhof:
Berlin hosts plenty of green space and parks and that is why I think a city break in Berlin with children can be a good idea. Tiergarten is a huge park near the Zoo. We walked only briefly through this garden but in March you won’t find it as nice as it is during summer.
Tempelhof, the former Berlin airport, is the largest urban park in Germany. The best thing to do here is that you can walk on the former airplane runway and have a picnic in the green space between them. Tempelhof is not near the city center, so we didn’t include it in our Berlin itinerary, but we got to see it from the S-Bahn.
Potsdamer Platz in Berlin was our next stop for the second day. A visit of the Potsdamer Platz is equivalent to a journey in the future. Framed by skyscrapers, glass buildings and a futuristic architecture, the Potsdamer Platz is Berlin’s most modern venue. Besides taking some pictures we had nothing to do here, so we entered the Berlin Mall.
Mall of Berlin
A bonus stop in our tour in Berlin was the mall. We didn’t plan to stop here, but for shopping enthusiasts it is a must see in Berlin. The Berlin Mall, a 3-story giant full of shops it is great to spend some money and shop till you drop! If you are more the outdoor type, skip it! We wanted to see Checkpoint Charlie, so we didn’t spend too much time here either.
Closely linked to the history of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie marks the famous crossing point between East and West Berlin. There is also a museum at Checkpoint Charlie where you can find out more about this famous landmark. When we got back from Berlin we saw the “Bridge of spies” movie with Tom Hanks about the Berlin separated by the wall.
A wall with history in the back and many stories of people separated by it, the Berlin Wall is a shocking concept for me. My mind hardly understands its meaning and the role it was built for. That’s why I started to search why the Berlin wall was built, how did it fall and of course a map of Berlin wall. The most interesting part of the Berlin wall today is that walking around the city you can find some remains of it or a line on the side walked marking the place where it is marking the place where it passed. The East side gallery in Berlin is an open-air gallery where artist from all over the world painted the largest section of Berlin wall still standing.
We finished our Berlin itinerary here and, in the area, we found some great restaurants for dinner.
Day 2 in Berlin:
We started our second day here with a visit of the German parliament:
We chose only 12 things to see in Berlin for our 2-day itinerary. But there are many more. The city has a lot of museums to visit (Film museum, Berlin Wall, Espionage, Lego and even Wax figures). In addition, there are many cafes, restaurants of all kinds and shows. I made a list of what I would like to see when I get back in Berlin and I have enough places for another 2-day itinerary in Berlin. This city is fascinating!