I travelled to Berlin for a long weekend earlier this year in late July. It was a birthday surprise from a friend, so I had no idea where I was going until we were on the way to the airport. This was incredibly exciting, but as I usually like to pre-plan things I want to do when visiting a new city. It was a strange feeling that the whole weekend would be completely spontaneous!
My friend told me to pack clothes for ‘a mild sunny day in London’. I decided to travel light and pack a couple of pairs of jeans to team up with tops, and then a few dresses for the evening. As soon as I landed, I instantly regretted this, and the weather all weekend was extremely hot! My advice to anyone travelling to Berlin is check the weather beforehand – the summers are warm and winters wet and cold. Be prepared!
It can be hard to decide what to do in Berlin in 3 days, especially with so much to see. Here’s a little blueprint to get you started.
What to do in Berlin in 3 days: Day 1
Getting from the airport
We landed into Berlin Schönefeld Airport, which is south of the city. From the airport, it’s super easy to travel into the city centre by train, using various routes. One option is to catch the S45 to Templehof, and then change to the underground system (U-Bahn) to get to wherever you want to explore first. If you’re coming from TXL airport, just catch the X9 bus to the U-Bahn and you can get anywhere in the city from there.
Alexanderplatz is a large square with a market and lots of other places to eat and drink. Take the U8 U-Bahn and get off at U Alexanderplatz, which will drop you in the centre. Head towards the market area and you will quickly be right in the middle of the hustle and bustle.
A great place to sit outside and take in the atmosphere is Vapiano. This is a self-serve restaurant where you get given a card on arrival and they add any drinks or food you order to it. Just remember to pay at the end! There’s some open space behind Vapiano and while enjoying a drink in the outside area, we suddenly noticed that some spontaneous break dancing had erupted. A group of young people were having a ‘dance off’ with music playing from an old school Ghetto Blaster!
While you’re at Alexanderplatz, take an escalator ride up the TV Tower and appreciate stunning 360⁰ views of the city from the observation deck. There is also a bar to enjoy a few drinks while you take in the sights. I’d suggest going up in the early evening, so you can experience the views in both daylight and as the sun sets into darkness.
Experience the history of Berlin
Berlin is a city with a lot of history, and this past is still evident in the city today. From the Holocaust atrocities in World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, there are certain sites and landmarks you must see while visiting Berlin.
The sites below are mostly within walking distance of each other, so you will be able to fit them all into one day of sightseeing.
Situated on Cora-Berliner-Straße, the Holocaust Memorial consists of concrete blocks in a maze-like sequence with an underground exhibition. The exhibition contains a timeline of the important moments from the Holocaust, as well as personal letters, memories and information about the families that were victims of the horror. It is a very moving, and at times shocking, experience, but one everyone should do when visiting Berlin.
If you are interested in architecture and design, a visit to the Brandenburg Gate is a must. Constructed in the 18th century in neoclassical style, the gate now symbolizes freedom following the destruction of the wall. From the Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate is only an 8-minute walk. Walk west on Hannah-Arendt-Straße until you reach Ebertstraße. Turn right so you are walking north for about 350m and then you will see Brandenburg Gate on your right. Walking through the gate and you will be on Pariser Platz, which contains several buildings, such as the US Embassy.
The Reichstag Building is the main Government building and a short walk away from Brandenburg Gate. Continue walking north on Ebertstraße and then turn left onto Scheidemannstraße. The building will be on your right – just look out for the large glass dome.
Checkpoint Charlie is the most-well known Berlin Wall crossing point, which is about a 25mins walk away from the Reichstag Building. You may prefer to jump on the U-Bahn from Berlin Friedrichstraße station and take the U6 to Kochstraße.
Take a wander down by the Spree river
After a long day sightseeing, the last day is all about relaxing (and eating!). Walking along the Spree river is lovely and peaceful, as you can hear the calming motions of the water. You can also take a river cruise to see the city and river from a different angle.
There are plenty of pretty cafes and restaurants along the river to choose from if you want to stop for a refreshing drink or something to eat. Berliner Republik offers traditional German cuisine such as Bockwurst and Schnitzel, as well as beer, and you can sit outside by the river. They also have a beer stock exchange from 5pm, where the prices go up or down depending on demand. A nice novelty touch, but make sure to buy your beer when the market crashes!
Visit Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is a large shopping and entertainment district with a cinema, theatre and Casino, as well as numerous restaurants. You’ll notice how modern the buildings are here compared to other parts of the city. The Berlin Wall used to go through Potsdamer Platz, so when it came down a large amount of regeneration development took place.
If you’re visiting on a hot day, make sure you sample one of the amazing ice-cream concoctions at Caffè e Gelato. The amount of effort that goes into creating your ice-cream with fruit or chocolate to decorate as well as the beautiful dish it’s presented in, will almost make you not want to eat it!
Enjoy some Ritter Sport chocolate
If you’re like me and a bit of a chocoholic, make sure you pop over to Ritter Sport on Französische Straße, just around the corner from Französische U-Bahn. With a shop, café and chocolate creation bar, you can see different chocolate bars being put together, right in front of your very own eyes. Then visit the shop and put together your own ‘pick and mix’ selection to take away. With flavours such as caramel mousse, cornflakes and strawberry yogurt, it’s a chocolate lover’s dream!
As you can see there is so much to do in Berlin in 3 days. Wherever your plans take you, I wouldn’t miss seeing the historical sites and monuments to appreciate how Berlin is moving forward, without forgetting its past.