Berlin, the capital city of Germany, is a charming place to visit. Yet, it is one that is often passed over by tourists in favour of other European cities. It is, however a major destination for some, and is, in fact, ranked as one of the most vibrant and liveable cities you will find anywhere in Europe as those who have spent 72 hours in Berlin will probably agree. When it comes to the world-class centres for performing arts, technologies, media, and institutions dedicated to scientific research Berlin is hard to beat.
The city can trace its history back over 800 years. However, it is perhaps its more recent history that really draws visitors. The Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall in particular are very popular destinations within the city for those looking to spend time in Berlin. The city is an incredible old mix of both West and East German cultures, with contrasts between the modern buildings and the dreary grey.
Table of Contents
- 72 Hours In Berlin – Getting There
- 72 Hours In Berlin -Day 1
- 72 Hours In Berlin – Day 2
- 72 Hours In Berlin – Day 3
- 72 Hours In Berlin – Final Words
72 Hours In Berlin – Getting There
Getting to Berlin is easy. It is just a short flight away from any country in Europe and it is even possible to get there by train if air travel isn’t your thing. If you are looking for history, culture, architecture, music, art, shopping and even great nightlife then Berlin is THE place to visit. The only problem you might find yourself facing is how are you going to fit everything into just 72 hours in Berlin? The simple answer is that you quite possibly won’t. However, that will certainly leave plenty of places to explore on a return trip. After all, once you have tasted the vibrancy of life in Berlin, it is almost certain that you will be planning to return.
72 Hours In Berlin -Day 1
Spending your first day getting your bearings is probably a good idea. Once you have dropped your luggage off at your accommodation, head to the central district of Mitte.
One of the grandest spots you will find in Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt square is located in the heart of the city centre. This beautiful square will transport you back to the 18th century with its incredible architecture and historic buildings. Here you will find the Konzerthaus Berlin. This is an incredibly elegant building right in the middle of the square. There are also two large churches, New Church, often called the German Cathedral and the French Cathedral. Both are worth visiting. Plus, the French Cathedral has a panoramic tower offering some great views of the city.
Travel tip: Public transport is the best way to get around Berlin. Most transport types use the same ticket, so you can hop on and off. However, the Berlin WelcomeCard is a great choice for tourists. It offers free travel on public transport, including getting to the centre from the airport and a 50% discount on entry to many attractions.
A destination that will feature on most visitors’ lists, Checkpoint Charlie is the most well-known border crossing between the East and West of Berlin. There are other border crossings within the city, but this is the one that was seen as a real symbol of the city throughout the world. You’ll find plenty of photo opportunities and a chance to really see what it was like with a replica guard house and border crossing signs. There are information boards explaining the history and significance of the checkpoint.
Topography of Terror Museum
A short distance from Checkpoint Charlie is another particularly important historical destination. The Topography of Terror Museum has both indoor and outdoor exhibits. It is located on the former site where some of the most horrific institutions of the Nazi regime are located. The museum focuses on the actions and rise of the Nazi Party. You will also find the last remaining section of the Berlin Wall here.
Deutsches Currywurst Museum
The Germans are passionate about their national dishes. In Berlin, currywurst is a matter of national pride. You will find currywurst on most street corners, and this will make a great lunch on the go. Don’t forget to visit the Currywurst museum. This is an entire space dedicated to this humble dish which dates back to 1949 and was created by Herta Heuwer with ingredients given to her by British soldiers!
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
There is no getting away from the troubled past of Berlin. Whilst it is a sobering sight, a visit to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial should be on everyone’s visitors list. The site is a memorial to the Holocaust victims, with 2711 concrete slabs symbolising the lives that were lost. The large expanse with its gentle slopes is said to have been designed with the idea of giving those who visit a sense of unease.
Completed in 1791, the Brandenburg Gate was commissioned by King Frederick William II. It is located on the site where a previous city gate stood. The gate is to Berlin what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris, an instantly recognisable landmark. It is impressive in size and architecture and well worth a trip for the photographs alone.
Even in a city the size of Berlin you can still find green spaces. The Tiergarten dominates the western side behind the Brandenburg gate. Covering 210 hectares, this stunning park has trails leading across more open grassy areas to forested areas. Take a break from your trip around the city and enjoy the stunning scenery.
If you are looking for another popular dish to enjoy during your long weekend, then you really need to try Spätzle. This is Germany’s take on pasta and is a dish served topped with generous helpings of cheese. In a city that favours meat and sausages in many of their dishes, this is a good choice for vegetarians.
Once you have eaten, you may want to explore Berlin a bit more and take a look at some of its famous nightlife.
72 Hours In Berlin – Day 2
The river Spree flows through Berlin and is one of the prettiest areas of the city you will find. A walk along the banks is a great way to enjoy the river and its scenery. This will also allow you to stop along the way to visit the flea market or the Bode Museum. However, a river cruise is also an option. River cruise boats are frequent on the Spree and offer a rather unique look at the city and of course those all-important photo opportunities.
On the Spree river, you will find Museum Island. This is one of the areas of Berlin where you will find the greatest density of attractions. There are five museums here with something for everyone from art to archaeology. Even if you are not really a fan of museums, this UNESCO World Heritage site is well worth a visit as it makes a great place to explore. The Lustgarten is a great place for a picnic in the good weather and has big green spaces and a fountain. Museum Island is one of the most important museum sites you will find anywhere in Europe.
Travel tip: if you plan to visit a number of museums it’s worth getting a Berlin Museum pass which is valid for 3 days and offers free entry to over 30 museums.
Before you leave Museum Island, don’t forget to visit Berlin Cathedral. The building itself makes a real statement with its Neo-Renaissance architecture. There has been a church on this spot dating back to the 15th century. However, the current cathedral was only completed in 1905. You can take a tour of the church and also the Hohenzollern Crypt, where several members of the royal family are laid to rest. The panoramic terrace is also worth a visit, and a look at the outside of the cathedral’s impressive dome.
For something a little different, why not visit the Illuseum Berlin? This is a museum filled with optical illusions, holograms, an interactive gallery and a vortex tunnel. You will need to book the museum in advance, as entry is only permitted during a booked time slot.
There are plenty of theatres dotted all over Berlin, making this a great place to take in a show or even attend a classical music concert. If you want to eat before heading out, then why not look out for somewhere serving Schnitzel? This iconic dish is crispy and tender. It is traditionally made from veal which some people may prefer to avoid. However, it can also be made from chicken, pork and, in some places, even soya, making it a great choice for everyone.
72 Hours In Berlin – Day 3
This might be your last day but if you have a later flight then there is still plenty of time to pack lots in. The Charlottenburg Palace at the eastern end of the city is one of the most stunning palaces you will find in Berlin. It dates back to the late 17th century and was built in honour of Queen consort Sophie Charlotte. It is the city’s largest palace. If you want to tour the palace inside, then two rooms that mustn’t be missed are the Silver Vault and the Golden Gallery ballroom. The Palace Park is a great place for a stroll. It offers some incredible views of the palace and its grounds. Strolling through the park, you will find the Mausoleum where Queen Louise of Prussia is buried and the Belvedere Tea House.
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
At the farthest side of the Charlottenburg district, you will find a rather unusual piece of architecture. This is one of the most unusual churches you will find in Berlin. The original church was damaged very badly during the bombing of the city in 1943. Rather than completing extensive work to repair it, the broken spire was incorporated into a new, more contemporary church which stands next to it. The broken spire remains as a memorial for peace.
One thing that Berlin does very well is street art. It is well worth making time to take a street art tour. The remains of the Berlin Wall, the East Side Gallery, in particular interesting with its creative and vivid murals. These offer a snapshot of the period after the wall fell. This particular street art may get busy, so be prepared to wait. An organised tour, in addition to taking you around some amazing streets, will also visit some of the cities markets. Plus, you can take in artists’ quarters and café districts. There may even be a little time for some kaffee und kuchen – and multicultural neighbourhoods as well.
This is the hip corner of Berlin and a great place to visit to really soak up the atmosphere of an area of the city with plenty of character. You will find plenty of street art here as well, along with yet more cafes. If you are looking for another Berlin staple for lunch, then you really should choose either Bratwurst or Bockwurst. These are both sausage-based dishes with a very rich history and a popular choice with both locals and visitors.
The entire area is youthful and progressive, and Kreuzberg is known for its inclusive atmosphere and LGBTQ community. It is also one of the areas in the city where you will find a high proportion of restaurants catering for vegetarians.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport
One final attraction to visit is the Tempelhof Airport. This isn’t where you will be flying home from but rather a base that was used by the Americans for both commercial and military flights during the Cold War. From 1948 – 49 when East Germany surrounded the city, this airport was a lifeline for those living in West Berlin. You can take a guided tour and learn about the history of the airport, and also visit those parts of it that are usually not seen.
72 Hours In Berlin – Final Words
As we mentioned, there is plenty to keep you busy in 72 hours in Berlin. Make sure you pack your camera and some good walking shoes so you can enjoy all this stupendous city has to offer.