Once divided into two parts, Berlin has overcome its complicated and tumultuous history and has become a city that praises diversity, individuality and uniqueness. Now considered a cultural and intellectual European hub, it attracts people, especially young artist and professionals, from all over the world. That kind of inspiring environment makes every traveler fall in love with the place immediately. Spending one day in Berlin is nothing compared to what that vibrant city has to offer, but as soon as you fall under its spell, you’re gonna crave for more and eventually come back.
What to see in Berlin in one day
1. What’s the best time to visit Berlin?
2. What’s good to know about Berlin
3. One Day in Berlin Itinerary
3.1. Start your day at the Brandenburg Gate
3.2. Have a free panoramic view at the Reichstag
3.3. Visit Holocaust Memorial
3.4. Stroll through the Tiergarten, Berlin’s vast central park
3.5. TV Tower
3.6. Museum Island and Berliner Dom
3.7. Visit Boros Bunker Gallery
3.8. Have lunch at the Kreuzberg district
3.9. Pass over Oberbaum bridge
4.0. Walk the East Side Gallery
4.1. Checkpoint Charlie
4.2. Party time
5. Where to stay in Berlin?
6. Day trips from Berlin
7. Extra tips for visiting Berlin
Even though you can have a great time any time of year, May to September is preferable due to the many outdoor activities, beach bars, markets and open-air cinemas that can be enjoyed only in warmer weather. Winter has its own charm, but it can get super cold with all the snow and limited daylight.
Berlin is the biggest city in Germany and has been its capital since the fall of the Wall that once divided the city. Today, it is a city of culture and media, science and technology, but also a city known for the non-stop party scene and extraordinary unbridled nightlife. Architecture, both modern and historical, shapes the city’s streets, but the city also attracts with its lush nature, lakes, canals and numerous parks. A wide range of different cultures and cuisines within the city has made Berlin one of the greatest gastronomy destinations in the whole world.
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do during your one day in Berlin.
Start your morning walk at Unter de Linden street all the way to the Brandenburg Gate, the iconic symbol and the former city gate that played a role during the city’s turbulent history. Today, it’s one of the main tourist attractions and a place where a lot of cultural and public events are held.
The easiest way to get to know more about the city and its landscape is by visiting Germany’s parliament building called Reichstag with its spiral ramp under the glass dome designed by Norman Foster. The free tour (that should be reserved weeks in advance) includes a 360° city panoramic view and a free audio tour that will teach you some very interesting stuff about the city and its history.
Even if you’re not that into memorial architecture, don’t skip Memorial to the Murdered Jews, built to remember the victims of the Holocaust horrors. Walking through the field of 2,711 concrete stelae of varying heights brings feelings of uneasiness and disorientation – an exceptional physical experience.
Berlin is famous for its beautiful, numerous parks. They are either a place of recreation, sunbathing, lunch place or just a place to relax. Stroll through the meadows of the Tiergarten park, sit next to the creek or just lay down on the grass. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll even see one of many tiny rabbits that live there.
About a kilometer and a half east from the Tiergarten, just across the Spree, is the Fernsehturm, i.e. the Television Tower. Getting to it is simple since the number 2 line of Berlin’s underground system will take you directly. The tower is a whopping 368 meters tall (more than 1200 feet!) and has an observation deck at more than 200 meters. Naturally, this is the best possible view of the city you can get, but there’s also a restaurant up here if you’re hungry. Interestingly, it was built in 1969 and was supposed to prove the superiority of the East. To skip the line and save up time, get yourself ticket in advance!
Berlin really is a museum city and the museum island proves it. This central island of the Spree river hosts five museums and the Berlin Cathedral. It really is a nice area to chill next to the canal and people watch. In case you want to see the Cathedral, don’t miss to climb the dome for the spectacular view. If you’re into visiting one of the museums – check out the New (Neues) museum. Not just for its exhibition, but for the interior of the building itself. If hungry, definitely visit a museum restaurant.
Even being home to hundreds of museums and art galleries, one of them really stands out and it’s worth visiting even if spending only one day in Berlin. The Bunker Gallery is a private collection of Christian Boros, containing the finest works of various contemporary artists exhibited in a Nazi-era bunker. The bunker can be visited by advance appointment on their website at least a month in advance.
Kreuzberg is Berlin’s district known for its alternative scene with loads of clubs, trendy bars and international restaurants. Either you want to eat schwarmas or kebabs at Oranienstrasse, or some great burgers or Vietnamese near Schlesisches Tor, or just drink a coffee at Görlitzer Park, you won’t miss a great atmosphere.
Passing over Oberbaumbrücke you’ll have a chance to capture a beautiful view of the river Spree and the serene canal scenery. It’s not uncommon for the street artists and musicians to have a performance somewhere along the bridge colonnade.
The East Side Gallery is a 1,316-meter long section of the Berlin wall. Once a place of division, today the wall is the longest open-air gallery in the world, with some of the numerous artworks becoming icons of pop culture. Some of the wall paintings will be renewed every once in a while, which makes the gallery transform and change over time.
And since you’re visiting the East Side Gallery, you will want to visit Checkpoint Charlie, too. This was the main crossing point in the Berlin Wall, so the place epitomizes the division between the two parts of Germany and symbolizes cold war. Today, it is a great place for tourists, given that you can take pictures with actors playing policemen from that time. It’s also a great place to get some interesting souvenirs, and don’t forget to visit the House at Checkpoint Charlie which houses a museum with loads of very interesting exhibits.
Berlin is a place of non-stop parties and has a really active underground scene. There’s something pretty much for everyone – from the cozy basement clubs to the industrial techno temples. It’s never just on weekends, it’s never just during the night, the party scene rocks 24/7. For some chilling and dancing next to canal visit Club de Visionare. If you’re into some intense clubbing Chalet and Tresor could be a perfect choice. Just prepare yourself for long lines and strict door policy.
Berlin offers a wide range of accommodation options for different types of travelers. Those who are more into exploring the city and prefer hotel stay should chose one of many Hotels in Mitte district. For young folks and all those who are into clubbing, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg may be the ideal area for their stay in Berlin.
Hotel ZOE by AMANO Group
Große Präsidentenstraße 6-7, Mitte, 10178 Berlin
AMANO Group Hotels are all special in its unique character and they all work under the concept: “first-class urban living at a very fair price.” Hotel Zoe by AMANO Group is located in Mitte. It features a bar, spacious breakfast area with adjoining winter garden and a rooftop terrace with a great view of the city. The room design is characterized by the dark contrast, untreated concrete and warm lighting that together create a great sense of comfort.
Hotel AMANO Grand Central
Heidestrasse 62, Mitte, 10557 Berlin
Hotel AMANO Grand Central is another hotel located in Mitte and the biggest hotel in the AMANO group. Its luxurious atmosphere, first-class design and a huge passion for detail make this hotel one of the best picks in the whole city.
H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz
Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 32a, Mitte, 10178 Berlin
H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz offers innovative design, relaxing inspiration at pretty affordable prices. The bathrooms, with their energizing rainforest showers, ensure relaxing moments after exhausting sightseeing.
Warschauer Platz 6, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, 10245 Berlin
Plus Berlin may be one of the best hostels in the whole world. It features a sauna, indoor pool, ping-pong, art exhibitions, gift shops, bike rental, restaurant, bar and even a free parking. All of that in one of the most exciting Berlin areas packed with amazing bars, restaurant and clubs. The best choice for young travelers and all those that feel like that.
Day trips from Berlin
The city is a hub, yes, but there are also great destinations you can make your day trip from Berlin to, especially if you’re not there for the first time and are already familiar with everything. But where should you go? Here are several suggestions worthy of consideration.
This destination is not very far from Berlin, only 40 kilometers or so, but be warned – people do not go here to have fun. Sachsenhausen was a Nazi concentration camp, one of the most important ones, at that. Therefore, you can really learn a lot about history here and see firsthand the horrors of World War II. A very enlightening experience, no doubt about that.
On to slightly less grim subjects! Potsdam also has a lot to teach you about history, but you will travel further back in time here. This is the town of Prussian kings, and you can feel a certain sense of nobility and class oozing from its every corner. You absolutely must visit the Sanssouci Palace and its gardens, but there are many other palaces worthy of your time, too. Another very close location to Berlin (35 km), this beautiful little town will take you to a whole new world.
Now, Dresden is not as close to Berlin as the last two destinations, but the trip is well worth it. This place offers an inspiring story of perseverance and rebirth after the city was almost completely destroyed in WWII. Today, it is an absolutely gorgeous place with many interesting places to see. Altstadt, for example, is just magnificent after the renovation, but things like the city’s cathedral, the Zwinger (another incredible palace) are worth every cent. If you can, you really should and come see this, it will be worth every last cent.
For some good clean fun, you will want to head to Lake Wansee, especially if you come in a warmer time of year. This is the biggest inland beach in Europe, so you can be absolutely sure there are all kinds of things to do there. Sailing, swimming, the nearby Leibermann Villa (now a museum), an island with peacocks… The options are quite numerous. And if it gets too crowded, you can always hop on a boat and choose one of the less crowded beaches nearby.
– If you’re not that much into walking, take city bus number 100. It will take you around the most important sights and it costs only 2.70 euros.
– Berlin public transport is really a good one, it’s fast and convenient – and for a traveler who will be spending only one day in Berlin this is the perfect option to move from one point to another. To save money, buy a day ticket (Tageskarte) that’s valid on buses, S-Bahn and U-Bahn trains.
– A 10% tip is usually expected in restaurants and bars.
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Anca is a travel writer and the founder of One Day Itinerary - the biggest collection of travel itineraries for those who are time-limited or just want to maximize their time while traveling. Although she easily becomes homesick for Croatia, she thinks travel is essential to her happiness. She has traveled to more countries than she is years old and doesn’t plan on changing that fact. In her travel guides she aims to inspire people to travel whenever they have a spare day (or two).