Berlin in a day
After many years of revival after unification, Berlin offers many incredible sights to choose from. Choose the best time to visit this beautiful city and follow this packed one-day itinerary for culture and food lovers.
Morning. Brandenburg Gate
Let’s start the morning at 9.00 a.m. with a visit to German National icon, Brandenburg Gate. In the early 18th century, King Frederick William I ordered the Prussian capital to be fully enclosed by a wall, not to defend the city, but to tax people, as they travelled in and out of town. 50 years later, King Frederick William II decided the Wall was ugly and ordered building a much grander entrance. Completed at the end of 18th century, Brandenburg Gate immediately became one of the most recognizable structures in Berlin. During World War II, the gate was highly damaged but survived. Located in the center of the city, it was used to mark the boundary between East and West Berlin.
Walled off from both sides, the Gate was not accessible to the public for nearly 30 years. With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Brandenburg Gate was integrated back into the reunited city. It has been the site of many concerts, with both internationally famous bands and local buskers playing there.
After enjoying the famous gate, let’s move to nearby Reichstag as an appointment at 10.00 a.m. has been made in advance. It’s better to arrive a bit early because of security controls. The confirmation letter for your appointment has to be handed in to enter the place.
It is one of Berlin’s most popular tourist attractions. Some come here to see democracy in action, but most come to wander up through the lofty glass and metal dome that crowns the building. The Reichstag is the seat of the German parliament. It was built at the very end of 19th century. In 1933, a month after Adolf Hitler had become chancellor, it was damaged by a mysterious fire, which was used as a pretext by the Nazis to hunt down political opponents. The building was further damaged during the battle for Berlin at the end of WW2. It long stood unused before being restored in 1973 and used as an exhibition hall. After the reunification of Germany, it was completely renovated and opened for parliament in 1999 with the cupola designed by Norman Foster. To visit the dome, you first have to go through an airport-like security check in front of the Reichstag. Then you are escorted to the building and to an elevator that takes you to the roof. As you walk the steel ramp that spirals up through the cupola, the view only gets better. At the top of the cone is the upper viewing platform, where you can have a 360-degree view of the German capital. When enjoying views from the top, notice Victory Column, the Tiergarten Park, the Berlin Cathedral, the Berlin’s city hall and the Television Tower on Alexanderplatz, the city’s tallest structure. Also, the gleaming Hauptbahnhof is clearly visible from there.On the roof level, there is a restaurant. If you want to have a coffee or a meal there, book in advance to avoid disappointment.
After Reichstag visit, go back through Brandenburg gate and have a stroll on Unter den Linden to Museum Island.
Walk Unter den Linden
The main boulevard through Berlin, Unter den Linden, is steeped in history. The grand buildings on either side, the lime trees lining the street, the statues and the shops make walking on Unter den Linden an experience in itself. In the early 17th century, Duke Friedrich had lime trees (also called linden trees) planted on the way out of his palace, to have shade as he rode to hunt in the Tiergarten. In the last days of the WW2, most of the trees were cut down for firewood, and they were re-planted in the 1950s. Notice some Berlin bears, the State Opera building, St. Hedwig’s Church and Humboldt University on your way.There are many museums on Museum Island to choose from. My choice is
It is one of the most popular attractions in Berlin. The Pergamon Museum is world famous for its archaeological collection. It is actually three museums in one – the Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art. The Museum of the Ancient Near East is dominated by the imposing bright blue glazed-brick Ishtar Gate of Babylon from 6th century BC. The gate is decorated with dragons, lions and bulls, symbolizing the major gods of Babylon.Also notable in this collection is the façade of the throne hall of King Nebuchadnezzar, a reconstructed Neo-Assyrian palace from the 12th century BC, and artefacts from the earliest history of the written word.The Museum of Islamic Art was started in 1904 with a donation of precious carpets by Wilhelm von Bode. Such textiles still make up a major part of the exhibition, with colourful examples from Iran, Asia Minor, Egypt and the Caucuses on display.Even though on the day I was visiting there was no line, I booked my ticket in advance to save my time.
Afternoon. Bus number 100 tour
After the museum visit, go back to Unter den Linden to take bus number 100. The best seat on the bus is naturally at the front of the upper deck, right over the bus driver. There you’ll get a panoramic view through the enormous windows as you roll through the centre of Berlin. After you get back to Reichstag/Bundestag, travel past the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and Bellevue Palace towards Victory Column.It was built in the late 19th century on the occasion of the Prussian victory over Denmark. You then continue this bus tour, taking you to Breitscheidplatz and Kurfürstendamm, where the Kaiser Wilhelm Church stands. The original church was built at the end of the 19th century but was badly damaged in bombing raids in World War II. The current ruins probably represent the most well-known monument in Germany against a war.Kurfürstendamm is enticing you to go on an extensive shopping tour. KaDeWe, in particular, is well worth visiting. It originally opened in 1907 and is the biggest department store on the European mainland. The bus trip comes to an end at the Zoo Station located next to Zoologischer Garten (Zoological Garden). It is one of the most visited attractions in the city and is home to the most comprehensive collection of species in the world.Change there to bus M45 to our next destination, Charlottenburg palace.
Lunch at the Schlossgarten
Before enjoying the palace interiors and the park, have a well-deserved lunch at the Schlossgarten restaurant directly at the Charlottenburg Palace. Enjoy German cuisine with selected game specialities and regional seasonal dishes in a cosy and stylish atmosphere.Again, advance booking is very much recommended because the restaurant is not big.
Address: Schloßstrasse 64
Also, learn about places to eat healthy and green in Berlin.
Charlottenburg Palace and garden
In the Western district of Charlottenburg, close to the river Spree, you find the largest royal residence in the city. The whole complex is about 500 meters (1,500 feet) long, dominated by a green copper dome with the gilded statue of Fortuna, the Roman goddess of fortune and luck. You will soon find out why Charlottenburg Palace is one of the most instagrammable places in Berlin.Charlottenburg Palace was built at the end of the 17th century as a gift from Elector Friedrich III to his wife, Sophie Charlotte. A variety of successors made their own additions to this former summer residence, transforming it into the finest example of baroque architecture in Berlin. In World War II, Charlottenburg Palace was heavily damaged. The first reconstruction was finished in 1957. The latest renovation of the palace that started in the early 21st century is almost done. Today you can visit the palace and different collections inside: French paintings of the early 19th century in Frederick III and Louise’s residence, china of the famous KPM factory in the Belvedere in the park, temporary exhibits in the theatre and sculptures in the New Pavilion.Finish your Charlottenburg palace visit with a walk in the park. The park was originally created in the late 17th century by Siméon Godeau. Godeau created a formal garden in French Baroque style with parterres and hedges trimmed in geometric patterns. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the park was converted into a less formal, English style landscaped garden. The palace park is home to the Belvedere teahouse and the Mausoleum of Queen Louise and Friedrich Wilhelm III.After your visit go back to the
Berlin Dome for sunset views
As Berlin Dome has longer opening hours than most attractions of Berlin, I saved it for the end of the day. So we go back the same way we came to Charlottenburg palace to the Berlin Dome to enjoy church and sunset from the top of it. The Berlin Dome was constructed in the late 19th and early 20th century. Architect Julius Raschdorff used the style of the Italian High Renaissance with some baroque elements. The huge cupola makes you think of the Dome in Florence or even St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.Within one night, in 1944 the Cathedral had been transformed into a ruin. Reconstruction of the church started in 1975 and took many years. Parts of the reconstructed church were opened one by one until 2002. The church has the form of an octagon and on eight columns you’ll find statues of the most important reformers of the Protestant faith. Enter the main space, the so-called “Sermon Church” (Predigtkirche) and you will be overwhelmed. Remember, it’s a Protestant church. Corinthian columns and pilasters, marble, gilded ornaments and statues await the humble visitor.To make sure you can enter the main space, check service times in advance. During those hours the church is reserved for worship only.The Berlin Dome is also the burial place of the Hohenzollern dynasty. The house of the Hohenzollern ruled Prussia since the Middle Ages and the German Empire from 1871 through 1918. At the end of your church tour, take the opportunity to climb up to the dome and view the sunset above the city from there.
Or maybe you prefer spectacular entertainment for your evening in Berlin?
Attend the Vivid Grand Show
It’s made of dance and acrobatic choreography, composition and text, lighting, sound effects and costume design, comedy and action. More than 100 international artists are involved in this admirable performance. In the Vivid Grand Show Re‘ye is separated from her father as a girl and transformed into an android – half human half machine. In search of her identity, she perceives the beauty of things that we often overlook. Production budget the of Vivid Grand Show is 12 million euros. The fantastic performance premiered in October 2018. The show takes place in the Friedrichstadt-Palast, the largest and most modern show palace in Europe opened in 1984. Its large hall is regularly used as a performing space and has a seating capacity of almost 1900 spectators. Its stage floor of almost 2900 square meters (30,720 sq. ft.) is the largest in the world. Revue shows are not musicals so visual imagery is the most important, which means they are also perfect for guests with no knowledge of German. So come and experience this marvellous event for yourself.
You must be tired after this packed sightseeing day, so get relaxed in the Vabali Spa! Looking for accommodation? Learn about the best areas where to stay in Berlin! Have you been to Berlin? What are your favourite sightseeing spots? Share in the comments section! If you have more time for your Germany visit consider also visiting Dresden.
Disclaimer: I was kindly invited as a guest by Friedrichstadt-Palast to watch the Vivid Grand Show. As always all opinions and thoughts are my own. I had a great time and I wish you the same! Happy travels!
Author: Anita Sāne