last update, March 2016
This post has been requested by my cousin Dani, and as I said to him, I say here: 24 HOURS ARE NOT ENOUGH TO SEE BERLIN. So prepare to rush.
For those who only have a day in Berlin and want to see just about everything, your best option is a guided tour that goes to most of the attractions. My personal experience about tours in Berlin is that they are excellent. They are not expensive, well organized, the guides are very professional and there are in tours in many languages. Insider Tour Berlin has 4 hours long daily tours for 12 €, going through almost all the major attractions.
For those who prefer to go by themselves, we recommend the following itinerary.
- The route starts in the REICHSTAG, the German Parliament (Bundestag) building . Built in 1894, neo-Renaissance style mixed with a 1990 Norman Foster’s dome (the real attraction). It might have turn out bizarre, but the truth is that it looks good. Open daily from 8 to 24:00 (last entry at 22:00). Free admission, but you must register in advance and tickets are limited. In high season, at midday there probably won’t be tickets left for the rest of the day.
Visitors will probably have to wait some hours since the time of registration until you can enter the building. We recommend spending this time to visit the surrounding attractions, which include the following.
- BRANDENBURG GATE. One of Germany‘s best-known monuments. In my opinion, is no big deal.
- MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE. Dedicated to the Holocaust during World War II. It is simple but sober and original. There is a documentary center that closes on Mondays; still you can see monument any time, composed of many concrete blocks .
- TIERGARTEN. It is to Berlin what Central Park is to New York. A single day just will allow you time to visit a small section. In the central area is the VICTORY COLUMN and to the west end is BERLIN ZOO.
East of the Tiergarten:
- BERLIN CATHEDRAL. A stunning view, looks like is higher than wide due to the huge green dome. For travelers who only have one day, I do not recommend going inside because, apart from the view from the dome, I think the interior is not comparable to other great European cathedrals. Besides, admission is 7 €.
- MUSEUMS. There are 4 of them. The most famous are the Neues Museum and Pergamon Museum. This is the one we recommend for those with little time in Berlin, for one reason: the Neues has a huge and amazing collection of art, but is similar to other museums, the Louvre in Paris or the Metropolitan in New York are two examples. However, Pergamon Museum is very original. There are three main rooms, in each of them there is an old building: a Greek temple, the facade of a Roman market and one of the gates of Babylon. Admission 12 € (for 18 € you can buy a pass for all the 4 museums), open daily from 10 to 18h (Thursdays until 20pm). (FROM MARCH 2016 THE ZEUS TEMPLE ROOM IS CLOSED DUE TO RENOVATION).
THE BERLIN WALL
The remaining sections of the wall can be visited for free but are far apart. You will have to choose:
- BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL. North of downtown. A section of the wall, a gallery and a documentation center.
- TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR. South of Brandenburg Gate. Museum about atrocities commited in World War II. It can be kind of impressive for some visitors.
- EAST SIDE GALLERY. East of the center. It is the longest section of the wall still standing. It is entirely covered by graffiti.
To finish the day, you should dinner in MITTE, because it’s alternative, there are all kinds of restaurants and it’s cheap.