Berlin is the capital and the largest city in Germany situated on the banks of rivers Spree and Havel. Berlin is best known for its historical associations as the German capital, lively nightlife, street art, numerous museums, palaces, and other sites of historic interest. The interesting fact about Berlin is its green cover is more than 50%.
I visited Berlin for 3 days. I know, it was a very quick visit and one cannot fully experience the charm of the city. Still, In those three days, I fell in love with Berlin. Below is my rough itinerary for 3 days and the details about destinations.
With an InterCity Express (ICE), we started my journey from Stuttgart to Berlin which was roughly about 6 hours. The journey was quite comfortable and of course fast.
After reaching Berlin in afternoon, we checked in to the hotel and then headed straight to the Berlin Zoo. This was mainly to keep my son’s -Aarush – excitement. Before that, we purchased group travel ticket for 1 week. Though we were there only for 3 days, this ticket is cheaper and most convenient way to travel around the city. This ticket is valid on all trams, city buses, metros and local trains. One ticket and free to travel! Well, back to zoo…
The zoo is a nice attraction for about half day to one full day. It was founded in 1844 and is a ninth oldest zoo in the world. They conduct some animal feeding shows like wolves, sea lions, penguins, apes. These shows are particularly interesting for kids but adults also seem to enjoy them as much. They have plans to introduce pends in 2017 in their zoo.
By the time we came out of the zoo, the weather turned windy and cold. So we dropped our further plans and decided to go back to the hotel. On our way, we grabbed slices of pizza as dinner. We all slept the moment we lay on the bed.
Today we had on agenda – one walking round trip through the city center and after lunch, a visit to Old museum and new museum. It was a lot of walking … glad that we had a pram for Aarush.
Walking tour –
Below is the route we followed. This includes many of the popular historical attractions in Berlin.
Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) –
This is a most iconic monument in Berlin. It has historical as well as political importance. German parliament building is located just on the right-hand side. Brandenburg gate was the site for many historical events and today it symbolizes European peace and unity.
German parliament –
This is also a historical building. The building has faced many disasters and damages in history including during world war II. Today it is in reconstructed and renovated form. A glass dome on top is the main attraction. One can have a 360-degree view over Berlin from here. The parliament below is also lit by natural light coming through the dome. Make sure to buy tickets beforehand. They have limited number of entries per day.
Academy of Arts –
Right in the Pariser square, where Brandenburg gate is located, on the left-hand side, is the Academy of Arts. This is also a historical building founded in 1696. Today this building is reconstructed due to destruction during WWII.
Holocaust Denkmal (The Jews memorial) –
We walked further left from Academy of Arts and there is this memorial located. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Holocaust Memorial commemorates about six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust. The idea of its architecture is to realize the state of life of Jews during Nazi periods. One can attend free guided tours or simply download audio tour on smartphones.
Berlin wall memorial –
With about 10 min walk from Holocaust memorial, we reached to Berlin wall memorial. This is open air exhibition of remnants of Berlin wall. The history is well known. The exhibit is must see.
Checkpoint Charlie –
In the next square on the east side of the wall memorial is Checkpoint Charlie. We had started to walk early in the morning and so we reached here before it got crowded by tourists. Took some photos and went ahead.
This is important square in the city center. It hosts various glamorous hotels and restaurants. Schinkel’s concert hall, French and German cathedrals are located in this square. This is the best square to wander around feel the atmosphere.
St. Hedwig’s Cathedral –
This is about 240 years old church based on Pantheon in Rome. We did not go inside but from outside building looks nicely proportionate and style like roman architecture.
Bebel square –
This square has many important buildings but mainly famous for notorious Nazi book burning in 1933. In remembrance, a part of ‘sunken library’ is preserved in the middle of the square. One can see through a glass, the empty bookshelves in the underground library.
Apart from this, on one side there is Humboldt University and on other side is State Opera. Both buildings are historical and reconstructed post-war.
Constructed in 1818 served as a monument in three distinctive phases of German history namely- a memorial to the Wars of Liberation (till 1931), a memorial for the victims of the First World War (till 1993) and today as a monument for the victims of Fascism and militarism. The sculpture of ‘mother and her dead son’ is really emotional.
German history museum –
Next, on our walking trail, we reached to German history museum. This is an old building with modern restorations. German history is displayed in pictures and documents.
Now we reached on Museum Island and Berlin cathedral/ Dome was in front of us. This is the largest Protestant church in baroque style.
At this point, we took a break and had our lunch. This walking tour was very fruitful for us and took around 3 hours. After lunch, we visited Old museum and New museum – present in the vicinity.
As the name suggests, its Berlin’s oldest museum. This museum displays Roman and Greek collections. Its remarkable collection includes gold jewelry, marble sculptures, silver utensils etc. We took an audio guide which was nice informative and assisted us to understand the displays.
Besides old museum is the new museum. The New Museum houses the archaeological collections of the Egyptian and Papyrus Collection, Pre- and Early History. Some important collections include solar calendars, Bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti, Tutenkamun era and Roman era. This museum is huge and well organized. Of course, Berlin museums are world famous.
With all these, we winded up for the day. Legs were soaring. We needed to rest now. In the thoughts of the history of Germany, world, humans…. we went asleep.
This was our last day in Berlin. After checking out from the hotel, we went first to the central station. Hired a locker to store our luggage and started for last bit of Berlin
Alexanderplatz – First we reached to Alexanderplatz. This is centrally located and one of the most visited site. This square is present from long before but developed for construction of local train station in the early 1900s. Post-WWII, the square was present in East Berlin. Many high rise buildings were constructed then which mainly served for representative facade rather than actual use. Those constructions are still remarkable in the square.
Among various sights in this square, 365 meters high TV tower is the tallest construction in Berlin. It has a rotating platform on the top. Other sights are like Fountain of Friendship amongst People, the landmark World Time Clock, shopping complexes and cine complex.
17 June street – From Alexanderplatz by local train, we went to station ‘Tiergarten’. From here the ’17 June street’ starts. This street was constructed in the early 1800s and mainly used for military parades. In late WWII, it was even used as a landing strip for planes. The name was coined to commemorate the beginning of strike and demonstrations against the soviet union in East Germany. The road has large gardens on both sides with winding paths to stroll along.
In the center of Tiergarten, on this street is ‘Victory column’. This is a most famous sight in Berlin. This was erected by Emperor Wilhelm in 1871. There is a rounded column with the 8.3-meter golden statue on top which represents Victoria (goddess of victory) as well as Borussia (Latin name of Prussia). This monument is a point of attraction since then. At the top, there is an observation deck. One can reach by 270 steps on a spiral staircase. This is fun and enjoyment for kids and youngsters.
From the Victoria column, we walked ahead to ‘Soviet war memorial’. This memorial is in remembrance of Soviet soldiers who fought and lost their lives during WWII.
At this point, we had reached the end of 17 June street. Brandenburg gate was in front of us. We relaxed a while sipping a cup of coffee. There was still some time for our train to Stuttgart. Aarush was little tired to walk. So we decided to go to Potsdam. This was a direct train ride.
Potsdam is a capital of Brandenburg and can be reached by local train from Berlin. It took about 45 min to reach there. To avoid walking, we purchased Potsdam sightseeing bus tour with an audio guide. The tour covered all the major sights in Potsdam like Sanssouci Park, Belvedere on the Pfingstberg, English quarter, Dutch quarter, Marble palace etc. Potsdam was used by Prussian kings as a summer residence.
Though quick and short trip, it was informative and enjoyable.
On our way back to Berlin, we took a halt at Wannsee. The train station is just beside the lake. There is small garden developed along the banks of the lake. They might have boat rides but when we went, it was closed.
Now finally we reached Berlin main station.
We meandered around the station. Got our dinner packed to eat on the train. It was time for ICE to Stuttgart. Trains were all packed due to Easter vacations. We had reserved well before and therefore could relax in seats getting ready for a nap….
Berlin is a mix of old and new. Due to post-war consequences, Berlin has a unique impression. There are regions of historic architecture, modern high rise towers, cultural hubs, educational institutions, gardens and monuments, shopping complexes and street foods and the list goes on. People are friendly, helping and most importantly- English speaking. Berlin has cheaper accommodation and food rates as compared to other German cities.
Berlin is definitely the city to experience and to visit again and again.
Even former U.S. President John F. Kennedy could not resist saying –
Ich Bin Ein Berliner!!!
Bus number 100 and 200: Hop on-Hop off tours may not be always cost saving. Bus routes 100 and 200 will take you to the most of the popular tourist destinations and that too with regular city travel tickets. Frequency is also better than other ‘sightseeing buses’.