Berlin in 7 Days: everything you need to know

Having 7 days to visit Berlin can be considered a real luxury. It is possible that many people think that it is too much time, but if you want to see the German capital at your leisure and take advantage of some excursions, it is a perfect stay.

Joaquín Montaño

Joaquín Montaño

20 min read

Berlin in 7 Days: everything you need to know

Berlin Wall | ©Bob Under Focus

When you are preparing your trip you will realize that there is much more to see in Berlin than the remains of the wall and the Brandenburg Gate. The city is the largest in Germany and, most importantly, it has so much history that almost every corner offers something interesting. In addition, it is a city with a different atmosphere that is reflected in several of its neighborhoods.

A visit to the Museum Island alone could take several days, although it is usually a half-day visit. Its more alternative neighborhoods also deserve to be visited at leisure and, if that were not enough, nearby is a city as interesting and worth seeing as Potsdam. All this is included in this 7-day itinerary, but you know that you should always be flexible in case you feel like changing something on the fly.

Day 1: Introduction to the city and tour of historic Mitte

Sightseeing bus through the streets of Berlin| ©Janusz Jakubowski
Sightseeing bus through the streets of Berlin| ©Janusz Jakubowski

When you arrive in a new city there is always a first moment of some bewilderment. It usually takes some time to get to know the city and get to know its tricks. For this it can be a great idea to take a small guided tour of Berlin or take advantage of the tourist bus.

The rest of the day you will spend with a tour of the so-called Historic Mitte. In this area there are many places to see, but as they are all very close together it is easy to reach each of them on foot.

Start your trip with a tour in a tourist bus

To start getting to know the city you can choose to hire a small guided tour or get on one of the tourist buses that travel around Berlin. In this case I recommend you to start with this second option.

Since there are several types of bus tours, it is best to opt for one that passes through the most representative places, such as Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate or the Reichstag.

Obviously, later you will have the opportunity to visit them all at your leisure and on foot, but the tourist bus will serve as a great first contact with the history of the city.

Book a Berlin sightseeing bus tour

See the Reichstag and climb its dome

To start the tour of the historic Mitte, right in the center of Berlin, few places more representative than the Reichstag. The building dates back to 1894, when it was built to serve as the seat of the German Parliament in the imperial era.

There are few places that have lived as much history in Europe as this building: from the end of the German monarchy to the 1933 fire that was used as an excuse by the Nazis to declare dictatorship.

The best place to contemplate its wonderful neo-Renaissance facade in the meadow in front of it. When you're done, get ready to go up to the roof and enjoy fabulous views from the glass dome.

Going up to the dome is free, but requires a reservation on the website. In this article on tickets to the Reichstag you have all the information you need.

Admire the Brandenburg Gate and Pariser Platz

Sunset at the Brandenburg Gate| ©Tomasz Baranowski
Sunset at the Brandenburg Gate| ©Tomasz Baranowski

Next to the Reichstag you will find one of the symbols of Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate. At the time, when it was built in the time of Wilhelm II of Prussia, it was one of the 18 gates through which one entered Berlin.

During the partition of the city with the wall, this gate was left in no man's land, but later became an emblem of reunification.

The square at the foot of the gate, the Pariser Platz, was the place chosen by the bourgeoisie to celebrate their parties. Rebuilt after World War II, if you go to Berlin at Christmas time you will see how the area is filled with thousands of people celebrating the arrival of the new year.

The Holocaust Memorial: a place for meditation

From the Brandenburg Gate you only have to walk a few minutes around the Adlon Hotel to reach one of the most significant places in Berlin: the Holocaust Memorial. Dedicated to the Jews murdered during the Nazi era, it is a kind of labyrinth created by concrete blocks of different heights.

If you go to this place, I ask you to maintain a respectful behavior, as in recent years have proliferated some attitudes not consistent with the sad meaning of the place.

Those who want to delve deeper into history, under the monument there is a subway exhibition explaining the persecution suffered by the Jews.

Book a guided tour of Berlin

Take a leisurely stroll along Friedrichstrasse

In the eastern part of Mitte is Friedrichstrasse, an avenue that runs perpendicular to Unter der Linden. Many of the buildings you will see are relatively new, as the area was destroyed by the bombings of World War II.

Today, the street is home to numerous stores and shopping malls, making it an ideal place if you want to stop and buy something.

Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt, at its Christmas market| ©Jorge Franganillo
Gendarmenmarkt, at its Christmas market| ©Jorge Franganillo

It is not possible to visit historic Mitte without making a stop at this square. As its name indicates, Gendarmenmarkt (Gendarmenmarkt), it was originally the place where a Prussian regiment of Huguenots who fled from France to Berlin, the so-called Gens d'armes

In the square you will be able to see the Konzerthaus, a beautiful concert hall of 1821. Also, you should not miss a visit to the twin churches located there: the Französicher Dom and the Deutscher Dom.

The place where books used to be burned: Bebelplatz

Very close to the previous one you will find another square that, in addition to its buildings, stands out for its role in the history of the twentieth century.

In the Bebelplatz you will find four extraordinary examples of the city's architecture. The State Opera, St. Hedwigs Cathedral, the Old Royal Library and the present-day Humboldt Universitat are sure to impress you.

However, the square became more famous for being the place chosen by the Nazis, specifically by their Student League, to carry out the first burning of allegedly subversive books in 1933.

Day 2: Museum Island, Unter den Linden and Tiergarten Garden

Pergamon Museum,| ©Rob S
Pergamon Museum,| ©Rob S

You will start the second day of your trip with a visit to the Museum Island. Keep in mind that only one morning is not enough time to see everything, but in travel it is always necessary to make some choices.

So, if you are an art lover, you can always extend your visit or come back at any other time to finish it.

Immerse yourself in the art on the Museum Island

When you're done with the museums I advise you to head to this great avenue. It can also be a great place to grab a bite to eat.

The history of Unter den Linden began in the sixteenth century, when King John George I decided to create a path linking his palace to Tiergarten, then a hunting ground.

Today, the renovated avenue (as it was severely damaged in the war) has several important buildings and monuments. Among those not to be missed on your walk are the German History Museum, the statue of Frederick II the Great or the New Guard building.

Book a guided tour of Berlin

Enjoy the nature of Tiergarten

Tiergarten, Berlin| ©edwin.11
Tiergarten, Berlin| ©edwin.11

The last point of the tour of a day marked by museums is going to be Tiergarten, a large park of about 3 kilometers. Inside there are many possible routes, terraces and some Biergarten perfect for relaxing while sipping a beer if you have gone to Berlin in summer.

The main path of the park is the street of June 17, famous for being used by Hitler for his military parades. However, the paths leading off from it are much more interesting and you will also find attractions such as the following:

  • Gypsy Monument: this monument pays homage to the often forgotten thousands of Gypsies murdered by the Nazis.

  • Soviet Monument: very close to the previous one, this monument commemorates the Soviet soldiers who fought against the Nazis. Under its columns are the remains of 2000 of these soldiers who died liberating Berlin.

  • Victory Column

(Siegessäule): another of the most emblematic monuments of the city.

  • Bellevue Palace: it is an interesting palace located inside the park.

Dinner at the Tiergartenquelle

This place is a little secret of the city to eat good German food. It is a tavern with a rather rustic decor, with traditional dishes such as pork knuckle or Berliner Bouletten (a type of hamburgers).

It is located under the Tiergarten S-Bahn station and is really worth accompanying dinner with a pitcher of beer.

Day 3: Alternative and multicultural Berlin

Biking through the East Side Gallery| ©Eric Gilliland
Biking through the East Side Gallery| ©Eric Gilliland

If you have decided to spend a few days in Berlin you may already know the fame that some of Berlin's neighborhoods enjoy as places where alternative lifestyles flourished.

The most relevant areas in this sense are Kreuzberg, Kulturforum and, to a lesser extent, Potsdamer Platz. To visit them you can do it on your own or combine the walks with a bike tour of Berlin dedicated precisely to the alternative, multicultural and modernist Berlin.

Book a bike tour in Berlin

The modernity of Potsdamer Platz

Actually, this name designates an entire neighborhood and not just a square. After being destroyed in World War II and later divided by the wall, the area underwent a total change with reunification.

Some of the most famous architects of the time were involved in the reconstruction, which is evident in its magnificent buildings.

Stroll along the Boulevard of Stars

Leaving Potsdamer Platz towards the Kulturforum you will see the Boulevard der Stars, a walk of fame in the style of Hollywood.

Although it is located near where the Berlin Film Festival is held, the stars that mark the promenade are dedicated to the main German actors and filmmakers. If you are a film lover you can have a good time trying to discover their names.

In addition, a series of cameras are installed on this walk so that, looking through their lenses, you can see holograms of the actors appearing in the stars.

The museums of Kulturforum

Neue Nationalgalerie| ©Manfred Brückels
Neue Nationalgalerie| ©Manfred Brückels

In the 1950s, the Federal Republic of Germany ordered the construction of a series of buildings to house cultural institutions that had been left on the eastern side after the construction of the wall, as was the case of the Museum Island.

The result was the Kulturforum, which even today still houses museums for all tastes, including some of the best museums in Berlin (with permission of those on the island, of course). If you feel like it, you can choose from the following:

  • Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery): dedicated to modern art.

  • Gemäldegalerie: houses European paintings of all times.

  • Kunstgewerbemuseum: Museum of Arts and Crafts.

  • Berlin Philharmonic.

  • National Library.

Kreuzberg and its urban life

Undoubtedly, the highlight of this day is the visit to the district of Kreuzberg, also called the Turkish quarter of Berlin.

In this neighborhood was born the squatting movement of the city in the 60s and 70s of the twentieth century. The atmosphere after the fall of the wall has changed a lot, but it has kept its multicultural and vindictive essence.

In the west side you will find a large number of cafes and stores with a certain hipster air, while the east side concentrates a large part of the Turkish population of the city. This is noticeable in the number of kebabs (of great quality) that you will find.

An activity that you may enjoy is to follow the so-called graffiti route. Do not think that these are simple graffiti that litter the streets. On the contrary, many of them are authentic works of art protected by the city council.

Book a bike tour in Berlin

Get to know the dark side of mankind at the Topography of Terror

Still in the Kreuzberg district you will find one of those places that would be better if they did not exist: the so-called Topography of Terror.

This museum is one of the most visited in the city and is located in the former headquarters of the Gestapo, the sinister Nazi secret police. You can already imagine that inside you will be able to discover the tactics used by this repressive body, as well as to know who their leaders were and their history.

Enter the Jewish Museum

Jewish Museum of Berlin| ©Stephan Herz
Jewish Museum of Berlin| ©Stephan Herz

Very close to the previous one is another interesting museum, this time dedicated to a community that was a victim of the Gestapo and the Nazis: the Jews.

The museum tells the history of this people since its members arrived in Berlin in the Middle Ages. Obviously, the testimonies of the deportations and the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis are not to be missed.

Night in Kreuzberg

Kreuzberg is also known for being one of the most lively nightlife districts of the city. It is, therefore, the best place to find where to dine and, if you feel like it, have a drink and enjoy the Berlin nightlife.

In the neighborhood you will find all kinds of places, from clubs where techno sounds to cafes where you can sit more quietly, without leaving aside some perfect outdoor terrace if the weather is good.

Book a beer tour in Berlin

Day 4: From the famous Alexanderplatz to the hidden Nikolaiviertel

Alexanderplatz| ©Sven Masuhr
Alexanderplatz| ©Sven Masuhr

This day will start with one of the most famous and popular areas of Berlin, Alexanderplatz, and continue with another equally interesting but much more ignored by most visitors. Thus, your trip will not only stay in the most touristy areas, but will go into other interesting neighborhoods of the city.

The most famous square of the city: Alexanderplatz

Like many other parts of the city, this part was destroyed after World War II. In rebuilding it, East Germany chose to give Alexanderplatz a style based on Soviet modernism, something that is still evident in its buildings.

If you get off at Alexanderplatz station, the first thing you will see is a huge clock, built in 1969. Over time, it has become one of the typical places where Berliners hang out.

Book a tour of East Berlin

Climb, if you don't have vertigo, the TV Tower (Fernsehturm)

If there is something clearly visible on the square, it is the huge TV Tower. As a curiosity, its silhouette is inspired by the first Soviet space rocket, Sputnik.

Its height reaches 250 meters and has an antenna of 118 meters. At 203 meters there is a sphere with a viewpoint that can be climbed. If the weather is not bad, you will have a 360º perspective of the whole city.

Visit the church of St. Marienkirche

Continuing on the tour, the next point to see is St. Mary's Church, one of the oldest in the city.

While its interior is considered one of the best examples of Baltic Gothic in the world, its interior is notable for a wonderful fresco depicting the dance of death. Don't miss its beautiful pulpit made of alabaster either.

Book tickets to the Berlin TV Tower

Neptunbrunnen and Berlin City Hall

Exterior of the Berlin City Hall| ©Bernt Rostad
Exterior of the Berlin City Hall| ©Bernt Rostad

The next points of interest are the Neptune Fountain (Neptunbrunnen) and the nearby City Hall.

The former is really worth spending some time contemplating the details that adorn it. The main statue represents, of course, the god of the sea, Neptune. His figure is surrounded by four women symbolizing the main rivers of the country: Rhine, Oder, Vistula and Elbe.

The town hall, on the other hand, shows an interesting and unusual mixture of Italian Renaissance and North German architecture. Although it is not possible to enter, it is worth discovering the depiction of various historical events in the terracotta frieze.

Enter the oldest quarter of the city: Nikolaikirche

The best place to start the visit to this neighborhood is the church that gives it its name, the church of St. Nicholas. Its construction took place in 1230 and today it houses a museum that exhibits its history and that of the whole neighborhood.

After leaving this church behind, you can spend some time to enter one of the nearby museums, such as the Ephraim Palace (with exhibitions on the art of the city) or the interesting Zille Museum, where you can see the work of the so-called chronicler of the Berlin courtyards, Heinrich Zille.

If you are a little tired of seeing museums, another good option is to continue walking until you reach the Spree River. There you will find one of the most beautiful squares in the whole area, presided over by a statue showing St. George slaying the dragon.

Admire the buildings of Molkenmarkt

Once you arrive at the Molkenmarkt square you will be able to see two interesting buildings. The first is the former mint, the Alte Münze, now an event center. Opposite is the old town hall, with a tower of 87 meters topped by a statue of the goddess fortune.

To finish the walk through the neighborhood you can make a short stop at Franziskaner-Klosterkirch, the ruins of a former Franciscan convent. If you are lucky, you may come across one of the concerts that are often organized in the area.

If you are not tired yet, you can take a 20-minute walk to the Brandenburg Gate to see the beautiful illumination and have dinner in the area.

Day 5: Excursion to Potsdam

View from the Potsdam Church| ©A.Savin
View from the Potsdam Church| ©A.Savin

Near Berlin, just 30 kilometers away, is the beautiful city of Potsdam. For this day I recommend an excursion to spend the day getting to know all its attractions.

To get to Potsdam from Berlin you can easily take the train. This transport is included in the Berlin Welcome Card, but if you do not have the card the price does not exceed 4 € each way.

Nauener Tor

This is one of the old gates through which one entered Potsdam. Dating from 1755, it was connected to the other two gates by a wall of which today there are hardly any remains.

Dutch Quarter

The name of this popular area comes from the red brick houses of Dutch style that are there. These were built by craftsmen from the Netherlands during the reign of Frederick William I of Prussia.

The area is full of cafes, restaurants and stores, so it is always very busy.

In this neighborhood you will also find the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, very close to a house where Mozart lived and you can visit.

The next point to visit is the Old Market Square, the most important of the old part of Potsdam. Walking through it you will be able to see interesting buildings such as the Barberini palaceor the Lutheran church of St. Nicholas.

Sanssouci Palace

Undoubtedly, this palace is the star of any visit to Potsdam. If you don't go inside, at least its large gardens deserve to be visited with some calm.

With a rococo style and with an impressive interior decoration, if you feel like it, you can go inside and feel like Frederick II of Prussia, who used the palace as a summer residence.

Other interesting places

In addition to the Sanssouci Palace and its beautiful gardens and the Dutch quarter, you should not miss other places like the Russian quarter and the cathedral.

I also advise you to get away from the old town to see interesting sites such as the Cecilienhof palace (where the Potsdam Conference was held) and the bridge of the spies, famous for being where both sides exchanged the spies they had captured during the Cold War.

Day 6: A small cruise, the Berlin Wall and the remains of the GDR

At the Berlin Wall| ©Hugh Llewelyn
At the Berlin Wall| ©Hugh Llewelyn

This sixth day, the penultimate day of the trip, is going to start with a relaxing activity: a short one-hour cruise.

Afterwards, I have prepared an itinerary to recall some of Berlin's landmarks during the Cold War, starting with a look at the remains of the famous wall that divided the German capital, the country and all of Europe in two for several decades.

Cruise on the Spree

After having spent the whole previous day visiting Potsdam, there is no better way to start this day than taking a short cruise on the Spree River aboard a boat.

For about an hour you will be able to have a new perspective of some of the main monuments of the city in a relaxed and comfortable way.

Book your dinner cruise in Berlin

Art on the Wall: East Side Gallery

Once you get off the boat you will have to go to one of the most essential places in the German capital, the East Side Gallery. Here, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a real work of art was created so that what happened would never be forgotten.

A large number of artists proceeded to decorate some remains of the wall with more than 100 paintings. Beyond the artistic value, with this they intended to leave a record of the feelings that were experienced in those days.

These graffiti turned this stretch of the wall, more than 1 kilometer long, into the best known and most visited of all those that remain.

Experience a spy movie at Checkpoint Charlie

Located in Friedrichstrasse, Checkpoint Charlie was during the years after World War II the most famous border crossing between the U.S. and Soviet sectors.

The history of this place is almost unfathomable, something that has been reflected in films on many occasions. After the demolition of the wall, the border crossing was demolished, but in 2000 a reproduction of the first one in the city was built.

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Tränenpalast, the "palace of tears"

At the Palace of Tears| ©Uwe Dörnbrack
At the Palace of Tears| ©Uwe Dörnbrack

The next stop on the itinerary is another former border crossing between East and West Berlin. In this case it is the Tränenpalast, located next to the Friedrichstrasse station.

The name of this place can be translated as "palace of tears" and refers to the tears that the West Germans shed when they returned home after visiting their relatives in the East.

Inside this place there is an interesting exhibition that you should not miss if you are interested in history. In it you can see some original objects that were in the border post, as well as recreations of the facilities in which the administrative and police processes were carried out to cross the border.

Berlin Wall Memorial

The best place, with the permission of the East Side Gallery, to discover what the Berlin Wall meant is this memorial of almost a mile long.

In the facilities, located outdoors, you can learn how all the border crossings were built and in its fantastic graphic exhibition (within the Documentation Center) you can see the history of the wall itself and how the city lived during those decades.

A flea market in the former death strip: Mauerpark and Flohmarkt im Mauerpark

Possibly, only a city like Berlin is able to show two such different faces of the same place.

Mauerpark (Wall Park) is where the Memorial ends and, during the time that the German capital was divided, was part of the section called the strip of death by the number of people killed in the area when they tried to escape to the west. However, if you go on a Sunday you will find what is a real sample of the current life of the city: the Flohmarkt im Mauerpark. This is one of the most popular flea markets in Berlin, with stalls accompanied by street music and several beer gardens.

Don't miss the GDR museum

Another interesting visit for history buffs is the GDR (German Democratic Republic) museum. Although it is not too big, I definitely recommend a visit.

The exhibition shows a large number of objects of everyday use in communist Germany, from medicines to fashion items, through one of the typical cars of the country or a reproduction of a house.

Book tickets for the GDR Museum Berlin

Karl-Marx Allee: the grand eastern avenue

Before looking for a place to dine, you can't miss a stroll along Karl Marx Allee, an imposing 90-meter wide avenue that connects Alexanderplatz with Frankfurter Tor.

This huge artery was built in East Berlin in the 1960s. Here you will find some of the most representative examples of East German architecture.

The houses were destined for prominent members of the party and the street was the chosen stage for a large number of military parades.

Book the Third Reich Berlin Tour

Day 7: Underground tour of Berlin and end point in Charlottenburg

War bunkers| ©Julian Omaña
War bunkers| ©Julian Omaña

Berlin's underground, as is the case in many large cities, hides interesting secrets that are worth a visit. So that they could be known, years ago was created the association Berliner Unterwelten, which organizes several interesting subway tours for all kinds of tastes.

In this case, I propose you to do one about the nuclear bunkers of the city, but if you look at their website you will find more options.

The office of the association is next to the Gesundbrunnen subway station and is the place from where almost all tours depart.

On the other hand, the day and the trip will end with a tour of one of the most interesting areas of Berlin, Charlottenburg.

Cold War nuclear bunkers

This tour shows how the FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) prepared for a possible nuclear war during the Cold War years.

During the tour you will visit two shelters originally built during World War II, but after the partition of the city were converted to provide shelter for those affected by a hypothetical atomic conflagration.

The most curious thing is that one of these bunkers is still operational and could accommodate more than 3000 people if necessary. The shelter has a water supply system, an access control and an emergency electric generator.

Get to know one of the jewels of the West: Charlottenburg Palace

Visitors to Berlin often focus on the eastern part of the city. Although it is true that it is the area with more attractions, the west also has some interesting points.

To end the trip it is a good idea to visit Charlottenburg, one of the most exclusive districts of the city. Many of the old palaces have been converted into museums or art galleries and its avenues are full of stores, some of luxury brands.

Undoubtedly, the Charlottenburg Palace is one of the places you can not miss if you approach this neighborhood. If you have been to Paris, you will recognize the clear influence of Versailles in its construction, although you will also see other styles in the parts that were added during its history.

If you do not feel like visiting the interior, I do recommend that you enter at least the gardens to walk around them for a while.

The hidden gems in the Berggruen Museum

Berggruen Museum| ©TijsB
Berggruen Museum| ©TijsB

Almost opposite the palace you will find a pair of beautiful twin buildings built in the nineteenth century. Originally, both served as barracks for the Palace Guard Corps and today are home to two museums.

Without a doubt, the most interesting is the Berggruen Museum, inside the Stüler West building. It is surprising how little recognition there is of its collection, since it houses works by great painters such as Picasso, Paul Klee and Matisse.

The other building, the Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg, is entirely dedicated to surrealist art. Depending on your taste you can visit both (there is a combined ticket) or just one of them.

Kurfürstendamm boulevard

The 3 kilometers long of this busy avenue are full of stores of all kinds, although the luxury ones stand out. In its day, the artery was used to go from the city to the Grunewald forest, hunting ground of the nobility. Later, in the nineteenth century, they tried to make it a kind of Champs Elysees.

In addition to strolling along it and stop for a drink, in Kurfürstendamm you will find the most exclusive boutiques, although if you want to buy a souvenir you can also do it without problems.