Last Updated on 17 December, 2020 by Veronica
In this post, I want to share our trip to Berlin. What to see and do in Berlin in 3 days, plus 1-day to visit Potsdam by bike, you’ll love Potsdam!
We visited Berlin in August 2020; it was part of our road trip through Germany in 15 days (check out the itinerary).
What to see in Berlin in 3-awesome-days
We traveled by camper van and celebrated my birthday in a fabulous restaurant in Berlin. We learn more about the history of the city and Germany. In this post, I tell you what we saw and what we couldn’t because of Covid-19. Let’s start!
The 10-best things to do in Berlin
If you don’t have time to read the whole post now, here’s my must-visit places. Save it on Pinterest, for later 🙂
- Free Berlin Walking Tour
- Guided Walking Tour the Third Reich and the Cold War
- Brandenburg Gate
- Berlin East Side Gallery
- Reichstag Building (Parliament)
- Jewish Quarter
- Museums (Highlight: Pergamon Museum)
- Holocaust Memorial
- Turkish Quarter
- Checkpoint Charlie
Check out lonely Planet’s Berlin Travel Guide, if you want do all the visits on your own.
What to visit in Berlin: itinerary for 3-great-days
We arrived in Berlin in the afternoon and went to the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust memorial, the Reichstag building (German Parliament, on the outside), and the Tiergarten park. At night, we walk around Potsdamer Platz and then to the van to sleep. The next day is going to be very busy.
Day 1. Free Berlin walking tour, Berlin Wall Tour and Cold War and dinner in Zenkichi
This day coincided with my birthday. It was a very intense day, but we finished it in the best possible way, in Berlin’s best Japanese restaurant, Zenkichi, with a spectacular Omakase menu.
Free Tour of Berlin
As always, it’s best to start the visit with a free walking tour with a guide in your language. In this way, we’ll have a first contact with the city and, we learn on which topics we want to go deeper. In our case, the Third Reich tour, we decided to do it, after this one. we wanted to know more, hehehe.
The guided tour begins at the Brandenburg Gate; we visited the place where Hitler’s bunker was; the Holocaust Memorial; Checkpoint Charlie; the Bebelplatz (Where the book burning was done); we will find remains of the Berlin Wall on the way to Pariser Platz. The visit ends at Gendarmenmarkt Platz. They say that the most beautiful square in Berlin.
Along the way, the guide tells a lot of interesting things, which marked the twentieth century.
Guided walking Tour Berlin Wall and Cold War
This three-hour guided tour starts at Berlin’s Palace of Tears (a train station that served for departures from East Berlin to the west). Currently, there is a permanent exhibition, which tells daily life during the German division.
Let’s learn the secrets of the Western Bloc and the East Bloc. You’re going to visit Norbanhof’s ghost station.
You’ll visit the Bernauer Strasse Memorial on the Berlin Wall. You’ll see the mark of the tunnels that were used to escape the communist regime.
We also visited the Wall Documentation Museum, the Reconciliation Church, and the East Side Gallery, the best-preserved stretch of the Berlin Wall, and here ends the free tour.
*Note: to do this tour you have to take the subway. So it’s necessary to buy a subway ticket. So it is necessary to buy a subway ticket. We had the three-day Welcome Card, where in addition to discounts of up to 50% on museums and activities, you have public transport included for the days you hire the Welcome Card.
And after walking all day we dined at Berlin’s best Japanese restaurant, Zenkichi. It’s the restaurant where we celebrate my birthday.
Zenkichi Berlin is a restaurant that surprised me, not only its menu and the kindness of its employees but the decoration and privacy.
Each table is private; they are like separate rooms, where the walls do not exist as such, but you have privacy with small bamboo curtains. The light is warm and dim.
They only have one menu; it’s called the Omakase menu and, it changes depending on the season. It has 8-dishes, where you try real Japanese delights, all accompanied by sake.
We choose to pair the dishes with sake’s 5-glass menu, but if you don’t like it or don’t drink alcohol, you can choose something else.
The menu price is € 75 per person and, the sake pairing menu of 5 glasses is € 40 per person. I know it’s not cheap, but it was a special occasion, which we wanted to celebrate in an exceptional place.
Day 2. Third Reich and more
In the morning, we visited Checkpoint Charlie, the border point between the east and west side of the Berlin Wall.
Its name is due to the third letter of NATO’s phonetic alphabet: “C”; it is not said “ce”; but it is called “Charlie”. But its fame is due to an event that could have broken out another war.
Let us imagine this time, 13 August 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall begins. A wall that emerges overnight surrounds West Berlin, to slow down the march west of East Berlin citizens.
Over time, we all know, that crossing the wall became increasingly difficult, hundreds of people lost their lives trying to cross it.
Now it’s only been a couple of months; we’re in late October 1961.
East German border guards try to control members of U.S. forces, thus undermining the rights of allies in Berlin, prompting a confrontation on Friedrichstrasse (the street where was located this border crossing).
U.S. General Lucius D. Clay sent tanks to defend the rights of allies, by armed force, if necessary.
The next morning, the Soviet Union responded by aligning ten tanks across the border.
The superpower tanks faced off for sixteen hours; not a single shot was fired (thank god!).
The next day, first the Soviet tanks, then the U.S. tanks were retreating. U.S. President John F. Kennedy had managed to reach a diplomatic solution with the head of state and the Soviet Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev.
In this way was avoided, which could have been the trigger for the third world war. It must be remembered that they were in the midst of the Cold War and, the fear was that a war with atomic bombs would begin.
Today, you can see a replica of Checkpoint Charlie, the museum where one of the original stalls is located, and the Checkpoint Gallery’s outdoor exhibition.
Topography of Terror
We visited the Museum of the Topography of Terror; it is free and very teachable. In this space was the former headquarters of the Gestapo, the secret police of the state. Those who opposed Hitler’s regime ended up there. The building was dismantled and, its materials were used to make other constructions. And with the remodeling, they found the old basements where they tortured people.
If you like history, this museum has to be visited with time. There are many panels to read, detailing the history of Hitler’s security apparatus, the SS, and the Third Reich police, between 1933 and 1945.
The exhibition is divide into five sections:
1. National Socialism rises to power
2. Institutions of Terror (SS and Police)
3. Terror, persecution and extermination during the Reich
4. The SS and the Reich Central Security Office in the occupied territories
5. End of war and post-war
The exhibition is available in two languages (German and English).
The centre is accessible via the entrance of Niederkirchnerstrasse Street.
Here, you have all the information to make this visit in Berlin: click on link.
Tour of the Third Reich
The tour begins at the Brandenburg Gate. You’ll visit the history of Nazism and the beginning of 12 years of terror, since its victory in 1933.
The highlights we visited are the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag (seat of the German parliament), memorials to the various victims of the Nazis, Hitler’s chancellery, where is located the bunker where he committed suicide.
You also are going to visit Joseph Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda and Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe headquarters (outside the building).
You’ll visit what was Berlin’s Jewish quarter and, the New Synagogue.
The visit ends with the protest in Rosenstrasse. These protests were a series of non-violent demonstrations, on Rosenstrasse Street between February and March 1943. They were carried out by a group of women who ended up saving the lives of their Jewish husbands.
The good thing is, the guide is telling you everything in a pleasant way. Pretty recommendable.
*Note: to do this tour, you have to take the subway. So it is necessary to buy a subway ticket. We had the three-day Welcome Card, where in addition to discounts, you have public transportation included.
Where to eat typical German food in Berlin?
We ate at Augustiner, a brewery that was born in Munich in 1328 and is a classic. Fer asked for a one-kilo knuckle (we shared a little). Here they make it roasted, as is typical in the south of the country. In the north, it is usually cooked in boiling water and not so yummy, hehe.
For dessert: apple strudel.
Super tasty everything, well priced, super recommended.
At night we had dinner in the van.
Day 3. Tour West Berlin or visit museums
Here I propose two different itineraries. You can choose, depending on your tastes or the weather. The second itinerary, the museums, is ideal for a rainy or cold day in Berlin.
Itinerary in West Berlin
- Charlottenburg Palace and Gardens, the residence of Berlin’s largest Prussian kings. Ideal for a sunny day on the banks of the River Spree.
- Bröhan Museum: you will find paintings and art nouveau. Also, surrealist painting in Scharf-Gerstenberg’s collection.
- The ruin of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche on Breitscheidplatz, reminiscent of the horrors of World War II.
- KaDeWe, visit the West Mall.
- Berlin Dungeon travels to the Middle Ages and learns another Berlin story.
- Berlin Cathedral is on the island of museums.
- Museum Island highlights the Pergamon Museum (closed for works)
- The State Opera
- Museum of German History
You can also make these two visits, which are super well valued by travelers.
Day 4. Potsdam
Potsdam, in nut words, I loved it. It is a city full of palaces and gardens, where very important historical moments happened and is about 40 km from Berlin.
- In another post, I will give you more details of everything to visit in Potsdam, but here you have a small summary with its essentials.
What to see in Potsdam in a day
- Sanssouci Palace and Park
- The New Palace
- The Orangerie Palace
- Cecilienhof Palace (where the Potsdam Conference was held)
- The Bridge of Spies
- The Dutch Quarter
- Brandenburg Gate
- Alexandowka Colony
*Note: we made the whole tour by bike. I recommend you rent a bike to get around Potsdam at your own pace and enjoy the city gardens. If you want to see everything, the distances are long enough to do it walking.
- You can also hire a tour from Berlin and do so by bus with an English or German-speaking guide and with an audio guide in Spanish, French, Italian, etc.
- You can take a guided segway tour. It can be a lot of fun!
- Click on the orange links and choose the one you like the most.
Where to sleep in the center of Berlin with the camper van?
You read right! You can visit Berlin with your camper van or a small motorhome and park and sleep in the city center, legally.
Between Potsdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial is the Berlin mall car park. It’s not free, you have to pay €15 for the first 24 hours and €20 for the rest of the days you stay.
The pros of this car park,
- First of all, it is the location, it is very close to the main attractions of Berlin, such as the Holocaust memorial, the Brandenburg Gate, the parliament, Checkpoint Charly, and many more places that can be reached by walking, cycling, public transport, electric scooter, etc.
- It has a fairly reasonable price for the area where it’s located.
- There is an Aldi supermarket nearby, or cafes and restaurants.
- It is a safe area, a few steps from an embassy.
- it’s a car park: it doesn’t have any services, that is, you don’t have to connect to electricity,
- there’s no water charging,
- nor empty the potty.
- You can’t camp, I mean, you can’t take the table out.
It’s an ideal place to visit the city if you are self-sufficient in your van. Here’s the link to get there.
If you prefer something more comfortable or have a large motorhome and don’t mind it being further from the center. Our first option was to go to Wohnmobiloase. But we had to book a working week in advance and when we went to do it was complete. You can also try your luck on the day of your arrival!
Where to sleep in Berlin in a hotel
In Berlin, you will find accommodation for all tastes and budgets. As in all major cities, depending on the area and the quality of the hotel, the prices will change.
Here’s my recommendation, by location, price, and customer reviews: The Hotel Arcotel John F Berlin. It has 4th stars, is very well located, just a five-minute walk from Museum Island and a 20-minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate.
*Important: it has free cancellation and payment at the property.
*The price of the room is around 75 euros per night, but they have good deals if you book it non-refundable.
If you book your non-refundable hotel, please take out your travel cancellation insurance for any reason with Mondo.
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