In this post, I want to share our trip to Berlin and the best things to do in this city in 3 days, plus 1-day to visit Potsdam by bike; you’ll love Potsdam!
We visited Berlin for 3 days. It was part of our road trip across Germany in 15 days (check out the itinerary).
Best Things to do 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 are 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 won’t do all the visits on your own.
Berlin 3-Day Itinerary
In the afternoon, we arrived in Berlin and went to the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust memorial, the Reichstag building (German Parliament, on the outside), and the Tiergarten park.
We walk around Potsdamer Platz at night 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, starting the visit with a free walking tour with a guide in your language is best.
This way, we’ll have first contact with the city and learn which topics we want to explore. We decided to do the Third Reich tour in our case. But after this one, we wanted to know more.
The guided tour begins at the Brandenburg Gate; we visit 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 many exciting things which marked the twentieth century.
Guided walking Tour of the 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).
There is a permanent exhibition that tells daily life during the German division.
Let’s learn the secrets of the Western Bloc and the East Bloc. But, first, 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 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: You have to take the subway to do this tour. So it is required to buy a 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 with its menu and the kindness of its employees and its 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, the Omakase menu, which changes depending on the season. It has 8-dishes, where you try authentic 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 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, on 13th August 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall began. 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 tried 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 allies’ rights by armed force, if necessary.
The following day, the Soviet Union aligned 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 reached a diplomatic solution with the head of state and the Soviet Communist Party, Nikita Khrushchev.
This way was avoided, which could have triggered the third world war. However, 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 divided 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 center is accessible via the entrance of Niederkirchnerstrasse Street.
Here, you have all the information to make this visit to Berlin: click on the link.
Tour of the Third Reich
The tour begins at the Brandenburg Gate. Then, 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, and Hitler’s chancellery, where the bunker is located where he committed suicide.
You will also visit Joseph Goebbel’s Ministry of Propaganda and Hermann Goering’s Luftwaffe headquarters (outside the building).
You’ll visit what Berlin’s Jewish quarter and the New Synagogue were.
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 saved their Jewish husbands’ lives.
The good thing is that the guide is telling you everything pleasantly. 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 you have public transportation included in addition to discounts.
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, typical in the country’s south. In the north, it is usually cooked in boiling water and not so yummy.
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 paintings are in Scharf-Gerstenberg’s collection.
- The ruin of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche on Breitscheidplatz is 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 significant 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.
Best Things To Do 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.
Where to Sleep in Berlin Center in a camper van?
You read right! You can legally visit Berlin with your camper van or a small motorhome and park and sleep in the city center.
Between Potsdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial is the Berlin mall car park. Unfortunately, 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, 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 it was complete when we went to do it. 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. But, of course, as in all major cities, the prices will change depending on the area and the quality of the hotel.
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 room’s price is around 75 euros per night, but they have good deals if you book it non-refundable.
Plan Your Trip to Germany
- 15-day Road Trip Itinerary across Germany
- Best Things to do in Munich in 3 days
- Best Travel Insurance (5% OFF clicking on the link)
- Best Backpack for Travelers
- Visit the Black Forest
- Best Things to do in Cologne
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Last Updated on 27 January, 2023 by Veronica