If you are wondering what to see in Berlin in 3 days, the answer is many things, but you will need to know how to choose not to rush too much.
When to go to Berlin
Last year, during the third week of December, I took a short getaway with my girlfriend to one of the most famous European capitals in the world for its stormy history, priceless artistic masterpieces and extraordinarily beautiful architecture: Berlin.
The period I chose was not at all accidental: in fact, in addition to the tourist attractions that can be visited all year round, in this period Berlin is dotted with many Christmas Markets that, besides being fascinating for their engaging folkloristic atmosphere, are also a pleasant alternative to the continuous running that usually characterizes the short city tours, where you try to see as many things as possible.
What to see in Berlin
Berlin in 3 days, the old and the new capital of Germany is a city with a glorious history and today is one of the cities where the cultural, artistic and architectural ferment is surpassing that of other European capitals. Being the first time in the German capital, we decided to visit Berlin starting from classic destinations.
Alexanderplatz: Perfect combination of tradition and innovation
In case you have followed my suggestion, on the first day you can easily avoid taking the metro because Alexanderplatz is so rich in monuments and things to see that a 5-day trip would not be enough to see it all!
Besides the various shops, restaurants and markets, the square is historically considered the centre of the eastern part of the city.
Fernsehturm: the Television Tower
At 368 metres, the Television Tower is the tallest building in Germany and the fourth tallest in Europe, so it won’t be hard to find it as soon as you get off at Alexanderplatz!
As with all the other attractions, I had already booked all the tours online and I would advise you to do the same to avoid stumbling through gruelling ticket lines. Thanks to the booking, we jumped the queue and immediately entered the tower lift.
In just 40 seconds the lift will catapult you into the observation platform, where you will be greeted by the most beautiful panorama of Germany today. All around the huge dome you will find a detailed description of the city’s attractions, buildings and history, so allow yourself at least an hour to complete the tour and lose yourself in reading in peace. If you wish, there is a beautiful bar at the top of the Television Tower where you can have a coffee and relax a little bit.
Once you get down from the tower, you can visit the markets, admire the splendid Neptune Fountain (which hosts a skating rink at Christmas time) and head calmly to your next destination.
A short 10-minute walk from the tower and across the bridge over the Spree to Berlin Cathedral, the largest Protestant place of worship in the city. The cathedral is open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on public holidays from 12 noon to 7 p.m. The cost for adults is €7, but if you are a student, I advise you to bring your student card with you because it will give you discounts on many occasions.
After taking a few obligatory photos of the famous exterior facade and visiting the atrium, where I was particularly fascinated by the magnificent organ, we discovered the possibility of reaching the viewpoint between the domes of the cathedral. The staircase is quite challenging but when you get to the top, you will see that it will be worth it!
Rotes Rathaus, the Red Town Hall
The seat of the city’s government, the Rotes Rathaus is another little wonder to be discovered just a stone’s throw from Alexanderplatz. The entrance is free for tourists and the structure is open from Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm.
As soon as we entered we were greeted by the purple velvet of the staircase that led us to the upper floor. Here we were able to admire many statues dedicated to fundamental figures of German history, including philosophers and politicians such as William II and Kant, and even the half-busts of the Brothers Grimm. A little curiosity: always in the same room you will be surprised to find a scale reproduction of the building made entirely of LEGO bricks.
East Side Gallery: The Berlin Wall
An unforgettable destination on our trip was undoubtedly the East Side Gallery, what remains of the Berlin Wall. The nearest metro stop is Warschauer Str. Along the 1.4 km route you will find yourself almost at the starting point, with the Tower that will be your star star throughout your stay.
A shadow of the division of the Germanies that remained standing until 1989, the Wall today is the most famous open-air gallery in Germany. The advice is to enjoy the many murals, both historical and more recent (some even from 2019), without having to worry about having to photograph everything: at any time of the year the wall is always invaded by crowds of tourists, so enjoy this spectacle as much as you can with your eyes and heart!
From here, take the metro to the Berlin Wall Memorial at the Bernauer Str. stop. Open Monday to Sunday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Charlottenburg Castle: Summer residence of Kings (and Queens)
Charlottenburg Castle, the summer residence commissioned by Queen Charlotte, wife of Frederick I of Prussia, deserves a separate mention. The whole structure is open to visitors, including the gardens, but for these there is a surcharge on the ticket, so my girlfriend and I were content to visit only the interior areas. The nearest metro stop is Richard Wagner Platz.
The castle is certainly magnificent and imposing, but it is not so easy to reach because despite the metro trip, it takes about 15 minutes to walk and is far from the rest of the attractions we visited throughout the holiday. For this reason, I suggest you keep an afternoon free or almost only to visit the castle.
Charlottenburg is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with time variations on certain public holidays such as Christmas. The entrance fee is € 12 for adults and € 8 for children, the entrance fee to the new wing is € 6 for adults and € 5 for children.
The thing that struck me the most was the outside of the castle because from 21/11 to 26/12 there is a Christmas market with musicians in the square. Finally, our day ended with a fascinating play of lights projected on the facade of the Castle!
The Brandenburg Gate: a Colossus to take your breath away
The Brandenburg Gate is undoubtedly the symbol of the city of Berlin, even if the struggle is tough. Close to the Brandenburger Tor stop, the gate was for decades the emblem of the division of the two Germanies while, after the fall of the Wall, it became the representation of the united Germany.
With its twelve columns, the grandeur of the door is truly breathtaking. The Quadriga, goddess of Victory, from the top of her carriage, is the splendid icing on the cake of what I would not hesitate to define as the most beautiful thing we have seen in the city. As you can see, the square in front of the Tower houses, obviously at Christmas time, a gigantic illuminated tree.
The Reichstag and its Dome: the seat of Parliament
Two minutes from the Gate you will find the Reichstag, the seat of the German Federal Parliament since 1999. You can visit the building in two ways: either by booking a full tour of the building or by simply climbing up into the glass dome on the roof. For reasons of time, my girlfriend and I have opted for this second option.
A panoramic point to compete with the Television Tower, the Dome is also equipped with a long winding path with illustrations and documents, which we have studied accompanied by an audio guide also available in Italian. A fundamental note: the dome is very popular with tourists, so if you want to include it in your itinerary, book your visit a few weeks in advance to make sure you get the time slot you prefer.
From the Holocaust Memorial to the Nikolaikirche
There are so many things to see in Berlin. Another 10 minutes’ walk from the Reichstag will take you to the Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, consisting of 2,711 concrete steles placed at different levels.
Here ends the report of the attractions that I think must be included in any itinerary to see the city but I suggest you take some time to build your own itinerary. Berlin is full of treasures to discover, so don’t be afraid to get lost from time to time because the things to see are able to show you when you least expect them.
Just to mention a few of the most famous, the most popular destinations are the Checkpoint Charlie, another sign of the wall, the Tiergarten, a huge garden suitable for those who want to relax a bit and the Nikolaikirche, right behind the Rotes Rathaus!
What to see in Berlin in 3 days – Useful info
Here are a few tips to visit Berlin without surprises and make things a little easier for you
How to get to Berlin – flights
Personally, when I decided to book, I didn’t even consider the idea of travelling to Germany by car, both because the cost would have been almost double and because it would have taken 15 hours per trip to reach the city from Tuscany.
I don’t hide how easy it is for me to make bookings as my mum is the owner of a travel agency, but accessing one of the airlines’ websites makes it easy for me to find a flight to Berlin.
The price of return flights for two people in December, obviously if booked not during the Christmas week and a little in advance, is around 120/130 €, but you can find more advantageous offers during the year.
Where to sleep in Berlin
As far as the stay is concerned, the advice is to look for a hotel or flat near Alexanderplatz because it is located in the heart of the city, so it is excellently served by metro and contains a good part of the most famous tourist attractions of the city, first of all the Fernsehturm, the Television Tower.
The price of the structure obviously depends on your needs and the period; I specifically opted for a good 4 stars and spent about 200 € (always two people, three nights).
The tour of Berlin that we have done includes some fundamental trips by metro, starting with the one to travel from the airport to the hotel and vice versa. When you find yourself buying tickets, you will see that you can buy a day ticket that will allow you to take the metro whenever you want, or you can pay €3.30 per ride.
Berlin Underground Map
In case there are no elderly people or children with you, perhaps the most convenient thing is to avoid the subscription, because most of the destinations are close to each other and easily reachable on foot. Nevertheless, to avoid making mistakes, get a map, either paper or digital, because it could be difficult to get between the various stops, especially at the beginning!