If you only have 24 hours in Berlin and you want to see all the main attractions and famous spots, this is the city guide for you. This tour guide will give you some ideas of things to do in Berlin if you only have one day on Europe’s most fantastic city (in my opinion, of course!).
You just got here and you’re lost with so many places to see but not enough time to actually go. I’ll post some of the main attractions together with some history and a personal points of view, so you can see Berlin through the eyes of an expatiate and have the best of both worlds: the tourist and the local.
Things to do in Berlin in 24 Hours
Here are the top 10 places, and I’ll try to present them in an easy order so you can do it all walking in just one direction:
East Side Gallery
The Berlin Wall, raised in only one night back in 1961, was the beginning of another dark period of Berlin’s history: if you want to flee from the east to the west, you were going to get shot. The Berlin Wall was over 160 km long, and the concrete part of it was 112 km long. Of which the East Side Gallery is a still there (for now) on the Friedrichshain side of the River Spree, between Oberbaumbrücke and OstBahnHof. Over 100 artists from all over the world painted their art on this small part of the Wall. A colorful memorial to freedom and a reminder of the pain and suffering from that time.
If you have the chance to visit Berlin, make a quick stop now because nobody knows the future. In 2013, a couple of luxury apartments started being built by the Spree, and that means that even in Berlin, money talks louder than history. Unfortunately.
Fernsehturm & Alexanderplatz
After walking that long, I think you deserve a break. Take a seat at the fountain in the middle of Alexanderplatz, enjoy the street performers and contemplate the beauty of our Fernsehturm.
The tower was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the administration of the DDR. Some say that it was a way to spy on the other side, the capitalist side. Some say that it wasn’t, who knows? The only important this is that this fantastic tower was intended as a symbol of Berlin, which it remains today, as it is easily visible throughout the central and some suburban districts of Berlin. With its height of 368 meters, it is the tallest structure in Germany.
Museum Island (German: Museumsinsel) is the northern part of an island that is in Mitte. This area has 5 of the most important museums in Berlin and the Berliner Dom. Here are the names and what you can find on each one of the museums:
- The Altes Museum (Old Museum) it houses the Antikensammlung (antique collection) of the Berlin State Museums.
- The Neues Museum (New Museum) Exhibits include the Egyptian and Prehistory and Early History collections, as it did before the war. The artifacts it houses include the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.
- The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) is a gallery showing a collection of Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork, part of the Berlin National Gallery, which in turn is part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
- The Bode Museum True to the ethos of its founding director, Wilhelm von Bode, who believed in mixing art collections, it is now the home for a collection of sculptures, Byzantine art, and coins and medals.
- The Pergamon Museum, The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of parts transported from Turkey. The Ishtar Gate is also in Pergamon. (This is my favorite of them all)
In 1999, the museum complex was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where the Nazis were burning books in the middle of a Platz? That place is Bebel Platz and there is a small memorial on the ground about that sad day. The Bebelplatz is known as the site of one of the infamous Nazi book burning ceremonies held in the evening of 10 May 1933 in many German university cities.
It would be on your left side if you started the tour on the 1st item here on this guide, in front of Humboldt University.
Brandenburg Tor & Reichstag
The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate, rebuilt in the late 18th century as a neoclassical triumphal arch, and now one of the most well-known landmarks of Germany and one block to the north stands the Reichstag building. They are both gorgeous and equally crucial for a full tour of Berlin in my opinion.
On the Reichstag, you can visit the glass dome on top of it and see Berlin from a unique view, but remember that you must register before showing up.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Also known as the Holocaust Memorial (German: Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), this memorial is close to Brandenburg Gate, and it is a must go place in my opinion. Underneath the amazing concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field, you can find a museum with the history of some of the entire families that were killed during WWII. It is exciting but keeps in mind that the wrong vibe and sadness maybe will follow you afterward. I enjoyed this tour when I was a tourist here, but I had some friends that didn’t like. They said that the stories were so sad that it kind of ruined the whole day.
But if you want to get to know the site and don’t experience everything, there is always the option of not entering the museum.
In my humble opinion, Checkpoint Charlie is the worst tourist place in Berlin. You have to pay to get a picture with the “soldiers” and to get your “pass stamped,” everything around is expensive, and it’s entirely out of the way if you’re doing this tour here.
If you have seen the pictures, you’ve seen it all. And here are a few pictures:
The Naturkundemuseum houses more than 30 million zoological, paleontological, and mineralogical specimens, including more than ten thousand type specimens, but the most fantastic thing inside this fantastic museum is: the largest mounted dinosaur in the world is here! You’ll easily spend a few hours inside, so this site is for the people who don’t care for WWII or already saw the regular attractions here in Berlin.
The Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial is directly at the former border strip close to the Bernauer Strasse U-Bahn, and it is a piece of the Berlin Wall with border strip and watchtower. Pretty impressive if I might say, even though it’s entirely out of the way of the first six items, it’s not impossible to see it on the same day since it’s so close to a U-Bahn station.
This memorial is a must go because only here I could feel the vibe from the Wall. You can have a view from a building and another perspective from the streets of how tense and cruel it was this period between 1961 and 1989.
If you are here for 24 hours, you need to eat at some point. Do not miss the chance of having Berliners most famous foods like a Berliner Curry Wurst, any Vietnamese or Thai and, of course, a Döner Kebap. In my opinion, the best Döner is at Imren in Neukölln. But if you like fantastic cheap Asian food, there is a tiny place called Asia Food that is one of the best Asian restaurants I’ve ever been to.
Remember to choose wisely where to stay here in Berlin. Our advice will always be to get a place close to a U or S-Bahn (the subway of Berlin) because it runs every day until 1 or 2 am (depending on the line) and from Friday to Sunday, it is non stop. Perfect for getting home after a night out on the many bars Berlin has to offer. If you need a hotel or hostel recommendations, please sign up for our newsletter here, promotions, reviews and much more will be waiting for you there.