Berlin is the dynamic and historic capital of Germany. The city was considered to be the icon of segregation during the Cold War. Today, it is a vibrant city filled with street art around every corner! The remnants of history dotted around the city have been transformed from oppressive segregation, to artworks that celebrate the unity of the different cultures.
If you only have one day to explore this spellbinding city then we’ve got you covered. Follow our route from the East Side Gallery, all the way to Checkpoint Charlie – ticking off all the iconic stops along the way.
East Side Gallery
What was once the physical divide between East and West Germany is now the biggest open-air gallery in the world. The East Side Gallery features murals celebrating the fall of the Berlin Wall. There are 101 large-format murals that were painted by artists from around the world, commenting on the divide between East and West Germany. The art is painted onto a 1,3 km-long remnant of the famous wall! The gallery is located at the heart of Berlin on Mühlenstraße. This striking landmark was awarded Denkmal (monument) heritage status in 1991. It stands as a celebration of the city’s reunification.
East Side Gallery to Alexanderplatz = 10 minutes by taxi
Alexanderplatz and Fernsehturm
Next up, we have Alexanderplatz. This bustling urban hub serves as a public square and transport assembly point. Soak up the energy of central Berlin and visit the nearby Fernsehturm. This television tower was constructed in the late 60s, to serve the government of the German Democratic Republic. Today, Fernsehturm remains the tallest structure in the country, and also serves as a national symbol of reunited Berlin.
Alexanderplatz & Fernsehturm to Museumsinsel = 11 minutes on foot
Museumsinsel (Museum Island)
Next, we’re off to Museum Island in the Spree river in Berlin’s central Mitte district. Boasting no less than 5 unique museums all grouped together, this site enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status. You could easily spend a whole day roaming through the exhibitions but there is something for the history, art and architecture lovers. For history, visit the Altes (Old) Museum and the Neues (New) Museum. Art-lovers, be sure to visit the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) and the Bode Museum of sculpture and art. Finally, the Pergamon Museum features a collection of historically important structures and buildings.
Museumsinsel to Berliner Dom = 15 minutes on foot
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
Certain landmarks are so synonymous with a city that you simply have to visit! Case in point, the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) that is also situated on Museum Island. Officially called the Evangelical Supreme Parish & Collegiate Church, it dominates Berlin’s skyline with its striking architecture. If you don’t have time to pop in, at least appreciate it’s ornate beauty from outside.
Berliner Dom to Reichstag Building = 10 minutes on foot
The Reichstag is one of Berlin’s most historically significant buildings. It bore witness during the city’s turbulent history and once served as assembly point for parliament. Today, the refurbished dome and rooftop terrace is a sought-after visitor’s destination. Open until midnight, it can be visited during the day or night, and offers excellent views over the city and its surroundings. Entry is free – all you need to do is book online to secure a time slot. Circle up and down the dome and enjoy a 20-minute audio guide prompted by motion sensors.
Reichstag Building to Brandenburg Gate = 10 minutes by car
This is another of Berlin’s famous landmarks that was sculpted from sandstone and inspired by the gates that lead to the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. This gateway originally marked the road that led to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. The neoclassical triumphal arch is topped with a Quadriga (a chariot drawn by four horses), which was claimed by Napoleon for his victory and only returned once he was defeated. It has since featured as the backdrop to many pivotal moments in the city’s history.
Brandenburg Gate to Holocaust Memorial = 5 minutes on foot
Holocaust Memorial (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe)
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is by no means an easy place to visit. It stands as a monument to the over 6 million Jewish individuals who were killed in concentration camps during World War II. It opened to the public in 2005, it consists of 2,711 concrete slabs with walkways in between. The underground information centre allows visitors to learn more about the victims of this heinous crime.
The architect, New York’s Peter Eisenman, has always refused to explain the monument in full, instead leaving it open to interpretation. The building has been barricaded from street noise and sights of the city, making it a space that is isolated to its core.
Holocaust Memorial to Potsdamer Platz = 8 minutes on foot
Within striking distance of the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag, you’ll find the bustling hive of commerce and activity that is Potsdamer Platz. What was once a cultural no-go zone, due to its location in the shadow of the dreaded Berlin Wall, has now been reinvented. Potsdamer Platz is now the perfect place to shop, be entertained and people-watch. It also happens to be quite the popular spot to seek out Berlin’s famous nightlife.
Potsdamer Platz to Checkpoint Charlie = 15 minutes on foot
You’ll probably know Checkpoint Charlie from famous movies like Octopussy or The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. This iconic Berlin landmark played a pivotal role as a crossing point between what used to be communist East Berlin, and the American-controlled sector of democratic West Berlin. Today, you can visit the historic site for free, and pay a charge to enter Checkpoint Charlie Museum to learn more about that era.
Checkpoint Charlie to East Side Gallery = 15 min by taxi
While 24 hours may never feel like enough time, this route will show you the iconic landmarks. Grab your pretzel and make the most of your 24 hours in Berlin!