Everybody's interests are different so personalising your tour with a few good suggestions is the best approach. Having more than a day to enjoy the city means you have time to absorb some neighbourhood atmosphere as well as the city's most famous attractions. Berlin is very easy to navigate around and you can definitely choose your routes based on your energy level, fitness level or whether you packed the right shoes or not! A day ticket is just €7.00 and gives you the freedom to ride buses, trams, trains and even some boats all day as you please. When you have time to explore then you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
1. Breakfast in the Leafy Northern Suburbs 1 to 3 hours From Alexanderplatz, the U2 and the U8 trains and the M2, M4 and M5 trams heading north will all take you into the heart of village life in Mitte or Prenzlauer Berg. You can look through our blog for some suggestions on where to go and what to do, but in just a few stops you will find yourself in a nice local street or square and a few minutes walking around will inevitably lead you to a great local cafe for breakfast or brunch as you wish. Enjoy the leafy streets, the pastel coloured buildings with their ornate balconies and great locally designed and Berlin made products from fashion to books, homewares to food. Locals will be strolling with children and dogs and as you wander around you might just stumble on sone of the great shopping in this part of town - along Kastanienallee in Prenzlauer Berg or Alte Schönhauser Strasse in Mitte. Take your time to enjoy the local vibe and before you know it, moving to Berlin permanently will seem like a really great idea.
2. Berlin From Above at the Reichstag Dome 1 to 3 hours If you aren't so interested in shuffling around with the other tourists on walking tours or tour buses, but would still like a good overview of the city, then the Reichstag dome visit will definitely appeal to you. The glass dome of the Reichstag is one of the city's most recognisable landmarks and as you pass by at street level, you can see people strolling around the inside of the dome like something out of a sci fi film. Dome visits are free, but must be booked in advance and can get booked out in the high season. As soon as you book your dates for Berlin, get online and book a dome visit. The glass dome sits atop the Reichstag - the building where German parliament sits and offers spectacular views of Berlin's most famous attractions. There is a wonderful audio guide that leads you around the inside of the dome, pointing out landmarks and providing a little background information and also a photographic exhibition inside the dome, with fascinating historical insights into some of Berlin's most significant historical moments. You can wander outside the dome on the rooftop of the building and enjoy some spectacular panoramic views. Best of all there's a cafe too and if you didn't make it to the northern suburbs, the shared breakfast here is really something to experience as you gaze across the rooftops of Berlin.
3. Introduction to the Berlin Wall and Nazi Germany 2 to 5 hours Berlin has a deep and troubled history and the exploration of it is always fascinating and definitely overwhelming. Berlin has preserved and documented this incredible part of the city's history very well. There are a variety of guided tours available but you can also easily discover this history yourself for free if you walk in the right direction, starting at the Brandenburg Gate. During the time of the Berlin Wall, the Brandenburg Gate was isolated in the middle of the death zone with the wall curving around in front of it. Today the route where the wall once stood can be picked up here by a line of stones running down the middle of the road, right in front of the Brandenburg Gate. This route can be easily followed for about 2 kilometres all the way down to Checkpoint Charlie and takes you past a number of informative stops along the way.
The first stop after the Brandenburg Gate is a huge field of concrete blocks that make up the Holocaust Memorial. Take a walk through it or spend an hour or so in the free museum about the Holocaust underneath it. Continuing along the route past the Holocaust memorial there are a number of photographs and information boards on the left side of the street detailing the area's history and how it looked when the wall was in place. Potsdamer Platz is your next stop and it's here that you'll see tourists swarming over free standing original sections of Berlin Wall. The history you've walked through up to this point can be quite intense so you can easily spend a few hours around Potsdamer Platz if you wish. There is a cultural precinct with great museums and galleries, the Sony centre for film buffs and all the shopping you need at the two large shopping malls in the area - The Arkaden and the Mall of Berlin.
Continuing through Potsdamer Platz you will turn left at Niederkirchnerstrasse and find yourself face to face with an original section of Berlin wall, eerily giving you the sense of what life with the wall was like. Continuing down the street, you will come to the former crossing point between the American and Soviet sectors at Checkpoint Charlie. There's a reason there are thousands of tourists here and it's because of the museums and the made for tourists gimmicks such as the Trabi safaris and the hot air balloon ride. The museums cover the history of the wall, the cold war and the rise of the Nazis during the time of the Third Reich all in a great central location. You could spend at least half a day here, taking in all the museums and information, but plan a break in the middle as the content is fascinating but can be complex and overwhelming.
3. Get Back to Nature in the Tiergarten 1 to 3 hours One of Germany's largest urban parklands is the former Prussian hunting ground, the Tiergarten. Jump on a rental bike and just a few metres into its leafy green surrounds, you will forget you are in the middle of a city. There are a number of places in Berlin where you can easily rent a bike including Zoologischer Station in city west and Alexanderplatz in Mitte. Germany's train company Deutsche Bahn also offers city bike rentals that can be picked up at one location, simply rented via a credit card swipe and returned elsewhere in the city where you see a DB docking station. There is a very convenient docking station on the edge of the Tiergarten, just across from the Reichstag, making a few hours in the park an easy choice. Jump on your bike, feel the wind in your hair and enjoy this historic place.
Almost all of the trees from this park became firewood after the war as the largely homeless city residents battled the long and brutal winter. Huge sections of it were planted with vegetables to feed the starving city and there are numerous statues and memorials scattered throughout the park giving you a fascinating insight into the past. The trees have all been replaced and today there are more than a million in place, giving the park the affectionate nickname of the green lungs of Berlin. There are beautiful places to stroll in the park such as the English Garden and the open air gaslight museum.
There are also great places to eat - Schleusenkreug is a beer garden by the canal inside the park and there is a beautiful cafe by the Tiergarten's main lake called Cafe am Neuen See. If your legs are tired from pedalling the bike, you can give your arms a workout and hire a row boat from the cafe here. A gentle few laps of the lake will make you feel like you are in the German wilderness with only the sounds of birds and the wind in the trees to disturb you. City life is there to be explored of course, but Berlin's nature is an important part of its culture so a few hours lost in the Tiergarten is definitely worth adding to your schedule.
4. Bars and Berlin Food Berlin bar culture is unique and wonderful and definitely worth exploring. Just search for 'Berlin bars' online and you will be delivered dozens of options; from smoky dive bars to sophisticated cocktail bars, atmospheric wood panelled wine and cigar bars to cool hipster hang outs that look like a timber salvage yard.
Whatever your poison there is a bar for you, but we suggest you start with one of the city's many rooftop bars. The Monkey Bar on the top floor of the 25 Hours Hotel in city west offers spectacular views into the zoo below it and across the city skyline. It's also open throughout the year, with inside and outside seating available, unlike many of the other rooftop bars, which open only during the warmer months. Alexanderplatz has a couple of great options with the House of Weekend Rooftop garden as well as the Panorama Terrace on top of the Park Inn Hotel. The most unique however is Klunkerkranich beer garden, on the roof of a shopping centre car park in Neukölln in the city's south. There's live music, a garden, a sandpit for kids and spectacular views - especially at sunset.
If you prefer to stay closer to ground level, then pick a neighbourhood and find the noisiest street. Weserstrasse in Neukölln has some great options, as does Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, Torstrasse in Mitte and Simon Dach Strasse in Friedrichshain. Just decide on your food early because once you've had a few drinks you'll want to eat pretty fast. Neukölln has some of the best Middle eastern and Turkish food you'll ever taste and Berlin's best Vietnamese food can be found in the streets around Rosenthaler Platz in Mitte. Italian food is everywhere and of course there's great German food - try the Munich Style Hofbrau Haus at Alexanderplatz or Löwenbräu at Gendarmenmarkt. Whatever you decide there will be plenty of great scenery, fun people to meet and a cheerful positive atmosphere to be enjoyed.