Discover Berlin walking tour: shortlist of top sites
Know that Berlin is one of our favorite cities in the world. It is cosmopolitan, worldly, quirky, exotic, bohemian, evolving, vibrant and so very very alive. Little wonder so many artists, authors, musicians, actors and creative minds discover and fall in love with Berlin. We are often asked, “If you only had one or two days, what would you recommend we see.” To which we answer: you can’t possibly see Berlin or even get a taste for what this historic and cultural metropolis has to offer in just a day or two. But, our walking tour will get you started.
There is one danger: Once you’ve sampled Berlin, you will want to come back again and again and again since its canvas is multifaceted and its offerings limitless.
First, slip into your most comfy shoes. You should walk. A lot. HI Travel Tales in fact recommends that mode of transport in any city (if you are able) since it is the best way to see, feel and understand a metropolis and its underlying flavor. You also never know what you will stumble upon that may not have ever been in a guidebook or on a map.
Discover Berlin walking tour
Ready? Put your mind in explore-and-discover mode, and let’s head out on a discover Berlin walk (refer to our map, below for added route-finding. Of course, you can adapt, redirect and do this walk anyway your heart desires).
Start by wandering from the trendy and historical Hackescher Markt onto Museumsinsel (Museum Island). You could easily spend several hours to a full day here alone. Or you can just wander around the exteriors of stately buildings.
From Museum Island, head down the famous “Unter den Linden” Boulevard (where construction is nearly non-stop), and then past the even-more-famous Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate). If you have the time, you might want to check out Bebelplatz (Bebel Square), the site of the 1933 Nazi book burnings, as you are walking down Unter den Linden.
Just south of the Brandenburg Gate you will want to take in the somewhat controversial but very movingly simple Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, a.k.a Holocaust Memorial). From there head back to Brandenburg Gate and wander one block north to the Reichstag parliament building (If you have the time, and you have made a mandatory reservation, be sure to visit the dome where you can look over Berlin and along the Spree river but keep in mind that side tour needs at least two hours).
From the Reichstag, wander down to Checkpoint Charlie (and take your photo by the “You are now leaving the American sector” sign since everybody does). Do not waste your time at the museum, though; since it was moved from its original spot, it’s become over-commercialized and way too pricy.
Continue you discover Berlin walking tour by strolling along the remains of the Berlin Wall and walk into the Topography of Terror museum and exhibit on the site of the former SS and Gestapo headquarters – looking into the excavated cellars is outright chilling. Take some time to read the outdoor exhibits. Depending on your interest, you could spend half a day here alone, so allot wisely.
This walk can take anywhere from a day to even several days — It’s your choice entirely because it depends on how much time, if any, you spend in any of the various museums and sites. Setting aside time for lunch and coffee is a must of course!
You can finish up by walking through once-divided Potsdamer Platz, along Friedrichstrasse, or any other street, to Gendarmenmarkt. Don’t expect a market – It is an expansive, regal square that the official visitor’s website for Berlin, Visitberlin.de, dubs one of the most beautiful places in Germany and perhaps all of Europe. Hm, the square is, indeed, spectacular, but as for the superlatives, we’ll just leave it to you to decide. (If it’s Christmas time, this is where one of the many famous Berlin Christmas Markets takes place.)
Much more to see in Berlin
Oh, there is so much more, from the Fernsehturm (TV tower) city landmark on the rather bleak Alexanderplatz gathering place to the fascinating stretches of Berlin wall history along Bernauerstrasse.
But if you have limited time, you may want to stay central, thus this “Discover Berlin” guide from HI Travel Tales.
If you have more time in Berlin, you might find the following articles helpful for planning your visits beyond the core … as you truly begin to Discover Berlin:
- Postcard Berlin: Prenzlauer Berg is artsy, bohemian, trendy, fun
- Berlin Wall 25th anniversary commemorates fall and freedom
- Mauerpark in Berlin is Fun and Funky
- Walking the Berlin Wall
- Dine, Wine, Dawdle and Doze when Staying in Berlin
Berlin Guided Tours
For a quick glance at a few more of the recommended landmarks and sites to see in your Discover Berlin walking tour additions, our friends at Wimdu — www.wimdu.com — created the nifty infographic below as a guide.