How Many Days in Berlin? Planning a 2, 3 or 4-Day Itinerary

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by Adrian Fisk

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If you’re planning a trip to the German capital, you could be wondering how many days in Berlin is enough to do it justice. Since the fall of the wall that divided it, Berlin has grown to become a leading European city break destination. Much of this Berlin owes to its links to both the Cold War and World War II- as the frontier of where West met East during the former and as the centre of Nazi power during the latter.

Besides the historical and cultural gems that Berlin boasts, it lays claim to diverse dining experiences and of course, Christmas markets by the sack full. Because of all of these merits, many people flock to figure out how to plan the best 2, 3 or 4 days in Berlin itinerary to get the most out of Germany’s dynamic capital.

How Many Days in Berlin?

In order to do a destination justice — whether it be Prague, Hamburg, Munich or Berlin — one may feel it’s necessary to visit iconic landmarks, learn about its history, indulge in local cuisine and traditions, and perhaps gain an understanding of what it is like to live like a local.

If you’re wondering how many days to spend in Berlin, that can be tough to put your finger on. Clearly, it’s an impossible task to see and do everything that may be of interest, but you can still cover quite a lot of ground in a short period of time.

2 days can certainly make for a worthwhile trip but you will just barely scratch the surface of this multifaceted and dynamic city.

With 3 days in Berlin, you’ll have enough time to experience the majority of the city’s highlights but not enough to dig deeper into the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods.

In order to delve further, 4 days or more may well be in order, particularly if wanting to revisit particular areas or neighbourhoods.

If you have more time, you can even plan to take a day trip from Berlin, go to visit some cool areas in the city or browse some of the many interesting flea markets. One of the best places to do this is at the vast Maurpark in Prenzlauer Berg.

Berlin Skyline
Berlin Skyline

Getting To & Around Berlin

If arriving for your trip to Berlin by plane, then you’ll land at either Brandenburg or Schönefeld airport.

The newly opened Brandenburg airport is incredibly well-connected to the city centre with a myriad of different options available. There is an airport express train that runs between the terminals and Berlin Hauptbahnhof station four times every hour; this will get you to the airport in about 30 minutes.

The airport is also well connected by express buses, regional trains and the S-Bahn which can all be good options depending on where in the city you happen to be staying. A taxi is going to be the most expensive option, however, it is also a viable option.

The best means of getting to and from Schönefeld is by S-Bahn, with the journey lasting approximately 1-1hr 30mins between the airport and city centre depending on which S-Bahn number is taken and if changes are required. Numerous buses also serve Schönefeld, and there are taxis, but due to its location expect a cab to be quite expensive.

Train journeys are likely to end at Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the new central station, which is the city’s focal point for connecting intercity and regional services with the local rail and public transport system. You can view train schedules here.

Arrival by national or international coach will usually be to the central bus station in Charlottenburg although there is an additional hub used by certain companies at Südkreuz. Some also offer a combined coach and train ticket.

Berlin’s public transport is straightforward to navigate and efficient with the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses forming a comprehensive network. For shorter stays, it’s likely you won’t need to use it a great deal particularly if staying centrally or if you enjoy walking.

The city is broken up into three travel zones- A, B and C with the majority of sites of interest to tourists in A or B. For multiple journeys or group travel, consider investing in one of a range of travel passes on offer such as the Berlin Welcome Card which also includes discounts to various attractions.

If you're wondering is Berlin expensive, then take the U-bahn rather than taxis!
The U Bahn in Berlin is a great way to get around

Some of Berlin’s biggest lures can be travelled to on foot. A good example of this is the Reichstag Building, Brandenburg Gate and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe – very different in their appeal, but only a 10-minute or so walking time between each. Of course, cycling will slash travel times even further and Berlin has over 650km of cycle paths dedicated to this pursuit.

A taxi is going to be one of the most expensive options for transport, meaning that it isn’t a great option if you’re visiting Berlin on a budget.

With an excellent public transport system on hand and much of Berlin’s attractions centrally located, it’s unlikely you’ll need to hire a car for trips only lasting a few days.

2, 3 or 4-Day Berlin Itinerary

If you’ve opted for 2 days in Berlin, no doubt, time will pass quickly. If you have 3 days, you can build upon the first two and really get to know the city better. Finally, those with 4 days can go even further and explore some neighbourhoods away from the top tourist sites.

Day 1 – The City Centre Highlights

Walking Tour

As central Berlin has a high density of tourist sites it makes it an ideal location for a walking tour, particularly for travellers who like to learn directly from locals.

Plenty of tours are available ranging from those that run solely on a tip-based system (‘Free’ Tours) to those that specialise in particular subjects or angles including history, food and Berlin’s unique involvement in the Cold War.

Bike, bus and Segway provide an alternative means of touring should you wish to cover more ground or simply want to do something other than walking.

One such ‘free’ walking tour is ‘The Original Free Berlin Tour’ which over the course of three hours will introduce you to some of Berlin’s highlights and is supplemented with additional stories, myths and legends.

If the free tours don’t align with your schedules, then there are several paid tours to choose from such as this walking tour.

The Brandenburg Gate

An icon and symbol of the reunification of both Berlin and Germany, The Brandenburg Gate is also one of the earliest examples of German neo-classical architecture and a top thing to see in Berlin. Built in the late 18th Century, its design is said to have been inspired by the pillared entrance to the Acropolis in Athens.

The Quadriga statue, depicting the Goddess of Victory in a chariot, which sits on top, was once stolen by Napoleon- although I imagine he more than most, was probably aided by some step-ladders…

After World War II, the gate lay in the Soviet-controlled sector of Berlin but was off-limits after the construction of the Berlin Wall. It now stands facing the Pariser Platz, the home of upmarket hotels, expensive houses and foreign embassies.

Visiting Brandenburg Gate is a must no matter how many days you spend in Berlin
The Famous Brandenburg Gate

The Reichstag

Not far from the Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag – the home of the German Parliament. This has not always been the case, as fire damage in 1933, neglect during World War II and the division of Germany into East and West saw the Reichstag fall into a state of disrepair with the West German government relocating to Bonn.

Only after a final restoration completed in 1999 did it return to its former function as the seat of power for a unified Germany.

Some attempts have been made to retain traces of the building’s past with, for example, graffiti left by Soviet Soldiers during Berlin’s occupation in 1945 still visible.

The Reichstag’s glass dome is its most obvious architectural feature, which sits directly above the government debating chamber and allows for great views over the city. Both the dome and the rooftop terrace can be visited for free by registering online in advance. The Reichstag also has a well-reviewed, but probably expensive, restaurant that is also open to the public.

If you can’t get inside or don’t want to, sit outside on the green lawn or grab a picnic and head to Tiergarten instead. Regardless if you tour the interior of the building or not, seeing the Reichstag is one of the top things to do in Berlin.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The murder of six million Jews at the hand of the Nazis are remembered in a unique installation in central Berlin. Comprised of 2711 grey, variously sized, concrete slabs on an undulating floor, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a different kind of memorial.

The site can be accessed from 4 sides and has been designed so that individuals will almost lose and disorient themselves. The adjoining visitor centre provides additional background information.  

An altogether different, nearby memorial commemorates Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust and there’s also a place of remembrance for homosexuals persecuted by the Third Reich. 

Day 2 – Museums and Landmarks

Museum Island

If you were being overly or perhaps, annoyingly picky, you could say Museuminsel or Museum Island, is a bit of a misnomer as there’s also an art gallery and cathedral on it.

But with four major museums (Altes, Neues, Bode and Pergamon) and the aforementioned gallery (Alte Nationalgalerie) to explore, there’s plenty to see at this UNESCO World Heritage Site – enough to last a trip in itself.

Realistically, two of five are probably enough to take in over the course of a day with the main draws being the Pergamon Museum with its Ishtar Gate and Pergamon Altar, and the Neues Museum which houses the bust of renowned ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.

Tickets can be bought separately for each, although a Museum Island pass is a better value if you intend to see more than one. For longer stays, or if museums are a high priority, then consider purchasing a Museum Berlin Pass entitling free entry to over thirty sites over the course of three consecutive days.

Museum Island Berlin
The Bode Museum on the Museum Island in Berlin, Germany. Tourist ship on River Spree


A square of some beauty lies just off Friedrichstrasse (spelt Friedrichstraβe in German), one of Berlin’s main shopping streets. A place where German soldiers once marched, Gendarmenmarkt now plays host to the sound of classical music in summer and Christmas jingles in winter.

Two ‘cathedrals’ (in name only as neither officially are) the Deutscher Dom and the Französischer Dom lie on the square’s perimeter and sandwich a theatre, the Konzerthaus Berlin, which does act as its namesake suggests.

Berlin Television Tower

Standing out from the Berlin skyline is the communist-era Television Tower (Fernsehturm). The tallest building in the city became an emblem of East German strength and ingenuity.

With a 360°, 200m viewing platform open to the public, the Fernsehturm does offer superb views of the city. The tower’s restaurant even rotates ensuring every one of those 360° is covered.   

Entry — i.e. the tower base — is on Alexanderplatz (where you’ll find a popular Christmas market in winter), and on good weather days, it’s the earlier the better to avoid queuing. Tickets for the tower and bar can be bought in advance here. Also, book ahead if you fancy eating at the restaurant.

Day 3 – Topography of Terror & The East Side Gallery

Checkpoint Charlie

Once the centre of a stand-off between American and Soviet tanks, Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous of border crossings between East and West Berlin, is now no more than a booth, some sandbags, a sign and a flag.

Yes, it is a little gimmicky, what with dressed-up soldiers posing for photos in exchange for euros, but it is worth visiting at least for its historical significance.

The checkpoint itself will command nothing more than a fleeting visit, although the nearby museums and exhibitions may well be worth spending some time at.

Checkpoint Charlie sign
Checkpoint Charlie sign

Topography of Terror

Berlin was the centre of power for a number of Nazi organisations throughout the Second World War. The Topography of Terror is both an exhibition and memorial established on the site where some of these were based.

The story of how the Gestapo, SS and Reich Security gained notoriety and the crimes and atrocities they committed is told across the war years with photographs and documents adding a sense of realism.

East Side Gallery

Parts of the wall which divided Berlin during the Cold War years still stand dotted around the city but for a spectacular wall experience, head to the East Side Gallery which at 1.3 kilometres in length, not only makes it the longest section of wall still in existence but also the longest open-air art gallery in the world.

Over 100 images with political points, messages of peace, and expressions of fear and aspiration adorn its side, although some may well take a little time to work out. It can also take a while to walk the gallery’s entire length (and back), particularly if having to wait to take photos of images that catch the eye.

For background information book onto a guided tour or pay a visit to the nearby Wall Museum East Side Gallery.

Mural on the East Side Gallery in Berlin
Arguably the most famous image of the East Side Gallery

Market Hall Nine

Across the river from the East Side Gallery is a food hall and market (depending on which day of the week it is), the popular Market Hall Nine (Markthalle Neun in German).

I’m not sure what happened to Market Halls one to eight, but nine is currently the venue for a traditional market three times a week, plays host to ‘Street Food Thursday’ and every few months it becomes a sweet and savoury snack market.

Food and drink festivals are also held here so adapt your visit according to what it is you’d like to experience, eat or drink.

Day 4 – Alternative Berlin

Potsdamer Platz and its environs could well take up the last of 4 days in Berlin, but if not, perhaps head back to Museum Island, visit Tempelhof (an abandoned airport turned hip park and hangout) or tour Charlottenburg Palace.

Potsdamer Platz

This modern, new neighbourhood is more than just a square. Once a major hangout for the city’s cultural elite, the Berlin Wall ran through here and its former route is marked with a laid metal strip. Since reunification, Potsdamer Platz (Potsdam Square) has become a hub for food, entertainment and shopping boasting state-of-the-art cinemas and even the fastest lift (elevator) in Europe.

Visit in winter for sporting events of the season as it hosts Europe’s largest toboggan run, Bavarian curling and an ice rink. A yearly film festival features in February. Explore adjacent areas for yet more museums and the Mall of Berlin shopping centre.


If the alternative, ‘hip’ scene appeals then the borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg is a must for your itinerary. Kreuzberg, in particular, is famed for its diversity and attracting those into alternative lifestyles with Friedrichshain now considered the capital of the city’s club scene.

Street musicians play on the picturesque Oberbaum Bridge and artists utilise free spaces to show-off their creations. If you’re yet to visit Market Hall Nine for some street food, now would be an ideal opportunity.

The district has its fair share of museums – the Jewish Museum and German Museum of Technology standing out amongst them. Theatre lovers will be well catered for with the English Theatre Berlin, the three theatres that make up the Hebbel am Ufer and the Berliner Kriminal Theater for an evening of murder mystery.

Homeless faces in Berlin street art
Plenty of street art to find in Kreuzberg!

Where to Stay in Berlin

Grimm’s Hotel Mitte – This centrally-located hotel is an excellent base for mid-range travellers looking to explore Berlin. They have a range of rooms available, a bar on site, and are located close to metro stops making sightseeing a breeze.

Shulz Hotel Berlin Wall – Located in the trendy Freidrichsten neighbourhood only a stone’s throw away from the East Side Gallery, this hotel is another great option for your stay in Berlin. They have a number of chic, comfortable rooms available, and a restaurant and bar on site.

Sunflower Hostel – This backpacker’s hostel is an excellent place to rest your head. They have a range of both dorm and private rooms, a central location, and have breakfast available for an affordable price. There are also good common areas to meet other travellers.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Berlin hotels!

There’s so much to see and do in Berlin, it may cause a minor headache trying to work out how to fit it all in and to plan the perfect itinerary, particularly if only visiting for a couple of days. Fortunately, the visitor is aided by short distances between many attractions and regular, comprehensive public transport.

Although the city may not quite take your breath away, it may well leave you gasping for more, even if completing the full Berlin itinerary above.

Are you planning to visit Berlin? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Adrian is a writer for The World Was Here First. He is a passionate world traveller and spends most of his free time travelling around his native England, jetting off to Europe and planning excursions further afield.

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