You’re in Berlin. You could easily spend days or weeks absorbing all of the German capital’s history, roaming the huge parks, or just enjoying the lively café culture.
But, no, you have just half a day or so – perhaps four hours on a stopover or at the end of a business trip – to take in one of Europe’s great capitals.
Fear not. You can squeeze in a lot with just a little planning. Here are just a few suggestions for travellers on a tight schedule.
Three museums in one
John Maloney, who responded to a shout out on our Facebook page for suggestions of what to do in Berlin, recommended “Pergamon museum and a boat trip on the Spree”.
Located on Museum Island, the Pergamon is home to sculptures, reconstructions of archaeological buildings and classical antiquities. It’s one of Berlin’s most popular museums, consisting of three wings housing the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum, and the Middle East Museum.
With just a few hours to spare, you may not want to fritter away too much time sitting in a restaurant.
So, for a quicker pitstop why not go for that Berlin institution, the currywurst? For the uninitiated, it’s a pork sausage with curry ketchup. They’re sold all over the city, but if in doubt try heading to the popular Curry 36 on the Mehringdamm.
For true aficionados of the curried sausage, head to the Currywurst Museum. It’s conveniently close to Checkpoint Charlie, which was the most famous crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War.
The world of espionage
Looking for something off the usual tourist trail? Among lesser-known gems identified by the Visit Berlin website are the German Spy Museum at Leipziger Platz, which showcases espionage technology old and new. “The numerous, and often bizarre, exhibits from the Cold War are fascinating for all ages”, says Visit Berlin of the museum.
Berlin TV Tower
At 368 metres tall, even if you haven’t visited Berlin before, you would probably recognise Berlin’s iconic TVY Tower, located at Alexanderplatz in Mitte. It’s said to be the highest building in Europe open to the general public.
Head to the viewing platform, at over 200 metres, for spectacular city views. But there’s more – at Berlin.de, the city’s official website, says of the tower: “Here you can enjoy the whole of Berlin in one place and a perfect combination of interesting history, exciting architecture, great views, good food and friendly service”.
Whistle-stop bike tour and history lesson
Fat Tire Tours is Berlin’s best rated outdoor activity on TripAdvisor. With a little forward planning, you could squeeze its three-hour Berlin Highlights tour into your short itinerary.
Starting at the entrance of the TV Tower, it takes infamous sites such as the Reichstag – seat of the German parliament – Brandenburg Gate, and Museum Island. On the tour, you’ll learn about Berlin’s founding, Prussian Berlin, the rise of Hitler and the Nazi years, wartime Berlin, post-war Berlin and the division of Germany, and the rise and fall of the Berlin Wall.
Take to the water
Alternatively, you could take in the sights from the water. As John Maloney recommends, try a boat trip on the Spree. The river is over 250 miles long, but you can take an hour-long tour and enjoy sights such as the Reichstag, Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island as the river meanders through the city centre.
So much more
We’ve just scratched the surface with these tips. If you know of a better way to spend a few hours in the city, we’d love to see your suggestions.