24 Hours in Berlin, Germany: 1-Day Itinerary

24 Hours in Berlin: A Whirlwind 1-Day Berlin Itinerary

Berlin is the capital and the largest city in Germany with approximately 3.7 million people. Berlin may conjure up thoughts of World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall. But, spending 24 hours in Berlin is possible during a quick trip.

The city has a fascinating history of poetry, music, and education in the 1700 and 1800s. It was followed by a series of horrific wars and millions of lives lost in the Holocaust. And rather than being quiet about their sordid past, Berlin seems to embrace it, to learn from past mistakes and ensure they don’t happen again.

Today, you’ll find Berlin is a culturally diverse city bursting with energy and life. This colorful city is filled with delicious food, lively nightclubs, dark speakeasy bars, graffiti art on every surface, quaint boutiques, and people that are open, accepting, and super friendly. But, this is Germany, so they are still serious rule-followers.

We think you’ll find that 24 hours in Berlin isn’t nearly enough, but follow this 24-hour whirlwind itinerary to get the most out of your time in this spectacular city!

Berlin Travel Basics

Things to Know Before Going to Berlin:

  • Because Berlin is so culturally diverse, the predominant language spoken is English. So if you haven’t brushed up on your German lately, no worries here.
  • The public transportation system in Berlin is massive. You’ll have no problem getting anywhere fast!
  • Even though you’re not likely to be asked for your train ticket while using the trains in Berlin, it’s better to pay the small price for a ticket than the big fine if you get caught.
  • The tap water is safe to drink and you should fill up on it often – bottled water truly is more expensive than beer in Germany!
  • You’ll likely have to pay to use any public toilet in Berlin, so be sure you have some small change.
  • Germans rarely jaywalk. Even if there isn’t a car around for miles, you’ll find loads of people waiting for the little man on the pedestrian light to turn green. Don’t risk a scolding from a stranger if you jaywalk in front of children.
  • As one of the best cities in Europe, 24 hours in Berlin is not nearly enough to really experience this city. You could easily spend a week in this hip European capital. At a bare minimum, 3 days in Berlin will allow you to see all the top sights. Make sure you schedule another trip soon!

Where to Stay in Berlin

Berlin is a massive city and it can be quite overwhelming to decide where to stay. The best neighborhoods (in no particular order) are Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Mitte, Charlottenburg, and Friedrichshain.

You really can’t go wrong staying in any of these areas. They are all full of great eating and drinking options while also providing easy access to Berlin’s main attractions. Here are a few of our favorite hotels in the city:

1. Hotel AMANO Grand Central

Best Hotels in Berlin, Germany: Hotel Amano Grand Central

Hotel AMANO Grand Central – The popular Mitte district is right smack dab in the heart of the city and Hotel AMANO Grand Central offers the most amazing city views from their green rooftop terrace. With sleek, modern rooms and plenty of drinking and dining options, you may never want to leave! But book this one well in advance – it fills up fast.

2. Hotel Augusta Am Kurfürstendamm

Best Hotels in Berlin, Germany: Hotel Augusta Am Kurfurstendamm

Hotel Augusta Am Kurfürstendamm – This property offers unique, colorful rooms, a delicious breakfast spread, and the friendliest staff. Located in the trendy Charlottenburg district, you’ll be surrounded by cute boutiques and great restaurant options and super close to the U-Bahn!

3. Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection

Best Hotels in Berlin, Germany: Hotel Am Steinplatz

Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection – If you are looking for a luxurious 5-star hotel complete with spa and wellness center in a fantastic central location, Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection is absolutely the best-of-the-best in Berlin! It’s pretty spendy but if you’re only staying one night, it’s worth indulging yourself.

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Sundays in Berlin

If your visit to Berlin happens to fall on a Sunday, you’ll find that pretty much everything in the city is closed all day. But fear not! Head to Mauerpark. It has delicious street food options and a market filled with everything from used furniture to original art to hipster jackets and everything in-between.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Graffiti Artist in Mauer Park, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

Wander around the park to find a variety of strange and fascinating happenings. You can experience sing-a-long karaoke in the “bear pit”, all sorts of live music on the grass, graffiti artists leaving their mark on the Berlin Wall, and an actual EDM rave to name a few. Buy a beer from one of the vendors and wander around, soaking in all of the crazy sights!

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: The Bear Pit in Mauer Park, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys
Karaoke in “The Bear Pit”

Complete 24 Hours In Berlin Itinerary

8:30 am – 9:30 am: Fill up on a Photographic Brunch

Serving up classic brunch as well as exotic concoctions, House of Small Wonders is a hot spot for locals and tourists alike. The classic spiral staircase leading to the second floor is a favorite photo op for Instagrammers.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: House of Small Wonder, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

Try the eggs benedict (assuming they haven’t sold out) and the yummy sandwich, soup, and salad combo. It’s the perfect way to start your day – you’ve got a lot of exploring to do.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Brunch at House of Small Wonder, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

Check out these healthy food options around Berlin if you prefer something lighter for breakfast.

Hop on the S1, S2, or S25 from the Berlin Oranienburger Straße station for a 10-minute ride to the Brandenburg Gate for your next stop!

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10 am – 1 pm: Take a Walking Tour of Berlin

I generally don’t love walking tours when I visit new cities. They make me feel like a nerdy tourist, but the free three-hour walking tour and history lesson offered by Sandemans is truly worth every minute. You’ll meet at the Starbucks by the Brandenburg Gate where you’ll hear about the history of the gate. You’ll begin to learn about the destruction that the many wars waged in this city caused.

We’ve detailed the stops along the tour below in case you’d rather do a self-guided walking tour of Berlin.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Brandenburg Gate, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

Next, you’ll pass under the Brandenburg Gate and catch a glimpse of the Reichstag, home to Germany’s Bundestag (Parliament). You won’t be visiting the Reichstag on your walking tour today because it requires making reservations weeks in advance!

From there, you’ll wander through the controversial Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It is controversial for a few reasons… first of all, it’s quite confusing to understand what the artist was attempting to convey. It is a collection of cement blocks of varying heights, equally spaced in a large but uneven area. And there is no information to accompany it. Kids love to play here which can be quite disturbing.

Adding to the controversy, each block is coated with an anti-graffiti substance developed by the Degussa company. This company produced the Zyklon B gas that was used in gas chambers in Hitler’s death camps.

Take your time wandering through the site – it can feel a bit emotional when you’re deep inside.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

You’ll stop at a nondescript parking lot, which is only significant because below it is the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide as the city was being invaded by Soviet troops. Not only did he eat a cyanide pill, but he also shot himself in the head to make sure the act was completed.

He also left instructions for his body to be burned because he knew that it would be humiliatingly dragged through the streets. This also meant that it took some time to identify what was left of the body to ensure he didn’t escape. It’s a controversial stop on the tour as most would rather not acknowledge the spot or the man at all.

But, the best story of the tour is how the Berlin Wall accidentally came down at the end of the Cold War – ask your guide to tell you that gem!

From here, see the Topography of Terror, an outdoor/indoor museum. It contains a preserved section of the Berlin wall along with several exhibits focused on both the Nazi regime during World War II, and the division of Berlin during the ensuing Cold War.

Next is a quick stop at Checkpoint Charlie where a harrowing 16-hour showdown took place between 10 M-48 United States tanks and an equal number of T-55 Soviet tanks after US diplomat Allan Lightner was denied entry to East Berlin to attend the opera.  World War III was narrowly averted by a delicate phone call between US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Pass through Gendarmenmarkt Square, one of the most Instagrammable places in Berlin. Here you’ll find the Konzerthaus of Berlin (if you have time later, catch a show!) as well as a beautiful matching pair of French and German churches – the Französischer Dom and Deutscher Dom.

If you happen to be visiting in December, you’re in luck because Gendarmenmarkt is home to one of Berlin’s best Christmas markets!

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Konzerthause, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

Your tour will end in the middle of the Bebelplatz (Bebel Plaza) the infamous site of the Nazi book burning ceremony held on May 10, 1933, in which about 20,000 books were burned. There is a memorial in the center of the square – a clear square on the ground through which you can see empty bookcases below your feet that are large enough to hold the missing 20,000 books.

Be sure to thank your guide with a cash tip! 

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1:10 PM – 2:25 PM: Prost at a Traditional Beer Garden!

No trip to Germany is complete without a stop at a beer garden for a pint with a side of boiled pork knuckle! There is no shortage of options in Berlin, but Brauhaus Georgbraeur is just a short 10-minute walk from Bebelplatz. If you have time, Prater Garten is the oldest and most famous beer garden in Berlin (but keep in mind that they close for the winter).

Now it’s just a short, 5-minute walk from Brauhaus Georgbraeur to Museum Island.

2:30 Pm – 4 pm: Visit Museum Island

Berlin has some incredible museums, and lucky for you most are generally in the same area, so it’s relatively easy to check them out if you have extra time.  Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing five spectacular museums for your viewing pleasure: 

  • If Greek Classical Antiquities is your passion, check out the Altes Museum (Old Museum), built in 1830.
  • Egyptian artifacts more your style? Head to the Neues Museum (New Museum) which was destroyed during World War II, but rebuilt and reopened in 2009.
  • Love Neoclassical, Romantic, Impressionist, and early Modernist artwork? Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) will be right up your alley!
  • Do you prefer to spend your time viewing sculptures, Byzantine art, coins, and medals? Then the Bode Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
  • If you want to see the most visited art museum in Germany and one of the largest in the country, showcasing an antiquity collection, a Middle East museum, and a museum of Islamic art, check out the Pergamon Museum.

4 pm – 5:35 pm: Climb the Berliner Dom

The Berliner Dom is a gorgeous cathedral on a museum island. After viewing the cathedral, climb the 270 steps to the outer walkway of the dome for spectacular city views.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: Berliner Dom, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys

You must be getting hungry at this point, but just a few blocks away you’ll find the cozy and delicious Cocolo Ramen. The salty, delicious broth will help to get you hydrated for your big night out on the town! But make it quick – you’ve got a 25-minute train ride to your next destination!

Jump on the S3, S5, or S7 at S Hackescher Markt toward the East Side Gallery.

6 pm – 6:30 pm: Check out the East Side Gallery

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: My God, Help Me Survive This Deadly Love at the East Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany by Wandering Wheatleys
My God, Help Me Survive This Deadly Love

This outdoor East Side Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from all over the world. It was originally painted in 1990 but has had several rounds of reconstruction due to vandalism.

Every painting is beautiful and interesting in its own way, but the most famous is painting #25 which shows Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker kissing with the words “My God, help me to survive this deadly love”. The painting is a pretty straightforward reproduction of the photograph of the embrace when Brezhnev visited East Germany in 1979 to celebrate the anniversary of its founding as a Communist nation.

Berlin, Germany Itinerary: 24 Hours in Berlin: East Side Gallery, Berlin, Germany

For an afternoon snack, grab a quick currywurst to-go from a local street food vendor to keep you going. Head to Berlin Ostbahnhof to catch the S3 or S5 toward Klunkerkranich. You’ve got a 30-minute commute ahead of you.

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7 pm – 8 pm: Watch the Sun Set Over Berlin

When you’re walking through the Neukölln Arkaden shopping center parking lot on your way to Klunkerkranich, you’ll probably think we’re nuts for sending you here. That is until you find this trendy rooftop bar filled with locals and tourists alike – lounging on couches and listening to live music. Grab a Bier and a table with a view, and relax while the sun sets over the busy city below!

8 pm – 11:30 pm: Find one of Berlin’s Speakeasy Bars

There are few things as exhilarating as walking up to a nondescript door at an abandoned-looking building, ringing the doorbell, and hoping that the bouncer peering through the peephole will like the look of you and let you inside.

  • Beckett’s Kopf – the only thing marking this bar is a portrait of Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett in the window. Ring the bell and if they have space, they’ll welcome you into this small, quiet bar with delectable cocktails and naughty paintings on the wall.
  • Buck & Breck – ignore the “closed” sign above the door and ring the bell. It’s a small bar so if you go on a weekend you may have a bit of a wait to get in. The interior has low lighting, interesting decor, and expert bartenders. You’ll have to leave your purse at the front and their “no photography” rule is strictly enforced.
  • Reingold Bar – this one is tricky as it is impossible to tell if they are closed or if you are simply being denied entry. Once you ring the bell someone inside will supposedly peer through the peephole and determine whether or not to let you in. You’ll either stand outside, vaguely confused for a while, or be rewarded by sipping cocktails in this lavish hidden gem.

11:30 pm – 8 am: Experience Berlin’s Famous Nightlife

Berlin is known for having a wild nightlife scene (just Google Kit Kat Club if you don’t believe me), so you’d be doing yourself a disservice not to at least have a drink or two out on the town! But first, make sure you note the “rules of the road” so to speak to avoid any embarrassing mishaps:

  • Most bars in Berlin don’t open until late in the evening and many stay open until the wee hours of the morning. Don’t plan on going to a nightclub before 11 pm.
  • Check the hours before you go – many bars are closed on Sundays and/or Mondays. Some are even closed all winter long.
  • Bring cash!
  • Nudity and even public sexual acts can be common in bars around Berlin. Check with the bouncer if you think this will make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Check the dress code before venturing out for the evening. Some nightclubs expect costumes while others may expect your Sunday best. Being overdressed can also be a problem. Regardless, bouncers may deny you entrance for no reason whatsoever.
  • Smoking is still allowed in most bars, pubs, and nightclubs in Germany.
  • 5%-10% or just a rounding up of the bill is an acceptable tip for the bartender. Tip by saying the amount you want to pay in total when actually paying rather than after you’ve been given your change.

Popular Berlin Nightclubs

  • Want to visit a famous techno club? Head to Tresor. But act casual (and sober) while waiting in the queue to get in.
  • For an intense light show while famous DJs spin accompanying EDM sets, check out Watergate.
  • Looking for a lively, diverse crowd and good music? Head to Old CCCP Bar.
  • To try a variety of different absinthe concoctions, check out Druide Absinthe & Cocktail Bar.
  • For themed nights like “Porno Karaoke” or “Circus Burlesque”, or even just want to play ping-pong in a strangely decorated bar, head to Toast Hawaii.
  • If you really enjoyed Klunkerkranich, head back that way to watch it transform from a chill sunset spot to a lively nightclub.
  • To party all night long with the young and hip kids of Berlin, check out Kater Blau Nightclub but expect a long wait in line.

We hope this comprehensive 24-hour itinerary has helped you plan your trip to Berlin!

Looking for more details on what to see and do in Berlin? Enjoy our favorite guide books!


About the Author:

  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

10 thoughts on “24 Hours in Berlin: A Whirlwind 1-Day Berlin Itinerary”

  1. wow this is a lot of information and some I did not expect such as the details on having children in Germany and the Hitler suicide! You seem to really have learned a lot about this city and its history during your time there! 🙂

  2. The New Yorker in me would have trouble following the jaywalking rules but it would be totally worth it! Berlin has it all- what an eclectic, full day! House of Small Wonders seems like such a dreamy brunch destination. Can’t wait to visit!

  3. Berlin is defo a city which is worth hitting up, but needs a lot more than 24 hours 😀 I found 4 days wasn’t enough. Aggghhhh… I need to go back 😀

  4. I loved Berlin 10 years ago. Really have to get back there, its such a vibrant city. Love it how you describe everything to do in a day, very detailed.
    Muted Horn Craft Beer pub is also worthwhile.

  5. So much to do in Berlin! Love your itinerary. If only!! I was also glad to hear that the nightlife hasn’t faltered in eccentricities and that English is spoken most everywhere. Can’t wait to visit.

  6. So much info in one place! That restaurant staircase was pretty amazing, but the thing that stuck out to me was the memorial to all those burned books – sounds very moving. Hoping to get to Berlin someday soon 🙂 Thank you for the info!

  7. Everything_Candid

    Yes, for me Berlin is indeed all about those wars and subsequent wall. It is an old city with so much to explore and offers something to every kind of traveler. You have very well captured basics for first time traveler. Good to know that English works well there. Could you tell me, how is the hostel scene in Berlin? Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.looks intriguing. I may actually spend more time at east side gallery.

  8. Berlin is on our list from long time and probably we will visit it in 2018. I must say this is a perfect guide to visit and experience the place completely. The beer museum, sunset city views, and night clubs is what we would love exploring.

  9. Berlin has been on my must see list for so long, I’m beginning to despair of ever getting there. But your post has re-inspired me to ensure I do, and soon! I’d love to spend a couple days exploring Museum Island in particular, as well as all of the incredible architecture and historic sites like the Brandenburg Gate and Berliner Dome.

  10. I’m very glad that they embrace their mistakes and use them as a powerful teaching mechanism. I love the way you literally have the day planned hour by hour. I also giggled at the fact that you’ll get scolded for jaywalking. I jaywalk all the time – that’ll take getting used to for sure!

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