A three-day itinerary to the German capital.
Get up early to beat the crowds to the dome of the Reichstag, then head south to snap a picture of the Brandenburg Gate before exploring the maze of the Holocaust Denkmal (Holocaust Memorial), followed by a stroll around Potsdamer Platz. From here take the U2 to Stadtmitte station, hook south to Checkpoint Charlie to ponder Cold War history, then double back for a dose of retail therapy in the Friedrichstadtpassagen. Grab a quick bite, then saunter over to the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt and north to Unter den Linden.
Follow the historic boulevard east to the Berliner Dom but leave Museumsinsel (Museum Island) for another day, saving your energy for a leisurely meander through the winding lanes of the Scheunenviertel. After foraging for mostly home-grown art, fashions and accessories, wind down the day with dinner, perhaps at Schwarzwaldstuben. If you’re not ready to go home, hit the wooden dance floor amid hilarious retro decor at Clärchens Ballhaus.
Follow the one-day itinerary, then devote day two’s morning to ancient treasure at the Pergamonmuseum and Queen Nefertiti at the Neues Museum.
Outside the museums, hop on tram M1 and head north to the Eberswalder Strasse stop to saunter leisurely around boho-chic and beautifully restored Prenzlauer Berg. Swing by the Kulturbrauerei, then stroll over to leafy Kollwitzplatz before resting over coffee and cake at Anna Blume.
Next, check out the indie boutiques along Kastanienallee and Oderberger Strasse on your way to the Mauerpark and Bernauer Strasse, which were at the epicentre of Berlin Wall history. Dinner options abound in this area; try Fellas, Oderquelle or Si An, then cap off the day with a drink at Klub der Republik.
After breakfast on day three, head to Schloss Charlottenburg where you should miss neither the Neuer Flügel (New Wing) nor a spin around the lovely palace gardens.
In nice weather you could follow up your visit with a leisurely boat ride back to Mitte from the landing docks just east of the palace. Alternatively (and assuming it’s not Sunday), take the U2 from Sophie-Charlotte-Platz to Wittenbergplatz to satisfy your shopping cravings at the KaDeWe department store with its mind-boggling food hall.
For extended retail therapy, head west on Tauentzienstrasse to the famous Kurfürstendamm, which has all the international chains. Or, if your tastes run more in the boho vein, take the M19 bus from Wittenbergplatz to Mehringdamm in Kreuzberg. Refuel with Currywurst (sausages with curry ketchup) at Curry 36, then poke around the little stores along lovely Bergmannstrasse. For dinner, you could go haute at Hartmanns or local at Henne or Hasir. Finish up with drinks at Freischwimmer or Club der Visionäre.
Originally published June 2010. Images updated November 2012.