48 hours in Berlin may not feel like enough. But for those lucky enough to have a couple of days to spend in Germany’s cosmopolitan capital, we’ve created a thorough introduction itinerary. From galleries and palaces to beer halls and bars, here is the best of Berlin to be enjoyed over two days.
Breakfast at Cafe Kranzler
Cafe Kranzler, Berlin
An established and famous Berlin coffeehouse, Café Kranzler offers customers freshly roasted coffee with sweeping terrace views across one of Berlin’s busiest streets. Order a handmade cake to complement your quality brew, or stick around to enjoy the selection of live jazz music that’s often performed at the café.
The Reichstag, Berlin
Start your day by heading to the historic Reichstag building, the home of the German parliament and is also one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, with a queue that gets lengthier over the course of the day. So when in Germany, it’s good to do as the Germans do and turn up early to make the most efficient use of your time. Be guided around the building by the free audio tour, which takes you up the spiralling ramp to the top of the Sir Norman Foster-designed glass dome for a magnificent 360-degree city view. There are also ever-changing art exhibitions and live debates hosted at the Reichstag.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Just six minutes walk from The Reichstag is the Brandenburg Gate, a historic symbol of unity that is Berlin’s only surviving city gate and arguably its most famous landmark. For the best photo op, head down in the early morning before the crowds gather or at night when the triumphal arch looks even more impressive illuminated against a dark sky.
Lunch at Hofbrau Wirtshaus Berlin
Hofbrau Wirtshaus, Berlin
Hofbrau Wirtshaus is Berlin's version of the famous Munich Hofbräuhaus. You can count on this large beer hall for a few things; big groups, big beers, meat-heavy meals, loud Bavarian music and staff dressed in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndl costumes.
The Alte Nationalgalerie
The Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin
The Alte Nationalgalerie is one of the five museums located on Berlin’s Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Dating back to 1866, the gallery is a stunning example of Neoclassical architecture, designed to look like a Greek temple. Inside, you’ll find masterpieces by the likes of Caspar David Friedrich, Edouard Manet and Claude Monet.
The Berlin Art Market by the Zeughaus
The Berlin Art Market by the Zeughaus, Berlin
After a visit to Museum Island, stop by this art market with a mix of local and international designers and artists selling their wares. Find everything from original paintings and sculptures to secondhand books and jewellery.
Dinner at Thuringer Stuben
Thuringer Stuben, Berlin
Thuringer Stuben rustic restaurant has over 20 years of experience in German cuisine, specifically from the region of Thuringia in the east. You can order classic dishes like roast pork knuckle, bratwurst and sauerkraut, topped off with homemade warm apple strudel.
Breakfast at Hallman & Klee
Hallman & Klee, Berlin
Starting out your second day, enjoy a traditional breakfast of assorted cheeses and charcuterie, a selection of different breads, fresh spreads and scrambled eggs on the side. Enjoy it, but be sure to leave room for pancakes – a buttery stack topped with toasted oats, thick cream and fresh blueberries. There’s an ambitious dinner menu too, mixing seasonal dishes with bistro classics.
Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam
Spend the morning out of the hustle and bustle of the city and explore Prussian royalty at the 18th-century Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam, under an hour’s train ride from central Berlin. The bright yellow villa and its surrounding gardens – which include terraced vineyards, a gold-laden Chinese pavilion and a decorative grotto – were built as a summer home for Frederick the Great. The King's private retreat was a place for relaxation, earning it the name Sanssouci from the French for 'without a care'.
Lunch at Markthalle Neun
Markthalle Neun, Berlin
After working up an appetite exploring royal grounds, head for a locally sourced lunch. Built in 1891, Markthalle Neun specialises in artisanal food. Open from Tuesday to Saturday, it draws tourists and Berliners in equal proportions – all jostling for the best European, Asian and African eats in the capital. It hosts annual food events too, be sure to check what’s on when you’re in town.
Schmittz is a great place to keep up with the Bundesliga and Champions League at this football-oriented bar. When the big game isn't on, regulars play darts and table football. Grab a paddle and join in the almost constant games of rotating table tennis.
Kino Central, Berlin
Hidden in the back of a graffiti-lined courtyard, Kino Central is a petite cinema that lets you watch international arthouse films while sipping German beer. When the show’s over, take photos of the street art that lines the walls and pop into the cinema shop to browse DVDs and comic books.
Dinner at Doyum
Enjoy a late dinner at this Turkish diner, open until 1am, dishing out delicious Adana and Iskender kebabs for over 15 years. Thick, marinated lamb skewers are grilled over an open charcoal fire, then served with hot tomato sauce, creamy yoghurt, fresh salad and your choice of flatbread or warm doughy pita. For extra authenticity, pull up a chair and eat in with the locals.
End your last night at the KitKatClub (just 20 minutes walk from Doyum) where revellers can expect to let their hair down to techno music and experience Berlin’s famous and inclusive nightlife. This particular club is a long-standing venue with a stringent dress code – that usually favours wearing as few clothes as possible. Enjoy the energy of the dance floor, discover the swimming pool within the club and dance the night away in the LGBTQ+-friendly crowd.
Berlin is well-connected thanks to the Schönefeld and Tegel airports, as well as trains that arrive at and depart from the city’s central stations, from all over Europe. If coming into the city from the airport, you can take a taxi, bus or U- and S-bahn train.
Where to stay
Hotel Zoo Berlin: a stylish stay just two minutes on foot from Cafe Kranzler.
Casa Camper Berlin: modern decor and city views right in the heart of Berlin.
Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin: a revered, luxurious hotel in central Mitte.
Get in the mood for your Berlin city break with this playlist of top German tracks.