On a Baltic cruise? You can get to Berlin from the German port cities of Rostock and Warnemunde. You’ll need to prepare yourself to hit the ground running, however, as Berlin is nearly a three-hour journey each way. Here’s how to make the most of one day in Berlin.
Prepare for a long day for the 150-mile journey by train or bus to Germany’s capital.
Your goal is to see the major sites, including the remains of the Berlin Wall, historic Brandenburg Gate and the controversial Reichstag building. You can do all that, and you’ll also have time to walk Berlin’s most famous boulevards and sample one of the city’s many museums. No time for a long lunch, so fortify yourself with a Berlin favorite, currywurst, or sausage with a special curry sauce, which you’ll have no trouble finding.
After arriving at Berlin’s main train station get yourself on the S Bahn to the Zoologischer Garten (it’s only three stops – about 10 minutes). Once there, head outside to admire the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche, destroyed in a World War II air-raid. The emotional effect of seeing the stark shell of the church is a powerful reminder of the devastating effect of war.
Board double-decker Bus 100 in front of the Zoo railway station for city tour using public transportation. Take a seat on top to enjoy the scenic ride that carries you through the Tiergarten (Berlin’s large city park), past the Reichstag, along Unter den Linden, and around Alexanderplatz, the open square and public transport hub.
Exit the bus at Museum Island, an island in the Spree River where there are four internationally renowned museums. Any one of them is worth your time, but since you are trying to maintain a schedule, limit yourself to the most popular, the Pergamon, home to original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate, all consisting of parts transported from the original excavation sites.
Other museums here are the neoclassical Old Museum, featuring antiquities; the New Museum, which is being rebuilt from damage inflicted during WWII but, when it reopens, will exhibit the Egyptian and Pre- and Early History Collections including the famous bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti; and the Old National Gallery, showing many important 19th century art works.
Leaving Museum Island, stroll along Unter den Linden (pictured) until you reach Pariser Platz, a prestigious address in prewar times that has returned to its former glory. Surrounding the square are the American, French and British embassies, and on one corner is the beautiful Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin. Take a seat at an outdoor table at Restaurant Quarré and split a Chocolate milkshake, pricey at 9 euros, but worth the experience and the view — and plentiful enough for two.
From your seat outside Hotel Adlon, take time to admire Brandenburg Gate, once the formal entrance to the city and still a grand symbol of Berlin. When you’re done, head through the Gate, across Ebertstrasse, to the Reichstag. The first parliament of the German Empire, the Reichstag was opened in 1894 and housed the German parliament until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire supposedly set by a Dutch communist.
This fire proved to be a valuable excuse for the Nazis to suspend most civil rights and increase the state security apparatus. Following World War II, the Reichstag building again became the seat of the German parliament, and in October 1990, the official German reunification ceremony was held there. The building was completely reconstructed in a project led by architect Norman Foster and completed in 1999. Check your watch. If time allows, take the free elevator up into the dome, which the locals call “the light bulb,” for stunning city views and to watch the democratic process take place below.
Head back to Ebertstrasse to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (pictured). Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, the five-acre site has thousands of irregularly sized concrete slabs arranged in an unpredictable grid.
According to the designer’s project text, the slabs are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason. About a block away, you’ll find a sign marking the spot of the bunker where Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva Braun committed suicide.
Move on to Potsdamer Platz, a study in urban renewal and modern architecture, and continue to the Topography of Terror, a free, open-air exhibit on the organizations of the SS and the Gestapo, their crimes and their victims.
The site is bordered by a remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. Checkpoint Charlie lies another 250 yards further east. After viewing the Topography of Terror, continue on to the Mauermusuem Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, which is open until 10 p.m.
Twin cathedrals (French and German) topped by tall domes in the gorgeous Baroque style anchor this square, with the grand Konzerthaus standing between them. Each church has attractions: On the south side, the Deutscher Dom offers a government history museum, while the Franzosischer Dom has a nice restaurant and a tower with wine bar and dizzying spiral staircase leading to a panorama view.
Find your way to double-decker bus 200 to travel the opposite side of the Tiergarten to the Zoo, and make your way back to the main train station.
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Berlin.