Day 1 in Berlin
Welcome to Berlin! Upon arrival, you will go through customs and immigration. Should you opt to purchase a transfer to your hotel; a representative will be waiting for you as you exit immigration. Arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do!
Begin the day at the Reichstag building, seat of the German parliament, whose glass dome offers a crystal clear view of the hustle and bustle of this enormous city. Just south you will find the Brandenburg Gate (or Brandenburger Tor), one of Berlin`s original city gates. The classical monument is topped by the famous Quadriga, a chariot driven by a winged goddess, which was stolen by Napoleon and briefly kept in Paris. Being isolated and inaccessible from both East and West Germany during the Cold War, the gate is now a popular symbol of German unification. The gate is also the monumental entry to Unter den Linden, one of Berlin`s most famous boulevards. Stroll down this popular avenue, full of shops and cafes, on your way to the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom), the city`s largest church. Underneath its magnificent dome, you will find the Hohenzollern Crypt, with its royal tombs, a hugepipe organ, stained glass and mosaics.
This afternoon, visit Museum Island (Museumsinsel), located on the northern tip of Spree Island. This ensemble of five world renowned museums has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you can only visit one museum, make it the Pergamon Museum with its collection of classical antiques, including the massive Pergamon Altar and the famous Ishtar Gate from ancient Babylon, as well as the Middle Eastern Museum and Museum of Islamic Art. The other museums include the Bode Museum, the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum with its famous bust of Nefertiti and the Alte Nationalgalerie.
Later, continue to Alexanderplatz, the largest urban square in Germany. Here, you can see the World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr) and the Fountain of International Friendship as well as the Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower). Ascend the tower for panoramic views of the city from its observation deck or from the rotating restaurant upstairs, if you can get a seat. Tonight, enjoy dinner and a magical walk under the trees along Unter den Linden, which are lit up for evening.
Day 2 in Berlin
Wake up early today and head to the Nicholas Quarter with its medieval character and cobblestoned lanes located just south of the Rotes Rathaus (Red Town Hall). In addition to the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas` Church), dating from 1230, sights include the Ephraim Palace, the Baroque style Knoblauch house, and at Breite Strasse No. 35 is the Ribbeckhaus, the city`s only surviving Renaissance structure, dating from 1624. There are many gift stores, cafes and restaurants in this quarter where you can grab a cup of coffee or a bite to eat before continuing to the East Side Gallery, a long painted stretch of the former Berlin Wall where artists from all around the globe left a visual record of the joy of liberation.
From here, cross the double-decker Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum Bridge) and proceed to Check Point Charlie, one of the best known border crossings of Cold War days. There is little left now, but it`s definitely a must see due to its historical and emotional significance. Next, continue up Friedrichstraße to the Gendarmenmarkt, one of the most magnificent squares in the city. The square dates back to 1700 and is best known for the architectural trio composed of the German and French cathedrals (Deutscher und Französischer Dom) and Schinkel`s Konzerthaus (concert hall). This afternoon, enjoy lunch and shopping along Friedrichstraße, the most exclusive shopping street in central Mitte.
Later, pay a visit to the Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide. Outside, the Field of Stelae is comprised of 2,711 concrete pillars of various heights while in the information center, the Room of Names lists the name, year of birth and date of death of the 6 million Jewish victims. Afterwards, head to the ultramodern Potsdamer Platz with its skyscrapers, modern offices, shops and cinemas. Relax over dinner and drinks in any of the numerous restaurants and bars to be found around the square. You might even see a few celebrities!
Day 3 in Berlin
Today,we recommend a trip to Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg), Berlin`s largest palace. Built in the 17th and 18th centuries, and surrounded by formal, landscaped gardens in the manner of Versailles, visitors can tour the baroque rooms of the Old Palace, the rococo apartments of Frederick the Great, an exhibit of German porcelain in the Belvedere building, and the marble tombs of famous Hohenzollerns in the mausoleum. The restored Orangery now operates as a café and is a nice place to stop for coffee and a pastry.
Next stop is Tiergarten, Berlin`s Central Park. Hire a velotaxi (a rickshaw type bicycle taxi) to enjoy its lovely, shady avenues as you make your way to the Victory Column (Siegessäule). Topped with a gilded figure of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory in battle, you can climb the 285 steps of its winding staircase to the viewing platform for stunning views over Berlin. From here, time and interest permitting, you may wish to visit Zoologischer Garten, Germany`s oldest zoo, or at least stop to admire the lovely Chinese-inspired Elephant Gate on BudapesterStraße. Afterwards, head to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser-WilhelmGedächtniskirche). Destroyed by Allied bombers in 1943, the church remains in its battered condition as a monument to peace and a poignant reminder of the destruction of war. Later, enjoy a leisurely stroll along Kurfürstendamm, the Berlin equivalent of Paris` Champs-Elysees. Affectionately known as the Ku`damm, this elegant, tree lined boulevard is a major thoroughfare as well as a popular area for strolling, shopping and dining.
This evening, head to Hackeschen Hoefe (in Mitte), which consists of eight interconnected courtyards with many restaurants, bars and clubs as well as businesses, apartments, shops, art galleries and a movie theater. Designed in an Art Nouveau style, this courtyard area has become a central meeting point for locals and visitors alike and is a popular spot for nightlife; the perfect place to enjoy dinner and drinks on your final night in Berlin!
Additional Days in Berlin
Should you be able to spend additional days in Berlin then we recommend a trip to Potsdam. Step back in time to the 17th century with a visit to Sanssouci, the lavish rococo palace of Frederick the Great. The palace`s name, which means `without care`, was designated an UNESCO World Heritage site 1990 and is a reminder of the days when Potsdam was the royal seat of the Brandenburg-Prussian rulers. Visitors can tour this famous palace with its voluptuous interiors as well as the manicured gardens of Sanssouci Park, which rival Versailles in opulence.
Another popular day trip is Dresden, a lovely city with lush parks and baroque architecture along the River Elbe. This hub of German arts offers a wealth of culture including the Zwinger Palace, Semperoper (Semper Opera) and Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady). Alternately, you may want to relax and see the sights of Berlin from a different perspective aboard a comfortable boat cruising down the Spree River; or spend an evening at a concert at Charlottenburg Palace enjoying the classical sounds of Bach, Handel and Mozart performed by the acclaimed Berlin Residence Orchestra.
On a more somber note, discover Berlin`s turbulent past by visiting some of the other sights of Nazi Germany`s Third Reich and the Cold War, including the Berlin Wall Memorial, Hitler`s bunker (Führerbunker) and the Topography of Terror, an indoor/outdoor history museum located in the former headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS. Sachsenhausen, one of Nazi Germany`s main concentration camps, is located outside the city.
Your Last Day in Berlin
Depart your hotel for the airport for your return home. We recommend that you purchase a private transfer, if so a representative will meet you at the hotel, in time to take you to the airport for your flight out.