Berlin Must-see Essentials - The Brandenburg Gate

24 hours in Berlin – Must See Essentials for Unforgettable Stay

Karolina 11 Min Read

Berlin – the capital city of Germany with over 3,5 million residents. For us it was just a quick stop on our Road Trip 2024 to Croatia but we decided to get most out of every city we visited.

Berlin - Must See Essentials

During such a short time (and fighting with tiredness) it was impossible to visit even half of the most important places and monuments, however I’ll share with you our essential plans that allowed us to feel the vibe of this city.

Overall Impression About Berlin

It was my second and my husband’s first time in Berlin. I had some memories, rather positive from what I remember. However, this time we had such a mixed feelings.

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City centre was rather dirty and full of homeless people so it was far from Insta-friendly vibe. The highlight was the moment when we entered the main train station and felt unbearable odour (I’ll not be so poetic here but it was like someone shit just in front of us and then took it everywhere where we went). Why we went to that train station? I’ll tell you later.

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Where to Sleep and Eat in Berlin?

There are many hotels of different standards and locations. We chose 4-starts hotel INNSiDE Berlin Mitte by Meliã. I’ve already posted a review of our stay – it is available here.

In terms of food, we had breakfast included in our stay but we tried German cuisine in one restaurant located by the Brandenburg Gate. Read the review here.

Public Transport in Berlin

Our another bad memory from Berlin is public transport. Initially, we took a long walk but later we got tired so decided to speed things up and catch the bus. While I can’t tell anything bad about convenience of public transport (we didn’t experience anything wrong in that matter), buying tickets is a challenge for cash-free people like us.

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There are a few ways to buy public transport tickets and for card users the best option is ticket machine available in underground stations (U-Bahn). Another possibility is mobile app, however we couldn’t buy tickets there – there was an error that changed final amount from €7 to €7000 on checkout so my card wasn’t accepted multiple times before I’ve noticed what’s the problem (and I’m so glad I did!).

There is an option to buy public transport tickets in trams (and buses probably too) but you can use there only cash (coins to be specific) so it wasn’t an option to us – it was the first day of our trip, we didn’t have any cash at that time. This is why we entered the train station – we were looking for ticket machines (with no success).

Must-see Essentials in Berlin

Berlin is a city you can explore on many different levels but for the first-time visitor I always recommend to see essentials and leave the rest for the next visit. Here is the list of places we managed to visit during our very short stay in Berlin.

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The Reichstag is one of Berlin’s most historic and significant landmarks, serving as the seat of the German Bundestag. This impressive Neo-Renaissance structure, designed by architect Paul Wallot, was built between 1884 and 1894 in the Tiergarten district by the River Spree.

A standout feature of the Reichstag is its glass dome, designed by Gottfried Böhm. This walk-in dome offers stunning panoramic views of Berlin and symbolizes transparency in government, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the city’s rich history and architectural splendor.

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You can choose if you want to visit just the Dome or take part in some lectures that take place regularly in the building. We didn’t have a chance to go inside – until last moment we didn’t know if we’ll have time for the entrance and when we made up our mind, there were no time slots available.

You can register your visit here.

The Brandenburg Gate

he Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks, symbolizing Germany’s rich history and unity. This 18th-century neoclassical monument was constructed between 1788 and 1791 under the orders of King Frederick William II of Prussia, with designs by royal architect Carl Gotthard Langhans. It stands on the site of a former city gate, marking the start of the road from Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel, the former capital of the Margraviate of Brandenburg. Atop the gate is the iconic quadriga, a bronze sculpture by Johann Gottfried Schadow.

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The Brandenburg Gate has witnessed numerous historical events. During the Cold War, it was blocked by the Berlin Wall, symbolizing the division of the city and Germany. Since the fall of the Wall in 1989 and German reunification in 1990, the gate has come to represent peace and European unity. Today, it remains a must-visit site, reflecting Berlin’s dynamic history and its role in shaping modern Europe.

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Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie, famously known as “Checkpoint C,” was the most iconic crossing point between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Established by the Western Allies, this checkpoint symbolized the intense division of the city.

In 1961, East German leader Walter Ulbricht, with the Soviet Union’s approval, constructed the Berlin Wall to prevent emigration and defection to the West. Checkpoint Charlie quickly became a powerful symbol of the Cold War. During the Berlin Crisis of 1961, it was the site of a tense standoff where Soviet and American tanks faced each other, highlighting the checkpoint’s strategic importance. The location gained further prominence when U.S. President John F. Kennedy visited on June 26, 1963, and peered into East Berlin from a viewing platform.

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Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s reunification, Checkpoint Charlie transformed into a historical monument. The American guard house from the site has been preserved and is now displayed at the Allied Museum in Berlin’s Dahlem neighborhood. Today, Checkpoint Charlie remains a popular tourist attraction, offering a poignant glimpse into the Cold War era and Berlin’s turbulent past.


Alexanderplatz is a bustling public square and transport hub located in Berlin’s central Mitte district. It was named after Russian Tsar Alexander I.

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As Berlin’s most visited area, Alexanderplatz attracts more foot traffic than Friedrichstrasse and City West. It’s a favorite starting point for tourists, offering a range of nearby attractions such as the iconic Fernsehturm (TV tower), the historic Nikolai Quarter, and the Rotes Rathaus (Red City Hall).

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Beyond its tourist appeal, Alexanderplatz is a major commercial center, featuring an array of shopping malls, department stores, and other large retail venues. Whether you’re here for sightseeing or shopping, Alexanderplatz is a vibrant hub that encapsulates the dynamic spirit of Berlin.

The Television Tower – Fernsehturm

The Fernsehturm, or Television Tower, is an iconic symbol of Berlin, soaring above the city from its location near Alexanderplatz in the Marien Quarter. Built between 1965 and 1969 by the East German government, the tower was intended to be both a broadcasting facility and a powerful symbol of Communist prowess.

Standing at a staggering 368 meters (1,207 feet) tall, including its antenna, the Fernsehturm is Germany’s tallest structure and the third tallest in the European Union. At the time of its completion, it was the fourth tallest freestanding structure in the world, behind the Empire State Building and the John Hancock Center.

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Aside from housing several radio and television transmitters, the tower features an observation deck with a bar at 203 meters (666 feet) and a rotating restaurant that offers panoramic views of Berlin. The Fernsehturm, internally known as “Fernmeldeturm 32,” can also be booked for events, making it a versatile landmark.

Since German reunification, the Fernsehturm has transformed from a politically charged symbol of East Germany into a universal emblem of a united Berlin. Its sleek, timeless design has made it a global icon associated with Berlin and Germany. Recognized as a monument since 1979, it continues to be one of the top ten attractions in Germany, drawing over a million visitors annually. Whether featured in films or dominating the city skyline, the Fernsehturm remains a must-see for anyone exploring Berlin.

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The basic entrance to the Television Tower starts with €22,50. Tickets are available here. Although the observation deck is the highest point in the city, I personally think it is not worth the price so we agreed not to go in this time. But it’s just opinion of a person who’s been there once, 20 years ago, and didn’t necessarily felt like going there once again.


As I mentioned, it was my second visit in Berlin. First time I’ve been there 20 years ago. Since then, everything seems to be changed for worse. The buildings look run down, the city is rather dirty and we couldn’t really feel good and safe there. But there were definitely two highlights of our stay in Berlin – German cuisine and atmospheric photos we managed to take. These made the whole experience worth it.

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Karolina Pikus is a passionate content creator, born in 1995 and currently living in Malmö, Sweden. She is the proud owner of Pikus.IT, a boutique creative agency that keeps her busy when she's not writing about her love for everything Swedish. With an insatiable curiosity for Swedish culture, Karolina enjoys exploring and sharing her discoveries with others through her blog.
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