Sunrise is an amazing time to see Berlin. The whole city is asleep and it’s so quiet I can hardly believe I’m in a place known for its perennial construction. When I arrive at the Brandenburg Gate, the huge square in front of it is empty. I’ve never had a major monument all to myself before, and I savor the moment and its solitude.

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany

Why am I awake at sunrise?

East Side Gallery in Berlin, Germany

I would love to say it’s because I’m so dedicated to bringing you good travel photos that I woke up early to get a clean shot of the landmark, but the truth is that I only have 48 hours in Berlin and I’ve quickly realized it’s not nearly enough time.

Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany

Undeterred, I make the most of my mornings in this massive city and get as much sightseeing in as I can. I visit the big landmarks—the Reichstag, Alexanderplatz, Checkpoint Charlie, and Berlin Wall are all on my list—making good use of the public transport and sightseeing passes the tourism board has offered me as I go.

Tiergarten in Berlin, Germany

I use my afternoons to visit Berlin’s famous museums.

Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Germany

There are so many that it’s hard to know where to start, a problem I can relate to coming from London. I’ve always wanted to visit the Pergamon Museum, and even though its namesake altar is closed for renovations, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon are amazing to see.

Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany

Across the way, the Alte Nationalgalerie has a great collection of paintings and sculptures, and the Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museum’s Warhols and Lichtensteins dazzle me with their colors.

Hamburger Bahnhof Museum in Berlin, Germany

But my favorite museum in Berlin is the Bauhaus Archive. After taking a modern architecture class in college I’ve been fascinated by the Bauhaus movement. I fall in love with the collection, from sketches for Oskar Schlemmer’s bizarre Triadic Ballet to iconic chairs designed by Marcel Breuer and Mies van der Rohe.

Bauhaus Archive in Berlin, Germany

Back out in Berlin, I balance my indoor activities with outdoor ones starting with a walk through the expansive Tiergarten park.

Spring Flowers in Berlin, Germany

Spring flowers paint the ground purple as cyclists peddle lazily over storybook bridges.

Tiergarten in Berlin, Germany

I take it all in before ending up at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a moving tribute to the victims of the Holocaust.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin, Germany

Also outdoors are some of Berlin’s many cafes and restaurants.

Hackescher Markt in Berlin, Germany

The ones in the Hackescher Markt are buzzing, and local food stalls fill the air with the unmistakably delicious scent of sausages.

Hackescher Hoefe in Berlin, Germany

Across the street, I duck under an archway and find myself in the Hackesche Hoefe, a labyrinth of little courtyards concealing boutiques and cafes. Some are perfectly pink and pretty, while others are gritty and graffiti-covered, offering something for everyone.

Hackescher Hoefe in Berlin, Germany

And it’s these little places that make Berlin great. While the Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Wall are must-see monuments, the courtyards and secret streets of the city are what give Berlin its character.

Colorful Trabant in Berlin, Germany

I experience more of it at the hipster lobby bar of the Michelberger Hotel, which has giant paper lampshades and a courtyard with a collection of vintage post boxes on the wall.

Post Boxes on a Wall in Berlin, Germany

Later I see even more of this side of Berlin at Sage restaurant, where exposed concrete walls covered in remnants of graffiti blur the distinction between the dining room and the exterior yard, which itself is a sort of limousine graveyard.

Old Limousines in Berlin, Germany

By the time my 48 hours in Berlin are up, I’ve managed to see big sightseeing attractions and quirky local highlights, sunrises and sunsets. But this city is evolving and ever-changing, its constant construction making it a place that reinvents itself all the time. And that’s why I leave not feeling sad, but excited for what I will discover the next time I travel to Berlin. I just hope I have more than two days when I do.

30 Comments on Lady’s 48 Hours in Berlin

  1. I also live in London and have heard for ages that Berlin is THE CITY to visit. Many of my friends that have moved back to the states won’t leave London without first visiting Berlin. Do you agree that it’s as 100% amazing as my friends all claim? Would love your thoughts!

  2. Berlin has been on my travel bucket list for awhile, definitely would love to visit someday. Beautiful photos, sounds like you had a great trip!

  3. If you visit the Brandenburgertor make a stop at the famous
    Adlon Hotel (1 Minute on the right site). You can drink Coffee in the lobby without beeing a guest.
    There are many 1920’s dance shows and other attractions.
    From there you can also go to Friedrichstrasse for Shopping at Lafayette and other stores (turn next street right).

  4. You succeeded to see so many things! Great post! This city is exactly like that: it shows you some beautiful corners for 48 hours and back home you realize you cannot live without it! 🙂

  5. That’s about how much time I’ll have there this summer, too! I’m glad you were able to still see a lot of the city in such little time though!

  6. I was in Berlin for a long weekend in the fall and felt the same way — so much to see and so little time in which to see it all. I had no idea Berlin was such a large city. I would recommend the free walking tour to anyone wanting to see the historical center (the tours run hourly from the Bradenburg Gates). It was the best tour I’ve ever done.

  7. How different to see photos of Berlin in Spring, while it was all covered in pure, white snow when I visited 🙂 Still I agree with Tes (on Twitter) that you’re the luckiest person in the world to have seen that grand monument without any people blocking the view. That never happens 😉

  8. I love taking short city breaks and this is def a great article. Do you make your itinerary in advance and stick to it or you just let it go? I went to Paris for 2 days and I had like a two pages with things I wanted to do and once i got there I realized it would be better to go with the flow…less stress and much more enjoyable. Found your site cause I was looking for ideas for a short trip to Berlin in September… found something else that was good as well about Berlin and I guess I’ll try to combine both LOL. Cheers

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