Let's start with the basics: moving around in the city. Public transport in Berlin is simple and reaches all the important points of the capital, or at least all those we want to visit. The transport network is formed by underground (U-Nahn), tram, subway (S-Bahn) and bus, and it is divided into three zones (A - center, B - urban territory, C - border areas and airports). Using public transport worth it since the same ticket can be used for all types of transportation available and also because the distances in Berlin, although they can be covered on foot, are quite large and exhausting for a couple of days. You can buy a 24 hour ticket ABC (7.60 €) or the Berlin WelcomeCard (€ 21.50), a tourist card that also includes discounts on major attractions and museums.
Whether you get there by subway, by train from the airport or even by taxi, the route begins at Unter den Linden avenue or, translated, 'Under the lindens' thanks to the trees that Frederick William I of Brandenburg put here in the seventeenth century. Unfortunately with the construction of the subway and the bombing of World War II linden trees disappeared, but were replanted in 1950 when the avenue was located on the east side of the Berlin Wall.
This long boulevard is the social epicenter of the city since its beginning at the Paris Square, home to the famous Brandenburg Gate, a true international icon of Berlin and Germany. Built between 1788 and 1791 by Carl Gotthard Langhans, its forms are a reminiscent of the gateway of the Acropolis in Athens and at the time was located in one of the old walls that surrounded Berlin. Until 1918 only the royal family could get through this gate, but later on it has witnessed important historical and cultural events such as the rise of Hitler as a chancellor of Germany in 1933, the bombs of World War II and even a U2 concert on the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall in 2009. Here you will find many organizations that offer free tours, take advantage of them and be sure to tip them at the end!
The Brandenburg Gate is in addition to the above, a turning point in your route, as both sides of the monument you will find buildings and attractions. If you continue down Unter den Linden you'll encounter the Academy of Art, the Adlon Hotel, the Neue Wache, the Bebelplatz square with the equestrian statue of Frederick II of Prussia, the Humboldt University and the German History Museum and you will end at the castle bridge, which links directly to the Museum island (although we'll leave it for the second day). You see, this stately boulevard offers a breathtaking walk. However, if you pass through the Brandenburg Gate, you will go directly to the Tiegarten park, a large green area that houses the Reichstag building, meeting place of the German parliament, famous for its architecture and its modern glass dome by Norman Foster.
From here, quite near and through Zimmerstrasse is easy to reach the popular Checkpoint Charlie, undoubtedly the most famous border crossing of the Berlin Wall between 1945 and 1990. The history of Berlin, as said earlier, it is making inroads among its multiple scars street by street. Checkpoint Charlie used to open the way from the Soviet zone to US-controlled area and today it has remained posters and signs and also a reproduction of the small control booth where nowadays a couple of American soldiers take pictures with tourists. This border, returning to its history, could only be used by soldiers and members of embassies and it witnessed escape attempts that sometimes had fatal outcomes. An open-air museum and an audiovisual show remember everything that happened at this point.
With this border control point we conclude our first day in Berlin. The area is commercial and full of restaurants and shops, so it is a good place to do so.
The morning of the second day in Berlin is for the so-called Museum Island or Museumsinsel, of course the most visited area of the capital and also one of the most beautiful ones. As we only have one morning, it is best to choose one or two of the five museums occupying this urban island and start, though, with the Berlin Cathedral or Berliner Dom, built between 1895 and 1905 and rebuilt in 1975 to repair damage it had suffered during World War II, a continuum in Berlin. To look at it from outside, stand in the adjacent park, next to the river channel and look at its green domes and the high TV Tower, another icon of the city's skyline.
Probably the New Museum and the Pergamon Museum are among your preferences, thanks to the enormous worldwide fame of the bust of Nefertiti and the altar and how important they have been to art history. Enjoy them calmly and get out from the Museum Island to eat some of the different varieties of sausage you will find in almost every street. In any case, if you want something quick and rich apart from the German sausages, crossing the river channel and right at the other side of the Berlin Cathedral you can eat huge burritos in Wrap Me restaurant.
To complete the day, we will visit the famous East Side Gallery, but before we'll take a short walk through one of the most charming and authentic neighborhoods of Berlin. It is Nikolaiviertel, near the Museum Island down through Spandauer Str., the oldest area of the city, a district of medieval streets that retains the charm of its era of splendor. It is small, easy to visit and a nice place to walk around and take pictures around Nikolaikirche, the oldest church in Berlin, or Ephraim-Palace, a baroque palace of the eighteenth century.
To get from this neighborhood to the East Side Gallery you can take a walk of about 20 minutes or instead take the red line with the underground from Klosterstr. to Alexanderplatz and then switch to the blue or orange to Warschauer Str.
East Side Gallery is the longest outdoor art gallery of of the world. It stands on a section of 1,300 meters of remains of the Berlin Wall that were saved from demolition and were decorated after this by international artists in order to capture for posterity the hope and the desire for freedom that came with the order the Cold War.