Following up with my 10 Tips for Using and Maximizing a 3 Day Berlin Museum Pass, here is a suggested itinerary for those who want to see Berlin’s world famous museums, contemporary art, and photography in a packed 3 days.
Take the U-Bahn to Friedrichsstrasse or Oranienburgerstrasse and walk to the Museuminsel. Spend the day wandering the Lustgarten, visiting the Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Pergamon Museum, and Bode Museum. The recently reopened Neues Museum is a spectacular building in and of itself. Make sure to observe the carefully reconstructed rooms, in addition to the priceless artifacts. The “Bust of Nefertiti”, the most beautiful woman in Berlin, is the reason everyone goes. Though not the largest museum, the Pergamon Museum was the highlight for me and worth at least 1.5 hours to see the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. Take a break in the cafe of the Bode Museum (note that the Pergamon Museum does not have a cafe). You can also visit the Berliner Dom and Neue Synagoge, which are very close by Museuminsel but neither is included on the Museum Pass.
Take the U-Bahn to Hauptbahnhof and walk to Hamburger Bahnhof to see contemporary art in a former railway station. Then take the U-Bahn to Potsdamerplatz to visit the museums of the Kulturforum, including the Gemäldegalerie and Neue Nationalgalerie. You could pop around the Sony Center at the station exit, before you head to the museums. It’s not my favorite place but the roof is worth a look and the CineStar is where English-language movies show, in case you want to come back later. Take a lunch break at the Neue Nationalgalerie. A 15 minute walk along the canal takes you to the Bauhaus Archiv, but if you have time, take a side trip though the Tiergarten and make it a full hour. Don’t forget Bauhaus Archive closes at 17:00. You may want to do this day in reverse.
Take the U-Bahn to Zoologisher Garten and visit the Museum für Fotografie, just alongside the station. See the amazing work of provocative photographer Helmut Newton. Then take the U-Bahn to Nollendorferplatz for the Bauhaus Archiv, if you didn’t manage it the day before. Don’t forget to check out the small museum shop and cafe. Take the U-Bahn to Hallesches Tor and take the 10 minute walk, cutting through Mehringplatz, to Daniel Liebskind’s Jüdisches Museum. Give at least 2 hours to this massive museum, then continue walking to the Berlinische Galerie, which is among many artists’ favorite Berlin museums.
There are many more amazing museums on offer in Berlin. This suggested itinerary highlights some of the best that are covered on the 3 Day Berlin Museum Pass but are not normally free without the pass.
For free Berlin museums, check out Topographie des Terrors Museum and this list.
If you are planning to visit Berlin and want to visit more than 1 major museum, I highly recommend getting a 3 day Berlin Museum Pass. The 3 day Berlin Museum Pass includes free regular admission to the permanent exhibitions of around 60 Berlin museums, on three consecutive days.
10 tips for using and maximizing a 3 day Berlin Museum Pass:
- Concessions. The 3 day Berlin Museum Pass costs €19. However, this reduces 50% to €9.50 if you are a student with a valid student id. You will only pay half price. Please note this should not be confused with the Berlin WelcomeCard. These are different passes that cover different museums, activities, transportation, etc.
- Plan your itinerary. Some of the museums covered with the pass are always free admission, with or without the pass. So I you can eliminate those museums for a future date. I wanted to visit as many museums as I could a day, spending about 1-2 hours at each. In order to do so, I generally grouped the museums by proximity, using public transportation and walking.
- Check websites for updated museum times. Most museums open around 10:00 and close around 18:00 but not all. I made the mistake of showing up to the Bauhaus Archiv at 17:00 only to learn it closed at 17:00 and I had to return the next day. When I spent some effort to double checking the times, I learned the Neues Museum was going to close for 3 consecutive days, close to when I wanted to use the pass. That could be annoying to miss. My last day of the pass, a Friday, I learned that the Schloss Friedrechsfelde is only open Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11:00-17:00, not on Fridays, so I had to miss it. That same day, I learned that Sammlung Scharf-Gerstenberg was closing early at 15:00 and Museum Berggruen was closed the entire day. I ended up entirely eliminating the Schloss Charlottenburg area museums for another time. The national museum websites are at http://www.smb.museum and seem to keep their websites fairly updated with closures. Check it before you head out.
- Include a Thursday, avoid a Monday. The pass is used for 3 consecutive days. On Thursdays, some museums like the Neues Nationalgalerie, Gemäldegalerie, Pergamon Museum, Altes Museum, Altes Nationalgalerie and the Museum für Fotografie have extended hours until 20:00 or even 22:00, so you will have more time to see more museums. Many museums close on Mondays, so this is not the best day to use the pass.
- Buy your pass through alternative means. You can purchase your museum pass online at Visit Berlin before you arrive. If you plan to purchase a pass at the Pergamon Museum’s ticket kiosk, the line may be long (30 minutes or more). You can generally get the pass without waiting by going to a less popular museum nearby like the Altes Museum (where I went) or Altes Nationalgalerie on Museuminsel. You can also get the pass at a Berlin Tourist Info center, like one at Brandenburger Tor (Brandenberg Gate).
- Get your time stamped ticket first. At the time of writing, the Neues Museum was the only museum I visited which required a time stamped ticket. I was able to get this at the same time I purchased my 3 day pass at the Altes Museum just by asking and I chose the time I wanted to visit. You might be able to get your time stamped ticket where you buy your 3 day pass.
- Special exhibitions cost extra and maybe required for some museums. You are not always allowed to visit a museum’s permanent exhibition without paying for any special exhibitions also going on. For example, I visited the Neues Museum where I had to pay an extra €4 for the special exhibition or I could not enter the museum at all. The “Bust of Nefertiti”, the highlight of the museum and normally part of the permanent collection, was in this special exhibition at this time. I was able to pay for the Neues Museum special exhibit at the same time as my museum pass so I saved some time and did it all at once. At Hamburger Bahnhof, I was admitted without paying extra on the 3 day pass, but only saw the permanent exhibitions and not the individual special exhibitions.
- Get a paper day ticket. Generally, you can use your pass to go right on in but some museums may make you get a day ticket. It’s no big deal, just an extra step to go to the ticket counter, let them check your pass, and get a paper ticket day ticket.
- Check in coats and any bags that are even slightly large. This is required for entry but it is a complimentary service. Often, there are also lockers where you deposit a €1 coin, to receive back when you retrieve your belongings at the end.
- Audio guides are free and included with your ticket price at most national museums. They are highly recommended, especially at museums where there are limited English descriptions.
I paid €19 for the 3 day pass and €4 for the special exhibition at Neues Museum, for €23 total. It would have cost €103 to visit all the museums individually, essentially saving €80. Note that you can visit all five (5) museums on Museum Island on one day without the pass for €14 but you would still need to pay the extra €4 for any special exhibitions.
For a list of museums included on the 3 day Berlin Museum Pass, go to the Visit Berlin factsheet.
Holed up here for the winter.