31 Must See Things to Do in Berlin
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What are the must see things to do in Berlin? What the most incredible Berlin attractions? Where and what to eat in Berlin? Keep reading and you’ll soon discover!
Berlin is one of the most interesting European Capitals: having recovered from a stormy past, over the last twenty years it has been able not only to reinvent itself but also to become the perfect witness of a possible change. Today Berlin is a living city, with an interesting and varied cultural panorama and a unique and particular tourist offer.
If you are planning a trip in Germany, in this guide we have gathered 31 must see things to do in Berlin, which will not make you regret having chosen the German capital as a destination for your escape, but also the most particular things, the trips of one day, the unmissable experiences.
In short, a complete and comprehensive guide to the city of Berlin for you who have decided to visit the city.
Here’s the content you can find in our Berlin Travel Guide: click on the title you’re interested about or just keep reading.
- Things to do in Berlin
- Berlin’s districts
- Useful tips for visiting Berlin
- Berlin cuisine: what to eat in Berlin
- Best restaurants in Berlin
- Best Hotels in Berlin
- Day Trips from Berlin
- Other unmissable Berlin attractions
- Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Berlin
- Is Berlin worth a visit?
Things to do in Berlin
It is almost impossible to see all of Berlin in just a few days: the city is big, full of things to do and see and especially the less touristy ones are really gems. Then there are some iconic places, which if you visit Berlin you have to see absolutely.
The symbol of the city of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was built in 1791 but it was with the construction and then the destruction of the Berlin Wall that it became famous and important. Famous for its quadriga at the top, the Brandenburg Gate was taken by assault by all those who poured into the city streets in November 1989 after learning that the GDR would start granting temporary travel permits to the citizens; the influx became unmanageable and that was how the Berlin Wall fell and finally a divided was reunited. To get to the Brandenburg Gate we advise you to cross Unter den Linden, one of the main streets of Berlin.
Opened on May 10, 2005, the Holocaust Memorial stands on an area of over 19,000 square meters that was once divided between East Germany and West Germany. It consists of 2711 concrete stems of different heights that form waves, visible from every corner of the square. Walking between the stems leads to being lost and this is precisely the feeling that the Memorial wants to suggest. Like all highly photogenic attractions, it is assaulted by reckless tourists: please read here to understand better what happens and why certain behaviours in certain places cannot be tolerated.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is located between the Oberbaum bridge (Oberbaumbrucke) and the station (Ostbanhof) and is considered the longest open-air gallery in the world. It is a true work of art that unfolds where the Berlin Wall once ran: immediately after the fall of the Wall on the only part of the wall remained intact, more than 100 artists from all over the world poured in to recount German reunification through graffiti. Today in the area there are museums, but also particular and unique places, which make this area truly unmissable. You will find more information on this site.
Potsdamer Platz is famous for the Sony Center: it is a futuristic complex that consists of offices, shops and restaurants. Nothing to be missed in principle but certainly a place to be seen to understand the evolution of Berlin from a desolate city to a decidedly alive city. Here is where the Panoramapunkt is located: it’s the fastest lift in the world that travels 100 meters in 20 seconds and arrives on a panoramic terrace with one of the most beautiful views of Berlin.
Checkpoint Charlie is the only rebuilt checkpoint where it was built in 1961 by the Americans, along with Alpha and Bravo. The original wooden house was moved out of Berlin and a very touristy and uninteresting reproduction was placed at the point where it stood. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum is much more interesting as it contains evidence from the Wall era. Tickets are available here.
The Government Palace is one of the most visited attractions in Berlin because of the glass dome (built in this way to communicate the transparency of the policy) which can only be accessed by reservation. Book your visit to the Reichstag in advance by clicking here.
The green lung of the metropolis is a real attraction for young and old: you go to Tiergarten to walk, to eat something, to listen to music, to have a drink. Every Sunday Berliners gather to hear the Carillon bell concert: 68 bells ringing, in a truly unique atmosphere.
Kurfürstendamm, is a paradise for those who love shopping or drinking / eating something in one of the many historic bars in the area. It is here that Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche rises: it’s the church bombed in 1945 of which only a part remains, complete with a hole in the roof. Next to this church that was destroyed and never rebuilt as a warning to the city on what war means, a new and modern one has been built.
The alternative area of Berlin is an intricate maze of places to eat, drink, have fun all day long and represents the multi-ethnic area of the city. You can know more about this area of Berlin by booking this very local tour.
Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the Museum Island of Berlin hosts 5 museums: the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and the Pergamon Museum. Buy your Museum pass by clicking here. Also in the area is the Berliner Dom, the Cathedral of Berlin which is overlooked by a majestic copper dome visible from different parts of the city. The Duomo costs 7 euros and the visit can be booked here.
Certainly not the most beautiful part of Berlin but certainly one of the most special: Alexander Platz was the scene of the main events in the history of Berlin. The iconic building of Alexander Platz is the TV Tower, the tallest structure in Western Europe; you can buy your priority ticket to the Tv Tower by clicking here. Behind Alexander Platz there are many abandoned buildings of certain charm.
Berlin’s biggest attraction is the zoo, famous for hosting rare specimens including pandas. We put it on the list because it is certainly one of the most famous attractions BUT we don’t believe it is one of the unmissable things in Berlin, indeed. The ticket for the Berlin zoo costs:
- 15.50 euro (only the zoo)
- 21 euro (zoo and acquarium)
- 8 euro(only the zoo)
- 10.50 euro (zoo and acquarium)
Discounts for families, special categories of people and owners of the Berlin Welcome Card.
1 January – 24 February: 9-16:30
25 February – 31 March: 9-18
1 April – 29 September: 9-18:30
30 September – 27 October: 9-18
28 October – 31 December: 9-16:30
More information on the official website of the Berlin zoo.
Berlin is closely linked to the uniqueness of its neighborhoods which are many, different and truly unique. Here are the most important:
- Mitte: the “historic” center with monuments and shops;
- Kreuzberg: the alternative and multi-ethnic area of the city;
- Prenzlauerberg: the residential area of the city;
- Friedrichshain: the popular neighborhood with socialist architecture;
- Schöneberg: the gay-friendly area;
- Charlottenburg: the chic and elegant area.
Each district is characterized by a certain type of architecture, but also by a specific type of shops, cafes, restaurants and an extremely varied cultural substrate.
If you have time, enjoy discovering them all and see for yourself the differences that are visible to the naked eye.
Useful tips for visiting Berlin
The German city is really vital throughout the year and organizing a trip can be extremely tiring because there are so many things to do and often time is short. That’s why we want to give you some useful tips and advice for visiting Berlin, so as to help you plan.
How to reach Berlin city center from the airports
There are two airports in Berlin: Berlin Schönefeld located in the south-east of the city (Zone C) and Berlin Tegel in the north-west area (Zone B).
From Schönefeld to the center of Berlin
There are several options to reach Berlin from Schönefeld Airport:
- Airport Express RE7 and RB14 which stop at the main stations in Berlin;
- Regional train RB22 which stops only at Friedrichstraße, Berlin Hauptbahnhof, Berlin Zoologischer Garten and Potsdam Hauptbahnhof;
- Metro line S9;
- Metro line S45.
There are also bus lines that take much longer, and taxis at fixed rates.
From Tegel to the center of Berlin
There are several options to reach Berlin from Tegel Airport:
- Linea X9 – JetExpressBus;
- Bus 128.
There are no train and metro connections.
Berlin WelcomeCard: is it worth it or not?
If you visit Berlin, we strongly recommend that you buy the Berlin WelcomeCard which allows you to get discounts on various museums, attractions and restaurants. The biggest advantage of the WelcomeCard is transport, all free even for rides from the various airports to the center. There are several types of WelcomeCards valid for 48 hours to 6 days. If you choose All Inclusive, free access to 30 key attractions is also included.
To travel for free from Schönefeld airport to the center you will need to remember to buy a Welcome Card valid for the ABC zones (since the airport is in Zone C); to use the transport from Tegel airport to the center for free, all you need is a Welcome Card valid for the AB zone.
Buy the Berlin WelcomeCard here, choosing the type you prefer.
When to visit Berlin?
Berlin is affected by a particularly cold climate in winter and warm in summer. The best time to visit the city is from mid-May to the end of September, although at least until the end of July prices rise a lot due to the tourist influx. Autumn is the cheapest period and October is a month still considered to be good and not very cold (even if the days start to be very short) while in winter temperatures can drop well below zero.
Berlin cuisine: what to eat in Berlin
The cuisine of Berlin is classic German cuisine but there is no lack of dishes imported from abroad and especially from the Middle East. It is no coincidence that Berlin is also the capital of the Doner Kebab and Currywurst, real national dishes. These are some of the unmissable dishes to taste in Berlin (check our food and drink guide to Berlin for more insights)
- Pork Shank (Eisben mit Sauerkraut)
- Potato pancakes (Kartoffelpuffer)
- Döner Kebap
- Donuts with jam (Berliner Pfannkuchen)
- Apple strudel (Apfelstrudel)
Best restaurants in Berlin
Although the kitchen is not necessarily the strongest focus of Berlin, there is an incredible number of places to stop and eat something. You can find out more about food and drink in Berlin in our guide on what and where to eat in Berlin but these are definitely some of the places we recommend:
Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap
Mustafa’s Döner Kebap is an institution in the city, to the point that it is not uncommon to find queues even over 1 hour long.
Voted the Best Bakery in Germany, the Alpenstueck Bäckerei is famous for pretzels, very similar to the original ones found in Bavaria.
Curry 36’s currywurst is iconic and rich. Nothing fancy, just traditional street food.
Located below the Max Brown Kudamm hotel, Benedict Restaurant is open 24 hours a day and serves breakfast all day. Don’t miss the pancakes. Check Benedict’s website.
A unique concept is that of The Grand which houses a restaurant open for lunch and dinner, a bar, a club and a series of private rooms. Housed in the buildings of an old school, it is truly the quintessential Berlin.
Two locations for Burgermeister in the Kreuzberg area where you can taste really good burgers.
A Japanese style pastry shop unique in its kind: elaborate cakes and desserts, top quality coffee and tea and a quiet location, far from the tourist circuits.
A new restaurant where you order with an app and you can taste specialties from different parts of the world. The cocktail list is definitely interesting.
Best Hotels in Berlin
You are spoiled for choice about where to sleep in Berlin and the various areas also influence the prices of accommodation. We personally recommend the boutique hotel Max Brown Kudamm, a new and very particular structure with simple and essential rooms, well connected, with a pastry shop and a restaurant (not included) on the first floor. Prices are not low but the structure is worth it.
However, we advise you to check Booking.com because it is not uncommon to find very interesting offers on accommodation in Berlin.
Day Trips from Berlin
Berlin is big and the most popular attractions are all fairly close. However, there are many things to see outside if you want to. Here is our selection of what to see outside Dublin, for a day trip to do by public transport.
Forests, lakes, nature to the full: this is Spandau, very close to Berlin and ideal for a day trip in spring and summer. The Citadel of Spandau, the Fortress, dates back to the Renaissance and is built on four masonry bastions. In summer, events and exhibitions are held here.
Not really outside of Berlin but certainly outside the most famous area of Berlin, the Schloss Charlottenburg is a Baroque style palace with sumptuous and beautiful gardens, where you can walk during the week or at the weekend.
With its picturesque streets and the many shops and cafes of the old town, Potsdam is a real gem in Berlin. The city was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its parks and many buildings. Book your Potsdam tour here.
Other unmissable Berlin attractions
Berlin is not just what you see on the surface and there are many interesting experiences in the city. These are our suggestions for you.
Berliner Unterwelten – Underground Berlin
Berliner Unterwelten is a museum that offers a unique perspective on the history of Berlin and is located in a former anti-aircraft bunker at the Gesundbrunnen railway station. Guided tours take visitors through the vast network. Have a look at the official site.
Berlin is crossed by canals and a river and for this reason a boat tour is perfect if you want to see the city from a different point of view. This is a great 1 hour boat tour, quite cheap as well.
Swim in one of the many lakes
If you’re lucky and you’re in Berlin in the heat, you can’t miss a swim at the lake. Müggelsee and Schlatchtensee are the two most famous and popular lakes. Be careful because many of these lakes have a naturist area marked by the FKK Bereich sign. Book your tour to the lakes here.
Visit the abandoned Tempelhof airport
Tempelhof airport was closed in 2008 and its buildings are now used for events, festivals and fairs. The main building of the Tempelhof airport is historically protected and a symbol of the history of Berlin. This tour is perfect if you want to visit Tempelhof with a local guide.
Located in the Grunewald area, Teufelsberg is an old US listening station during the Cold War from which today you can enjoy an incredible view over the whole city. Enjoy Teufelsberg with this guided tour.
(Try) Go dancing at Berghain
The Berghain is probably the most iconic club in Berlin. If you love music and want to experience the thrill of Berghain, try entering. You could be denied entry without real reasons but once inside the experience could be really unique. The Berghain is located inside an abandoned warehouse and has always been the protagonist of mythological stories to the limits of reality.
Visit Wünsdorf, the Forbidden City
Located an hour south of the city limits, Wünsdorf is also called the Forbidden City because it was literally abandoned. The area became the headquarters of Soviet forces in eastern Germany until September 1994 before being totally abandoned. Today it is possible to pay 15 euros to visit the “Haus Der Offiziere” and see a statue of Lenin, old Soviet maps, a theater hall and a swimming pool used by the German Olympic team of 1936, the year in which Berlin hosted the Olympic Games .
Drive a Trabi / Trabant
It is possible to rent a very noisy but typical Trabant / Trabi to drive in Berlin. The tours provide that the guide is the leader and all the participants, each with his own car, follow behind. It’s quite a tourist thing but also very fun and certainly unique. This 75 minutes tour is perfect to get you started. Here you will find a few more nice tours in Trabi.
Base Flying in Berlin
Have you ever thought about bungee jumping? Here, in Berlin you can do something similar in the city center, literally jumping from the top floor of the Park Inn Hotel and throwing yourself into the void. The launch can be booked from here.
Facts You Probably Didn’t Know about Berlin
- In Berlin you can easily tell if you are in the East or in the West just by looking at the traffic lights. If the traffic light indicator is a man then you are in the East, if instead it is a normal traffic light then you are in the West.
- You can get a refund on plastic and glass bottles at any kiosk or supermarket. part of your money for your plastic / glass bottles at any kiosk or supermarket.
Is Berlin worth a visit?
Is Berlin really worth a visit? We cannot say that Berlin is beautiful like other cities but we can say that it is a unique city that must be lived and understood. It is a city that for the Germans is not even German, but in fairness looks a lot like real German to visitors.
Berlin is a city that has been able to rebuild its identity and establish itself in its uniqueness. It is a city that offers a lot but is not loved at first sight, it is a city that perhaps is not for everyone but for those who love different things, exploration and research Berlin is really not to be missed!