Berlin, Germany is the capital and largest city in the country. Known for its many museums, dark history, magnificent art and hipster vibes it truly is a bucket list destination. From its wide range of landmarks, tasty food and parks there are so many wonderful things to do in Berlin.
While we were in Berlin we were guided around the city by our two great friends who live there. They showed us the absolute best things to do around the city and now we are sharing that list with you! Here we go. Here are the best 15 things to do in Berlin!
15 Things to do on a Berlin Trip
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city and is many tourists first stop once they arrive in Berlin. This fascinating sight gives an insight on the city’s history as it symbolizes the division of Berlin during the Cold War and peace and unity of Germany after the fall of the Berlin wall.
Located in Pariser Platz, it’s right in the center of the city and the perfect place to kick off a day seeing some of the best landmarks in Berlin.
Right near the Berlin gate sits the American Embassy, French Embassy and the Hotel Adlon which you may recognize as the hotel Michael Jackson infamously dangled his child out the window.
Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe
Also often called The Holocaust Memorial, the Memorial of the Murdered Jews of Europe is a place of remembrance. The site consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of different heights and covers 19,000 square meters right in the center of the city.
It was designed by a New York architect, and opened in 2005. Make sure it is on your Berlin travel itinerary! It truly is a must see during a trip to Berlin.
The memorial has no explanation behind it. Instead the architect said you can have it mean whatever you want it to mean. The lack of explanation leaves you wandering the memorial, remembering such a painful part of history and questioning the concept behind the memorial.
Museum Island is exactly what you’d think it is based on the name. It is a cluster of five world famous museums on an island right in the heart of Berlin. Here you will find the Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neuses Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. If museums are your thing, Museum Island is the place to be!
The city is covered in museums, and museum hopping is one of the best things to do in Berlin. Many of them are free to enter, otherwise a museum pass is available for purchase at an extremely affordable price and allows access to over 30 exhibitions and museums.
Checkpoint Charlie is an extremely meaningful historical site and a must see on a Berlin trip. It is a reminder of the former border crossing between East Berlin and West Berlin and the Cold War.
Historically, this site functioned as the main entry and departure point for diplomats, journalists, and non-German visitors who were allowed to enter East Berlin.
More dramatically, US and Soviet tanks had a close encounter here in October 1961 when their tanks faced each other only 100 yards apart for 16 hours until both sides slowly backed away peacefully. The entire world watched and listened in silence.
You can find a museum with more information nearby, however the surrounding area is now very industrialized with big buildings and an eye catching McDonalds and KFC.
Nonetheless it is an emotional place to see and spend time visualizing what that October day would have been like.
Free walking tour
A free walking tour is one of the best things to do in Berlin! It’s an extremely affordable way to see the city’s well known sites and learn about the history of the sites from a passionate local guide.
On the tour, you will see many of Berlin’s top attractions I’ve already mentioned like the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie and learn how Berlin has emerged from its dark past.
The guide will walk you from one top attraction to the next pretty quickly, but it’s a great introduction to the city and you can decide which places you would like to visit again.
The tour is 2 hours and free but the guide will ask for tips at the end. Please be courteous and tip well!
East Side Gallery
There are a few places to see remains of the Berlin Wall throughout the city but the East Side Gallery is one of the best. Here you will find a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall that is still in existence, however what makes this place extra special is the beautiful art gallery it has become.
After the wall came down, 118 artists from over 20 countries began painting the Wall. Now it’s a protected memorial and full of hundreds of paintings and beautiful colors. Many artists comment on German politics in 1989 and some of the most popular pieces include the “Fraternal Kiss” and “breaking through the wall.”
What was once Berlin’s dark past, is now a beautiful piece of art. It really is a unique place to visit and another reminder of how Berlin has escaped its alarming past and has become a fascinating city to visit.
Visit a Biergarten
No trip to Berlin is complete without indulging in a beer garden! Fortunately, there are plenty to choose from. Chances are you will stumble across many while wandering around the city.
A beer garden is typically a big open space outside that’s filled with picnic tables, a place to order your beer and sometimes a place to order food.
People gather in beer gardens all day long and if you want a good seat, you should plan to arrive early. They are usually self service and serve traditional beer only.
Grab a big German beer (they usually serve non-alcoholic beer too) and a pretzel or brat to go with.
Alexanderplatz is a huge public square and one of the liveliest places in Berlin. Many tourists go here for the shops, cinemas and restaurants. It’s a huge transport junction for Berlin’s train system so chances are you will end up here sometime during your Berlin trip.
At Alexanderplatz you will see Berlin’s most visible landmark, the TV tour! The TV Tower provides a lot of photo opportunities from below and in the tower itself. The TV Tower welcomes visitors to a stunning 360 degree view of the entire city from its viewing platform.
Also at Alexanderplatz you will find the Weltzeituhr or the World Time Clock. This unique structure is eye-catching and interesting to ponder upon for a moment before continuing on to other nearby attractions.
What is now one of the many green spaces in the city was once no man’s land as it sat between the two walls of the Berlin wall separating East and West Berlin. Between the walls was a death strip for anyone that tried to cross.
Mauerpark is the perfect place to witness the Berlin attitude. This hipster park is the perfect place to shop at a flea market, crack a beer and sing karaoke.
Every Sunday there is a big flea market right at the park that is filled with stalls run by mostly private dealers. You’ll find work from local artists and it’s a great place to pick up a unique souvenir.
If karaoke is your thing, there is karaoke every Sunday night and you can perform in front of hundreds of people or simply listen to the talent.
Tiergarten Park is what Berliners would compare to New York’s Central Park or London’s Hyde Park. This huge green space covers over 500 acres and is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll, picnic, games and viewing the city’s sights.
Here you can also find the Berlin zoo, Soviet War Memorial and a large playground. It is also a great place to rent a pedal taxi. You’ll need it to explore the park in its entirety.
Eat German food
Of course while in Berlin, indulging in the traditional German food is a must. The German diet is very meat, potato and beer heavy. While you are there, embrace it and enjoy all the sausages, meat, pretzels and beer that you can!
Some traditional dishes to try are bratwurst and schnitzel. Bratwurst refers to a whole group of sausages that are fried in a pan and are typically served with sauerkraut, fries or potato salad. Schnitzel is a thin meat chop that is breaded and fried and typically served with fries or sauerkraut. Both are a must try!
The Oberbaum bridge is a well known Berlin landmark and a stunning piece of architecture. This double deck bridge crosses the Spree river and connects the Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts of Berlin which were formally divided by the Berlin wall.
Not only is this bridge beautiful, it also symbolizes Berlin’s unity and is a very meaningful landmark to see.
Walk along the river for some picturesque views of the bridge itself and then walk over the bridge to see it up close and get some gorgeous views of the river.
Currywurst is a traditional “fast food” dish in Germany and it’s an absolute must try while in Berlin! Typically, currywurst is ordered from a little take-away stand and is served with pommes (french fries). It’s the perfect quick meal to eat while you are out and about exploring the city.
What is it, you ask? It’s basically a bratwurst that’s been grilled and sliced into bite sized pieces and then smothered in Curry Sauce. However, the curry sauce isn’t like an Indian curry sauce. It’s more like curry mixed with tomato sauce giving it a very unique flavor.
Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall Memorial is a historic site situated on Bernauer Strasse and covers 1.4 km of distance. Take a walk along the Berlin Wall Memorial to get a moving insight into the division of Berlin. Here you will find displays of what life was like when Berlin was divided and the evolution of the Berlin Wall over time.
While walking the Memorial, visit the visitor’s center and observation tower where they provide historical audio materials and pictures. Lastly, venture up the observation tower to get an aerial view of what the Berlin Wall was like.
You might be surprised to learn the Berlin Wall was not simply 1 wall. Instead it was 2 walls with booby traps and guards inside which made an attempt to pass the wall nearly impossible.
Day Trip to Oranienburg, Germany
What’s in Oranienburg and why does it make a good day trip? It’s a quick train ride from Berlin and it’s a city full of history. From Berlin, you can take the RB12 or S1 train and you will arrive at Oranienburg 30-40 minutes later.
The Oranienburg concentration camp was one of the first Nazi concentration camps. Today the concentration camp welcomes visitors with free audio guides to use as you walk around the site. The audio discusses the dark history of what happened here in the 1930’s where the internees were often defined by punishment and hard labor.
This concludes the list of 15 of the best things to do in Berlin, Germany. There are so many wonderful things to do in Berlin but these were our absolute favorites.
If you are continuing your Europe trip elsewhere check out our many Europe travel blogs to Spain, Croatia, Portugal, London, Budapest and more!
We hope you enjoyed this blog. If you did, please use the images below to pin it to Pinterest.
Leave a Comment