Things to do in Berlin

Things to do in  Berlin

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Forged from the fire of some of Europe’s darkest and most divisive moments, the German capital has emerged as a beacon of cultural diversity and individuality. From the street art-splashed remains of the Berlin Wall to the bohemian bars and boutiques of Kreuzberg, modern-day Berlin is creative, free-spirited, and always ready to party. The best things to do in Berlin are as vast and varied as the city itself. Dig deeper into World War II and Cold War history, get your culture fix at Museum Island, then discover the city’s foodie hot spots.

Top 15 attractions in Berlin

Reichstag

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The seat of Germany’s Parliament and one of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks, the Reichstag building is an impressive feat of 19th-century architecture, with a futuristic glass dome and classical columns on its facade. The structure stands proudly on the River Spree’s southern bank, a stoic reminder of Berlin’s turbulent history.More

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)

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The grand gateway to Unter den Linden Boulevard and Tiergarten Park, the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is one of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks. Built by Prussian kings, this monumental gate stood strong through World War I and the Cold War, becoming a symbol of reunified Germany and a poignant reminder of Berlin’s tragedies and triumphs.More

Berlin TV Tower (Berliner Fernsehturm)

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Soaring 1,207 feet (368 meters) over Alexanderplatz, Berlin’s TV Tower (Berliner Fernsehturm) is Germany’s tallest structure. Built to mark the 20th anniversary of the German Democratic Republic in 1969, the tower was intended to be a symbol of East Germany’s achievements as a socialist society. Today it’s one of the capital’s most visited landmarks, affording 360-degree views over the entire city.More

Checkpoint Charlie

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Once one of three Berlin Wall border points, bridging the divide between the Allied-occupied West Berlin and Soviet-occupied East Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most important Cold War sites in Berlin. Today, a recreated guard house marks the site where numerous confrontations, escape attempts, and protests took place, and the adjoining Checkpoint Charlie Museum is a moving tribute to those who risked their lives to escape from East Germany and bring about the fall of the wall.More

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial)

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A somber yet striking memorial stretching over a 4.7-acre (1.9-hectare) plot in the center of Berlin, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die Ermordeten Juden Europas) was opened in 2005 to remember and honor the some 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.More

Berlin Wall

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At the height of the Cold War in 1961, socialist East Germany erected the Berlin Wall as an imposing concrete barrier that divided Berlin's eastern and western sides for nearly 30 years. In 1989, toward the end of the war and the fall of East Germany and communism in Europe, the wall's demolition began, thus reunifying Germany. Today, sections of the wall remain as permanent reminders of the days when the country (and Berlin) was divided.More

Museum Island (Museumsinsel)

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Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is the apex of culture in Berlin. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the middle of the Spree river, hosts five world-renowned museums that are all architecturally and historically significant. Each museum features different collections, from ancient artifacts to romantic and impressionist works.More

Topography of Terror

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A history museum of the Third Reich, Topography of Terror is housed in the former headquarters of the Gestapo secret police and the SS. Artifacts, photos, and videos examine the history of Hitler’s Germany on the site where the fate of Nazi political opponents was decided and the genocide of the European Jews, Sinti, and Roma was organized.More

Führerbunker

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Führerbunker translates from German to “leader’s bunker” and is the site of Hitler’s fortified underground air raid shelter. He died here by his own hand in the last days of World War II. Today all that remains at the site is an information board marking the bunker’s former location.More

Gendarmenmarkt

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Located in Berlin’s Mitte district, the Gendarmenmarkt is arguably Berlin’s most magnificent public square, attracting a cluster of high-end restaurants and hotels, especially around Charlottenstrasse. Come wintertime, travelers come from all over Europe to shop at the square’s spectacular Christmas market and skate at the festive ice rink.More

Alexanderplatz

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One of Berlin’s central meeting places, Alexanderplatz is full of attractions, buildings, restaurants, and shops. It’s a major hub for the U-bahn and S-bahn railway, buses, and trams, and houses the TV Tower (Fernsehturm), a famous Berlin landmark. The city center of East Berlin, Alexanderplatz also features a lot of socialist architecture.More

Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen

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Located just north of Berlin, Memorial and Museum Sachsenhausen was once one of the Nazi regime’s harshest prison camps. Today, Sachsenhausen is a memorial to those who lost their lives here, as well as a museum with a library, archive, and open-air exhibits to educate visitors.More

Berlin Victory Column (Siegessäule)

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Situated in the heart of the Tiergarten, the Berlin Victory Column (Siegessäule) is a 220-foot (67-meter) statue of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, in battle. Dating back to 1873, it honors Prussia winning the three Wars of Unification. You can climb up to the column’s viewing platform to soak up 360-degree views of Berlin.More

Potsdamer Platz

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A symbol of a unified Germany, Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin was once a busy square with a major railway station. Second World War bombings completely destroyed it and then the Berlin Wall divided it, before being redeveloped into a thriving social and cultural hub.More

Bebelplatz

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Bebelplatz is a public square in the central ‘Mitte’ district of Germany’s capital city, Berlin. Today it is best known for being the site where some 20,000 newly banned books were burned by bonfire in 1933 on order of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, because they conflicted with Nazi ideology. The square is surrounded by notable historical buildings, including the German State Opera (Staatsoper); St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (built in 1747 and modeled after Rome’s Pantheon, it was the first Catholic church built in Germany after the Protestant Reformation); and the former Royal Prussian Library (Alte Bibliothek) which is now part of Humboldt University.All of the buildings on Bebelplatz were destroyed in World War II and reconstructed afterward. An easily overlooked monument in the center of the square simply contains a pane of glass, which the visitor can look through to see many rows of empty bookshelves underground. A nearby plaque quotes the 19th-century German poet Heinrich Heine with, ‘Where they burn books, at the end they also burn people.’More

Trip ideas

Top activities in Berlin

3-Hour Berlin Highlights Bike Tour
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Berlin Bike Tour

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All about Berlin

When to visit

To soak up the sunshine and enjoy outdoor explorations in Berlin, it’s best to visit the city from May through September. The summer season is packed full of things to do, including a Caribbean festival, Karneval der Kulturen, and the Berlin International Film Festival (also known as Berlinale), which showcases film screenings all over the city. If visiting in December, get ready for a festive extravaganza, as the city has been known to have more than 50 different Christmas markets.

Getting around

To get around Berlin quickly and cheaply, the U-Bahn (underground subway) and S-Bahn (local railway) are your go-to options. For anywhere not served by either of these lines, there are also extensive tram and bus networks. Alternatively, you can rent a bike and explore Berlin’s bicycle paths, or discover the city on foot. Berlin also has ride-hailing services like Uber.

Traveler tips

Burgermeister is a Berlin institution that many proclaim as the city's best burger joint. The restaurant chain began slinging burgers and buns from an old, heritage-protected public restroom facility converted into a fast food kitchen. Despite the unconventional location, the restaurant rapidly gained a cult following. There are now multiple locations, but you can visit the original one under the Schlesisches Tor U-Bahn station in the edgy Kreuzberg neighborhood.

Local Currency
Euro (€)
Time Zone
CET (UTC +1)
Country Code
+49
Language(s)
German
Attractions
118
Tours
769
Reviews
36,189

A local’s pocket guide to Berlin

Serena Viscovo

Serena is one of the many expats who's spent time living in Berlin, where she biked everywhere and enjoyed endless nights out with friends—life was sweet in Kreuzberg.

The first thing you should do in Berlin is...

get a BVG travel card or the Berlin Welcome Card, although Berlin is also perfect for bikes—rent one if you can.

A perfect Saturday in Berlin...

includes brunch, flea market browsing, and a sunset beer along the canals. Too cold? An exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof or a visit to one of the many art galleries in Mitte are the perfect indoor alternatives.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Jewish Museum. With its innovative display, the unique architecture, and all the different exhibits, it offers a real space for reflection on the Jewish past and present.

To discover the "real" Berlin...

Head to a lake (Wannsee is probably the most famous one), where locals like to relax and swim, clothed or otherwise.

For the best view of the city...

try Teufelsberg for a hillside view plus American Cold War spy stories, or Klunkerkranich for a more chilled sunset view with drinks.

One thing people get wrong...

is going to Berlin to eat German food. Explore the different cuisines: Turkish, Japanese, Lebanese, Italian, French, Korean, African—pick one and enjoy the ride.

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People Also Ask

What's Berlin famous for?

Berlin is a dynamic and creative city that’s famous for its street art, architecture, abandoned buildings, museums, nightlife, startup culture; and top landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building. A city once divided—the Berlin Wall stood for 28 years from 1961–1989, until Berlin was reunified.

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How many days in Berlin is enough?

A minimum of four days in Berlin is recommended. This should give you enough time to check out top landmarks such as Brandenburg Gate and Berlin Cathedral; see the remnants of the Berlin Wall and cool street art at East Side Gallery; and explore hipster neighborhoods such as Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg.

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What is the most visited place in Berlin?

The most visited place in Berlin is the Reichstag—the seat of the German government. The building dates back to the 19th century, and sits beside the River Spree. It’s possible to go inside and take an elevator ride up to the glass dome roof terrace, which offers 360-degree city views.

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What you should see in Berlin?

Spend a day at Museum Island; eat street food in Kreuzburg; and for great architecture, visit the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, and Berlin Cathedral. People-watch from cafes near Simon-Dach-Strasse in Friedrichstrasse; see the murals at East Side Gallery; take a walk in the Tiergarten; and go vintage shopping in Prenzlauer Berg.

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What's cool about Berlin?

Berlin’s creative and eclectic neighborhoods make it a cool place to visit. Eat great street food at Markhalle Neun in Kreuzburg, visit Friedrichshain for techno clubs and secret cinemas, and go to Neukölln for vegan cafes and independent stores. Also, check out the abandoned buildings—including old spy stations, and derelict amusement parks.

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Is Berlin touristy?

Yes, just like other capital cities, Berlin has places where tourists flock and souvenir stands can be found—such as around Brandenburg Gate. However, there are plenty of neighborhoods to escape the typical tourist trail; head east to Prenzlauer Berg, which has lots of great bars near Kollwitzplatz.

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Frequently Asked Questions