There’s a whole heap of incredible experiences available in Berlin. While visiting Germany’s capital, one could easily spend a lifetime exploring world-class museums, historical landmarks, vibrant markets, and colorful street art murals, which are enough to fill up any travel itinerary!
You’ll be spoilt for choice once you arrive in the city, that’s for sure. But it can be hard to know what to gawk at first. So, to help you plan your dream trip, we’ve compiled a list of the 12 most amazing things to do in Berlin.
In this guide, you’ll find a range of different activities that suit every budget, mood, and moment. We’ve included a dreamy cruise in the Spree River, a guided Second World War tour, a list of the city’s top museums, and even a day trip to a scenic destination.
Curious yet? Then have a look below to discover the experiences you can’t miss when visiting Berlin.
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Berlin Bucket List: The 12 Top Things To Do
Explore Archaeological Treasures in The Museum Island
Whether you plan on spending a day or one week in Berlin, visiting the Museum Island is a must-do. Located on the northern part of the Spree Island, this massive cultural complex contains five museums — Altes Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Bode-Museum, and the Pergamonmuseum —, all of which were built from 1830 to 1930 by order of the Prussian Kings.
In the Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum), you’ll find the alluring Collection of Classical Antiquities, the Islamic Art Museum, and the Middle East Museum. One of its most precious items is the Pergamon Altar, a massive monument featuring a 370-foot long marble frieze depicting the Gigantomachy from Greek mythology.
Altes Museum is home to Berlin’s Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) and part of the Numismatic Collection, while the Bode Museum houses the Collection of Sculptures, the Museum of Byzantine Art, and most of the Numismatic Collection.
In the Neues Museum, visitors will find the Egyptian Museum — home to the famous bust of Queen Nefertiti —, and the Museum of Pre and Early History.
There’s also the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), home to some 1800 paintings and 1500 sculptures by brilliant artists like Paul Cézanne, Renoir, and German painter Caspar David Friedrich.
While visiting the Museum Island, be sure to stop by the Berlin Cathedral, which is the city’s most significant protestant building. Inside, you’ll see artfully designed mosaics and the crypt of the powerful Hohenzollern dynasty. Don’t forget to head over to the cathedral’s dome (Berliner Dom) for the most heart-warming views of Berlin.
Curious fact: Due to its cultural richness and cultural significance, the Museum Island was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Address: Bodestraße 1-3, 10178
Opening Hours: Museum Island & Panorama Pass €19, Museum Pass €29
Go On a Boat Tour of River Spree
If you’re seeking to explore Berlin in a relaxed and indulgent way, a Spree River cruise might be the perfect experience for you. While navigating the central section of this 250-mile river, you’ll be able to see some of Berlin’s top attractions, including Museum Island and its beautiful buildings, the TV tower, Berlin Cathedral, and the Government district with Federal Chancellery Reichstag.
Tours start and end at the Friedrichstraße Pier, and can last anywhere from 1 to 4 hours, depending on the one you choose.
Discover Remains Of The Berlin Wall
While the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, you can still see the remains of this former concrete barrier throughout Berlin. This is, by the way, a great opportunity to learn more about the city’s history during the Cold War.
The longest (and most famous) remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall is the East Side Gallery. Located along the Spree River, the section is covered in hundreds of graffiti paintings, making it the world’s largest open-air gallery. Be sure to check out Dmitri Vrubel’s “My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love” mural, which depicts the Soviet politician Leonid Brezhnev kissing the leader of the GDR, Erich Honecker.
Another must-visit site is the Berlin Wall Memorial. Running along both sides of the famous Bernauer Straße, the memorial includes one of the last remaining pieces of the wall, as well as a section of the “death strip” where many people were killed there while trying to escape from East to West Berlin.
Recommended Read: Berlin Wall Tour
Marvel at Berlin’s Skyline from the TV Tower
Seeking to enjoy the most heart-capturing views of Berlin? Then head over to the TV Tower on Alexanderplatz. Opened in 1969, this 368m-tall tower features a 360º deck from where visitors can observe Germany’s capital in all of its glory!
Another site that provides visitors with amazing views of Berlin is the Reichstag, home to Germany’s Parliament. On top of the building lies a modern glass dome from where it’s possible to gaze into the bright cityscape.
Address: Panoramastraße 1A, 10178
Opening Hours: November to March from 10 am to 10 pm | April to October 9 am to 11 pm
Treat Yourself to Some World-Class Shopping
Berlin treats travelers and locals with one of the best retail experiences in Europe. Throughout the city, there are big-name shopping centers, famous commercial stretches flanked with high-end boutiques, quirky flea markets, and creative thrift stores, just to name a few.
So, no matter your style and budget, you’re sure to find the perfect shopping experience for you in Berlin.
In case you want to stay away from large chain stores, the vibrant Mauerpark Flea Market is the place to go. For the ultimate luxury, Kurfürstendamm, aka the “Champs-Élysées of Berlin” is the place to go. Seeking a one-stop-shopping spot filled with retail heavy hitters? Then head over to the Berlin Mall, which is home to over 250 stores, including Bershka, Mango, Levi’s, Nike, and more.
Be sure to also check out this guide to the best shopping in Berlin.
Dive Deep Into the History of World War II
History buffs wanting to learn more about German history must add a World War II guided tour to their bucket lists. During the tour, expert guides provide participants with an in-depth analysis of the rise and fall of the Third Reich and the events that catapulted Hitler to power.
WWII guided tours cover several historical sites related to Berlin in the Second World War. These include Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry, Hermann Goering’s air force headquarters, and the Reichstag Building, the meeting place of the German parliament.
One of the tour’s most gruesome sites, however, is the Führerbunker, the air raid shelter where Hitler committed suicide during the last days of WWII. One of the most heartfelt places in the city is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial), a central place of remembrance for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Check Out Berlin’s Famous Street Art
In case you want to see provocative culture in action city-wide, a street art tour is the best bet. Known as a mecca of graffiti, the German capital is filled with eye-popping murals artfully painted by the world’s most talented artists such as El Bocho, Dmitri Vrubel, and Thierry Noir.
A prime destination for checking out Berlin’s street art is Haus Schwarzenberg. Located in the Mitte district, this small building courtyard is home to some of the city’s most incredible artworks, including collages, tags, paintings, stickers, and graffiti.
Recommended Read: The Ultimate Mitte Area Guide
Go On a Day Trip To Potsdam
Potsdam is the perfect day trip for those seeking to escape Berlin’s hustle and bustle. Flanked on the River Havel, within a 48-minute drive from the German capital, this century-old city is known for its alluring palaces, glittering lakes, and fairy-tale gardens.
One of the city’s most striking features is the Sanssouci Palace, Germany’s largest World Heritage Site. Built as a summer residence for Prussian King Frederick the Great, the palace is famous for its lavish interiors, well-manicured gardens, and 4,000 paintings and miniatures from the 15th to 20th centuries.
See The Magnificent Brandenburg Gate
Originally built as a key entry point to Unter den Linden, which led to the Prussian palace, the Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most emblematic sites. Overlooking the alluring Pariser Platz square, the monument came to symbolize Berlin’s division into East and West during the Cold War, and since the fall of the Wall, a reunified Germany.
Aside from boasting historical significance, the Bradenburg Gate dazzles visitors with its impressive architecture. The gate was designed by German architect Carl G. Langhans, who was strongly inspired by the Propylaea of the Athenian Acropolis. Some of its most features are the 12 Doric columns that create five portals, reliefs, and sculptures designed by Gottfried Schadow, and the “Quadriga” statue, which depicted the goddess of victory driving a chariot pulled by four horses.
One of the most famous Berlin attractions, the Brandenburg Gate serves as a lively meeting place for tourists in the city center.
Address: Pariser Platz, 10117
Take The Little Ones To The Berlin Zoo
Need a break from taking in Berlin’s history? Then spare some time to reconnect with nature in the Berlin Zoological Garden. Nestled in the lush Tiergarten park (Tiergarten literarily means “Animal Garden”) in central Berlin, the zoo is the oldest in Germany, and it’s home to nearly 20,000 animals of 1,200 species.
There, you’ll be able to get face to face with a 74-year-old flamingo named Ingo, Germany’s only giant pandas, African hippos, and Victor, a massive elephant that is the heaviest inhabitant of the zoo.
Adress: Hardenbergpl. 8, 10787
Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday 9 am to 6:30 pm
Get Your Culture Fix In Berlin’s Museums
Berlin is home to 170 museums and 300 galleries, which cater to every interest and curiosity. Culture vultures, for instance, will seek the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum, known for its amazing collection of contemporary art, or big-name museums like the Berlinische Galerie.
History buffs usually gravitate towards the Checkpoint Charlie Museum, which is located at the most famous border crossing point between West and East, and it’s home to original pieces of the Berlin wall.
For a journey back in time, also visit the Charlottenburg Palace. Built as the summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, this stunning baroque palace features an impressive collection of works by Caravaggio, Guido Reni, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens.
Another must-visit institution is the Jewish Museum Berlin, a museum dedicated to depicting German Jewish history from the Middle Ages to the present day.
For those who are gonna visit Berlin with kids, we recommend the German Technology Museum. There, the little ones will be able to discover more than 40 aircraft, original railway vehicles, and pioneering objects from the history of telecommunications.
Recommended Read: 13 Amazing Museums and Galleries in Berlin, Germany
Idly Stroll In Gendarmenmarkt
Gendarmenmarkt provides the most alluring setting for a scenic stroll in Berlin. Often regarded as one of the most beautiful in the city, this 17th-century square is dotted with three big-name historic buildings: the German and French Cathedrals, and the Konzerthaus (Concert Hall). Together, they form one of the most spectacular architectural ensembles in Berlin.
During Advent, Gendarmenmarkt plays host to a lovely Christmas market, which features several tents selling seasonal treats, and handmade goods crafted by local artisans.
What is Berlin best known for?
Berlin is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, diverse and multicultural neighborhoods, history-filled landmarks, stellar museums, and captivating nightlife.
What are the top things to do in Berlin?
The top 12 things to do in Berlin, Germany:
- Explore Archaeological Treasures in The Museum Island;
- Go On a Boat Tour of River Spree;
- Discover Remains Of The Berlin Wall;
- Marvel at Berlin’s Skyline from the TV Tower;
- Treat Yourself to Some World-Class Shopping;
- Dive Deep Into the History of World War II;
- Check Out Berlin’s Famous Street Art;
- Go On a Day Trip To Potsdam;
- See The Magnificent Brandenburg Gate;
- Take The Little Ones To The Berlin Zoo;
- Get Your Culture Fix In Berlin’s Museums;
- Idly Stroll In Gendarmenmarkt.
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