Berlin, the capital city of Germany and an iconic symbol of reunification may have had a turbulent past, but is today known for its history, modern architecture, art and culture, and of course, a happening nightlife.
This city reflects a classic example of different historic periods in its many distinctive neighborhoods, which house numerous palaces, museums, cathedral and other sites of historic interest. Today, it is a lively city with its many parks, cafés, clubs, bars and street art especially the East Side Gallery. Berlin is also home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the world famous Berlin Opera.
There are so many things to see in Berlin, it’s really hard to choose. I have tried to put together a list of the must do’s in Berlin, things that you should definitely not miss when you’re in Berlin.
1. Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is one of most important monuments of Berlin – a landmark and symbol with over two hundred years of history. It is actually an 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch. The Brandenburg Gate has been a place of occurrence for major historical events and is today considered a symbol of not only the history of Europe and Germany, but also of European unity and peace. It is an unforgettable icon of Berlin.
People all over the world come over to visit it. It is a token of the city of Berlin. It is usually busy and there is a buzz around the surrounding area. One side of the gate is a park and a large number of government buildings, and on the other side is the commercialized streets of the modern world. Right at the gate are the Embassies of the USA, UK, Russia, and the grand boulevard. It’s very moving to be able to see this beautiful monument, which was a symbol of a once divided city and now being able to walk about it freely. It just leaves you in awe. This should definitely be on your Berlin-Must See List!
It’s free to go to and the history is interesting. After suffering decades of decline during the Cold War era, the Brandenburg Gate is renewed and now it is perhaps the most recognizable landmark in Berlin, and the amount of people visiting the area is a testament to that. No trip to Berlin is complete without visit to the Brandenburg Gate. An enduring piece of history to the legacy of Berlin.
The Berlin Wall is a barrier that divided Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Its demolition officially began in June 1990 and was completed in 1992. For 30 years, the Berlin Wall was the symbol of the Cold War, and has witnessed separating families and keeping people from jobs and opportunity in the west. Visitors can climb the tower to see the old guard tower and the wall section that they have kept as it used to be. Due to large number of people chipping away at the Berlin Wall to take remembrances, this part of the wall is part of an outdoor museum. The Wall covers the history of Berlin including World War 2 and the Cold War. Pictures, sound clips and information are available in English. The audio tours describes the former reality for Berlin locals, like how families were torn apart and people killed for escaping to freedom. Then the stagnation of time in West and East Berlin and the fall of the wall represented by the graffiti and pictures are colorful.
We recommend stopping by and checking out this important piece of recent history. You do realize that the wall must have been huge, but seeing it in person really puts the thoughts in perspective. You can truly appreciate the intense emotions that must have been present when it was knocked down.
Berlin: Berlin Wall's Greatest Escapes Exploration Game Tour
Duration: 2 hour
If you are in Berlin you should visit the Reichstag, which is the German Parliament building. Be sure to visit the Bundestag website and register for the tour, as you cannot tour the building without prior registration.
As you walk up to the building’s dome, the audio tour gives all kinds of useful information about the building, as well as the sites of the city. The dome provides beautiful panoramic views; there’s no end to the photo opportunities.
The Reichstag Building is a historical monument in Berlin, built to serve as the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. Diet is also a term used for the highest representative assembly in an Empire. It housed the parliament till 1933, when it got severely damaged after it was set on fire. After German reunification on 3 October 1990, it underwent a reconstruction and once again became the meeting place of the German parliament.
If you are visiting only 1 thing in Berlin, this should be it!
Berlin Reichstag and Glass Dome Private Tour
Duration: 1.5 hour
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The Pergamon Museum is situated on Museum Island in Berlin. The museum houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus consisting of parts transported from Turkey.
The museum is subdivided into the Middle East museum, the antiquity collection and the museum of Islamic art. The museum is visited by approximately 1.1 million people every year making it the most visited art museum in Germany, and is one of the largest in the country.
It is highly rated and it is one of those museums where you can walk in and see actual parts of ancient civilizations and temporarily be transported to back in history.
It is really amazing to see how these ancient structures are incorporated within the museum building.
The museum houses something that everybody should see like an ancient gate of Babylon called Ishtar Gate. Walking in the walls covered with vivid colored mosaics will transport you to another era. The Pergamon does a great job of letting visitors feel what it must have been like to be alive in Babylon and walk through this gate. Roman antiquities will steal your heart and will become your favorite piece of work throughout all of Museum Island.
Berlin: 1.5-Hour Guided Tour of the Pergamon Museum
Duration: 1.5 hour
Museum Island also called as Museumsinsel in German is the name of the northern half of an island in the central Mitte of Berlin, Germany, the site of the old city ‘Cölln.’ It is called this because it is a complex of five internationally famous museums and are all part of the Berlin State Museums. The 5 significant museums have been named according to their significance.
• The ‘Altes Museum’ (Old Museum) was completed in 1830.
• The ‘Neues Museum’ (New Museum) was finished in 1859 but since it got destroyed in World War II, it was rebuilt opened for public again in 2009.
• ‘Alte Nationalgalerie’ (Old National Gallery) was completed in 1876 to host a collection of 19th-century art.
• The ‘Bode Museum’ on the island’s northern tip, opened in 1904 and is called Kaiser-Friedrich-Museum. This museum exhibits the collections of sculpture and late Antique and Byzantine art.
• The ‘Pergamon Museum,’ the final museum of the complex, was built in 1930. It contains multiple, reconstructed, immense and historically significant buildings.
The museums are a must see for all history and art lovers. At least a day is required to properly take in all that the island of museums has to offer. With the surrounding rivers, it also serves as a great place for a family picnic.
The Best Museum Island Private Tour & Berlin Dome Ticket
Duration: 2 hours
The East Side Gallery is a German memorial for freedom. It is a 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long part of the Berlin Wall located near the center of Berlin. The Gallery consists of 105 paintings by artists from across the world. It was painted in 1990 on the east side of the Berlin Wall. It is the largest and longest open air gallery in the world. The paintings at the East Side Gallery express great hopes for a better, free future for all people of the world.
East Side Gallery is not only the largest piece of the wall, but it’s covered in awesome graffiti. This stretch of artwork is not only fascinating and eclectic, but expresses a movement of the past. You can end the day by walking and seeing amazing artwork being presented here. The history makes it impressive and the art makes it cool. While the wall is a recreation after the Cold War, the impact that the wall had is still there and it is pretty amazing to see how Berlin has grown over time.
Be sure NOT to miss this part of history.
Berlin: The Wall Museum East Side Gallery Ticket
7. Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie, also known as Checkpoint C, was the name given by the Western confederate during the Cold War to the Berlin Wall crossing between East and West Berlin. This is a historically important landmark, icon of the West/East Berlin divide. The restoration of the crossing point is very nicely done.
After the reunification of Germany, Checkpoint C became a tourist attraction. On the East side there are some really informative booths showing great historical photos and explaining events. In the area around the Checkpoint there are information boards describing the partition of Berlin and Germany as well as a piece of the wall and lots of exhibition materials. To the far side of the checkpoint, there’s a museum with further information.
Potsdamer Platz, literally called Potsdam Square, is an important public square and traffic intersection in the centre in Berlin, Germany. It lies about 1 km south of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, which is the German Parliament Building, close to the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park. From the time of German reunification, Potsdamer has been the site of major redevelopment projects.
With the construction of the Berlin Wall on 13 August 1961, along the intra city frontier, Potsdamer Platz was itself physically divided in two. The Potsdamer Platz lives up to expectations of the locals and tourists as a futuristic center of commerce at the heart of Europe’s youngest capital city, Berlin. The gem is the last circular wall watch tower, which you can go up and see what it was like having to spend 8 hours keeping guard, then the row of boulevard of stars. It is a real mix of old and new.
It is highly recommended as many of the sights to visit in Berlin are near Potsdamer Platz so it is a central place to base yourself.
Dalí - The Exhibition at Potsdamer Platz Entry Ticket
9. Topography Of Terror
The Topography of Terror is a history museum in Berlin, Germany. The area is covered with pictures and descriptions, taking you through the various faces of history of Berlin over the years. It takes you through a tough period of history charting Hitler’s rise and fall. There is much to read in this outdoor museum that describes the events and levels of terror and harassment during Hitler’s rise to power.
The museum is more than boards with photos on and writing to read and it is very informative about the whole of the Second World War and the photos exhibited here make it seem much more real. Also, the admission to the museum is free, so there is no excuse not to see it if you are in Berlin.
10. Holocaust Memorial
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also named the Holocaust Memorial, is a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Berlin. It is a 4.7 acre site covered with over 2500 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. Observers have noted the memorial’s resemblance to a cemetery.
The site is a dedication to the happenings of the Holocaust and the atrocities towards Jewish people. It such an impressive memorial that you can see, touch, and feel the sorrow. It is a stark reminder of the thousands of Jews massacred over that time. Afterwards there are exhibits and stories underground worth looking at.
This is a complete memorial with handwritten letters, historical timelines and personal stories of the men, women and children who lost their lives.
Sachsenhausen or Saxon’s Houses was a Nazi camp in Oranienburg, Germany, used primarily for prisoners from 1936 until May 1945. The buildings and grounds used for the concentration camp are now open to the public as a museum.
This is an excellent and eye opening tour of an important piece of German history. It is a chilling experience to walk through a concentration camp. You can still see furnace, hospital, officer quarters, and places where inmates were kept. Sachsenhausen was the model camp for all concentration camps with a triangular shape so that guards can see all of the prisoners.
One will definitely be chilled by the horrors that happened here and the structured atrocity carried out by the staff. Through electrified barbed-wire fences, kill zones, death pits, and neck shot facilities, you can see what the residents went through in that camp. The stories you hear and artifacts you see stay with you afterwards.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour from Berlin
Duration: 6 hours
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace located in Berlin, and is located in the Charlottenburg district. The palace was built towards the end of the 17th century and expanded during the 18th century. It includes amazing internal decoration in various styles. The rooms open for viewing give you a very good idea of the various styles used over centuries and how the people lived. The audio guides are very helpful. Even the souvenirs available are better than those above those available at most tourist attractions in Berlin.
The Italianate villa, the belvedere and the mausoleum are some of the major attractions of the palace. Some of the rooms are so visually stunning that you can keep definitely at par with other great European palaces. Use the audio guides available as they provide lots of interesting information and context to your visit.
The highlight of the visit is the free, well-tended garden. Plenty of walking paths with lots of benches for looking at the lake or the woods and you could easily spend an entire afternoon to wander the whole thing.
Charlottenburg Palace and Concert Ticket, Berlin: Audio Tour, Candlelight Dinner
13. Berlin Cathedral
Berlin Cathedral is the short name for the Supreme Parish and Collegiate in Berlin, Germany. It is located on Museum Island in the Mitte borough. The construction of current building finished in 1905. This is one of the few catholic churches in Berlin.
This is an exceptionally beautiful Cathedral. They have multiple 30 minute prayers throughout the day, giving you the opportunity to hear the organ. The climb to the top of the dome is easy and you can walk around the perimeter and view Berlin, the river and Museum Island. Slightly lower down, you can walk around the inside, with a viewing point down into the cathedral and experience a good view of the altar. Downstairs is the place where most of the royalty from the past 400 years are buried.
The outer view of this cathedral is architecturally quite impressive.The exterior has deep and intense colors and shading. There is a big esplanade in front of it so you can take in the view and take nice pictures of the facade.
14. Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is one of the largest Jewish Museums in Europe. In three buildings of the museum, two are new additions specifically built for the museum. The history of two millenniums of German-Jewish history are on display in the permanent exhibition as well as in various changing exhibits. German-Jewish history is documented in the collections of the museum, the library and the archive.
The individual stories of the victims of the Holocaust are hard to read as it will move you to tears. The museum is a way to understand the enormous pre-WWII contributions of Jews. It is not just the history of Jews in the war but a thorough look into Jewish history, events, and traditions.These exhibits will certainly make you to stop and think for a moment.
It is recommended to take the audio guided tour as it not only takes you through the museum but offers such details and stories about Jewish history and life from historical times to modern-day post World War 2 in Germany and specifically Berlin.
Tiergarten, which is a German word for Animal Garden, is a locality within the borough of Mitte, in central Berlin, and notable as a great urban park.
Tiergarten is a huge park with lakes, a river and cafes in the centre of Berlin! It is really worth walking around and relaxing here! Also, as you walk, you discover historical details about the park and even the city of Berlin! The sunset here is magnificent, a nice place to wind down in the middle of the city.
A stroll through Tiergarten, which was originally a royal hunting ground, is a pleasant experience in any season.
16. Berlin Zoological Garden
The Berlin Zoological Garden is one of the most famous and oldest zoos in Germany. The zoo first opened its doors in 1844 with an area of 35 hectares (86.5 acres) and is located in Berlin’s Tiergarten. With about 1,500 different species and 20,000 animals, the zoo houses the most comprehensive collection of species in the world. The zoo even collaborates with many universities, research institutes and other zoological gardens around the world. It maintains and promotes European breeding programs, helps in the protection of several endangered species, and participates in several species reintroduction programs.
It is considered the most visited zoo in Europe and is one of the most popular parks worldwide. Regular animal feedings are among its most famous attractions. There is even a bit of an Aussie section with kangaroos, which was pretty cool. It is worth a visit to see the rock hopper penguins alone.
Visiting Berlin’s zoo is one of the loveliest ways to spend a day with children in Berlin. The diversity of animals on display is quite breathtaking along with a good playground that it can keep children entertained for hours.
17. Alte Nationalgalerie
The Alte Nationalgalerie, which is the German name of Old National Gallery, is a gallery showing a collection of Romantic, Biedermeier, Neoclassical, Impressionist and early times of Modernist artwork. It is a part of the National Gallery of Berlin, which in turn is part of the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. It is the original building of the National Gallery, whose holdings are now placed in several additional buildings. It is situated on Museum Island, which is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site.
The entry fee includes an audio guide. If you enjoy your art, especially impressionism, you should visit. It is a hidden treasure of Berlin.
18. French Cathedral
French Cathedral (Französischer Dom) is located on the Gendarmenmarkt square across from the Deutscher Dom (German Church), which was formerly a church of German-speaking congregants. The Französischer Dom was heavily damaged in World War II, then re-built from 1977 to 1981.Today it is not only used by its congregations, but also for conventions by the Evangelical Church in Germany.
The domed tower is a viewing platform open to visitors, which provides a panoramic view of Berlin. The tower also contains the Huguenot Museum. Undoubtedly being one of Berlin’s fanciest squares, architecture fans flock here to admire these three buildings: the German and French Cathedrals and Schinkel’s Konzerthaus. Be ready to be awestruck by their facades. The most beautiful place in Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt is unforgettable and the heart of this magical city.
During the holiday season, the square hosts one of Berlin’s most popular Christmas markets. You can have tours from famous historians and prove this visit to be high point of your visit to Berlin.
The Olympiastadion is one of the world’s most prestigious venues for sporting and entertainment events, which was originally built for the 1936 Summer Olympics by Werner March. Today the stadium is part of the Olympiapark Berlin. After renovations in 2004, the Olympiastadion became the largest stadium in Germany for international football matches. It is a UEFA category 4 stadium and The German Cup final match is held each year at the venue.
There are guided tours by experienced and knowledgeable guides, but even if you don’t want to join a tour, you can wander around the stadium and grounds at your own speed with a map. You can take a walk around the perimeter where you can see the diving and swimming pools that were used for the Olympic Games.
Skip the Line: Olympiastadion Berlin Entrance Ticket
Duration: 1 day
20. Trep Tower Park
Treptower Park is a park located alongside the river Spree in the district of Treptow-Köpenick, south of central Berlin. The Great Industrial Exposition of Berlin was hosted here in 1896. It is a popular place for recreation of Berliners and a tourist attraction. Its prominent feature is the Soviet War Memorial built to commemorate the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945. It was opened 4 years after the war ended in May, 1949. Within Treptower Park is Spreepark, which is an abandoned amusement park, which was functional from October 1969 until 2001.
The wide stretch of green lawn means that there are plenty of people picnicking or studying, but it never tends to be overcrowded. Also on the south is The Archenhold Observatory, where Einstein gave his first lecture on relativity and where you can take kids for an astronomy lesson.
Berghain is a famous nightclub in Berlin, Germany and has often been described as the “best club in the world” by almost everyone from DJ Mag to the New York Times.
It is set in an enormous and maze-like building that was a former power station in Berlin. Most of the original industrial architecture of the building has been retained; the décor is sparse, the walls empty and a slightly less Dante’s Inferno-esque upstairs space, with cages that formerly housed electrical equipment makes up the Panorama Bar. The main Berghain dance floor, has 60-foot ceilings supported by massive pillars made of unpainted concrete and two huge sound systems which pump techno music. White lights illuminate part of an imposing façade behind the club’s main bar and a large metallic swing hangs off the side of the dance floor. There is also a men’s-only club on the first level called Lab. Oratory, and a smaller club called Kantine am Berghain.
Berghain reputation as the “Mecca of clubbing” comes from its notoriously strict door policy. Berghain’s head doorman and his army of formidable bouncers is the man responsible for the selective decisions on who makes it past the door. Quite often, people are turned away each weekend, including regular customers, for reasons that are completely mysterious to everyone except the doormen. There are hundreds of forum posts online advising clubbers on how to crack the enigmatic and mysterious entry policy of Berghain.
Most of the parties run for an extremely long duration; Friday night events usually wrap up early Saturday afternoon and Saturdays events typically run well into Monday morning.
22. Berliner Philharmonie
The Berliner Philharmonie is a concert hall and home to the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. This building is known both for its acoustics as well as its architecture and consists of a 2,440 seat hall, Großer Saal, for orchestral concerts and a 1,180 seat chamber-music hall, the Kammermusiksaal.
The Philharmonie lies on the south edge of the Berlin’s Tiergarten and to the west of the erstwhile Berlin Wall. The Berliner Philharmonie has been the centre for music for this city for more than 50 years and has presented quite a few magnificent concerts with great conductors and soloists like George Szell, Carlos Kleiber, Yehudi Menuhin, Zubin Mehta and many more.
23. Grunewald Forest
Grunewald is a forest located in the western part of Berlin on the eastern side of the Havel. Spread over an area of about 7,400 acres (3,000 hectare), it is the largest green area in the city of Berlin.
This large forest is perfect for hikers or nature lovers looking for a quick injection of nature during their city break. You can venture through the woods on foot or ride a bicycle and, if the weather permits, take a dip in any of the several freshwater lakes located close to the forest.
Another attraction at Grunewald is the spy station located on the top of hill, the Teufelsberg. This spy station was operated by Americans during the Cold War for listening to East German military communications and still survives as a piece of history. Take a guided tour to get to the top of the hill. The tombstone of Nico, ‘60s icon and one-time Velvet Underground collaborator, also lies in the Grunewald Forest Cemetery.
There is more to Berlin than the Wall!!
But beyond all of these well-know attractions there are quite a few alternate reasons as well to visit Berlin:
Berlin is comparatively cheaper than the rest of Europe, especially for accommodation.
For those interested in history, this city is home to about 175 museums scattered all over the city and focus on a wide variety of subjects including Asian art, natural history, photography, terror, computer games, gay culture, and even the Kennedys.
Food is another important reason, because whatever your choice of cuisine you’ll find it in Berlin; Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Korean, Italian, Greek, French, Turkish, you have innumerable restaurants to choose from. Berlin is also one of the best cities in Europe for vegans and Turkish food, thanks to a huge number of Turkish people. For those looking for traditional German food, German wine, or German cheese, you cannot find a better place to be in.
Berlin’s nightlife has much to offer even for people who are not the party-type; from art-gallery events to beer gardens, small bars and hostel bars.
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