Berlin, Germany’s largest city, has a lot to offer: Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz, Unter den Linden etc. to name just a few of Berlin’s sights. We will tell you what you must see when visiting Berlin.
Berlin is the perfect destination for a city trip because there are a lot of sights to discover. Additionally, the nightlife of Germany’s metropolis is also worth experiencing.
Two rivers flow through Berlin: Havel and Spree. The city’s landmark is Brandenburg Gate which divided the city into East and West during the Cold War. In 1989, after the Fall of the Wall wild parties were celebrated here. Brandenburg Gate remains one of the symbols of Germany’s separation and one of the most photographed buildings in Germany.
You should definitely not miss a tour of the Reichstag (Editor’s note: German Parliament building) when visiting Berlin, despite the long waiting time. If you are culturally interested, Berlin is the place to be. A visit to the Museum Island, listed by the UNESCO since 1999, is a must. This complex of museums is one of the largest in Germany. It features the famous Pergamon Museum and Old National Gallery. Berlin also features a Madame Tussauds wax museum.
Berlin’s TV tower, 368 meters high, is one of the city’s most prominent buildings. Visiting the restaurant on top is worth your while because of the spectacular view across Germany’s capital.
Our highlights in Berlin
Reichstag: Without a question one of the top sights in Berlin. Sir Norman Foster put an accessible glass dome on the dignified Reichstag building. Visitors can look down into plenary hall and have a spectacular view across Berlin from the observation deck.
Unter den Linden boulevard: Many of Berlin’s most famous sights are located along this boulevard.
Gendarmenmarkt: This beautifully restored square with its impressive buildings is best enjoyed while having a coffee in one of the many restaurants around the square.
Museum Island: This island, solely dedicated to culture and education, is unique world-wide and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most tourists visit the Pergamon Museum. However, Old Museum, New Museum with the Egyptian Museum, Bode-Museum and Old National Gallery also feature extraordinary pieces of art. If you ask yourself what is worth seeing in Berlin, here, you will find a lot of it very close together.
Berlin Cathedral: Its largest attraction are the graves and splendidly decorated sarcophagi of the royal Hohenzollern family . From the dome, you have a great view across the city.
Hackesche Höfe: Beautifully renovated ensemble of Art Nouveau buildings with some extraordinary stores and bars.
Museum of Natural Science: The huge dinosaur skeletons are the main attraction of this renowned museum, including the world’s largest brachiosaurus skeleton. The museum is one of Berlin’s highlights and a lot of fun, especially for kids.
Dahlem Museums: Cultural treasures from all continents are on display at the world-famous Ethnologic Museum and the Museum of Asian Art.
Botanical Garden: The garden in Dahlem with its beautiful green houses is one of the largest in the world.
Jewish Museum: The large collection and the impressive architecture of Daniel Libeskind guide visitors through two-thousand years of German-Jewish history. One of Berlin’s sights that can also be visited when the weather is bad.
Kulturforum (Cultural Forum): The Mies-van-der-Rohe-Building of the New National Gallery features famous works of art from the periods of Cubism, Expressionism and Surrealism. The Art Gallery features one of the world’s most famous collections of paintings from the 13th to 18th century. A concert evening at the Philharmonics concert hall built by Hans Scharoun will also be unforgettable.
Sanssouci Palace in Potsdam: The unique land of palaces and lakes of Potsdam is located right outside of Berlin. Sanssouci Palace and its park are a grand total work of art. Construction started in 1745 in the most beautiful rococo style and most certainly worth a visit when you want to see all of Berlin’s highlights.
Zoological Garden: Do not miss out on paying a visit to the 35 hectares-large and most species-rich zoo in the world.
KulturBrauerei: Nowadays, a lot of cultural events take place in the 20 gorgeous former brewery buildings.
Special things to do and locations to visit in Berlin
Street food in Neun market hall
If you are in Berlin on a Thursday, you should not miss “Street food Thursday” in Neun market hall. Every Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., junior chefs and foodies offer delicacies there ranging from British pies, tapioca dumplings or Mexican tacos to cheese noodles from the Allgäu region. Delicious!
A walk across Tempelhof Field
Jogging, flying kites, skating, taking a walk – When the weather is good, half of Berlin’s residents meet on the grounds of former Tempelhof airport. Tempelhof Park is a mix of grassed areas, former runways and cafés, an urban recreation area and an interesting example of how public areas can be put to a new use. If you have time or want to go for a run, you should visit Tempelhof Field. Currently, the future use of the area is under discussion.
Getting to know Berlin by boat
A boat trip is a typical tourist activity? Who cares! The Spree river does indeed run through the center of Berlin and is ideal to comfortably see some of its sights. One-hour boat tours start several times a day at the main train station which take you past the Berlin Cathedral, Old National Gallery, Reichstag building, Pergamon Museum, TV tower and other sights of the capital. The advantage when taking the boat is that you have a panoramic view, can lean back and relax while listening to the birds’ twitter rather than traffic noise.
A stroll across the flea market
Numerous flea markets are held in Berlin from spring to fall. For many Berlin residents, a Sunday stroll to the flea market and a stop at a café have become a popular ritual. And nothing speaks against joining them when visiting Berlin. We cannot answer the question which of Berlin’s flea markets is the best – that’s a matter of opinion and a recurring topic of discussion. However, we can definitely recommend the following flea markets: Flea market at Maybachufer (every first and third Sunday of the month during the summer season), the antiques market at the Bode Museum (Saturday and Sunday), flea market at Mauerpark (year-round, every Sunday) and the flea market at Boxhagener Platz, also held every Sunday. More information about flea markets in Berlin can be found at www.berlin.de.
An exhibition in the Black Box at Checkpoint Charlie informs visitors about the times of the Cold War. The former allied checkpoint is the only place in the entire world where the superpowers faced each other with weapons in 1961.
The Berlin Wall divided the city for more than 28 years and many Berlin tourists want to know where it was located. Several city tours follow its traces, even by Trabi. The Berlin Wall memorial site at Bernauer Straße is the best starting point for a walk along the “Mauerweg” (Wall Walk). Almost all tourist agencies offer walks and tours. If you like, you can also visit historic Wall sites worth seeing on your own, for example Checkpoint Charlie, the world-famous East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain, or the old watch tower at Silesian Gate.
You can also take a Wall tour by Trabi. Trabi Safari offers “The Wall Ride,” a convoy of Trabis driving along the former run of the Wall. Trabi XXL even offers stretch limousine-versions of its Trabi cars for its tours.
Is it worth purchasing the Berlin Welcome Card?
City passes for city tours are trendy. Using them often saves you money when visiting sights. But those cards are not always worth purchasing. The Berlin Welcome Card is one of the cards offered for Berlin. Whether the card is worth purchasing for your trip, you can find out here:
The Berlin Welcome Card is a ticket that allows you to use busses, trains (BVG – S-Bahn, subway and street car) for free and provides a 25 to 50 percent admission discount at more than 200 sights, including museums, exhibitions, cultural events, some stores and restaurants.
Which Berlin Card is worth purchasing?
Welcome Card AB: Best for spontaneous tourists who always buy their tickets directly at the entrance.
Berlin City Pass: Three days of free admission and free rides! The best card for your first trip to Berlin: Free admission to many museums and exhibitions, a free “Hop on, hop off” bus tour in a panorama bus, a visit to the Reichstag (access to the glass dome without having to stand in line).
Photo Credit: Tuxyso / Wikimedia Commons; Guido radig / Wikimedia Commons