When I was completing my undergrad, I had the opportunity to complete a course about the Cold War in Berlin, Germany. This meant that I got a small taste of what it would be like to live in this amazing city and I absolutely loved it! There is so much to see and do in Berlin and I barely even got to scratch the surface after a whole month there. If you’re visiting Berlin, below you’ll find a list of awesome things to see and do in the city!
1. Brandenburg Gate
Probably the most iconic site in Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate has been witness to so much history. This impressive and beautiful monument was built in 1788 as a city gate. Since then, it has seen Napoleon, World War II and the Cold War. Needless to say, this place is an optimal selfie background if you want people to instantly recognize you’re in Germany’s capital.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (55, brown line) to Brandenburger Tor or the S-bahn (1, pink line) to Pariser Platz.
2. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
This is the most moving memorial I have ever seen. Designed by Peter Eisenman, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe displays 2,711 concrete slabs across basically an entire city block. Visitors can walk through the Memorial feeling a chilling sense of isolation as the concrete slabs grow taller and taller the closer you get to its centre. One could easily get lost for hours here. If you’re interested in learning more about the memorial and the people it commemorates, be sure to head to the information centre (located in the southern-east corner). Be aware that the memorial and information centre are extremely moving (it actually made me cry a few times).
Tip: The information centre offers an audio tour for 4 euros. I completely recommend getting it as it will add to your experience that much more.
How to get here: Located to the left of the Brandenburg Gate, take the S-bahn (1, pink line) to Pariser Platz.
3. The Reichstag
Germany’s version of Parliament Hill, the Reichstag is yet another one of Berlin’s beautiful historic building. Since April 1999, the Reichstag is now once again home to the Bundestag (Germany’s legislative body) – you can get all the details of the Reichstag and Bundestag’s history by going on a guided tour of the building when the Parliament is not in session (just be sure to reserve in advance!).
Tip: The Reichstag also has a roof terrace and glass dome (you’ll know when you see it). Be sure to reserve in advance if this is of interest to you! You’ll also get a free audio tour. I would recommend visiting the dome around sunset to get the most gorgeous views of the city.
How to get here: Located to the left of the Brandenburg Gate, take the S-bahn (1, pink line) to Pariser Platz.
4. Berliner Dom (Cathedral) + Lustgarten
Yet another impressive historic building in the centre of Berlin, the Berliner Dom is one of the most impressive churches I have ever step foot in. It was actually designed to be the counterpart of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and since I’ve been to both I can tell you the similarity is astounding. You can visit the interior of the cathedral for a modest fee or admire it from the outside if churches aren’t really your thing.
Directly in front of the Dom, you’ll also find the popular hangout spot that is Lustgarten. The name actually means “Pleasure Garden” in German, which is pretty ironic when you consider that a church is nearby! People from all over the city come here to lounge around, have a picnic and some ice cream, and bask in the sun. So if you need a break and are in the area, why not find some relaxing pleasure in the “Pleasure Garden”!
How to get here: This area of the city is kind of in a black zone of public transport, meaning there aren’t any metro stops in the area. However, you can take the U-bahn (6, purple) or S-bahn (1, pink/2, green/ 5, yellow/ 7, blue) to Friedrich Str. and walk down Unter den Linden street to get here.
5. Museum Island + Other Berlin Museums
Museum Island is a world renowned site in Berlin that includes the city’s five most famous museums. Even if you aren’t into museums, this is a must visit area of the city for a leisurely stroll. In this area you’ll find the following museums:
- Altes Museum: Greek and Roman art
- Neues Museum: Vast archeological collection, with main feature being Egyptian section and papyrus collection
- Pergamonmuseum: All about Babylon and its history
- Alter Nationalgalerie: Nineteeth-centure paintings
- Bode-Museum: Art and artefacts from the Byzantine and Medieval periods
Aside from Museum Island, Berlin has tons of other awesome museums. Check out a list of my favourite museums here (coming soon).
Tip: If you’re a museum super fan, be sure to get the Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island that will give you access to many museums in the city, free public transportation and give you discounts to major attractions for 40 euros.
How to get here: Take the S-bahn (5, yellow/ 7, blue) to Hackescher Markt.
6. East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the largest section of the Berlin Wall (1.3 km to be exact!) that is still standing. Not only is it a priceless piece of the city’s history, it is also the largest open-air gallery in the world and one of Berlin’s best known landmarks. Hundreds of artists from all over the world painted various sections of the Wall in 1990 when the Wall fell. You’ll find various interpretations of the separation of Berlin during the Cold War, from the famous kiss to the Trabant car. Unfortunately the East Side Gallery has fallen victim to a lot of vandalism but the murals are beautiful nonetheless.
How to get here: Take the S-bahn (5, yellow/ 7, blue) or U-bahn (1, green) to Warschauer Str.
7. Mauerpark Flohmarkt
My favourite market in the whole wide world, the Mauerpark Flohmarkt is one of Berlin’s favourite flea markets. Every Sunday, the market boasts everything from handmade jewelry, to vintage clothing, to 1950s kitchenware, to GDR memorabilia. Yes you’ll run into a lot of “junk”, as you would any flea market, but if you sift through the various stalls you’ll find one of a kind gems. Here, I found a beautiful handcrafted leather wallet (for only 20 euros, score!). The market is also adjacent to the Mauerpark which hosts another long section of the Berlin Wall.
Tip: Bring lots of cash as you will definitely be surprised at how many awesome things you will find here (I know I was!) and even great food (think freshly pressed juice and donairs).
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (8, blue) to Bernauer Str.
8. The Tiergarten
My favourite place when I needed a break from all the hustle and bustle of the city, Tiergarten is a great place to walk, bike, run or chill. It’s also in a great location as it’s near many other attractions so be sure to bring your lunch and hang out here during the summer months!
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (55, brown line) to Brandenburger Tor or the S-bahn (1, pink line) to Pariser Platz and walk to Tiergarten from there.
9. Siegessäule (Victory Column)
The best place to get views of the city in my opinion! It’s a little out of the way and you have to climb 285 steps before getting to the top (this was no picnic on a hot summer day!), but it’s got a great price (only 3 euros!).
10. Checkpoint Charlie
The best-known Berlin Wall crossing point during the Cold War, today Checkpoint Charlie is one of the best places to learn about life in Berlin during the city’s division during this time period. You can even get your passport stamped here if you have it on you (I was so sad that I didn’t)! There is also a great museum across from the ‘checkpoint’ where you’ll get to see creative ways that people came up with to cross the Wall, from hot air balloons to scuba diving.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (6, purple) to Koch Str.
Gendarmenmarkt was my favourite square to hang out in the city! I absolutely loved the cute little cafes where one could enjoy kafe und kuchen (coffee and cake), a typical German activity. Click here to check out other must do experiences in Berlin (coming soon). The square is framed by two beautiful churches, Französische Dom and Deutscher Dom, and Konzerthaus.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (6, purple) to Französiche Str./Stadtmitte OR U-bahn (2, red) to Hausvogteiplatz.
Probably one of Berlin’s ugliest squares as it hasn’t been touched since the era of the GDR, Alexanderplatz is still one of the city’s main hangout spots. It’s also one of the city’s main transit points, with thousands of people going through here every single day. Here you’ll find a few shops, as well as the iconic Fersehturm (TV Tower). The Fersehturm is a great place to get a 360 degree view of the city, although a little pricey if you’re on a budget (see Siegessäule for a more budget friendly option).
Tip: I would recommend reserving in advance for tickets to the Fernsehturm in order to avoid lines.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (8, blue/5, brown/2, red) or S-bahn (7, blue/5, yellow) to Alexanderplatz.
13. Potsdamer Platz
Like Alexanderplatz, Potsdamer Platz is another major transit hub in the city. In addition, it’s also the city’s theatre district where you’ll likely end up if you’re attending any musicals (which I highly recommend!). Potsdamer Platz is also home to the Sony Center which is home to shops, restaurants and IMAX theatre. It’s quite the impressive site! I would say, however that it is a very touristy area of the city and lacks a certain charm that is found in other areas of Berlin. Still, a great place to go to if you’re in the mood for a movie night!
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (2, red) or S-bahn (2, green/1, pink) to Potsdamer Platz.
14. Schloss Charlottenburg
A little bit outside of the center of Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg is a great place to visit once you’ve seen everything else on your list. The entrance fee is quite reasonable and you could easily spend the entire afternoon there.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (2, red) to Sophie-Charlotte-Platz OR U-bahn (7, light blue) to Richard-Wagner-Platz.
A great stop on your way to other sites, Bebelplatz is a historical square on the south side of Unter den Linden. Though many other historical events have occurred here, the square remains best known for the 1933 Nazi book burning. You’ll be able to see a memorial of this event at the centre of the square, engraved with a famous line by Heinrich Heine: “Where they burn books, they ultimately burn people.”
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (6, purple) to Französische Str.
16. Neue Wache
An impressive site of architecture, Neue Wache (the New Guard House) is home to a beautiful sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz which was placed directly under the oculus of the structure. This exposure of the statue to the elements is meant to be a metaphor for the suffering of civilians during World War II. I found this place to be a great stop along the way to other attractions as it is right in between the German History Museum and the Berliner Dom.
How to get here: Again, this area of the city is kind of in a black zone of public transport, meaning there aren’t any metro stops in the area. However, you can take the U-bahn (6, purple) or S-bahn (1, pink/2, green/ 5, yellow/ 7, blue) to Friedrich Str. and walk down Unter den Linden street to get here.
17. Schloss Bellevue
Home to Germany’s President, Schloss Bellevue is a nice stop when you’re walking along the River Spree. Unfortunately the building is currently closed to visitors, but it is pretty to look at from the outside. Find out more about the history of the building here.
How to get here: Take the U-bahn (9, orange) to Hansaplatz.
18. Gedenstätte Berliner Mauer
One of many moving memorials to the Berlin Wall, Gedenstätte Berliner Mauer is a great alternative to learning more about the history of the Wall if you’re looking to get away from the crowds of Checkpoint Charlie. If you walk further down, you’ll also be able to view an outdoor exhibition on the former death-strip so I really recommend walking along the entire length of the memorial if you can. There’s also a museum across from the memorial if you’d like to know more.
How to get here: Take the S-bahn (1, pink/2, green) to Nordbahnhof or the U-bahn (8, blue) to Bernauer Str.
19. Hackesche Höfe
A splendid little area of Berlin, here you’ll find a large series of interconnected courtyards. It’s a cute little area to walk around, pop into the little shops or even catch a movie (there are a few cinemas around). There is also a local market, Hackescher Markt, if you fancy that as well. The surrounding area also hosts other great shops and cafes making it the perfect place for a chill day of exploring.
How to get here: Take the S-bahn(5, yellow/ 7, blue) to Hackescher Markt.
20. Shopping on Kurfürstendamm
This street has high-class shopping and stores for regular joes alike. Kurfürstendamm, also known as Ku’damm by locals, is home to tons of shops and restaurants. You can easily spend a whole day walking along this street window shopping (or not!).
Have you ever been to Berlin?
What’s your favourite thing to do in the city?
Like it? Pin it!
Never miss an update – sign up to our newsletter!
Bonus: You’ll even get a free copy of our printable His & Hers Carry-On Essentials Packing List!