Berlin is jam-packed with history – I’ve been here twice now and there are still places in the city I want to explore. There is SO much to see and do in Germany’s capital city it’s hard to pick how to spend your time (especially if you don’t have much time there!).
So, I’ve put together this list to help guide you in planning your trip with some of the best things to do in Berlin!
1. Rent a bike to ride around town
Berlin is a super flat city, which makes exploring by bike the perfect method of transportation. Renting a bike to get around also means you can explore the sites you want to and at your own pace, and you can travel farther for a cheaper price!
2. Go on a bike tour
A bike tour is also a great option if you want to know the history behind known and lesser-known sites. On my first few days in Berlin, I noticed old buildings and structures but had no idea what their significance was. After taking a bike tour around the city, I learned a ton about these structures I was wondering about and was brought to places I would have never known to go on my own – like where Hitler’s Old Bunker was located! Berlin is packed with history – it’s worth it to splurge on this one and learn about this amazing city you’re visiting!
3. Have a picnic at Tiergarten
Tiergarten is Berlin’s huge park (similar to Central Park in New York) and has quite a few sites to see in itself (The Victory Column, The Berlin Zoo..). It’s a great place to enjoy a picnic and sit in nature without having to leave the city. Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch here!
Exploring Tiergarten by bike is also a great option (the park is huge!), and don’t miss trying the Beer Garden/Cafe located within Tiergarten – “Café am Neuen See” for some great food or to enjoy a beer!
4. Try Currywurst
Currywurst is a classic Berlin dish that you have to try while in the city – and you’ll see it offered all over town. Basically, it is a sausage topped with curry ketchup and is a great snack to buy from a street vendor while on the go!
5. The Book Burning Memorial at Bebelplatz
This memorial, also known as “the sunken library” is mainly underground – it is a window embedded in the ground with two bronze plates along with it. If you look through the window you will see a room encircled with empty white bookshelves, where there’s enough space for 20,000 books to sit. This memorial symbolizes the 20,000 books burned by the Nazis back in 1933. It’s definitely worth a look if you’re in Berlin.
6. The Berlin Wall!
You can’t go to Berlin and not see the Berlin Wall. As a kid, I had always imagined it as this huge wall towering over the city, so it was cool/kind of weird to get to Berlin and see the actual size of the wall – it is large, but not the oversized wall I had envisioned. Nonetheless, it’s something you can’t miss!
7. Watch for the mark of where the Berlin Wall once stood
A lot of the Berlin Wall was torn down (some is still left though – as mentioned above), but where the Wall once stood is still marked on the road. So watch for this marking as you’re exploring the city – it’s something easily missed, but is really cool to see while walking around.
8. Visit the Museums at Museum Island
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are 5 museums here that you can visit – and the best part is you only need to purchase one ticket to gain entry to all 5 museums! If you don’t want to visit the interior of the museums, it’s still a nice place to enjoy and marvel at amazing European architecture.
9. Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie dates back to 1961 and is the most famous crossing point between West and East Berlin, and was the only crossing point foreigners and military diplomats could use. Today, it is located in the middle of a busy street, but it’s worth a stop during your time in Berlin!
10. Visit Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz today is a busy urban square and traffic intersection in Berlin. However, years ago it was the widest section of the death strip – an area between the wall of East Berlin and West Berlin, where guard watchtowers and floodlights were unknowingly placed in case anyone tried to illegally jump the wall and flee to West Berlin.
11. Marvel at the Brandenburg Gate
Definitely one of the more touristy spots in Berlin…but for good reason. You have to see the Brandenburg Gate at least once. There’s a lot of history behind it and it’s free to visit – so why not!
12. Enjoy the Art at the Eastside Gallery
The Eastside Gallery is a special place – here, a part of the Berlin Wall still stands, however, there are a ton of beautiful murals painted along this remaining section to symbolize freedom after the Berlin Wall was torn down. Now the largest open-air gallery in the world, the Eastside Gallery is free to enjoy and is one of the best things to do in Berlin.
13. Explore the inside of the Reichstag
The Reichstag is an incredible, iconic building. Enjoy a picnic in the grass outside, or if you book in advance you can actually get a tour of the building and explore the dome at the very top. You have to book a few months in advance though, so a bit of planning is required to explore inside!
14. The Berlin Cathedral
This church is actually located on Museum Island and is another incredible piece of architecture Berlin offers for visitors to enjoy.
15. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Opened in 2005, this memorial is unique and can be visited at any time of day. It is a place of remembrance for the Jewish people who were killed during the Holocaust and is free to anyone who wants to visit.
16. Look for the Cross on the TV Tower (Fernsehturm)
You can go to the top of the TV Tower for 360 views of Berlin, or you can admire it from the ground all over the city of Berlin. On a sunny day, if you look at the tower you may be able to spot a golden cross – AKA “The Pope’s Revenge”.
17. Visit the Topography of Terror
This exhibition is a chilling place – the location of it is right by the Gestapo Headquarters (Nazi Germany’s Secret Police) and dives into the terror that once was the norm in Berlin.
It’s free to visit – so I highly recommend making a spot for it on your Berlin bucket list.
18. Charlottenburg Palace
A former Royal Residence, this palace is located on the western side of Berlin and is open to the public and ready to be explored. If you’re visiting around Christmas time, you can explore the Christmas market located right out front with the palace as a picturesque backdrop.
19. Visit the Jewish Museum
There’s a lot to see at the Jewish Museum, and with the exhibitions on offer always changing, you can visit over and over again each time you return to Berlin. A regular entry ticket costs 8€, so it’s an affordable and educational option that you can explore at your own pace when visiting Berlin.
20. Have Fun at the Photo Booths!
There are photo booths (photoautomats) all over Berlin which is a fun and affordable way to remember your trip! Carry around some change with you while exploring, and if you spot one of these it costs around 2€ for a photo strip.
21. Bonus! Visit Dresden, Germany
Dresden, Germany is a town that is roughly 2 hours by car and 3 hours by train from Berlin. Dresden is a beautiful and historic town that is definitely worth the visit if you are looking for a fun day trip from Berlin!
Have you been to Berlin before? Leave anything I missed that’s on your Berlin Bucket List in the comments, or share any recommendations/experiences you have!
If you prefer to email me, you can do so here with any questions or comments you may have!