Berlin is an aggressively modern capital which doesn’t forget about its roots. It’s been shaped by history, something you can experience around every corner, but managed to find its own course in the recent years. It’s no exaggeration to say that Berlin is one of the most complicated capitals out there, offering you countless shades and hues, depending on where you go and what are you after. Whether you’re looking for traditional, laid-back beer gardens, or the most avant-garde art galleries in the whole of Europe, Berlin has it. This ability to combine seemingly contradictory features is the trademark of Berlin – the locals abide by their motto “live and let live”, and nothing is too crazy for Berlin. Therefore, if you’re looking for a city which will allow you to experience the whole spectrum of emotions, from nostalgia in many of the museums, to euphoria in dozens of nightclubs, Berlin is the place to go. If there is anything Berlin doesn’t offer, it’s boredom.
Top 10 Things to See and Do in Berlin
Skip-the-line Pergamon and New Museum Tour
This three-hour-long tour with a well-accustomed guide will take you along the halls of the New Museum and the Pergamon without having to wait in long lines. The vast collections of both of the museums will surely provide more than enough pieces of history and art to look and marvel at.
Half-Day Berlin Third Reich Tour
A small-group tour which takes approximately three to four hours to accomplish and will take you along the streets of Berlin with a guide to retell you the story of Berlin during the WWII. With visits both to the Memorial to Homosexuals and Memorial to the Murdered Jews, the tour shows you the history of the persecuted people of that time.
One-hour City Cruise
This tour takes only an hour to accomplish, which is quite handy if you do not have much time to spare. This one takes you along such landmarks as the Reichstag, the Berliner Dom, and the Museum Island, which holds many museums, all of them placed on the UNESCO world heritage site list.
For one of the best views of Berlin’s cityscape, make sure to visit the Panoramapunkt, which is located more than a hundred meters above the ground in the Kollhoff-Tower, Potsdamer Platz. The tower also has the fastest elevator in Europe, which is a unique experience in itself, as well as a 360-degree observation terrace.
Berlin Segway Tour
Providing a comfortable way to ride around the streets of Berlin, this tour allows you to hop on a Segway if you dislike tiring walking tours. The tour takes you along such attractions as the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate, along with eight other participants to ensure an attentive experience.
Berlin Sightseeing Cruise
Allowing you to sit back and relax with an included lunch and a drink, this three-hour-long cruise down the Spree River will show you the history of the city with an ongoing narrative which plays as the boat cruises down the river. The tour also provides a two-course lunch along with beverages, all at an affordable price.
Berlin Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
With a 24-hour pass that comes with the ticket, this tour allows you to take your time with the sightseeing of Berlin. You can create your own plan and visit the attractions at your own pace with eighteen stops around the city, placed near the most important landmarks such as Checkpoint Charlie.
Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Tour
Located near the city of Berlin, the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was one of the first concentration camps in Germany built by the Third Reich. Learn important facts about the history of oppression during World War II, along with an audio commentary. A train ticket from Berlin is also included.
'An Evening at Charlottenburg Palace' Palace Tour
If you are a music enthusiast, make sure to take part in this tour which will showcase you a concert by the Berlin Residence Orchestra. Moreover, a panoramic view of Berlin is provided as well as a three-course dinner before the concert, along with a self-guided tour of the largest palace in Berlin.
Small Group Berlin Food Tour
Combine sightseeing and eating with this exclusive tour of East Berlin, along with included food, wine, and bottled water. A guide will also provide you with information on the history of East Berlin, along with a visit to the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall, and information on the cuisine of Germany.
Other Things to See and Do
The Berliner Dom
This Italian Renaissance-style former royal court church will leave you standing in awe with its gorgeous exterior, but wait until you see the interior too, as it brims with gorgeous artworks of renowned painters from across the years. Make sure to visit the church during services, as only then it is free of charge.
Soviet War Memorial
Located in the Treptower Park, the massive Soviet War Memorial commemorates the death of five thousand Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin, which culminated the Second World War. It was designed by a Soviet architect Yakov Belopolsky and includes a gorgeous entranceway made out of red marble.
Placed along the fringes of the Grunewald Forest, the lake is only about thirty walking minutes from the city. The lake has clear water and plenty of spots to sit down with a picnic basket. There are also plenty of steamboat cruises, as well as rowboats for hire if you prefer a more active way of spending time.
Make sure to visit the Berliner Philharmonie every Tuesday at 1 p.m. During that time, the Philharmonie gets full of classical musicians who play concerts free of charge. There are also many students of the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler music school, who showcase their talents every week.
If you are looking for a place to drink an afternoon coffee in peace and tranquillity, take a hike to the Hackescher Höfe, which is a warren of eight restored courtyards, located in the central Mitte. There is also an arrangement of small-time local shops around the premises, perfect for picking a souvenir to take home.
Being surely the most iconic landmark and tourist attraction of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate was made in 1791 as a royal gateway to the city. During the Cold War, the Brandenburg Gate became a symbol of a divided nation, as it was a part of the Berlin Wall, but is still a monument worth seeing with its gorgeous sculptures.
With a memorial dedicated to the victims who died along the Berlin Wall, the Wall itself is a place worth visiting. The Berlin Wall Memorial is placed along the Bernauer Strasse and is the best place to learn the history of the barrier which divided post-war Germany into two and the impact it had on the local people.
Being one of the most well-renowned monuments of what could have happened if Cold War had not been stopped, Checkpoint Charlie was the main gateway for diplomats and people from abroad between the two Berlins in post-war Germany. It was also a place of a stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union, which could have turned into the next world war.
Take a trip to one of the cosiest flea markets in Berlin, located on the Arkonaplatz. The flea market is quite a bit smaller than the one located in the Mauerpark, but don’t worry – the selection is great, minus the crowds. With plenty of local families selling their handmade products, this place is sure worth a visit.
If you are searching for some more eclectic items at flea markets, such as fashion and ornaments, make sure to visit the Nowkölln Flowmarkt, open every third Sunday of the month from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A plenty of locals set up their stalls here, presenting old 1950s ornaments and modern, hand-crafted products.
Topographie des Terrors
Visit the once feared headquarters of the Gestapo, a secret police service of Nazi Germany, which nowadays exhibits documents on the terror of the Third Reich. Open from spring to autumn, the Topography of Terror provides self-guided tours around the grounds, sure to chill your spine.
While you sure can take a guided tour through the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, it is much cheaper to just go around the place by yourself. The camp is located near Berlin, and you will have to get a train ticket to get there, but it is sure worth it, as it is the first concentration camp in Nazi Germany.
Located in the Prenzlauer Berg, the food market of Kollwitzplatz showcases some of the gourmet delights produced by local artisans. Taking place on each Thursday and Saturday of every month, excluding holidays, the food market is a colourful place to visit, even if you are not planning on eating anything.
Berlin is famous all over the world for its vibrant and exquisite street art and graffiti, with plenty of international artists leaving their mark, including ROA, Os Gemeos, Blu, JR, and Pure Evil. Make sure to keep a watchful eye on every mural, especially around the Boxhagener Platz and the eastern Kreuzberg.
The Tiergarten and Tempelhofer Park
If you are looking for a spot to visit with your family where you can hang out on a blanket and have a peaceful picnic, make sure to visit one of these two parks for a romantic, tranquil experience. You might want to stay away from Mauerpark though, as it is one of the most popular parks and attracts loads of tourists.
Pay your respects to the victims of the Holocaust and visit the haunting Holocaust Memorial. The Memorial was made to commemorate the death of over six million Jews who were killed during the Second World War and is filled with a giant field of concrete slabs which resemble sarcophagi.
Placed at the tip of the Spree Island, the Museum Island comprises of five museums arranged close together, including the Pergamonmuseum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, Altes Museum, and Bodemuseum. The museums themselves require a ticket to enter, but you can still marvel at their gorgeous architecture.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the longest still-remaining section of the Berlin Wall, kept as a monument to freedom after the collapse of the Wall. In 1989, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, more than a hundred artists from all over the world came and turned it into a gallery covered with their works.
Being home to the parliament of Germany, the Reichstag has a gorgeous roof terrace with a free elevator ride, providing a spectacular view of the land and cityscapes. While at it, marvel at the glass dome, designed by Norman Foster, which is located inside of the historic building.
As is customary with many other tourist-oriented cities all over the world, Berlin has its own Guggenheim Museum, which is home to a vast collection of contemporary art with frequent rotating exhibits, made by artists all over the world. Make sure to visit the museum on Mondays, when it is free of charge.