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If you are planning to visit Berlin then read on – this post includes all the top things to do in Berlin and tips to help you make the most of your time there and put together the best Berlin itinerary!

We visited Berlin as part of a train journey around Europe travelling from London to Berlin and onto Prague by train. If you plan to travel to Berlin by train you may be interested in reading about our journey.

These are our top choices and tips for a Berlin itinerary


BUY A BERLIN WELCOMECARD


Buy a Berlin WelcomeCard this will give you unlimited access to the S-bahn, U-bahn, buses and trams for a period from 2 – 6 days. You can choose a ticket for zones A and B which covers Tegel Airport and all of Berlin or for zones A, B and C which also includes Potsdam, Schoenefeld Airport and surrounding towns in Brandenburg. It also saves you money – between 25/50% at some sights and it also gives you priority admission at some too.  The card start at €19.50

  • Tip – make sure you validate the card in one of the machines before you start using it
Berlin welcome card brochure a must when putting together your Berlin itinerary
Pick up a Berlin Welcome card

GO ON A WALKING TOUR OF BERLIN


For me the perfect Berlin itinerary starts with a WALKING TOUR. This will help you to get orientated and visit all the main sites – we went on Insider Tour’s FAMOUS  WALK. This runs daily all year.

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour and we saw a lot during the 4 hours including Bebelplatz the site of the 10 May 1933 book burning, Museum Island, the Reichstag, the site of Hitler’s bunker, the Brandenburg Gate, and Ai WeiWei’s art installation at the concert hall. There were about 25 in our group from all over the world (the tour was in English) Our guide was very knowledgeable and I am sure we found things out we wouldn’t have from a guidebook.

  • Tip – make note of places you want to visit in further depth – we decided to visit the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre as part of our second day itinerary after hearing about it on the walking tour.
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall – a truly sobering sight

LEARN ABOUT THE HISTORY OF BERLIN


Learn about HISTORY – Berlin was the seat of the Nazi Third Reich during WW11 and then subsequently the pivotal city in the power struggle to control post-war Europe during the Cold War. The past is inescapable in Berlin and it is a good way to think about those history lessons you had at school (I was one of those teachers by the way!!) and remember the past is about people – ordinary people like me and you. Places such as the Topography of Terror documentation centre, the Holocaust memorial and also the stories of those living on the other side of the wall in East Germany certainly bring this home.

Holes in The Berlin Wall
Gaps in the Berlin Wall

OUR TOP SIGHTS TO SEE WHEN YOU VISIT BERLIN

MUSEUM ISLAND

  • Museum Island . This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is home to 5 museums and I am embarrassed to say we didn’t get the time to visit any – though they will definitely be on my itinerary next time we are in Berlin. The two most famous are the Neues Museum which has the bust of Nerfetiti and the archaeological museum the Pergamonmuseum. Next time!!
Museum Island a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Berlin
Museum Island

 

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15 amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe to visit

 


REICHSTAG


  • Reichstag. It is free to enter the dome but you need to register ahead of your visit (minimum 2 days) on the official website. This has been the seat of the German Parliament since 1999. It was completed in 1894 but mysteriously burnt down in 1933. It was rebuilt between 1961 – 1971 with the glass dome added and completed in 1999 (this was designed by British architect Norman Foster)
Reichstag in Berlin germany
The Reichstag

BERLIN WALL – EAST SIDE GALLERY


Berlin Wall – East Side Gallery. Most of the wall was demolished but there is a stretch that runs along the side of the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre and a one mile stretch called the East Side Gallery where artworks made on the eastern side of the wall by artists are preserved. The East Side gallery is on Muhlenstrasse in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and I really would recommend a visit. We took the S-bahn to Ost Bahnhof and then walked the wall until we reached the end at the U-bahn stop Warshauer St. This was one of the highlights of our trip and definitely one of the top things to do in Berlin.

East Side Gallery in Berlin
A very famous mural on the wall
East Side gallery in Berlin
An East German soldier escapes

BRANDENBURG GATE


Brandenburg Gate. Probably Berlin’s most famous landmark and since 1989 the symbol of a reunified Germany. It is situated near the Reichstag and at the end of Unter den Linden a grand boulevard lined with trees. The gate is made of sandstone and is a neoclassical arch and is rather nice!!

Brandenburg gate in Berlin
The Brandenburg Gate

CHECKPOINT CHARLIE


Checkpoint Charlie. This is the famous east-west border control during the Cold War. Much of what you see is reconstructed eg the wooden barrack or copied from the original eg the sign saying ‘You are leaving the American sector’ but I think it is still an important place to visit due to its historical importance.

Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL


Holocaust memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Close to the Brandenburg gate in the centre of Berlin this memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and consists of 2,711 blocks (stelae)of varying heights and sizes with no two being identical. There is an information centre located under the field of stelae.

Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
The Holocaust Memorial
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

TOPOGRAPHY OF TERROR


Topography of Terror Documentation Centre. This is located where the SS headquarters buildings were situated between 1933 and 1945. It has permanent as well as temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition focuses on the SS and police during the ‘Third Reich’ and the crimes they committed throughout Europe. It is very word heavy but the visual support from the photographs (some heartbreaking) is excellent.

Topography of terror building from the outside


AND SOME OTHER EXPERIENCES I RECOMMEND FOR YOUR BERLIN ITINERARY


  • And….we saw Ai WeiWei’s art installation on the Concert Hall, the location of  Hitler’s bunker, the building that was Goering’s Air Defence Ministry, the site of the 1933 book burnings on Bebelplatz, and more on the walking tour.
Ai WeiWei art installation in Berlin
Ai Wei Wei
  • Visit Trabi World!
  •  Visit POTSDAMER PLATZ – lots of places to eat and shop around this busy square. Close to the Berlin Mall and on a cold day a welcome stop off for a hot chocolate!

 

  • Eat CURRYWURST! This is pork sausage covered in tomato ketchup and curry powder and can be found everywhere!!!
Curry at the wall in Berlin
You have to try currywurst!

ADD A TOUR TO YOUR BELIN ITINERARY


 


TIPS YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU VISIT BERLIN

  1. December, January and February are the coldest months to visit Berlin with average temperatures just above or below freezing so make sure you dress for the weather. While there are lots of things to do inside (Museum Island etc) you will spend a lot of time walking so ensure you have comfortable, warm footwear.
  2. Berlin is always busy so book tours/walks etc in advance. Although it may not be as super crowded as in the summer months it is still a very popular destination.
  3. Read about the history of Berlin – it does help to understand about its role in the 20th century.
  4. Stay near the main train station if you want excellent transport links. We arrived in Berlin by train and travelled the city by foot or on public transport. We stayed at Motel One which was really convenient during our stay in Berlin. You can book this hotel here! 

 

READ MORE
Motel One Berlin-Hauptbahnhof

 


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3 UNESCO SITES TO ADD TO YOUR BERLIN ITINERARY


UNESCO

Museumsinsel (Museum Island), Berlin

Berlin Modernism Housing Estates

Palaces and Parks of Potsdam and Berlin

 

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Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information.

62 thoughts on “Top things to do in Berlin for your ultimate Berlin itinerary

  1. Van @ Snow in Tromso says:

    I’ve been to Berlin two times now and both trips were organised by an organisation. I’m incredibly glad for that cause Berlin has SO MUCH to offer, I wouldn’t even know where to start! 😀 I’ll keep Trabbi World in my mind for my next trip though, thanks for the tip!

  2. Cathy (Mummytravels) says:

    This is such a great introduction to the city- I haven’t been to Berlin since I lived in Germany (a long time ago!) and there was masses to do then, not to mention a lot that’s changed. Some great tips when I finally get back there. Thanks for linking up with #citytripping

  3. Lauren says:

    I loved Berlin when I visited a few years ago, but really wish I had more time there! There’s so much to do (As you’ve outlined here.) I did the free walking tour, which I loved. And also a street art tour which included the Berlin Wall. Still, looks like I missed out on a lot that Berlin has to offer. Just excuses to return!

  4. Anisa says:

    I loved Berlin! There is just so much history! It fascinates me thinking about what the city was like before the wall came down. I also really like the really modern architecture that is mixed in with all the historic sites. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  5. Lolo says:

    My husband and I were just talking about going to Berlin for his bday because he’s never been and he’s German! If you didn’t get the chance, you should definitely go back and do a tour of the Reichstag! Benn in twice and it’s amazing! #FarawayFiles

  6. Erin Gustafson says:

    LOVED Berlin! It was pouring rain and pretty cold when we were there, but so much to see. We loved the Eastside Gallery – so interesting. So much history in this town, crazy when you realize how much has happened here. We were not able to get time slots to go up in the Reichstag, next time! Great post – thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, cheers from Denmark, Erin

  7. Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) says:

    I’m not sure I could eat currywurst, Tracy! Great reasons for taking a tour in Berlin – I think it would make so much more sense of the history if you were with a guide. I’ve still not been to Berlin so this is very useful. Thanks for sharing with us on #FarawayFiles

  8. Ruth says:

    I have never been to Berlin (and I will have to wait to visit). That is why I find this post fascinating. I get excited thinking about the places I can visit. Thanks for all the tips! #FlyAwayFriday

  9. Katy Clarke says:

    I revisited Berlin after a 20 year break last year and found the vibrant and buzzing city in touch with its past that you describe here Tracy. We did a bike tour of East Berlin and discovered the beautiful but haunting Soviet memorial. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  10. Kana says:

    I want to go to Berlin SO BADLY!!! There’s so much history and your photos look amazing! Thanks for joining #FlyAwayFriday, hope to see you again this week! xo

  11. Postcard Stories says:

    Hi! This is a very informative post. I’ve been to Berlin several times, and I couldn’t agree more with you. Especially the area around the Brandenburg Gate… You can spend a whole day exploring the Museum Island… Ahh, the memories are back 🙂
    Thank You for Your post!
    Good luck!

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  19. Angie (FeetDoTravel) says:

    I’ve wanted to visit Berlin for many years, I remember the wall coming down and what this represented so have been fascinated with this place ever since. Alas, it’s on my list of places to see, so this post has been pinned for when I do! #feetdotravel

  20. Jenn | By Land and Sea says:

    We recently visited Berlin and I feel like we saw a ton, but also missed some of these great spots. I’m bummed we missed some of the murals and Checkpoint Charlie. Guess that just gives us a reason to go back one day!

  21. Paul and Carole says:

    Great guide to Berlin. We have yet to get to Germany and considering it’s not too far from the UK we are not sure why. Have pinned this guide for when we do eventually get there! #feetdotravel

  22. Sharon says:

    Great in-depth post of places not to miss in Berlin! I’ve been there only once and saw the main sights but I would love to go back. I didn’t realize how spread out and varied Berlin was. We stayed right at Potsdamer Platz, which I booked looking at Google maps, and that was an ideal place to walk from and to hop on the train or a bus to venture farther. How I loved this intriguing city!

  23. Travel Lexx says:

    Berlin is one of the main European cities that I am yet to visit – definitely want to do it justice and explore it properly. So much to see and do! Love all the history that you can soak up but also love the city’s modern, edgy side! Great post and definitely will follow your tips!

  24. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) says:

    Great post with an itinerary I would use with lots of history and museums to visit while there. Berlin is a city I have yet to visit and would love to include this interesting city on my next trip to Europe. Pinned this for later! #feetdotravel

  25. Helena says:

    Great post. Berlin has always been really high on my list. I like the history and the architecture. Thanks for the heads up on having to register for the Reichstag!

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