If you are planning to visit Berlin then read on – this post includes all the top things to do in Berlin including 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.
Things to do in Berlin
Take a walking tour of the city
For me the perfect Berlin itinerary starts with a walking tour. This will help you to get orientated and visit all the main sites.
Most walking tours will include Bebelplatz the site of the 10 May 1933 book burning, Museum Island, the Reichstag, the site of Hitler’s bunker, and the Brandenburg Gate.
Explore Museum Island
Museum Island is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to 5 museums.
The two most famous museums are the Neues Museum which has the bust of Nerfetiti and the archaeological museum the Pergamon Museum.
Visit the Reichstag
The Reichstag 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)
At the Reichstag it is free to enter the dome but you need to register ahead of your visit (minimum 2 days) on the official website.
Walk the Berlin Wall and the East Side Gallery
Most of the Berlin 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. Take the S-bahn to Ost Bahnhof and then walked the wall until we reached the end at the U-bahn stop Warshauer St.
The Brandenburg Gate is 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.
Check out Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie is the famous east-west border control during the Cold War. Much of what you see is reconstructed or copied from the original.
Pay respects at the Holocaust Memorial
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.
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 is excellent.
FAQ’s for planning your visit to Berlin
When is the best time of year to visit Berlin?
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.
Although Berlin may not be as super crowded in winter as it is during the summer months it is still a popular destination so book tours and accommodation in advance if necessary
During the summer Berlin can be extremely busy as lots of coach tours spend time in the city. Prepare to book tickets, tours and accommodation well in advance!
The weather can be variable so pack a range of options!
How can I prepare for my visit to Berlin?
Read about the history of Berlin – it does help to understand about its role in the 20th century. There are lots of books to read to learn more about the city including –
Where is the best area to stay in Berlin?
If you are travelling around Europe by train I would recommend booking a hotel near the main train station.
There are lots of great places to eat in Berlin so make sure to try some traditional German dishes during your visit.
We arrived in Berlin by train from Belgium and were continuing onto Prague so we booked a few nights at the Motel One which was really convenient during our stay in Berlin. You can book this hotel here!
How can I save money when I visit Berlin?
Buy a Berlin Welcome card
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
Plan your visit to Europe
- Essential tips for first time visitors to Europe
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