It’s difficult to narrow down a list of all the wonderful and interesting things to do in Berlin! It’s a city filled with a long and eventful history and making waves coming into the 21st century with a thriving art and electronic dance music scene. There are a tonne of things to explore but here is my list of Berlin’s top sites to visit if you have limited time!
1. BRANDENBURG GATE
Without a doubt, the Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s top attractions and Germany’s most visited landmark. It is a symbol of division during the Cold War and now it epitomizes German reunification and often serves as a photogenic backdrop for events, festivals and New Year’s Eve parties. It was Athens’ Acropolis that inspired this elegant gate.
In the vicinity of the Brandenburg Gate is the Reichstag building, the home of the German Parliament. The roof is an entirely glass structure allowing for a panoramic view of the city. This is one of the most spectacular structures in Berlin.
Tip: Entrance to the roof is free but you must register in advance. Once it is approved, you will be able to experience an informative tour by plugging into the audio and head to the open roof for an bird’s eye view of the city.
3. EXPLORE BERLIN’S JEWISH HISTORY
Visit the Holocaust Memorial, it is Germany’s central memorial to the Nazi-planned genocide of the Third Reich. This memorial takes the form of 2,711 of varying height blocks rising up from the ground and spans in a space the size of a football field. It is free to access the grounds.
To learn more about the Berlin’s tumultuous history, we went on a private 3-hour historical Walking Tour with German National Tourist Office. Our guide tailored the tour to meet our interests. We saw Checkpoint Charlie, Hitler’s bunker, Berlin Wall to name a few. It was interesting to hear about how life was for Berlin’s citizens during the Cold War and the separation of East and West Germany. We gained deep insights into the history that made Berlin what it is today. It was definitely a worthwhile experience.
4. WALK THE BERLIN WALL
The Wall was mostly demolished in 1990. A restored stretch remains along the southern border of Wedding and Mitte. The one-mile stretch known as the East Side Gallery is dedicated to art and preserves the paintings (more than 100 paintings) made on the eastern side when the Wall was brought down.
5. SPEND A DAY ON MUSEUM ISLAND
Berlin’s Museum Island is one of UNESCO world heritage sites and home to the city’s most important exhibition centres including the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Bode Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie. The collections in these buildings houses over 6,000 years of art and cultural history.
Tip: Visit Berlin’s museums with a 3-day Berlin Museum Pass for €24. The museum pass will guarantee admission on three consecutive days to many museums. Hitler gave an infamous address in front of one of the museums. Can you guess which one?
The Pergamon Museum should not be missed. It houses the extraordinary blue and ochre tiled Gate of Ishtar (pictured below) and the Babylonian Processional Street, dating from the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC). There are plenty of other gems in the museum the are also worth seeking out.
Berlin’s most graceful square is home to three of the most impressive examples of architecture in the city – the Concert House, Deutscher Dom (German Cathedral) and the Französischer Dom (French Cathedral).
The Deutscher Dom houses the permanent exhibition on parliamentary democracy of the German Bundestag. In Französischer Dom, the ground floor is home to the Hugenottenmuseum (Huguenot Museum). You can also climb to the top (there is no lift, only 284 flight of stairs) and enjoy the view from the balustrade. At 40 metres high, you will have a 360 degree view of Berlin and take in a different perspective of Gendarmarket.
7. EXPLORE MITTE
Mitte translates to “middle” and is indeed in the heart of Berlin. Here you will find many of city’s famous tourist attractions, including historical landmarks monuments, memorials, shopping districts, museums and galleries. Mitte has no shortage of restaurants, some that we visited include Monsier Vuong (Vietnamese), Transit (Thai & Indo tapas), Cocolo Ramen (Japanese) and Daluma – pictured below (Superfoods).
GOOD TO KNOW:
Purchase the Berlin WelcomeCard, it gives you free transport on the city’s buses and trains as well as discounts up to 50 per cent at some 200 partners. It also comes with a practical guide to the city, a map, the city’s rail network, tours and information about all participating discount partners. You can discover Berlin over 48 hours, 72 hours, 4, 5 or 6 days. We found this extremely useful and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to explore Berlin.