Berlin is Germany’s sprawling and vibrant capital city. It’s a historic city with a distinctly modern feel, and there's so much to do that it can sometimes seem overwhelming. The beautiful city has a rich and complicated history. From museums and war memorials to contemporary art galleries, there are so many things to do and so many ways to experience the best and the most difficult sides of Berlin. Whatever your itinerary is when you hit the city, be sure to check out these exciting things to do in Berlin.
With so many spectacular museums in one city, experiencing the art and history of Berlin is a must. Head to Museum Island to see all the great museums the city has to offer. It was built as a sort of museum complex on the river Spree, and it’s even been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some of the museums to visit include the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Altes Museum, the Pergamon Museum, and the Bode Museum. If you’re a real museum lover, pick up the 3-day pass and enjoy everything the island has to offer. As an added bonus, you can also see the Berlin Cathedral, also known as the Berliner Dome, while on the island.
No trip to Germany is complete without consuming the delicious variety of beer on offer. Berlin has a huge variety of historic and more contemporary breweries, and Berliners know their beer. Relax in a traditional beer garden or check out one of the hipster bars dotted around the city. From wheat beer to gose to pilsner, you’re sure to find one you love. When you’ve tried all the delicious, more expensive beer, it’s time to try a Sternberg. Head to the closest späti, a local corner store, and grab one of these cheap yet popular street beers.
The Reichstag Building is the historic house of the German Parliament. The building features a glass dome that is said to symbolize transparency in the city’s politics. Reichstag was constructed in 1884 and was home to the Reimer Republic Government until the Nazis took control in 1933. Today, the building is a symbol of Germany’s progressive politics and its commitment to environmental issues. Tours of the building are free, but it’s best to book your tour early to avoid disappointment.
Experience Berlin’s infamous history and art scene all in one place. The East Side Gallery showcases 105 paintings made by German and international artists. The gallery spans a little under a mile. The best part? These works of art have been painted right on to the Berlin Wall that once divided East and West Germany. Stroll along the Wall, take in the art, and experience this monument of oppression and hard-won freedom.
After a few days of pounding the pavement in bustling Berlin, head out to Tiergarten for a relaxing day in nature. Swim in the many lakes, rent a boat, enjoy a picnic or chill out in a traditional beer garden. This park is full of tourists and locals alike, but it’s big enough to feel peaceful and secluded. The park is set right in the middle of Berlin and stretches over 500 acres. Go for a stroll, enjoy some people watching or head to the nearby zoo.
Berliners love to shop, and flea markets are a popular destination for locals of all ages. The most popular, and the largest, flea market in the city takes place in Mauerpark every Sunday. You won’t find broken hand-me-downs and cheap plastic toys at this market. The Mauerpark Market is full of stylish vintage clothes, shoes, and accessories. You’ll also find great deals on bikes, vinyl records, furniture and more! Shop 'til you drop and then recharge at one of the park’s beer gardens or cafés.
The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is a memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe. It is a haunting and challenging place to visit, but it’s also incredibly important. The monument is an open space full of concrete structures of varying heights. Take a guided tour or spend some time alone with the structures. The memorial is a powerful way to pay your respects to and remember all those who were affected by this deeply tragic and terrible part of Germany’s history.
Berlin is full of free walking tours to join. Find a guide and follow them through the city, visiting the most important neighborhoods, and seeing the historic sites. These donation-based tours allow you to decide how much the tour is worth once it’s over. This way of doing tours encourages guides to make them as interesting and enjoyable as possible. Some of the best tours in the city are donation-based ones, so definitely give them a try before booking something else. Choose tours that cover everything from WWII, the Cold War, street art, food, and everything in between.
Everyone knows that Germany and sausages go hand in hand, but the currywurst can come as a surprise to some visitors. This quintessential Berlin meal is a fast-food favorite in the city. The dish consists of grilled pork sausages that are cut into bite-sized pieces and covered with a curry ketchup sauce. For the full experience, grab some currywurst and fries from a street vendor and wash it down with an ice cold German beer.
Almost as famous as Berlin’s history is Berlin’s nightlife. You can’t leave the city without spending one night, and most of the morning, dancing at a local club. Berlin is known for its crazy night scene, and there are clubs in every neighborhood for every taste. Berghain is one of the most famous clubs in Europe, and it's known for its crazy techno scene. Dress as weird as you can and try your luck at getting in. Be warned, the line is always long. Don’t be too upset if Berghain is full though; there are plenty of other popular bars and clubs in the neighborhood to choose from.