Berlin is a beautiful and historic city with so much to do and see. I can’t believe how quickly the time has flown, but it’s been a year since I moved here and I still feel as though I haven’t done everything I wanted to! Having been multiple times in the past and my current residence, I’ve certainly done the vast majority, so I’ve put together a list of the top 30 things to do in Berlin.
Whether you’re here for just a few days or a few weeks, there’s something on here for everyone. Nearly everything on this last can be done year-round, weather permitting, so read on to find out about the incredible, beautiful sites of my adopted home city.
30 Things To Do in Berlin
1. Visit the TV Tower and Alexanderplatz. At the heart of east Berlin is the famous TV Tower, built in 1969. It’s the tallest structure in Germany and the second-tallest in the EU. In Alexanderplatz, you’ll also find lots of restaurants, cafes, shops and more to pass the time.
2. Spend a day at Museum Island. Museum island has all of the famous and most popular museums in Berlin. Technically it’s really more a peninsula, but that isn’t the point.
3. Take in history at the Altes Museum on Museum Island. The Altes Museum is where Hitler held many rallies and it was used as a primary source of spreading propaganda. The large, granite bowl in front of the building sustained a fair bit of damage during the war and you can still see the bullet holes lodged deep in the granite.
4. Admire the Berlin Cathedral. Just a short walk from Alexanderplatz is this magnificent structure on the Spree. It was built at the turn of the 20th century and is sure to amaze you.
5. Meander down to Brandenburg Gate. If there’s one icon of Berlin that everyone knows about it’s Brandenburg Gate. Built way back in the 18th century, it’s also the location of JFK’s famous remark: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”
6. Learn about Berlin’s history at the Topography of Terror. This mainly outdoor museum located at the former SS and Gestapo headquarters focuses primarily on what life was like under the Nazi regime. It also has the largest stretch of the outer wall of the Berlin Wall, which was never demolished.
7. Pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial. This unique memorial is one of my favorites in Berlin because of its unusual presentation, you can make of it what you will. Don’t forget to visit the free museum underneath the memorial. It’s some tough material, but it’s well worth the visit.
8. Take a moment to visit the Neue Wache Memorial. This memorial’s full name is the Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship and was built prior to WWII in 1931.
9. Meander around Gendarmenmarkt and see the French Cathedral. This square houses the Konzerthaus and the French and German churches, both of which are mirrored after one another. The French Cathedral was built first in 1705 and was modeled after a church in France, then in 1708 the German church was built. Unfortunately, that was destroyed in 1945, so it was rebuilt in the 90s and it’s now a museum of German history.
10. Walk on a runway at Tempelhof. Famous for being the hub of the Berlin airlift, this airport ceased operation in 2008 and has since been turned into a giant park. However, many of the runway markings are still there and an old plane is parked out front.
11. Walk across the historical Oberbaumbrücke and along East Side Gallery. Located on the border of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, Oberbaumbrüke was a border crossing between the east and the west, complete with guard towers. East Side Gallery right next to it is the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing today and is famous for the artwork it displays.
12. Visit the site of Hitler’s bunker. This bunker is where Hitler ultimately committed suicide with his wife of less than 40 hours, Eva Braun. The location is on the corner of In den Ministergärten and Gertrud-Kolmar Str. It’s marked with a sign, so you can’t miss it.
13. Take a trip out to the Olympic Stadium. This is where the Olympics were held in 1936 and it’s one impressive complex. Originally, the stadium was to be in another location and use an already-existing building, but Hitler decided he wanted to use this for propaganda purposes and instead ordered the construction of this giant stadium.
14. Cross east and west Berlin at Checkpoint Charlie. This was the entrance into the American sector from the Soviet sector and the name Charlie came from the letter C in the phonetic alphabet, after Checkpoint Alpha (A) and Checkpoint Bravo (B).
15. Peer down at the Book Burning Memorial at Bebelplatz. In the middle of the square you’ll see a window in the ground where you can look down into empty bookshelves. These bookshelves can accommodate 20,000 books and commemorate the approximate 20,000 books that were burned by the Nazis in 1933. These included works by journalists, philosophers, scientists and more who were seen as a threat to the Nazi ideology.
16. Have a drink by the fountain under the canopy at the Sony Center. Located at Potsdamer Platz, the Sony Center was built in 2000 and is the German headquarters for Sony. Originally, this location was a bustling square in the 20th century and most was destroyed during WWII. During the time of the Berlin Wall, it was mostly part of No Man’s Land. Now, you can enjoy food, coffee and drinks, attend the cinema or go see an IMAX movie.
17. Climb the Victory Column. The Victory Column was built in 1873 as a monument to the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war. Today, you can climb to the top for €3 and you’ll get great views of Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, Tiergarten and the many wide boulevards leading up to it.
18. Stroll through Tiergarten. Tiergarten is the main park of Berlin and is 520 acres. It’s actually bigger than Central Park, so you certainly won’t be short of places to hang out. The start of Tiergarten can be traced back as far as 1527.
19. Go to the top of the Reichstag Building and look down into parliament chambers. The Reichstag Building has a long and rich history, which you’ll learn about inside, and is the head of the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament. It’s free to go up to the glass dome, but you’ll need to book it ahead of time.
20. See some animals at the Berlin Zoological Garden. Opened in 1844 and located in the Tiergarten district, this is the largest zoo in Germany. However, it isn’t cheap at €14.50 for an adult ticket.
21. Visit a museum in a Renaissance fortress at Spandau Citadel. This is one of the best-preserved fortresses of its time in Europe, dating as far back as 1594. It’s currently home to nine different exhibits and admission is only €4.50 for an adult ticket.
22. Enjoy the outdoors at one of the many other parks in Berlin. Berlin has so many lovely parks, you could spend days exploring them all. Some of the most popular ones are Mauerpark, Volkspark Prenzlauer Berg and Volkspark Friedrichshain.
23. Eat a currywurst from a street vendor. This famous Berlin fast food is an absolute must-do thing to do in Berlin. It’s a pork sausage pretty much smothered in curry ketchup and curry powder and usually served with pieces of bread and fries.
24. See the damage of WWII first hand at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. More recently known for the Christmas market attack, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was initially built in the 1890s but was destroyed during a bombing raid in 1943. Today, its nicknamed “der hohle Zahn”, which means the hollow tooth and the lower floor is a memorial hall.
25. Shop at KaDeWe. Standing for Kaufhaus des Westens (literally shopping house of the west), this famous department store in West Berlin opened in 1907. It’s absolutely massive with over 60,000 square meters of shops and it’s the second largest department store in Europe after Harrods in London.
26. Learn about Anne Frank at the Anne Frank Zentrum. The Anne Frank Zentrum is a permanent exhibit that details her life and the world she lived in. Admission is €5, but it’s really interesting and interactive and takes a slightly different perspective than the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.
27. Dine out and have some drinks in Friedrichshain. One of the most popular districts for food and drink, you certainly won’t be short of options. My personal favorite restaurants are the Vietnamese restaurant Mammam and the pizza restaurant II Ritrovo. When it comes to drinking there are even more options, but Hops & Barley is a great hole in the wall that brews their own beer on site.
28. Feel like royalty by exploring Schloss Sanssouci in Potsdam. This was the summer palace for Frederick the Great and was built in 1747. In the 19th century it was the residence of Frederick William IV, who enlarged it and built even more gardens. Today, it’s a World Heritage Site and you could spend hours in the museums and wandering the grounds.
29. Discover nightlife at Warschauer Str. This area in Friedrichshain near East Side Gallery is the most popular for bars and clubs and a popular area to stay. Typically open pretty much 24/7 on the weekends, it’s certainly an experience worth having.
30. Walk along the Spree throughout Berlin. The River Spree winds through many parts of Berlin and sometimes the best thing to do is just wander aimlessly and see what you find. By doing this you’ll find unique viewpoints of famous landmarks and you may just find an awesome hole in the wall no one’s written about.
Berlin is such a beautiful city with an incredible history that still can be observed today. While there are even more things you could do in Berlin, this list should keep you going for a while. Have you been to Berlin? What are your favorite things to do in Berlin?