Best Things to Do During your Stay in Berlin
The vibrant city of Berlin is nothing if not diverse. You can spend your mornings shopping in designer stores, eating traditional food at the top of the TV Tower and walking around the biggest zoo in Germany. Then, have an afternoon filled with history at Museum Island, walking along the Berlin Wall or exploring Jewish history at the Holocaust Memorial. With so many amazing things to do in Berlin, it’s hard to know where to start. Book your tickets and discover all the major sights of Berlin on a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus!
Get lost in history
This wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site is nestled in the middle of the Spree river, and for all history or art lovers, it’s an absolute must see while in Berlin. Museum Island is home to five of Berlin’s most important museums. See all 5 museums on Museum Island with one ticket; book your ticket with Welcome and enjoy your tour! If you only have a little time, the outstanding Pergamonmuseum is not to be missed. This fantastic building is one of the top archaeological museums in the world, and with its displays on Pergamon, Rome, Babylon, Islam, and even King Nebuchadnezzar, it’s not hard to see why. With Welcome, you can also book your skip the line tickets in advance, and avoid all the long waiting at the museum.
Head through the Pariser Platz and down Wilhelmstrasse, until you can turn left onto Zimmerstrasse and towards Checkpoint Charlie, another important landmark associated with the cold war history. It was the gateway to East Berlin, held by the United States, where diplomats and foreigners would pass through to the other side. Here is a free open-air exhibit that displays the changes throughout the Cold War, as well as a dedicated museum.
Many victims and casualties happened because of the Berlin Wall, and the ‘Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer’ is the largest memorial for everyone affected by its existence. It covers a whole 1.4km across the Bernauer Strasse, which is where the Wall ran along. Here is where you can learn about the Wall’s history and its impact on the daily lives of the people on both sides. You will see the relationship between the death strip and the Wall’s elements, as well as the greater developments of the border fortifications. Here you can see tonnes of artwork from many local and international artists, including the famous “brotherly kiss.”
Explore Berlin’s Jewish history
No trip to Berlin is complete without learning about its rich and turbulent Jewish History. Whether you’re a history buff or someone who truly likes to get to know a city, a visit to the Jüdisches Museum or the thought-provoking Holocaust Memorial is an absolute must. The museum was originally designed by a very controversial artist, Daniel Libeskind, to look like an exploding Star of David. So, not only do you get to enjoy the artifacts and documents inside the museum, but the actual space is an experience in itself. For a much more enveloping view of Jewish history, visit the emotional Holocaust Memorial. With a particularly striking title befits only an equally striking monument. And this is exactly what this is. Located just south of the Brandenburg gate, the memorial is a labyrinth of equally sized stelae, that are eerily reminiscent of coffins. Fit into space the size of a football field, the monument holds 2,711 of the different stelae. You are free to enter in at any time, and you can be sure that you will emerge fully unnerved by the overpowering size, contrasted with the stark minimalism. This effect is amplified by the understanding of whom the monument is dedicated to. Free English tours are also available from 15:00 pm onwards.
Built in the 1960s, this 368m high tower is actually the tallest structure in Germany. The impressive stainless steel sphere on the top of the Fernsehturm, or TV Tower, is both an observation deck and a wonderful restaurant. Book in advance your skip the line tickets and head on up to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views in Berlin. On clear days, you can see up to 42 kilometers over this magical city, or you can choose to enjoy a delicious meal while gazing down at the city lights in the evening.
At the east side of the Tiergarten stands the majestic sight of the Brandenburg Gate. This magnificent Tor is an icon of the city of Berlin and is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks. Built over 300 years ago, Brandenburg Gate has served many different purposes. It has been a symbol of war, victory, terror, peace, and since 1989, it has stood for the union of Germany. Although many people visit this famous landmark in the day, seeing it all lit up at night with fewer crowds is an absolute must do while in Berlin.
The remnants of the Berlin Wall can still be seen in what is know the world’s largest open-air gallery, with the famous political graffiti that still adorns them, along with modern street art. It consists of 105 different pieces by various artists, some political, some psychedelic, but all of them full of meaning. The distance covers a total of 1316m and located near the city centre, on Mülenstrasse. The gallery now is a Heritage Protected Landmark known locally as having ‘Denkmal’ official status. It is understood as a monument to the fall of the Wall and the peace negotiations of borders between people and their societies.
From family outings to romantic dates, a visit to Zoologischer Garten & Aquarium is one of the top things to do while in Berlin. This wonderful zoo is the oldest in all of Germany and is home to over 16,000 animals, consisting of around 1,500 different species. Built to raise morale during World War II, Berlin zoo is now an important scientific resource. On the cooler days, pay a visit to the amazing new aquarium, where you can walk among crocodiles, sharks, exotic fish, amphibians and fascinating ultraviolet creatures.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different, but still of incredible significance, then the botanical garden is a great place to visit. It is the second largest in the world and is home to over 22,000 different plant species from all over the world. Many are endangered in their own natural habitats. The garden was originally established in 1679 as a kitchen garden, and over the centuries developed to span over 43 hectares of space. There are a number of climates and landscapes created in the garden, assisted by some 16 greenhouses, including the ‘Great Pavillion’, the largest glasshouse in the world. Some plants you can find include giant water lilies, timber bamboo, a diversity of orchids, many carnivorous plants, and flowering vines winding their way up rocky waterfalls. You can find it to the southwest of the city centre in the Steglitz district.
There are many parks and places to rest dotted around Berlin, but the most impressive and expansive is the central park, the Tiergarten. The park is beautiful all year round, but in spring and summer, it is a real sight, with flowers in bloom throughout and the golden sun emphasizing the multicolored feast for the eyes. Berliners often go for a nice long walk here, as well as jogging and cycling being popular. The full circuit around the park is 5km (3 miles), with plenty of maps and signposts inside if you get lost. There are a number of small ponds around, which are sometimes open for ice skating in the freezing months of winter. For children visiting, aside from the wide open spaces for running around, there is a dedicated playground in the southeast corner. The park is also the location of the Berlin Zoo. And all of this centers on the Victory Column, inaugurated in 1873 after the Prussian Kingdom’s successive victories over Denmark, Austria, and France. The column also has a viewing platform that you can see all across the city from.
Everyone knows that Europe is the place to go when you want to shop, and at Kurfürstendamm, you’ll find everything your shopaholic heart desires. This long avenue of shops sells everything from vintage bargains and outstanding outlets to big brands and designer goods. Walk around Alexanderplatz for a vast number of bargains and vintage steals, and explore Colours Kleidermarkt on Bergmannstraße for pay by weight gems. Or, for even more of a shopping splurge, visit Europe’s largest department store, KaDeWe with its 7,000 square meters of designer brands.