Berlin is a wonderful city that’s packed with history, quirks, and beauty. Visiting the funky capital of Germany is a dream trip for many people. If you’re planning a trip here, there are many sights and attractions that should be on your Berlin bucket list. This will help you see the things Berlin is famous for, as well as the things that really show the city’s character.
Where to stay in Berlin
Berlin has lots of great neighborhoods for you to stay in and explore. If you’re visiting Berlin for the first time, it might be best for you stay somewhere central. Many of the attractions are in Mitte or easily connected to Mitte by Berlin’s public transport, so you should stay somewhere in that region. Here are a few hotels we recommend.
For a more detailed look at the different neighborhoods and our recommendations, check out our guide to where to stay in Berlin.
Must see Berlin bucket list attractions
Including these must-see sights on your bucket list for Berlin will give you a good view of Berlin’s history and culture and help you have an enjoyable trip to Germany’s capital city.
1. See Brandenburg Gate
Once one of Berlin’s city gates, Brandenburger Tor is one of the most famous sights in the city, and even in Germany. During the Cold War, it was along the boundary between East and West Berlin, but today it represents unity. A trip to Berlin isn’t complete without seeing this iconic sight.
2. Ascend the TV Tower
Berlin has so many great places to see views of the city from above, but the TV Tower is the most popular. It’s the highest point in the city, so the views from here are fantastic. If you only have time for one viewpoint, make it the TV Tower.
The lines can be rather long, so it’s worth booking a ticket ahead of time.
3. Admire the art at the East Side Gallery
Visiting the East Side Gallery should definitely be on your Berlin bucket list. This stretch of the Berlin Wall is filled with artwork from artists around the world. When the Wall fell in 1989, these artists came to make a statement, though some of the works have changed over the years.
It’s roughly a mile long, so take your time.
4. Check out the Berliner Dom
The Berliner Dom is an impressive protestant cathedral that is easily recognized on Berlin’s skyline. You can take a tour of the inside when there aren’t services going on, plus you can climb to the top for views. Or simply admire the outside – it’s a gorgeous building!
5. Wander through Nikolaiviertel
Berlin doesn’t have much of an old town in the way that cities like Munich or Leipzig do. Nikolaiviertel (Nicholas Quarter) is Berlin’s old town, dating back to around 1200. Sadly it was damaged during WWII and left in ruins for decades.
In the 1980s in the lead-up to the city’s 750th birthday in 1987, this medieval quarter was restored. So while the buildings aren’t original, you can now wander the streets and get the feel for what Berlin might have been like in the Middle Ages.
There are lots of cute shops, cafes and restaurants here. The neighborhood lies along the Spree River, and it’s not far from the Berliner Dom and Museum Island.
6. Take the free tour at the Reichstag Building
As the seat of the German government, this building is worth adding to your Berlin bucket list. It’s a great place to learn about Berlin’s and Germany’s history.
The tour is one of the best free things to do in Berlin, but you must book your ticket well in advance.
7. Drink a beer or two at a Berlin beer garden
What’s more German than drinking a beer? Head over to one of Berlin’s best beer gardens on a sunny day and enjoy a brew. And if you’re not a beer drinker, that’s ok. Most beer gardens also have wine and non-alcoholic beverages.
8. Remember the tragic loss of life at the Holocaust Memorial
Germany’s dark past is something we must remember so those mistakes don’t get repeated. The Holocaust Memorial, also known as the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, is a somber place that honors the Jewish victims of the Nazi regime.
Pay your respects, and please don’t take selfies here.
9. Take a bike tour
Bikes are a popular way to get around the city, and taking a bike tour can give you a different perspective. This is a great option for those of you who want to do some sightseeing with a physical component, plus you’ll be able to get from one sight to the next faster than on foot.
10. Visit Gendarmenmarkt
Arguably one of the prettiest squares in Berlin, Gendarmenmarkt should not be missed. The big square is framed by the French Church, the German Church (now a museum), and the Konzerthaus.
Events are held here throughout the year, including one of the best Christmas markets in Berlin, but it’s gorgeous even without events.
11. Stroll down Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is the beautiful tree-lined street that runs from Museum Island and the Berliner Dom down to Brandenburger Tor. Lots of important sights are located along this street, and wandering down the street will provide you with picture worthy scenery.
12. Soak up some culture at Museum Island
Some of the most important museums in Berlin are located on Museum Island, and a visit here is definitely something that should be on your bucket list for Berlin.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is great for a cultural day in the German capital, with a total of five museums to browse around in total: The Pergamon Museum, the Old Museum, National Gallery, Bode Museum and the New Museum.
13. Browse the flea market at Mauerpark
Berlin loves its flea markets, and the one at Mauerpark is one of the most popular ones. The park is located along the former death strip of the Berlin Wall, and the flea market, which runs on Sundays, is huge.
You’ll find traditional souvenirs here, but also loads of quirky secondhand items and handcrafted pieces. Be sure to check out the karaoke, too.
14. Learn about the Berlin Wall at the Bernauer Strasse Memorial
Perhaps a little less known than the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse tells the history of a road and community that was split by the wall.
There’s great info and photos along the outdoor exhibit, a tower with a viewing platform that looks over the Wall and the death strip, and two excellent short films in the visitors center.
If this wasn’t already on your Berlin bucket list, add it now.
15. Learn about history at Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror Museum sits on the location that was the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS between 1933 and 1945. This is where persecution and killings of Nazi opponents were organized, and where the genocide of Jews, Roma, and Sinti was coordinated. It now serves as a place to remember history and warn us from repeating the terrors of the past.
The exhibits here use photographs and documentation to tell visitors about the crimes that were organized here. There are also excavation sites you can view through glass windows. The longest standing section of the Berlin wall inside the city is located here as well.
16. Have a cocktail at Monkey Bar
For a fancy cocktail with a great view, go to Monkey Bar. It’s located on the 10th floor of the 25Hours Hotel in Charlottenburg, and the bar overlooks the zoo.
You can look out over the trees and into some sections of the zoo, hence the name of the bar. Even the bathrooms have giant windows facing the zoo. It’s pretty impressive, and their cocktails are quite tasty.
17. Ride the elevator at Panoramapunkt
If you love to see cities from above, Panoramapunkt is another great viewing platform to check out. The fastest elevator in Europe takes you to the 24th floor in 20 seconds, and then you can enjoy the views.
From here you can see the Victory Column, Brandenburg Gate, and many more landmarks around the city. And the best part is that you can get the famous TV Tower in your pictures.
Panoramapunkt is located at Potsdamer Platz, and in addition to the viewing deck, you can also enjoy an exhibit showing the transformation of the area throughout history.
18. Go shopping at KaDeWe / Kaufhaus des Westens
Shopaholics take note: KaDeWe is where you should head to get your retail therapy underway. Officially known as Kaufhaus des Westens, this is the most famous department store in Berlin and the largest in Europe.
Opening its doors in 1907, with its heritage and array of luxury goods and upmarket pieces, it’s the place to come to browse and enjoy a high-end shopping experience.
Hungry? The 6th floor features a noteworthy delicatessen department.
19. Visit Charlottenburg Palace
This Baroque palace, built in 1695, was named for Sophie Charlotte and served as her summer palace. It’s a gorgeous palace with ornate interiors and excellent gardens.
Today you can visit the museums inside to learn more about the palace’s history. You can also enjoy the gardens and surrounding park for free.
20. Take a moment at Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
This famous landmark is one of the most important churches in Berlin. The original church was built here in the 1890s, but was damaged in WWII air raids in 1943.
Interestingly, the church was not rebuilt and instead has been left much as it was after the war. Its been nicknamed by Berliners as Der Hohle Zahn — literally “The Hollow Tooth”. It’s a stark reminder of the destruction of war.
21. Taste a Döner Kebab
Döner is meal you’ll find all over Berlin, and really all over Germany. Berlin has a big Turkish population, and supposedly the Döner was invented here. This tasty meal is meat on a spit that’s shaved off into bread along with veggies and sauce. Sometimes they put a few fries in there too.
22. Visit the Platform 17 Memorial
In the southwest corner of Berlin at the Grunewald S-Bahn station, you’ll find the Platform 17 Memorial. This station was used by the Nazis in the early 1940s to transport Jews to concentration camps. It’s not centrally located, which made it easier for the Nazis to make sure their prisoners weren’t seen while lining up to board the train.
Today this memorial honors those who left from this station to horrible places and likely were killed. The memorial was sponsored by Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s railway company, and track 17 is no longer used by any trains. The Platform 17 Memorial is a good place to add to your Berlin bucket list, and it’s only a 25 minute Sbahn ride from the Alexanderplatz station.
23. See the Molecule Men
The Molecule Men is a metal statue that stands at 30 meters (about 98 feet) high in the Spree River. It was created by an American artist named Jonathan Borofsky in the late 1990s.
The statue is of three humans facing each other, forming silhouettes on the river. They each have hundreds of holes in them, which are supposed to represent the molecules of all humans coming together. To catch a quick glimpse of the Molecule Men, ride the Sbahn between Treptower Park and Ostkreuz, and look out the west-facing windows.
24. Cross the Oberbaumbrücke
The Oberbaumbrücke is a bridge that crosses the Spree River and connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. It was badly damaged in WWII, and then served as a pedestrian crossing once the Berlin Wall went up since the bridge sits at the border.
A few years after East and West Germany reunited, the bridge was once again used by cars, pedestrians, and the Ubahn to cross the river. Today both the U1 and the U3 lines run here.
The bridge offers great views of the river and surrounding parts of the city. You can also get nice views of the bridge itself from the nearby river banks or by taking a Spree River cruise tour.
25. View Berlin from the water on a Spree River boat tour
Taking a boat tour on the Spree River is a great way to learn about the city. The Spree River winds its way through Berlin and passes by some important buildings and attractions, so seeing them from the water is a fun perspective.
26. Climb the Victory Column for views of Berlin
Berlin’s Victory Column, or Siegessäule in German, is one of the more recognizable monuments in the city. The column sits at a roundabout in the middle of Tiergarten Park, though it was originally located in front of the Reichstag until 1938.
The column stands at 67 meters (about 220 feet) high and has an observation deck you can reach by paying a small entrance fee and climbing the 270 stairs. The tower provides excellent views of the surrounding park and the city of Berlin.
27. Have a beer at a Späti
Spätis are unique Berlin convenience stores. They are generally open 24 hours a day, though sometimes a few hours less, and their biggest seller is beer. Often you can also buy other alcoholic beverages, potato chips, chocolate bars, sodas, and other snacks. Some will also sell bakery items or quick sandwiches or even a few grocery items.
Certain Spätis have picnic tables outside where you can sit with your newly purchased beer, making it almost but not quite like a bar. It might sound silly, but experiencing a Späti should be on your Berlin bucket list.
28. Have a picnic on a runway
One of Berlin’s largest green spaces is Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport that was turned into a park. In 1948-1949, this airport was the hub of the Berlin Airlift, which kept West Berlin supplied with goods during the Berlin Blockade.
The airport ceased operations in 2008, and in 2010, it reopened as a public park. Today it’s one of Berlin’s favorite parks.
Here you can enjoy walking, running, roller blading, cycling, kite surfing, and more all on a former airport runway. There are grassy areas where you can have a picnic, gardening areas, fenced dog areas, bird protection areas, and more.
29. Sip Glühwein at a bunch of Christmas markets
Many cities in Germany have a main Christmas market plus a few smaller ones. Berlin has dozens of Christmas markets, some that are more popular than others, but it doesn’t really have one main market.
This is a great city to experience how Christmas markets work while exploring the different sides of the city’s personality. If you’re here between late November and Christmastime, visiting a Christmas market – or several! – is a must.
30. Climb to Berlin’s highest point in Victoriapark
This large urban park was opened in 1894, and was dedicated to the English wife of the Kaiser Friedrich III. It’s also home to the highest natural point in the city. It’s also where you can see the city’s only waterfall, although it is an artificial one.
The attractive park and gardens has long been popular with Berliners, who come to kick back on a warm day. Most attractive of all, however, is the beer garden. This large space dedicated to beer-drinking and snack-eating is a fun and lively place to be.
31. Stop by Checkpoint Charlie
Even though Checkpoint Charlie has become a cheesy, and honestly boring, tourist attraction, it has a lot of historical significance as one of the border crossings between East and West Berlin.
After a quick photo, I highly recommend the nearby Checkpoint Charlie Museum where you’ll learn more about this sight.
32. Take a drive in a Trabi
A Trabant, or Trabi for short, was a car produced in East Germany during the Cold War. Though they were modern when they first came out in the late 1950s, they didn’t change much over the decades and became symbolic of the stagnant economy.
Today these old cars are collectors’ items for car enthusiasts. They’re also used in popular tours of the city where you can actually drive a Trabi and see the sights.
33. Feast at Thai Park
The official name of this park is actually Preußenpark, but it is commonly referred to as Thai Park. This is because it is a unique place to get delicious Thai food.
Thai families in Berlin have been gathering at this park for decades. Legend has it that someone wandering through was curious about the food and asked if he could buy some. They soon started selling their food from this park, and it is now a popular place for locals to get cheap and tasty Thai food.
If you’re here in the summer, Thai park is bucket list place for lunch on the weekend.
34. Go on a day trip to Potsdam
Potsdam is one of the most popular day trips from Berlin, and it makes a great addition to your Berlin itinerary. This town is located about 25km/15 miles from the center of Berlin and is often called Germany’s Versailles. Stroll through the old town and then make your way to the gorgeous palaces and gardens.
Read more about taking a day trip to Potsdam from Berlin with details about how to get to Potsdam and what to see there.
35. Wander around in Tiergarten Park
Tiergarten is a huge inner-city park—the largest and most popular of its kind in Germany. With its beginnings dating back to 1527 as a hunting ground, this vast green space has become a much loved public park for Berliners over the years.
Throughout the park there are statues, tree-lined thoroughfares and lawns. When the weather’s warm in Berlin, it’s here that people flock for strolling, picnicking, and generally hanging out, making it a great spot to people-watch.
36. See a remaining piece of Berlin’s old medieval walls
It’s not very well known, but Berlin does have a small section of its old city walls remaining in Mitte, not too far from Alexanderplatz and the Franziskaner-Klosterkirche ruins. The Berlin Wall is the more famous one, but these old city walls are much older.
37. Check out Berlin’s craft beer scene
Germany has a centuries long tradition of beer brewing that adheres to a strict set of guidelines. This makes for high quality beer, but without a lot of variation or creativity.
Luckily the craft beer scene in Berlin has grown tremendously over the past few years, and today you can try some really interesting locally brewed beers. Check out some of the best places for craft beer in Berlin while you’re visiting the city.
Book a tour for your trip to Berlin
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this Berlin bucket list is helpful. But there are lots more tips on the site!
Check out this detailed list of the best things to do in Berlin. It’s full of activities, attractions, and more. If you love castles, here are some castles in and near Berlin. And for those of you spending more than a few days in Berlin, consider taking a day trip.
Here’s what you should know before coming to Berlin. From practical tips to quirky facts about the city, it’s all in there.
Read this helpful packing list for Berlin so you know what to bring and what to wear.
You’re probably going to be using public transport to get around Berlin. Read this handy guide to Berlin’s public transport system and how to get around Berlin.
Visiting Berlin? Don’t forget travel insurance!
It’s always a good idea to travel to Berlin with a valid travel insurance policy. Travel here is reasonably safe, but you never know when something could happen. You need to be covered in case you have an accident or become a victim to theft.
We recommend World Nomads insurance for travel. Travel insurance helps you recover your expenses and continue to enjoy your trip.