Berlin is a fantastic city with so many things to do, you could spend a lifetime and not get to all of it. What you choose to do in Berlin depends on your interests. There’s tons of history to explore, most notably World War II and Cold War sites. You could visit several of the city’s museums. Or check out the quirky attractions. A fun trip includes a good mix, so check out these things to do in Berlin.
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 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.
Things to do in Berlin
There’s never a dull moment in Berlin. Browse through our list of attractions, museums, monuments, shopping and food recommendations, and more, and choose your favorites to start planning your trip to Berlin!
Visit the Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse
The Berlin Wall was, and still is, an important piece of the city’s character and history. The Bernauer Strasse Wall Memorial is the perfect place to learn about the Wall’s history.
This 1.4km (0.87 mile) section of road is one of the last remaining pieces of the Wall. It divided the street, with buildings on one side in the East and buildings on the other side in the West. Placards describe what it was like living on the eastern side of Bernauer Strasse before and the Wall went up, how it affected the neighborhood, how people tried to escape, and more.
About midway down the street, there’s a tower you can climb to see over the Wall that still stands and into the death strip. At the visitors center, you can watch two short films (alternating time slots for German and English) depicting the Wall in the city as well as what it was like out in the countryside.
If you only have time for one Cold War Era site, make it this one.
Experience the DDR Museum
Located in the center of Berlin, the DDR museum is one of the most interactive museums in Berlin. It provides guests with a unique, immersive experience that is sure to leave a lasting mark on their minds.
Visitors get to experience what life was like in former East Germany along with an in-depth grasp of the Stasi, the Berlin Wall and other historical facts. The DDR Museum holds regular exhibitions where guests are encouraged to feel, touch and interact with historical artifacts.
The family-friendly museum offers several interactive exhibits for kids, like the Kindergarten installation. This immersive exhibit takes kids into the past world of East Germany and shows them what life would have been like for them in East Germany.
Visit a museum in a palace
Like so many places in the city, the Berlin Palace was damaged during World War II. Afterwards what remained was torn down by the East German government.
A few years ago, reconstruction on the building began and was recently completed and just opened in July 2021. Now the outside of the building looks like the former Berliner Schloss, while the inside is a modern museum. This is where you’ll find the Humboldt Forum, a museum of world culture and art.
Check out the Checkpoint Charlie Museum
Set up in 1963 in a two-room flat, the Checkpoint Charlie Museum features chaotically displayed photographs that document the escape of East Germans and the tragedies at the Berlin Wall. This museum is home to an array of images, videos and miniatures that all tell stories of how the inhabitants of East Germany struggled to cross the border.
Although some of the stories told are sad, this historical museum has ensured that the bravery of these escapees and the kindness of the Checkpoint Charlie guards (those who refused to comply with the orders to shoot escapees) are not forgotten.
Admire the East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is the section of the Berlin Wall you’re more familiar with. It runs along a stretch of the Spree River and is covered in art.
At 1.3km (0.8 mile) this is considered the longest open air gallery in the world. After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, artists from 21 countries came here to paint murals on the Wall to celebrate Germany being reunited and to remind the world of terrible things that occurred here. Over the years, the art has changed several times.
This popular attraction is open 24/7 but is best enjoyed during daylight hours.
Visit the Palace of Tears
The Palace of Tears was constructed in 1962. It is located at Friedrichstraße train station and was used by the GDR (DDR in German) dictatorship as a departure terminal for those leaving the GDR for West Berlin. At this location, many were forced by border guards to leave their families and friends in tears as they were denied any access to the border.
Today, the pavilion is used as a reminder of the great partition of Germany and all the tears that were shed in connection with it. When you visit Berlin, be sure to look out for the ‘Palace of Tears, Side of German Division’ exhibition. Hosted at the Palace of Tears pavilion, this exhibition features documents, films, original objects and interviews from affected individuals.
Take a Trabi tour
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.
Ascend the TV Tower
One of the most famous sites in the city, the TV Tower can be seen from almost anywhere in Berlin. It’s 368 meters (1,207 feet) tall, is one of the tallest structures in Germany and the European Union, and was inaugurated on October 3, 1969.
Built by the Soviets, it was originally supposed to represent the strength of communist East Germany. Today it is a symbol of the reunification of Germany and a symbol of Berlin itself.
The Berlin TV Tower is a great spot for views of the city since it’s so tall. You can take the elevator to the viewing platform at about 200 meters high for 360 degree views of the city. There’s also a revolving restaurant on a different level where you can enjoy a nice meal while admiring the views.
It is highly recommended to buy priority tickets online ahead of time to reduce your wait.
See the views from the Berliner Funkturm
The Berliner Funkturm is a former broadcasting tower in Berlin. It is a 400-ton steel structure that towers up to 147 meters and is a popular landmark and tourist attraction.
This unique location features a top-notch restaurant (The Funktrum Restaurant) and an observation deck that offers stunning panoramic views of the entire city. Since its inauguration on September 3, 1926 till date, over 17 million people have looked through the “beanpole” at the observation deck.
Climb the Grunewald Tower
Also known as the Grunewaldturm, this is a historical tower located in the Grunewald forest area in Berlin. Designed by Franz Heinrich Schwechten and built in 1899, this tower is about 55 meters tall and offers glamorous views of fields, woods, and Grunewald forest waters.
Step unto the viewing platform and enjoy stunning views of Wannsee, Havel and Grunewald from this amazing Brick Gothic edifice. There is also a restaurant at the foot of the tower where you can enjoy yummy delicacies.
See Berlin from lots of angles
The TV Tower is the classic place to go for views of Berlin. But even aside from the other towers and tall buildings I’ve mentioned here, there are still more! From a tower built for anti-aircraft guns during World War II to a trendy hotel bar that overlooks the Berlin Zoo, there’s no shortage of places with amazing views of Berlin from above.
Check out the Franziskaner-Klosterkirche ruins
Berlin doesn’t have a lot of truly old buildings left. But there is a Franciscan Monastery located not far from Alexanderplatz. The monastery is in ruins, making it an even more interesting sight in the center of the city. The original building dates back to the late 1200s, though it went through several changes over the centuries.
Bombings towards the end of WWII resulted in heavy damage to the building. Eventually it was fixed up and made safe, and it now hosts cultural events. But it’s also an almost hidden spot among so many famous landmarks in Berlin.
See Berlin’s last remaining city walls
Lots of cities in Europe have sections of medieval walls still standing in places. But since huge portions of Berlin were destroyed during WWII, there isn’t a lot of really old stuff left.
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.
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.
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 and enjoy the gardens. It’s also host to one of the more beautiful Christmas markets in Berlin during the month of December.
Admire Bellevue Palace
Bellevue Palace sits on the Spree River and is on the edge of Tiergarten park. It was the first Neoclassical style palace built in Germany and was a summer residence to Prince Augustus Ferdinand of Prussia. Despite being destroyed in World War II, it has since been restored. It’s not open to the public since it’s the official residence of the German President, but it’s worth admiring from the outside.
Visit a castle
Aside from Charlottenburg Palace and Bellevue Palace, there are several other castles and palaces in and around Berlin. Some are now museums right in the middle of Berlin. A few are on the outskirts of the city and others are day trip distance. If you’re a big fan of castles and palaces, there are plenty to see while you’re in Berlin.
Pay your respects at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, often referred to as the Holocaust Memorial, honors the large number of Jewish people who died at the hands of the Nazis. The memorial consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights, and the ground they sit on is an uneven slope similar to a wave. The information center showcases letters, diaries, photographs, and biographies of the victims to help personalize the experience.
Entrance is free. Photography is allowed (no flash inside) but please be respectful. Do not sit on or climb on the cement slabs or take selfies. This is a place to reflect and remember those who were murdered.
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.
Visit the Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center
Managed by the Topography of Terror Foundation, the Nazi Forced Labor Documentation Center in the Schöneweide neighborhood is the location of a former forced labor camp. It’s one of over 3,000 that once existed in the Berlin area.
In the exhibition spaces and in the air raid shelter, you can view inscriptions, letters, and biographies of the people who were imprisoned at this labor camp. You can also tour some of the barracks where you can view the living conditions and learn about the every day lives of the prisoners.
Explore the Jewish Museum
The Berlin Jewish Museum tells the stories of Jewish people in Germany from the Middle Ages to present day. The whole museum, inside and out, is designed to be part of the experience of learning about the diverse Jewish culture and the gaps made by the Holocaust.
You can explore three different sections of the museum that teach about three different aspects of Jewish life, culture, and history in Germany. Symbolism runs throughout, which makes this creative space more impactful. For example, in one area, uneven ground conveys a feeling of uncertainty.
This is a fantastic museum to visit if you’re interested in the history of the Jewish people in Germany.
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.
Get cultured at Museum Island
One of Berlin’s most popular sights, Museum Island is the name of a complex of multiple museums crammed with historic marvels. 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. If you haven’t got time to visit all the museums, strolling around here and soaking up the architecture is still rewarding.
Visit the Berlin Natural History Museum
Situated inside a historic building, the Natural History Museum was set up in 1810 and boasts a bounty of interesting specimens—over 25 million—from zoological to paleontological. Notable exhibits here include the largest mounted dinosaur in the world (it’s a Giraffatitan, by the way) as well as a specimen of an archaeopteryx: the earliest known bird. Here visitors will also find the biggest piece of amber in the world, and a huge collection of meteors.
Look at art in the Neue Nationalgalerie
For something more modern, make a beeline to the Neue Nationalgalerie. This is a modern art gallery housed inside a huge glass and steel structure, and is home to works from the early 20th century.
Opening its doors in 1968, this gallery includes pieces by masters such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky. It’s a perfect place for any design or architecture lover to spend the day, or even just a few hours; and it’s also been recently renovated, bringing it right into the modern day.
Learn about design at the Bauhaus Museum
Another one for design lovers, the Bauhaus Museum is where you can go to learn about the history and influence of the Bauhaus movement. A revamped version of the museum opened in 2019, a hundred years after the founding of the Bauhaus school. It now features a collection of almost 50,000 pieces. Photos, furnishings, design pieces and neat displays documenting the origins and spread of this mid-century design dream.
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. Since it’s not centrally located, it was 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 doesn’t take long to visit and is a 25 minute Sbahn ride from the Alexanderplatz station.
Climb the Victory Column
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. It was initially constructed as a monument to Prussia’s victory in the Franco-German war.
Today this is a popular tourist attraction. The column stands at 67 meters (about 220 feet) high and has an observation deck you can reach by paying a small entrance fee. After climbing the 270 stairs, the tower provides excellent views of the surrounding park and the city of Berlin.
Just don’t try to cross the street to get there! Reach the Victory Column using the underground passage.
See the Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium in Berlin is another unique location to visit. Built by renowned architect Werner March, this geometric masterpiece can hold up to 100,000 people. During the Nazi regime, the Olympic Stadium was used to host propaganda events.
This massive structure features the Waldbuhne, which is designed like an amphitheater. Originally the Olympic gymnastics competitions site, the Waldbuhne is an open-air venue currently used for concerts and other large events.
Another fun thing to do in Berlin is visiting the bell tower at the Olympic Stadium and enjoying amazing views of the entire stadium and its surroundings. If you visit the stadium on an event-free day, you can enjoy a tour of the stadium and learn about its role during the Second World War.
Listen to music at the Berlin Philharmonic
If you are a lover of the orchestra trying to decide what to do in Berlin, this is for you! Berlin Philharmonic (or Philharmoniker) is a distinguished German orchestra that is ranked as one of the top orchestras in the world. Founded in 1882, the Berlin Philharmonic was initially known as Frühere Bilsesche Kapelle and has since been loved for its compelling sound, virtuosity and finesse.
Apart from the fact that the Berlin Philharmonic is ridiculously skilled, which has earned them their fair share of awards (Grammys, ECHO Awards, Gramophone Awards, BRIT Awards etc.), they also have some pretty funky architecture. They focus on the unconventional building styles, and visitors are constantly drawn to the stunning yellow pentagon concert hall designed by Hans Scharoun.
Shop at Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is a modern square that sits right where the Berlin Wall once was. This is a popular spot for tourists and visitors because of its bustling cinemas, theaters, restaurants and shopping centers. Get engulfed in the richness of modern architecture when you visit Potsdamer Platz.
Check out the fastest elevator in Europe as you shoot up a ride in Kollhof Tower. At the Panoramapunkt, you will be rewarded with glorious views of the Berlin skyline. If you are in Berlin with your kids, you should check out the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre. Your kids will enjoy exploring this location which houses more than five million Lego bricks.
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.
View art at the Photography Museum
Photography enthusiasts visiting Berlin will be drawn to this unique museum. The Museum of Photography is located in the Charlottenburg area in Berlin. It was opened in 2004 and displays the collections of the Helmut Newton Foundation, including some of Helmut Newton’s personal articles.
One of its major exhibits is the Art Library’s Collection of Photography. This is a series of rotating exhibits that show the medium of photography in all its protean forms.
Explore several other exhibitions hosted at this museum and learn about the various roles and development of photography all through history. There are also various lectures and symposiums held on current topics which photographers would enjoy and benefit from.
Check out the Hamburger Bahnhof
This is a contemporary art museum set inside the former terminus of the Berlin-Hamburg railway. Even without the art, however, the building itself is a late Neoclassical style structure that inspired many civic buildings across Germany; it was actually the first station of its kind built in Germany. The bold, striking art here sits very well inside the wide, open spaces of this former terminus.
View the heavens at the Planetarium
Berlin Planetarium or Stiftung Planetarium is a huge space where you can learn all about the cosmos. First of all, you won’t be able to miss this place, being situated inside a 30 meter shining metal orb. Once you’re inside this eye-catching structure, you can get involved with a variety of programs. These combine scientific discovery, entertainment and a dash creativity (think music and artwork) to make for a comprehensive glimpse into the heavens.
See a show at Friedrichstadt-Palast
For those of you looking for a bit of glitz and glamor while you’re in Berlin, you should head to Friedrichstadt-Palast. Also known colloquially as Palast, this theater has seating for up to 1,895 people and boasts the largest theatrical stage floor in the world.
On this stage you can behold Las Vegas style productions, revues and musicals. Think extravagant costumes, breath-taking dance routines, impressive music, and glittering set design. It’s ideal for a big night out.
Learn at the German Museum of Technology
Are you looking for things to do in Berlin with kids? The German Museum of Technology is a great attraction for you. This is a modern museum where you get to learn about the history of science. Kids will enjoy the immersive and entertaining way in which the tours and lectures are held.
At this museum, you are allowed and even encouraged to build stuff and watch/learn how other unique things are being made. Be sure to have a great time learning all about old and new technology and the history of civilization. You should also check out the new sailing and aeronautics building.
See the Berliner Dom
The Berlin Cathedral, or Berliner Dom in German, is a gorgeous Protestant cathedral located on Museum Island. It’s one of the most well known attractions in the city. This landmark serves as a tourist attraction and museum, as well as a religions institution. Touristic visits are not permitted during services.
Tours are available and included with the admission fee if you are interested in hearing about the history of the cathedral. You can also climb 270 stairs for lovely panoramic views of Berlin. In front of the cathedral, you’ll find a gorgeous park where many people often relax on warm, sunny days.
Do something different at the Spy Museum
Since Berlin is the world’s capital of spies, it is not surprising that a modern, unique spy museum sits at its heart. Built in 2015 by Franz-Michael Gunther, the Berlin Spy Museum is a private museum that focuses on showcasing spies and espionage history. Using current multi-media based technology, visitors will gain an in-depth insight into the history of espionage.
The fun and immersive experience will show you how to detect the sneakiest tricks used by secret services and agents. You will also travel back to Bible times to learn about spying in ancient times and how it compares to the present and future of espionage. Are you ready to find your way through a laser maze and hack into any website of your choice? The adventure awaits!
Play at the Computerspiele Museum
Berlin’s computer game museum is one for all the video game lovers out there, whether your generation was Pokemon or Pac-Man. It aims to collect, preserve and protect the legacy and physical artefacts of gaming through the decades from its earliest origins to the present day.
The Computerspiele Museum actually has the largest collection of consoles, games, and gaming magazines in Europe. With more than 300 items, you’ll be pleased to know that you can try some of them out for yourself, too.
Take a free tour at the Reichstag Building
Opened in 1894, the Reichstag Building is a unique piece of art. Designed by Norman Foster, this building features excellent architecture. Here, you get to learn more about the history of Germany.
It is also the central meeting place for the German parliament which means that you get to walk around and see all those important people through the glass. This building also has a rooftop terrace and restaurant, which promises panoramic views of Berlin.
Tours into the glass dome are free, but advanced booking is required.
>>Check out more free things you can do in Berlin!
The Gendarmenmarkt is a square in Berlin where you’ll find an array of important buildings. It’s one of the most attractive and historic squares in the city, and is home to an impressive trio: the French Church, the German Church and the Konzerthaus.
Sadly the square was badly damaged during World War II, but today it’s mostly been restored to its former glory. Gendarmenmarkt is a great place to wander; if you’re here over the holidays, you’ll get to see its popular Christmas market.
Transit through Alexanderplatz
No doubt most visitors will find themselves in Alexanderplatz at some point. Situated in central Mitte district, this important transport hub is also home to attractions such as Berlin TV Tower (great for skyline views) and the World Time Clock.
Nearby you’ll find Nikolaiviertel, the Neptune Fountain, and the Rotes Rathaus. Also in the vicinity are a whole host of department stores, malls, and eateries, too.
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.
Get lots of pictures at Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate is a must on any visitor’s list of things to do in Berlin. It was constructed in the late 1700s but its meaning has transformed over the years.
During the Cold War, when Berlin was divided in two, the Brandenburg Gate stood at the border between East and West. To many people, it represented the separation of the two sides. President Reagan gave his famous “Tear down this wall!” speech from the western side of the gate, where people on the eastern side could hear.
Today the gate represents unity. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Berlin, and even in all of Germany.
Have a picnic on a runway at Tempelhof Park
One of Berlin’s largest green spaces is Tempelhofer Feld, a former airport that has been 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. Even after the Berlin Wall came down and East and West Germany reunited, this airport continued to operate.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the airport closed. In 2010, it reopened as a public park, and the runway and airport building remain. Today 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.
Smell the flowers at the Botanical Gardens
For when you need a breath of fresh air away from the urban streets of Berlin, its Botanical Gardens offer up a revitalizing space. Here you can get tranquil in among the tropical plants, succulents, flowers, and calming waterways. The mission when it first opened in 1889 was to create the world in a garden, and they’ve pretty much succeeded, with flora from around the world in its arboretum, tropical greenhouse, and Italian garden.
Visit Gardens of the World
Also known as Garten der Welt Berlin, this sprawling green lung in the city is home to 10 international gardens. Each garden is imbued with the traditions and plant life of a certain region or country. For example, you could take a stroll to England, hop over to Japan, bask in Balinese beauty, enjoy some Middle Eastern charm, or perhaps some Korean horticulture.
There’s also an impressive cable car that takes you above the park. When visiting Gardens of the World, make sure you bring appropriate footwear: it’s spread across an area of 250 acres.
Take a stroll in Tiergarten
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.
Tierpark is Europe’s largest animal park. It’s one of two zoos in Berlin and is situated on the grounds of the former Friedrichsfelde Palace. The zoo cares for 7,250 animals from 840 species around the world, which means a visit here offers a chance to get up close and personal with some incredible creatures—including flamingos, red pandas, tigers, and a whole host of reptiles. It’s a great option for a family day out in Berlin.
Check out the more well know zoo at Berlin Zoological Garden
Berlin Zoological Garden—or simply Berlin Zoo—is the oldest and most famous zoo in Germany. Situated within Tiergarten, it was inaugurated in 1844 and spans more than 35 hectares. Berlin Zoo is home to more than 20,000 animals, and even boasts its very own aquarium.
With all this going on, it’s not hard to see why this is the most popular zoo in Europe. Regular attractions include animal feeding, and the chance to see Knut the polar bear and Bao Bao the giant panda.
Why are there two zoos in Berlin? This stems from the time when Berlin was split into East and West. The West already had a zoo, and authorities in the East decided they should have one there too.
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.
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.
Bring your wallet to Kurfürstendamm
The renowned Kurfürstendamm is a major thoroughfare that slices through Berlin. This long, broad boulevard can be compared to Paris’ Champs-Élysées, lined as it is with shops, eateries, houses, and hotels. This leafy street is a bustling and stylish place to stroll, whether you’re looking for something to eat or simply want to wander. If you feel like a splurge, this road is packed with high-end designer stores.
Check out Dong Xuan Center
The Dong Xuan Center is a huge, sprawling market for all things Asian located in Lichtenberg. But it plays host primarily to Berlin’s Vietnamese community; Dong Xuan means “Spring Meadow” in Vietnamese, and the market itself is modeled on the oldest and largest of the same name in Hanoi.
This shopping complex in East Berlin has seemingly endless shops spread across six large halls; you can find ingredients, fresh produce, and ready-made foods from across the Asian continent.
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.
Eat and shop at Markthalle Neun
If you consider yourself a foodie and you’re in Berlin, you should definitely pay a visit to Markthalle Neun during your trip. The ninth of Berlin’s 14 market halls that were built in the late 19th century is still a thriving hotspot for all things delicious.
While you can browse regional and local produce on market days, Thursday here is dubbed “Street Food Thursday”. Stalls are set up by amateur and semi-pro chefs and there’s even a craft beer stand to wash it all down.
Eat and drink at KulturBrauerei
Literally meaning “Culture Brewery”, this 25,000 square meter building was once a brewery, and is a great example of the late 19th-century industrial architecture in Berlin. A brewery no longer, it’s been repurposed to hold regular events, festivals, and concerts; a variety of different organizations have set up shop inside the former brewery, including a cinema, dance club, publishing houses and restaurants.
On Sundays you’ll find loads of food trucks for Street Food Sunday. And in the winter, this is home to a cozy, not-so-touristy Christmas market.
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.
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.
Sing and shop at Mauerpark
Over in Berlin’s Prenzlauer you’ll find Mauerpark. The name—meaning “Wall Park”—is significant, as here a notorious part of the Berlin Wall once stood: the death strip, where many attempted crossings were made. In fact, 300 meters of the wall, now daubed in colorful art, still remains in the east part of the park.
In the summer months, this green space comes alive, with a festival-like atmosphere as families and friends gather to enjoy picnics and strolls. There’s even a karaoke stage, live music and a huge flea market on Sundays.
Try some currywurst
One of the foods you should try in Germany, but especially in Berlin, is currywurst. This is a sausage that’s been cut up into chunks and doused in ketchup and curry powder. It’s a quick and cheap meal if you’re visiting Berlin on a budget, but it’s also a well known local food you should try at least once.
Dig into a Döner
Döner is another 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.
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 an interesting place for lunch on the weekend.
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 items approaching groceries.
Certain Spätis have picnic tables outside where you can sit with your newly purchased beer, making it almost but not quite like a bar.
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.
Take a boat tour on the Spree River
The Spree River winds its way through Berlin and passes by some important buildings and attractions. While you can certainly see a lot of them on foot, a boat tour is another great option.
There are tons of different options, from boat tours through Mitte and ones that go farther along into Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Seeing some of the famous sights from the water gives you a different perspective.
Visit the Soviet War Memorial in Treptow Park
Located in Berlin’s Treptow Park, the Soviet War Memorial commemorates 7,000 of the 80,000 soldiers of the Red Army who lost their lives in the Battle of Berlin in 1945. Part memorial, part cemetery, this is one of several Soviet War Memorials in Berlin, and was inaugurated in 1949, four years after the war. It’s an impressive example of a soaring Soviet monument.
Check out the Soviet War Memorial in Tiergarten
The Soviet War Memorial in Tiergarten is the other well known one in Berlin. It’s large and even includes a tank. The memorial’s location was strategic – it’s within the park along Strasse des 17 Juni, not far from the Victory Column, the Reichstag Building, and Brandenburg Gate. Of all the Soviet War Memorials in and near Berlin, this is the only one that was built in the former West.
See the Marx-Engels Forum
Located in a public park in Mitte, this monument is dedicated to Karl Marx and Frederick Engels — the German authors of the Communist Manifesto, which saw the light of day in 1848. The statues of these two influential socialist thinkers may not be huge, but they are larger than life-sized. They’re depicted in modest poses, rather than heroically, and have become a popular attraction; people particularly like to sit on the seated Marx’s knee for a photo.
Take 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.
Explore Sanssouci Palace which was Prussian King Frederick the Great’s summer home. The surrounding gardens are especially gorgeous in the spring and summer. Other attractions include a the New Palace, Charlottenhof Palace, Babelsberg Palace, and a handful of other palaces and parks. And don’t forget to explore the town itself. Potsdam’s center is quite charming.
Read more about taking a day trip to Potsdam from Berlin with details about how to get to Potsdam and what to see there.
Visit Peacock Island
Peacock Island—named due to its allegedly resembling the shape of a peacock—is situated on the River Havel and is actually part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Once called Rabbit Island (because rabbits were bred there), it was acquired in 1793 by Prussian king Frederick William II, who built a castle here. Surrounded by an English garden, it makes for a peaceful day trip from Berlin’s hustle and bustle.
Book a tour for your trip to Berlin
Berlin Travel Resources
I want you to have the best trip to Berlin, and hopefully this extensive list of things to do in Berlin helps. But there are lots more tips on the site!
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.
And of course, it’s important to choose the right hotel for your trip. Read our neighborhood and hotel guide to help you decide where to stay in 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.