If you ask people if they like Berlin, there will be a variety of opinions. There will be people who hate it and others who think it is cool, always buzzing, and a fun city. Is Berlin pretty? There are better cities in the world, for sure. But is Berlin boring? Hell, no! If I can compare Berlin with a person, Berlin would be that cool girl who likes to party till the early hours, has a different way of styling, and does not care about opinions. But we love her because she is authentic, edgy, and simply fun to hang out with.

The best part about Berlin is that it has a lot to offer. There is a history and many things related to World War II. There are Museums, Cathedrals, charming neighborhoods, green areas and lakes. Fun is guaranteed even if you are here for a day or two or even a month. Here are the 25 essential things to do in Berlin that will not break your bank!

P.S. A summary of the best things to do in Berlin can be found further down in the article!

Plan your visit to the German Parliament

Many people like to visit the Reichstag first because of its architecture and Cupola design. Did you know that you can take part in a plenary session from the visitor gallery? Participating in a Bundestag debate for about an hour can be a fun experience, right?

But even if you decide to see only the cupola, you will not regret it. A panoramic view of the surrounding area is something you should not miss out on. Looking through the glass of the dome, you will see the Brandenburg Gate, the endless greenery of the Tiergarten, and the Spree River.

My tip: walking into the Government building is not simple. Booking a visit to Reichstag weeks in advance is recommended. Plus, you will go through the strict security process at the gate!

Go to see Brandenburg Gate

Visiting Brandenburg Gate is one of the ultimate things to do in Berlin. This famous monument, built during the 18th-century reign of Friedrich Wilhelm II, has a huge significance for the city’s history. The sculpture of four horses on the top of the monument and the Tiergarten spreading behind it gives an impressive sight. Brandenburg Gate is a popular place to see thereby you might plan your visit as early as possible to avoid unwanted crowds.

Visit the Holocaust Memorial

Many of the best things to do in Berlin are related to paying tribute to the city’s sometimes controversial history. One of them is a visit to the Memorial of Murdered Jews. Why is it so important? Well, we are all aware of what World War II did to the world. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a place of remembrance and commemoration for the up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Not very far from the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial consists of seven hundred and eleven grey concrete slabs. Although built unusually, it is a very intelligent, thought-provoking, and emotional place to visit.

Appreciate the view from the TV Tower

Did you know that the tallest building in Germany is located in Berlin? The TV Tower (germ. Fernsehturm) is a 368 m tall building that brings to the light one of the best views of the city from above. Positioned at the Alexanderplatz is one of the city benchmarks and must-do things when in Berlin. Anyhow, you cannot miss it since it is visible far from the distance.

The rotating restaurant “Sphere” on the top is just “icing on the cake” as it allows you to see far to 60 km if the weather is good. Chilling at the bar with a cocktail in hand while watching the mesmerizing sunset seems like a good idea, doesn’t it?

Attention – booking tickets in advance for either the tower or restaurant is highly advisable!

Explore Berlin museums

Not very far from the Alexanderplatz is situated Museum Island. As the name says it’s an island on the Spree River with a complex of Museums, all different in thematic in and exhibitions. Collections include prehistorical artifacts up to 19th-century art. You could easily devote a full day to absorbing the artwork, artifacts and amazing architecture so make sure to wear your comfy shoes!

The entire museum complex is a part of the UNESCO Heritage list thanks to the building’s architecture and yes, the area is one of the prettiest places in Berlin! If you plan to enter all the museums, buying a daily pass can be a good deal!

Take a stroll down the Unter den Linden street

The area from the Marienkirche left, over the Friedrichs Bridge and Museum Island, next to the Berlin Cathedral, and down the Unter den Linden Street is one of the most captivating in the city. A long stroll there is an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and surely one of the best things to do in Berlin! The number of buildings with stunning architecture all surrounded by the water will certainly remain in your memory!

Further down the street, towards the Brandenburg Gate, you will find many other important sites such as a City Opera, Cold War Museum, Bebelplatz, Gandarmenmarkt, and Madam Tussauds Museum. If you have enough time on your hands, make sure to check them all out!

Discover Berlin by boat

If you are in Berlin for only a day or two and you don’t have plenty of time, boat trips and river cruises can come in handy. These boat tours will take you along most of the city’s most beautiful sights and famous places in a very relaxed way. Seeing the city from the water can only benefit the perspective. There are many boat tours on offer and they all provide different experiences. Unlike the other most famous activities in Berlin, tickets for cruising can be bought directly by the pier. There are several spots to do that and most of them are located in the city center.

Stop by at the Nicolaiviertel

Strangely enough, many travelers miss out on visiting this charming quarter. Although is very near Alexanderplatz, it looks different from the usual picture of Berlin. If it wasn’t for the TV Tower poking over the buildings, man can easily believe that it’s in a completely different world!

Nestled behind the Rotes Rathaus and away from the city hustle and bustle, Nicolaiviertel hosts an array of cafes, restaurants, shops, and pubs. They all dotted around the cobbled streets and the shadow of the Nikolai Church. It’s a perfect place for an enjoyable stroll especially now that the Christmas holidays are getting closer.

Click a photo at the Check Point Charlie

Down the Friedrich Street, you will find one of the famous reminders of the times when Germany was divided. Checkpoint Charlie was one of the few crossing points between West Berlin and East Berlin during the Cold War. Although not serving that purpose anymore, the surroundings have remained the same.

The sandbags, the flag, the barrier, and the photos of two young soldiers have been kept as a replica of their originals and as a reminder of the times when simple life was not available. Visitors like to click photos at this eminent spot but the BlackBox Cold War Museum next to it is also worth checking out.

Visit the East Side Galery

What is the most known symbol of the Cold War in Berlin? Berlin Wall, of course! The remains of the infamous wall can be found today for the most part in Friedrichshain. After the demolition, what was left has been spread out throughout the city, serving as a memorial. Berlin Wall is today an open-air gallery, dotted with graffiti with a symbolic message. Some of the graffiti at the East Side Gallery are particularly popular, such as Dmitri Vrubel’s “Fraternal Kiss”.

The banks of the Spree River, next to the Oberbaumbrucke is a popular place among younger ones to chill in the Sun or have a long stroll.

Discover Berlin districts

Berlin is known for its urban alternative scene and the existence of many subcultures. This is best felt in Friedrichshain in Prenzlauer Berg, where the younger generation lives. The variety of buildings and the amount of graffiti on them, the architecture, and the existence of many alternative bars and pubs here give a contrasting picture of Berlin.

Do not skip Potsdamer Platz

If you’re looking for a modern and more urban version of Berlin, you’ll find it at Potsdamer Platz. The whole place has a different, bustling energy. High-rise buildings arranged side by side, wide boulevards, and five-star hotels are located here. They all contribute to the feeling that Berlin is not just a collection of buildings from the Baroque era.

In addition, you will find the Mall of Berlin, which carries the slogan of the most beautiful shopping center in Berlin. All this, as well as the large metro station under the square, make the square one of the most vibrant places in the city.

Do some shopping in Kudamm

For all shopaholics, this area will be heaven on earth. The Kurfürstendamm (or shortly Kudamm) is one of the most famous shopping avenues in Berlin. Not only that, but also other places of interest can be found here: Kaiser–Wilhelm Church, Zoological Garden, and Europa Center.

A long walk down the Kudamm is an essential thing to do in Berlin. Long boulevards lined with shops, houses, hotels, and restaurants give that chick, edgy, ultramodern vibe. No wonder why this area is popularly called the “Champs-Élysées of Berlin”. It’s one of the posh places in the city where the number of people on the streets wearing designer clothes will make you feel “inadequate”.

Spend some coins in KADEWE

Do you need to splurge on fine goods? The ideal place for such a thing is the most posh in the city – Kaufhaus des Westens or shortly KaDeWe. With over 60,000 square meters of retail space, this gray building is the second-largest department store in Europe. If you are already in Kudamm, just head on straight to Wittenbergplatz and you will find it. You will recognize it by the number of people who flock inside to spend money, the always expensively decorated shop windows, and the fancy cars parked in front. All the goodies inside are branded ones, the latest in fashion, and the shops and restaurants on the top floors are not for those with “shallow pockets”.

Buy a ticket for a Zoo

Berlin is one of the European cities widely known for the amount of green areas, intertwined with the concrete ones. One of those is Tiergarten – the lungs and a green heart of Berlin. Set in 160 hectares of beautiful parkland, this “small forest” is a perfect place for a stroll (although, along one) between Brandenburg Gate and the Zoological Garden. The Victory Column is a monument that can be seen inside, along with smaller animals and birds allowed to roam freely.

Zoo Berlin, located at the very end of the Tiergarten, near the Zoo train station, is a favorite place for the youngest visitors. The habitats are authentic/natural, you get close to the animals, the animal condition is good, and the quality of the park layout provides an ultimate zoo experience and so much fun!

See the Charlottenburg Palace

Royal Palaces with huge front yards and romantic baroque buildings are not typical sites in Berlin. However, there is a place that will “transfer” you immediately into some romantic times which is Charlottenburg Palace.

Built during the 17th century as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, this palace is a stunning example of baroque architecture. With many galleries of paintings, and exhibited porcelain, silverware, and soldier uniforms, it provides a unique insight into Prussian Germany. With a purchased ticket, you can explore the majority of the insides while the dazzling park and lake outside are free of charge.

Find about Tempelhof

Situated a little bit further from the city center and far from the common tourist places, Tempelhof is not always on the tourist list. But for me, it is one of the authentic things to do in Berlin, therefore definitely deserves a place on the list. This area, located in district Neukölln, was a Nazi airport that has been officially closed in 2008. The airport is nowadays a huge park with picnic areas, communal gardens, and preserved runways attracting dozens of runners and cyclists.

Try out some German food

Typical German food includes a lot of sausages, meat, pork, and fermented food. And bread – in all possible variations and large quantities. That said, there are a couple of typical dishes that you have to try! These are Schnitzle, “königsberg klopse” ( dish of meatballs in a creamy white sauce with capers), “maultaschen“(ravioli but bigger), “roulade” (a blend of bacon, onions, mustard, and pickles wrapped together in sliced beef or veal), and his majesty – “currywurst”!

Explore the world of German pastries

Pastries in Berlin hit differently! Bakeries are at every step and in each one you will always find a rich selection of bread, cakes, and pastries. Moreover, many bakery chains produce their flour and pastries that are prepared and baked directly. Many locals will find time every day to go to the nearest bakery to enjoy freshly baked goods, mixed with coffee and a conversation class! The pastries that I recommend are “apfelkuchen” (apple pie), “marmorkuchen” (marble cake), “mohnkuchen” (poppy seeds cake), cinnamon rolls, and croissants.

Wander through the Christmas markets

Christmas and New Year holidays may be the best reason to travel to Germany. Visiting the Christmas markets is perhaps one of the best things you can do in Berlin. Although today you can find these Weihnachtsmärkte across all of Europe, they are, in fact, an old German tradition. Did you know that there are about 80 Christmas markets in Berlin? Their opening is usually at the end of November until mid-January. Honestly, Christmas markets in Berlin are a special story. Even if you’re not a believer in the Christmas spirit, you’ll change your mind as soon as you smell the cinnamon and caramelized almonds in the air!

Head to a lake in the summer

There are more than 3000 lakes in Berlin, usually surrounded by lush green and sometimes even untouched nature. Don’t be surprised if a squirrel, a fox, or even a deer runs in front of you!

Lakes represent an ideal escape from the hot summer days. With the number of people visiting the lakes during July and August, they become smaller beaches where the fun is guaranteed. Just note – water in the lakes can be still very cold. The most famous lakes are Wannsee, Tegelersee, Müggelsee, and Krumme Lanke, all of them easily reachable with public transportation.

See the city from above

A unique way to discover Berlin from the “bird’s perspective” is to take an Air balloon ride. The world balloon (Die Weltballon) takes off over Berlin all year round near Checkpoint Charlie. Do not worry about safety, because an extremely strong steel rope is attached to the basket. It can be slightly scarier than imagined but once you’re at the highest height it is a very interesting ride. The Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, and the busy Potsdamer Platz with the Sony Center are at the feet of the passengers of the world balloon.

Enjoy some delicious food at Thai park

Are you traveling to Berlin over the weekend and craving some delicious Thai food? Thai Park is a place to go! Located in Wilmersdorf, at Prussenpark this large open space hosts Thai food vendors, and the food is as authentic as it gets. It is open from Friday to Sunday, from 10 am to 8 pm, and the best time to visit it is during the summer. This place then turns into a huge picnic area filled with people of all generations enjoying the Sun and Asian flavors! My recommendation? “Pad Thai” noodles and mango sticky rice are classics, yet a must – try there!

Visit some flea markets on a Sunday

If you like buying vintage stuff, Berlin is a perfect place for that. Flea markets and second-hand shops are very popular places to come across original goodies for a very small price. Plus, it’s a fun activity to do on Sundays when the regular stores are closed. The most popular is the Flea market at the Mauerpark, but interesting to visit are the Turkish market, Berliner Trödelmarkt, Samstagsmarkt at Boxhagener Platz, and many others. Strolling through the alleys, discovering treasures, or chasing bargains while having some tasty food – what else do you need for weekend happiness?

See “Platform 17” Memorial

Although not as popular as the other sights in Berlin, visiting the Platform 17 Memorial is one of the provoking yet obligatory things to do in Berlin. Nearby Grunewald train station, you will find an abandoned platform from which more than 50.000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz between 1941 and 1945. Usually, you will not see many people so the place is very quiet. The old platform is overgrown with birches as if nature wants to say that life goes on despite many world misfortunes. Humbling, historical, and informative experience.

Planning a trip to Berlin? Here is an ultimate 4-day itinerary and a complete guide to the best spots in Berlin!

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