Best Things to Do in Berlin

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

By Vicky · Published Jun. 12th, 2024

Discover the Best Things to Do in Berlin with photos, a map and tour suggestions to maximise your stay in the capital of Germany.

Best Things to Do in Berlin Map

Best Things to Do in Berlin List

  1. Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate 
  2. Head to Museum Island
  3. Find out more about the Nazis
  4. Walk along the Berlin Wall
  5. Alexanderplatz & Berlin Television Tower
  1. Explore the History of the Cold War
  2. Detour to Charlottenburg Palace
  3. Visit a Free Museum
  4. Learn about the Holocaust
  5. Hang out in Berlin’s Most Beautiful Square

1. Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate

The Reichstag - visiting is one of the best things to do in Berlin
Brandenburg Gate

The Reichstag & Brandenburg Gate are among the top things to see in Berlin, and luckily they’re very close together. The Brandenburg Gate is the city’s most iconic landmark and a symbol of both the city and German history – a no man’s land of the Berlin Wall. The nearby Reichstag is the seat of Germany’s parliament and you can visit the large glass dome at the top with panoramic views over the city.

Check out a self-guided walking tour of the area.

Best Tours: Book tickets to the Reichstag Dome from the official website at least a day in advance. Have lunch at the Reichstag rooftop restaurant* if you’re feeling fancy.

2. Head to Museum Island

Berlin Cathedral, one of the best things to do.
Berlin Cathedral
Alte National Gallery
Alte National Gallery

Museum Island houses five of Berlin’s best museums plus the Cathedral, another worthy sight. Additionally, the Humboldt Forum on the island contains several small free museums.

List of Museums on the Island

There are five main museums on Museum Island (or Museeninsel). Listed in order of popularity and interest for most people:

  • Pergamonmuseum. Das Panorama: The Pergamonmuseum is undergoing renovation (until 2027), currently a sample of exhibits are displayed in Das Panorama.
  • Neues Museum: The second most popular museum on the island showcases an impressive array of Egyptian, Prehistoric, and Classical antiquities.
  • Bode-Museum: Houses a diverse collection of sculptures, Byzantine art, and coins.
  • Altes Museum: Renowned for its neoclassical architecture and its extensive collection of classical antiquities.
  • Alte Nationalgalerie: Housing 19th-century European art, with paintings and sculptures from the Romantic, Impressionist, and early Modernist periods.

Go on a Walk Around Museum Island

Museum Passes: You can get a one-day museum pass, a three-day pass covering more museums, or the Berlin WelcomeCard: Museum Island & Public Transport* that gives you entry to all Museums on Museum Island plus public transport in Berlin.

3. Find out more about the Nazis

Visiting Topography of Terror, one of the best things to do in Berlin
Topography of Terror Museum

The Nazis had a big impact on Berlin, Germany and the world. Learn about their regime in the Topgraphy of Terror Museum, visit the Berlin Story Bunker to learn more about life in Nazi Berlin, or honour the resisters at the German Resistance Memorial Centre.

The Topography of Terror Museum (free)is a popular museum located at the former headquarters of the Nazi regime of terror, where the Gestapo and SS were based. It’s also next to the Berlin Wall, though the exhibits concentrate on the Nazis rather than the Cold War.

The Berlin Story Bunker is a historical site museum that focuses on Germany’s history. It concentrates on the rise and fall of Hitler and the Nazis, and then from 1945 until the present. Get tickets to the Berlin Story Bunker*

The German Resistance Memorial Center, or Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand (free entry), is a history museum that honours those who resisted the Nazi Regime and Hitler.

Best Tour: On the Berlin: Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour* you’ll discover much more about the Nazis.

4. Walk along the Berlin Wall

Walking along the Berlin Wall in Germany
Famous kiss scene on the Berlin Wall

Walking along the Berlin Wall is definitely one of the best things to do in the city. You can walk a long way along the wall, or if you have less time the best bits to visit are the East Side Gallery, the Berlin Wall Memorial and Checkpoint Charlie.

Self-Guided Berlin Wall Walking Tour

Guided Walking Tour along the Most Interesting Part*

5. Alexanderplatz & Berlin Television Tower

Rotes Rathaus (for fans of Babylon Berlin it's the police headquarters)
Alexanderplatz, visiting the square is one of the best things to do in Berlin

Alexanderplatz was one of the central squares in East Berlin. It’s now a large, fairly open space with several shopping malls and a couple of more historical buildings. These include the Rotes Rathaus (for fans of Babylon Berlin it’s the police headquarters) and St Mary’s Church. One of the most obvious sights is the tall Television Tower (Fernsehturm). From the top, there are great views.

Go on a Self-Guided Tour of the Area

Best Tour: Skip the queues and reserve a ticket to the top of the tower*.

6. Explore the History of the Cold War

Checkpoint Charlie, one of the best things to visit in Berlin
Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was the renowned border crossing linking East and West Berlin within the Soviet and American sectors. Apart from the checkpoint itself, there are several museums surrounding the old checkpoint:

  • Wall Museum – Checkpoint Charlie: showcases the history of the Berlin Wall, escape attempts, and the broader context of the Cold War. Get tickets to the Wall Museum*
  • THE WALL – asisi Panorama: an immersive museum revolving around a 360-degree panorama displaying a normal day in the life of citizens living near the Wall.
  • Cold War Black Box Checkpoint Charlie: a small, engaging museum that takes you through the chronological history of the wall.

To discover more about life in East Germany, visit the DDR Museum, which has several fun interactive exhibits. Grab tickets online*.

Additionally, the Tränenpalast, or ‘Palace of Tears’ (open Tue-Fri 9-7pm, Sat-Sun 10-6pm, free entry), is a historic building that served as a border crossing point between East and West Germany during the Cold War. Today an audioguide leads you around the exhibit.

Best Tour: On the Berlin: Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour* you’ll discover much more about the Cold War.

7. Detour to Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace in the snow

Schloss Charlottenburg is a historic palace in the suburbs of Berlin and one of the few surviving royal residences that reflect the grandeur of the Prussian kings. Today you can visit the New and Old wings of the palace, explore the palace gardens, and discover several smaller exhibitions in historic buildings that dot the grounds.

Discover more about Visiting Charlottenburg Palace

How to get there: The Berlin Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus* stops here, as do boat cruises from central Berlin*. Alternatively, you can take public transport.

8. Visit a Free Museum

Humboldt Museum

There are several free museums in Berlin and additionally, every first Sunday of the month, almost all museums are free (check the official website for dates).

Several of the best free museums are located in the Humboldt Forum (open Wed-Mon 10:30am-6:30pm). This is in the rebuilt Berliner Schloss, or Berlin Palace, on Museum Island, constructed originally in the 15th century. Here you’ll find the Ethnologisches Museum, Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum) and much more.

Several other free museums mentioned already include the Topography of Terror, Jewish Museum and Berlin Wall Memorial.

Check out the Top Ten Free Museums in Berlin

9. Learn about the Holocaust

The Jewish Museum in Berlin, one of the best things to do in the city
The Memorial to the Fallen Jews, commonly known as the Holocaust Memorial

The Memorial to the Fallen Jews, commonly known as the Holocaust Memorial is a somber memorial in the centre of Berlin. It was built in 2005 and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs or stelae of varying heights arranged in a grid pattern over a sloping field. Take a moment to wander around and contemplate.

Additionally, the Jewish Museum (free) is a really interesting museum about 10 minutes walk south of Checkpoint Charlie. It has a small section on the Holocaust but most of it is about the history of Jewish people and their beliefs and customs. The museum is well laid out and well-explained, with interactive exhibits and lots of things to keep you engaged.

10. Hang out in Berlin’s Most Beautiful Square

Gendarmenmarkt , one of the msot beautiful and best squares in Berlin

Gendarmenmarkt is officially the most beautiful square in the city, however, it’s undergoing renovation until at least 2025. You can still visit the two almost identical churches, the Französischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom, and climb the tower of the previous.

When you’re in the area, don’t miss Bebelplatz, another lovely square nearby that gained infamy as the location of the Nazi book-burning ceremony. You’ll also find the State Opera, St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, and the former Royal Library here.

Guidebooks to explore more of Germany

If you enjoyed the Best Things to do in Berlin, check out the Best of Berlin in One Day, the Berlin Wall Walk, or our Germany Hiking Page for more great travel and hiking ideas.

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