Berlin is without a doubt one of the best places to visit in Germany, and a city break here is even a strong contender for one of the best capital cities to visit in Europe. There are so many fun things to do and awesome places to visit in Berlin that I think a weekend here should be on everyone’s Europe bucket list.
Berlin is the capital of Germany and It’s one of the most popular cities to visit in Europe. Famous for its history, street art and party scene, this city is one of the coolest in Europe and it’s no wonder that so many people want to visit Berlin in 2021.
Visiting landmarks such as Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie and joining a walking tour of Berlin are just some of the best things to do in Berlin, but there are so many more! From getting to know the music and party scene to trying the infamous curry wurst, in this blog post I’m going to share the best things to do in Berlin and the best places to visit in Berlin. All of these should be added to your Germany bucket list!
If you’re the type of traveller that seeks creative vibes, an abundance of history and a vibrant nightlife, these things to do in Berlin are going to be right up your street. And the weather here certainly helps! The weather in Berlin is fairly mild, with summer (June-August) being warm but comfortable, and winter being cloudy but cold! The peak time for exploring Berlin is May-October, but you have have a great time in Berlin in winter too!
In terms of how to get to Berlin, Berlin is great for a quick adventure from anywhere in the world, as it has two international airports: Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (SXF) in the south east of Berlin and its subsidiary, BFG Berlin-Tegel (TXL), north-west of the city centre. There are trains/buses and taxis that run between the airports and the city centre.
In this Berlin travel guide I am going to share with you the best things to do in Berlin, the best places to visit in Berlin, and my favourite adventures so far. Get your pen and paper ready to create the ultimate Berlin bucket list!
Looking for a more comprehensive guide to planning your trip to Berlin in 2021? Check out my complete guide to Berlin here.
The best things to do in Berlin, Germany...
1. Visit Brandenburg Gate.
Brandenburg Gate is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in Berlin, and on everyone’s must-see in Berlin list. Once a symbol of a divided city, it is now a national symbol of peace and unity. People would climb to an observation platform to get a glimpse of the world on the “other side” until the fall of Berlin in 1989. It is now New Berlin’s symbol of unity.
2. Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie was Berlin’s most famous crossing point between the previously communist East Berlin and the American-controlled sector of democratic West Berlin. In 1961 the Berlin Wall was constructed to stop the flow of East Germans fleeing, and checkpoints were also built along the wall, with guards instructed to shoot anyone who tried to cross from East to West.
The Americans also decided to build their own checkpoints on the wall, Checkpoints A (Alpha), B (Bravo), and C (Charlie). The guards at these checkpoints were to warn anyone who crossed that they were entering into non-democratic East Berlin.
Checkpoint Charlie is most famous because it was the only crossing for diplomatic personnel, American military and non-German visitors. One of the best things to do in Berlin is to visit this checkpoint, set up as it was at the time, have a photo with a soldier and then learn more about this time in history at the Checkpoint Charlie Museum.
3. See the remains of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery.
4. Take a walking tour of Berlin.
If you’re looking for free things to do in Berlin, a walking tour should be the top of your list. (Ok, so you’re expected to make a donation at the end of a free walking tour so it’s not completely free, but still, it’s one of the cheap things to do in Berlin!). There’s no better way to learn about a city and see all the hotspots than with a local guide. Make sure you see the likes of Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall , East Side Gallery, Victory column, TV Tower, Berlin Cathedral, churches and more!
After you’ve done a walking tour of Berlin’s city centre and Old Town and you’ve seen all of Berlin’s main landmarks, there are specialist tours you can do, such as the street art walking tour in Mitte.
Berlin top tip: While their tours aren’t free, I’ve heard that the best walking tours of Berlin are delivered by Insider Tour.
5. Try a Currywurst in Berlin.
You can’t visit Berlin without trying a currywurst with a beer! One of the best things to do in Berlin is to try the variety of cuisine they have here, from the traditional German food to the international restaurants as well. Some of the best places to eat and in Berlin include…
- Curry 36 for Currywurst
- Street food at Markthalle IX on Thursdays
- Der Weinerei on Veteranenstrasse (pay what you want wine bar)
- Lunch at the Turkish market on the Maybachufer
- Prinzessinnengarten: quite literally frm to table, as you eat your lunch on the ground it was grown in!
6. Go on a river cruise in Berlin.
Berlin is a stunning city, and one of the best ways to see it is from the water. Countless companies offer river crusies up and down the Spree and the Landwehr canal, offering everything from whole or half day trips, sunset cruises, night cruises, sightseeing boat tours and more.
7. Watch the sunset from the Berlin TV Tower.
The Berlin TV Tower is one of the most prominent landmarks in Berlin and the tallest building in Germany. One of the best things to do in Berlin is to go up to the viewing platform for stunning views across the city at golden hour, and then have dinner in the revolving restaurant. Book your tickets here.
8. Visit Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to five museums on Spree Island in the district of Mitte in Berlin. You’ve got the Altes Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum and the Pergamon museum, which attracts over 1 million visitors a year. One of the best things to do in Berlin is to spend as much time as you can wandering around the museums, learning about German history and admiring the artifacts. On Museum Island there are also the sculptures in Kolonnadenhof to look at, and the stunning Berlin Cathedral.
9. Admire the beauty of the Sanssouci Palace and Park.
The Sanssouci Palace, another UNESCO World Heritage site in Berlin, is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Berlin. The palace was built as a summer retreat for Friedrich the Great and named after the French phrase sans souci, literally ’without a care’. Built in the 1700s, the palace and park are still beautiful places to visit today.
Sanssouci is just one of many palaces in Berlin that you should visit. Others include Charlottenburg Palace, the current royal residence, the Great Orangery, Neues Palais, and Babelsberg Palace.
10. Visit Teufelsberg, a former spy station on a manmade hill.
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Berlin, Devil’s Mountain is for you. Teufelsberg is an abandoned spy/listening station used during the Cold War that is now covered with street art and graffiti.
What’s even more fascinating is that this is a manmade hill. While the Nazis were in power, this site was a military-technical college. After the war, the Allies tried to destroy it, but the building was impossible to demolish. Since there was a lot of rubble in Berlin, this was used to create Teufelsburg, which means Devil’s Mountain, and it is the highest point in Berlin. Now Teufelsburg is covered in forest, walking and cycle paths, and there’s even a ski jump. The strange structures on top of the hill, which are now covered in graffiti, were used by the US and British troops to eavesdrop on East German and Russian communications during the Cold War.
11. Dance the night away in Berlin.
Berlin is famous for its music and party scene. From the infamous club Berghain to all other other bars and nightlife on offer in Berlin, there are plenty of things to do in Berlin after dark. Whether you’re enjoying beer on the Admiralsbruecke or electronic concerts at the Urban Spree, Berlin has something to offer everyone. If you’re into live music, make sure you check out the events on the Lido – this is where I booked to see Ziggy Alberts during my weekend in Berlin!
12. Have a picnic in Tiergarten.
13. Visit Berlin Zoo and have a cocktail with the monkeys afterwards.
14. Visit the trendiest district in Berlin, Kreuzberg.
Once West Berlin’s poorest area, Kreuzberg is now an up-and-coming multicultural creative hub. It now boasts museums and galleries, some of the city’s coolest cafés and restaurants and a wealth of adventure. Here you can try local Turkish food (there is a large Turkish community here), walk along the the banks of the Landwehrkanal, try some of Berlin’s best third-wave coffee, and more. It’s one of the best places to visit in Berlin and almost feels like its own microcosm.
15. Explore the Berlin Underworld, Berliner Unterwelten.
One of the most unique things to do in Berlin is to see the city from a new perspective: the underworld. Discover Berlin’s hidden secrets as you explore tunnel systems, bunkers and more with a local guide. From the Bunkers at Gesundbrunnen to the escape tunnel between East and West Berlin, the Berliner Unterwelten tours are dedicated to showing you the hidden parts of Berlin.
16. Go swimming in a lake near Berlin.
City life is amazing, but everyone needs a break from it sometimes and to enjoy a bit of nature. One of the best things to do in Berlin is to escape the city and go wild swimming in one of the beautiful lakes on the outskirts. I’ve heard great things about swimming in Müggelsee, Schlatchtensee, and Groß Glienicker See.
If you want to go swimming and you’re looking for unique things to do in Berlin, head to the Badeschiff – a floating swimming pool in the city centre!
17. Pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, known locally as the Holocaust Memorial, opened in 2005 and it is located near Brandenburg Gate. Dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II, this is one of the most impressive and sobering places to visit in Berlin.
The memorial consists of 2711 concrete steles, which can be passed through from all sides. The columns of different heights on uneven ground and the corridors between the steles, which have been laid in grid formation (recalling tombstones), intentionally create a brief sense of disorientation and instability, which should open up space for discussion and/or quiet contemplation.
The field of steles is open at all times, and underneath the field there is an information centre which holds information on individuals, memorial sites across Germany and the Holocaust. It’s important to be respectful here – it is a memorial – and you are not allowed to climb on the steles.
As you walk around Germany, you may also see the Stolpersteine (tripping stones) initiative, which also highlight the living memory aspect of remembrance – plaques on street pavements, usually outside the house’s main entrance, commemorating deported Jewish residents.
18. Walk through Gärten der Welt during cherry blossom season.
A trip to Berlin in spring is not complete without a walk through the Garten der Welt (in the Marzahn district) in cherry blossom season (Kirschblütenfest). It usually takes palce in April each year, but it really depends on when the flower blossom. While you’re there you can also enjoy Chinese, Japanese and Korean dancing, music and culinary delicacies.
19. Explore the markets in Berlin, including the Christmas markets!
Berlin is home to some of the best flea markets, food markets and Christmas markets in Europe. One of the best things to do is to explore the markets in Berlin and find souvenirs to take home, fresh produce, local food, or a glass of Gluhwein at Christmas.
Some of the best flea markets in Berlin are at Mauerpark, Arkonaplatz, Neukolln, and Wochenmarkt am Maybauchufer.
Some of the best food markets are Markthalle IX, Boxhagener, Bite Club, Kollwitzplatz Farmer’s Market and Thai Park.
20. Soak up the film culture in Berlin.
Opened in 1994, Freiluftkino Kreuzberg has been open since 1994. It’s one of the oldest open-air-cinemas in Berlin and shows a great variety of movies (in the original language, with German or English subtitles). One of the best things to do in Berln is to grab some popcorn and experience the atmosphere at this open-air cinema! Check out the programme here.
Astor Film Lounge
This premium cinema experience is not something you want to miss in Berlin. Wehn you enter the cinema, which dates back to 1948 and has been beautifully renovated, you’ll be met with a welcome cocktail, doorman and valet parking. Inside you can experience cinematic luxury 1950s style, with an illuminated glass ceiling, comfortable seats and a gong to announce the start of the film. Find out more here.
Berlinale (Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin)
Berlinale is one of the most popular film festivals in the world. Every February Potsdamer Platz hosts major film-industry names and screenings also take place all over the city, including Alexanderplatz, Zoo Palast cinema in Tiergarten and Silent Green Kulturquartier. Find out more on the website here.
21. Rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and paddle around the Spree.
Seeing Berlin on a boat tour is one thing… but one of the top things to do in Berlin is taking the reins and seeing it as you canoe, kayak or SUP down the Spree is another! Kanuliebe rent our kayaks, canoes, SUPs and pedalos, meaning you can experience a calm oasis on the water and appreciate the stunning views of the city.
22. Spend Sunday at Mauerpark.
One of the top places to visit in Berlin, especially on a Sunday, is Mauerpark. Each week the locals gather to enjoy the fresh air, explore the flea markets, enjoy the live music and even join in with some BearPit karaoke! The energy here is incredible.
23. Have lunch in a floating restaurant.
It’s easy to forget you’re in a city centre when you’re in one of the floating restaurants or cafes on the Flurgraben Canal. Enjoy your lunch in Berlin in peace as you watch the world go by.
24. Escape city life at the Liquidrom day spa.
Located on Potsdamer Platz, Liquidrom is a wellness centre right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Berlin. If you need a bit of a break from city life, one of the best things to do in Berlin is to book yourself in for a treatment or a day at the spa. The building itself is stunning, and boasts thermal baths, saunas, massages and a healthy cafe. The highlight is the salt water pool in a darkened room, with underwater lights and music, so you can really just float and escape.
25. Head out on a self drive Trabi Safari tour of Berlin.
See Berlin from a unique perspective as you drive around the city in East Berlin’s most famous car. After a quick lesson on how to drive these cars, you’ll be guided around the city and see all the famous landmarks in Berlin including the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, the East Side Gallery, Checkpoint Charlie and more. It’s one of the most unique and fun things to do in Berlin, and they run 365 das a year, so it’s one of many great things to do in Berlin in winter.
26. See the city by bike.
Berlin is really cycle-friendly, with bike hire places everywhere and a bike-sharing scheme in the city. One of the best things to do in Berlin is to get a bike for a few hours or even a day and see all the main landmarks in Berlin on two wheels!
27. Walk up to the glass dome of the Reichstag.
The glass dome of the German Parliamentary building, Reichstag, boasts some of the best views across Berlin. One of the best free things to do in Berlin is to visit the home of the German Parliament and see the cityscape with your own eyes. While you’re there, you’ll get a free tour of the building and learn about its history.
Admission to the Reichstag is free, but you must register online in advance. Click here to find out more.
28. Climb the 270 steps to the top of the Victory Column.
One of the best things to do in Berlin is to take in the best views of the city from the top of the Victory Tower. Berlin’s Siegessäule – Victory Column – is another Berlin landmark that has reinvented itself. Once a symbol of Prussian military victory, it is now one of Berlin’s main tourist attractions and the observation deck offers some of the best views of Berlin.
29. Take a tour around Berlin's Tempelhof Airport.
Exploring Tempelhof Airport and learn more about German history with a local guide is one of the most interesting things to do in Berlin. The airport building is one of the most spectacular in Europe, a historically protected landmark and a symbol of everything that happened. Some may see it as the building that was used in World War II as a weapons production site, but others see Tempelhof as a symbol of freedom after the 1948-49 air lift, or as a gateway to freedom during the division of Germany. Learn more about the airport on a guided tour, and then spend the afternoon soaking up the sun in Tempelhof Park (formerly the airfield).
30. Say hello to the peacocks on Peacock Island.
If you’re spending summer in Berlin, you cannot miss Peacock Island (Pfaueninsel). Take a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon saying hello to the peacocks, taking photos, wandering around the island, marvelling at the Prussian architecture (especially Peacock House), have your picnic in the Liegeweise and stop and smell the roses in the rose garden.
What are your favourite things to do in Berlin?
Where are your favourite places to visit in Berlin? Anything you’d add?
Love as always and happy adventuring,
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