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As you may or may not be aware, Berlin is big. The perfect way to sum up just how big Germany’s capital city is, was when our tour guide asked us “Have your feet told you how big Berlin is yet?”. Thankfully, comfy shoes were the first thing in our case before our trip.
Fun Fact : Berlin is actually nine times larger than Paris!
As you would expect, a larger area means more space to fill with attractions and things to do. There are a number of top things to do in Berlin, spread all over the city. There is no best time to visit Berlin. The German capital has events and attractions to cater for every season.
If you are visiting in Spring / Summer, you’ll be pleased to know that over one-third of Germany’s capital is made of green space. Alternatively, if you are visiting in Winter, the city hosts loads of Christmas markets to keep you busy.
If you are simply looking for a basic itinerary for things to do in Berlin over a long weekend, then have a read of my 3-day itinerary.
Otherwise, have a scroll through some of the city’s top attractions below.
Top Things To Do In Berlin
The Reichstag is the home of the Bundestag (the German Parliament). You can join a 90-minute tour, or simply visit the dome. Tours are booked directly from the Bundestag website. The best part about this is that it is free! I suggest opting for the 90-minute tour to learn about the interesting history of the building. However, if you are short for time, you should skip this and head for the dome which offers spectacular views of the parliamentary and government district and Berlin’s sights.
Next to the Reichstag building, is probably the most famous attraction in Berlin; the Brandenburg Gate. The gate itself stands at 26 meters tall. This is now a symbol of the reunification of Germany since the fall of the wall, and the only surviving historic gate into Germany. The gate was opened in 1791 and, at the time, was simply to mark the end of the street Unter Den Linden. Every year, around 1,000,000 people attend the New Year’s Eve celebration at the gate.
The landmark you will that be visible throughout the majority of the city is the TV tower (Fernsehturm). The tower is 368 meters tall, making it the tallest structure in Germany and the fourth tallest freestanding structure in Europe. At 203 meters high, there is an internal observation deck, restaurant and bar. This can get very busy during the peak seasons, so it’s worth planning ahead and purchasing a skip the line ticket.
Berlin’s Museum Island is home to 5 museums and the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom). Highlights of the museums have to be the bust of Nefertiti within the Neues Museum, the breathtaking Pergamon Altar and the stunning Ishtar Gate located within the Pergamon Museum. Have a stroll around the island admiring the buildings before popping into the museum you most fancy. Or, if you are feeling adventurous, get the All Exhibition Day Ticket and try to tick them all off your list.
East Side Gallery
A little further out of the centre of Mitte (where the main tourist attractions are located) is the East Side Gallery. This is the only remaining section of the Berlin wall in its original location. Now it is an open-air gallery consisting of a series of murals. The piece of wall is 1.3km long. This is worth the trip to spend some time walking alongside the wall, admiring the artworks from hundreds of artists.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a pretty imposing place located near the Brandenburg Gate. Opened in 2005, this serves as a place of contemplation and remembrance dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide of World War II. The memorial consists of 2,711 blocks of concrete varying in size; which are reminiscent of tombstones. There is also an information centre located underneath the memorial if you want to find out more.
I have included Checkpoint Charlie here as it is one of Berlin’s most famous attractions. It is a reminder of the former border crossing, the Cold War and the partition of Berlin. However, I was underwhelmed by it. Nowadays, this is simply a sign and a reconstructed guard booth with potentially an actor to get a picture with. Aside from this, there is not much to see. Nothing felt authentic in my opinion. Although it is worth noting, Checkpoint Charlie is named after the phonetic alphabet “C” and not a person called Charlie! If you have time, go see it. Otherwise, don’t sacrifice something else for this attraction.
Take a romantic wander through Viktoriapark. Located in Kreuzberg, this urban park is a nice getaway from the busy capital city. The park contains a mountain waterfall, a vineyard and a national memorial.
The Botanical Garden has 20,000 plant species flowering on site. The Gardens are divided into 3 main areas: A park-like arboretum; the exhibition area showcasing plants from around the world in their geographical context; Plant collection with thousands of plant types. One way to make this extra special is to visit at night when the gardens are illuminated in various colours.
Charlottenburg Palace is a 17th-century palace located around 15 to 20 minutes drive from the centre of Berlin. At the start of the 18th century, a large garden and woodland area was added to the grounds. This is the largest and most decorated palace in Berlin.
Whether you are young or old, who doesn’t like a trip to the zoo? Berlin’s Zoo offers around 20,000 animals of around 1,300 species meaning that they have something for everyone. Although this is the oldest zoo in Berlin, the grounds are well kept and have a modern feel. A highlight of my trip was watching the bear trying to get the attention of the employees during the wolfs’ feeding time. This is a must for any animal lovers.
Another place to get away from city life is a trip to Tempelhof Feld. This abandoned airport is now a park/recreational area. The airport ceased operating in 2008 and is now a bustling area in the summer where many locals come for a barbeque and to relax. If you have any spare time during your trip, head to here to re-energise yourself.
Okay, so I am cheating a little here and including some fun attractions from around this area. Within the vicinity of Potsdamer Platz, there is the Mall of Berlin for the shoppers among you, Panoramapukt for those who like to ascend up to a viewpoint (see the image below), and the Sony Centre to relax.
Attend a Sports Event
The city has two main football teams, Union Berlin and Hertha Berlin. Both teams are currently competing in Germany’s top football league, the Bundesliga. Despite this, Hertha Berlin’s Olympiastadion is by far the more impressive of the two. Try to catch a game, or simply book the tour and find out the history of the football club and also the stadium’s history including the Olympic Games and the Nazi propaganda prior to World World II. The tour is well worth the journey!
If indoor sports are more your thing, the Mercedes Benz Arena is the home of the ice hockey team Eisbären Berlin. I must admit, I have no interest in Ice Hockey, but the match I attended was incredibly entertaining from pregame until the conclusion of the match (even if I don’t understand the rules!).
If you want a better idea of how to fit these into the perfect trip to Berlin, check out my 3 days in Berlin itinerary.