Things to do in Berlin

Berlin is teeming with history and its key attractions bear testimony to that. The sobering Checkpoint Charlie and Jewish Museum serve as stark reminders of Germany's complex past, and history buffs enjoy exploring all the museums and memorials the German capital has to offer. The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall are now the Eastside Gallery, the largest open-air gallery in the world, displaying graffiti from more than 118 artists from around the world.

Younger travellers enjoy visiting the Legoland Discovery Centre, while the historic Hamburger Bahnhof, one of the most popular art galleries, is a must for culture lovers. The Potsdamer Platz is a wonderful place to explore, boasting a fantastic mix of restaurants, shopping centres, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas. The Kollhoff-Tower located in the square features a panorama platform which offers breathtaking views of the city, reached by Europe's fastest express elevator.

The Berlin Museum ticket, which is valid for three consecutive days, allows free entry to about 40 museums, while the Berlin Welcome Card offers discounts on most of Berlin's major attractions, as well as free travel on public transport within the city. Prices depend on how many days the card is required for. Both cards can be bought online or from railway stations and tourist information centres.

Brandenburg Gate photo

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is impressive and symbolic, built with sandstone in 1791 and consisting of 12 massive Doric columns. The massive gate is topped with a stunning statue of the G…

Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate is impressive and symbolic, built with sandstone in 1791 and consisting of 12 massive Doric columns. The massive gate is topped with a stunning statue of the Goddess of Victory facing east towards the city centre, which was added in 1794. The gate is closed to traffic, as is the adjacent Pariser Platz, a square at the end of the beautiful Unter den Linden Boulevard. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, new buildings have been built to designs closely following those destroyed in WWII. It's easy and worthwhile to hire a guide for the area because the Brandenburg Gate has an intriguing history and a special place in the German culture.

Checkpoint Charlie photo

Checkpoint Charlie

The infamous border crossing point in the Berlin Wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become something of a shrine, with the addition of a museum: the Checkpoint Charlie Muse…

Checkpoint Charlie

The infamous border crossing point in the Berlin Wall dividing West and East Berlin has now become something of a shrine, with the addition of a museum: the Checkpoint Charlie Museum. While the original metal shed is now on display at the Allied Museum, the soldier's post can be visited and tourists can be photographed under the border sign. The museum's permanent exhibition charts the lifespan of the wall, displays objects used to get under, over or through the wall, as well as the stories of those defectors who risked their lives to win their freedom. It hosts lectures and film screenings, and also houses temporary exhibits focusing on general human rights.

Address Friedrichstraße 43-45

Website www.mauermuseum.de

Transport

U-Bahn - U6 (Kochstraße) or U2 (Stadtmitte); Bus - M29 (Kochstraße) or M48 (Stadtmitte)

Opens Daily 9am to 10pm.

Admission

€14.50 (adults), €9.50 (students), €7.50 (under 18s), free for children under 6. Other concessions available.

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery photo

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery

The remains of the Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section is given over to graffiti artists from around the world, demonstra…

Berlin Wall East Side Gallery

The remains of the Berlin Wall have now become the largest open-air art gallery in the world. The longest section is given over to graffiti artists from around the world, demonstrating their skills on the 4,318 foot (1,316m) concrete canvas and turning it into a Berlin landmark. Some of the best known paintings are Dimitri Vrubel's Brotherly Kiss and Gunther Shaefer's Fatherland. The gallery is billed as an international memorial for freedom, the art reflecting the idealism and excitement of the time when the wall was pulled down in 1989.

Address Mühlenstraße

Website www.eastsidegallery-berlin.de

Admission

Free

Berlin Jewish Museum photo

Berlin Jewish Museum

The Berlin Jewish Museum in Lindenstrasse has gained an international reputation for its significant architecture and unique exhibitions. The bulk of the museum is housed in an int…

Berlin Jewish Museum

The Berlin Jewish Museum in Lindenstrasse has gained an international reputation for its significant architecture and unique exhibitions. The bulk of the museum is housed in an intimidating windowless and doorless building situated alongside the yellow Baroque edifice of the Berlin Museum. Visitors enter through the Berlin Museum to explore exhibition rooms clustered around a main axis void, designed to signify the empty and invisible aspects of Jewish history. The museum and its displays are beautifully designed and can be emotionally overwhelming, mixing personal stories, interactive exhibits and mementos with more formal and informative history.

Address Lindenstrasse 9-14

Website www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de

Transport

U1, U6 to Hallesches Tor or U6 to Kochstraße

Opens Monday 10am to 10pm; Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 8pm.

Admission

€8 (adults); €3 (reduced).

Hamburger Bahnhof photo

Hamburger Bahnhof

One of the most popular galleries in Berlin, the historic Hamburger Bahnhof in the central Tiergarten district, exhibits an extensive contemporary art collection. Built in 1846 but…

Hamburger Bahnhof

One of the most popular galleries in Berlin, the historic Hamburger Bahnhof in the central Tiergarten district, exhibits an extensive contemporary art collection. Built in 1846 but badly damaged during World War II, this former train station offers 107,639 square feet (10,000 sq metres) of space filled with works by the likes of Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys and Roy Lichtenstein. The permanent display is the Marx private collection, but there are changing exhibitions and good examples of transavanguardia and minimalism. The gallery holds regular free guided tours for the public, with times displayed on the website.

Address Invalidenstraße 50- 51

Website www.smb.museum/en/museums-institutions/hamburger-bahnhof

Transport

U6 to Zinnowitzer St.; tram M6, M8 or 12; S3, S5, S7, S9, S75 to Hauptbahnhof

Opens Closed Mondays; Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday open 10am to 6pm, Thursday open 10am to 8pm, Saturday and Sunday open 11am to 6pm.

Admission

€14 adults; €7 reduced; children under 16 free

Potsdamer Platz photo

Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', emerging with the fall of the Wall in 1989. The square now contains an exciting mix of restaurants, hotels, a casino, the…

Potsdamer Platz

Potsdamer Platz is the heart and soul of the 'New Berlin', emerging with the fall of the Wall in 1989. The square now contains an exciting mix of restaurants, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas, drawing Berliners and tourists seeking culinary delights and memorable recreation. The focus of the square is the 22-storey Debis Haus designed by Renzo Piano, featuring an atrium with cathedral-like dimensions. The Kollhoff building features a panorama platform offering gorgeous panorama of the city, reached by Europe's fastest express elevator. The Sony Store is the most recent addition, consisting of eight buildings around a light-flooded arena, which also houses Berlin's popular Film Museum.

Website www.potsdamerplatz.de

Legoland Discovery Centre photo

Legoland Discovery Centre

The Legoland Discovery Centre is the first indoor Legoland in the world and provides an interactive journey through a land of creativity, learning and play. Kids will love themed a…

Legoland Discovery Centre

The Legoland Discovery Centre is the first indoor Legoland in the world and provides an interactive journey through a land of creativity, learning and play. Kids will love themed areas ranging from dinosaurs to ninjas. There is a fun factory where Lego bricks are made, a 4D cinema show and even miniature Berlin sights made from Lego. Consistently rated as one of the best family attractions in Berlin, it's also a great place to celebrate birthdays as there are special party rooms for hire and all sorts of exciting perks. The park is designed mainly for kids aged between three and 10.

Address Sony Centre, 4 Potsdamer Platz

Website www.legolanddiscoverycentre.de

Transport

Bus M41 to Potsdamer Platz, or M48, 200, 357 to Varian-Fry-Str. U-Bahn U2, S1, S2, S25, RE3, RE4, RE5 to Potsdamer Platz station

Opens Open daily 10am to 7pm (last admission 5pm).

Admission

€19.50; children under two are free

The Story of Berlin photo

The Story of Berlin

The Story of Berlin is an interactive exhibition recounting the history of the German capital from its foundation until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It's divided into 25 th…

The Story of Berlin

The Story of Berlin is an interactive exhibition recounting the history of the German capital from its foundation until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It's divided into 25 themed rooms and pays attention to the feelings, thoughts and living conditions of common Berliners, excelling in recreating the atmosphere, mood and aesthetic of different periods. The museum is modern and impressively designed, with a compelling mix of historical analysis and more personal, anecdotal material. One of its main attractions is the nuclear bunker built during the Cold War in the 1970s, and admission price includes an audio tour of it.

Address Kurfürstendamm 207-208

Website www.story-of-berlin.de

Transport

Subway to Uhlandstrasse or Kurfürstendamm, S-Bahn to Savignyplatz or Zoologischer Garten, or bus to Uhlandstrasse

Opens Currently under renovation. Open daily 10am to 8pm. No entry after 6pm, which is when the last guided tour starts.

Admission

€12 (adults), €9 (reduced). Other concessions available.

Gendarmenmarkt photo

Gendarmenmarkt

Said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin was created as a marketplace in the 17th century. During World War II most of the buildings sur…

Gendarmenmarkt

Said to be one of the most beautiful squares in Europe, the Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin was created as a marketplace in the 17th century. During World War II most of the buildings surrounding the square were destroyed, but have since been reconstructed and returned to their former glory. The square is dominated by the beautiful concert house, a special place to catch a performance and home to the Berlin Symphony Orchestra, while other notable buildings are the twin churches of Deutscher Dom and Franzosischer Dom, identical German and French cathedrals. The Gendarmenmarkt stays busy even in winter, playing host to Berlin's best Christmas market and various concerts.

Transport

Bus N6 or U-bahn U2 and U6

Charlottenburg Palace photo

Charlottenburg Palace

Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest and oldest palace in Berlin. The 18th-century Baroque structure was originally constructed as the summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife o…

Charlottenburg Palace

Schloss Charlottenburg is the largest and oldest palace in Berlin. The 18th-century Baroque structure was originally constructed as the summer home for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Elector Frederick III who became the first Prussian king. The splendid interiors are festooned with masterpieces of art, including the largest collection of 18th-century French paintings anywhere outside of France. The surrounding gardens contain a mausoleum, pavilion and the Belvedere, which houses the porcelain museum. For centuries the best artists, architects and landscapers were commissioned to improve and enrich the palace, while the gardens are also lovely.

Address Spandauer Damm 10-22

Website www.spsg.de

Transport

U2 or bus 309 to Sophie-Charlotte-Platz

Opens 10am-6pm (April to October) and 10am-5pm (November to March); closed Mondays.

Admission

Combined ticket for Charlottenburg: €25 (adults)

Berliner Dom photo

Berliner Dom

The magnificent basilica of the Berlin Cathedral was finished in 1905, standing on the site of several earlier structures. The largest church in the city, the structure holds activ…

Berliner Dom

The magnificent basilica of the Berlin Cathedral was finished in 1905, standing on the site of several earlier structures. The largest church in the city, the structure holds active services, concerts and tours. Visitors love the organ, the stained glass windows and the intricate mosaics decorating the dome. The cathedral's crypt contains over 80 sarcophagi of Purssian royals, with both tours and audio guides on offer.

Address Am Lustgarten, Museum Island

Website www.berlinerdom.de

Transport

S-bahn and U-bahn to Alexanderplatz; bus 100, 157 or 348; tram 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 15 or 53

Opens Opening times vary day to day and the church is sometimes closed for services or events - check the website for opening times.

Admission

€7 (adults), free (children)

Pergamon Museum photo

Pergamon Museum

Considered one of the best attractions in Berlin, the huge Pergamon Museum has three main departments: the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum and the Middle East Museum. …

Pergamon Museum

Considered one of the best attractions in Berlin, the huge Pergamon Museum has three main departments: the Antiquity Collection, the Islamic Art Museum and the Middle East Museum. They house parts or replicas of reconstructed monumental buildings transported from excavation sites in foreign lands. The Antiquity Collection contains the Pergamon Altar from the second century BC, as well as the Market Gate of Miletus from Roman antiquity. The main attraction in the Islamic Art Museum is the Mshatta façade originating from a Jordanian desert palace. The Middle East Museum houses the Ishtar Gate and the Procession Way of Babylon, as well as the throne room façade of Nebuchadnezzar II.

Address Am Kupfergraben 5, Museum Island

Website www.smb.spk-berlin.de

Transport

U-Bahn and S-Bahn to Friedrichstrasse; tram M1, M4, M5, M6, or 12; bus 100, 200 or 147

Opens Daily 10am-6pm; Thursday 10am-8pm

Admission

€12 adults; €6 reduced

Natural History Museum photo

Natural History Museum

Boasting more than 30 million objects throughout its geological, paleontological and zoological collections, the Museum of Natural History in Berlin is the biggest of its kind in G…

Natural History Museum

Boasting more than 30 million objects throughout its geological, paleontological and zoological collections, the Museum of Natural History in Berlin is the biggest of its kind in Germany and one of the five largest in the world. Visitors enjoy discovering extensive treasures and learning while they wander the exhibition halls, which take up a massive 71,000 square feet (6,600sq/m). Apart from the ever-popular dinosaur exhibit, highlights include sections on evolution, domestic animals, the cosmos and solar systems, minerals and more. The museum is well organised, with labels in multiple languages and audio tapes available in about 10 languages.

Address Invalidenstr. 43

Website www.naturkundemuseum-berlin.de

Transport

U-Bahn - U6 to U Naturkundemuseum

Opens Tuesday to Friday 9.30am-6pm; Weekend and public holidays 10am-6pm. Closed Mondays.

Admission

€8 adults; €5 reduced; concessions available

Berlin Zoo-Aquarium photo

Berlin Zoo-Aquarium

Children and families love nothing more than trips to the zoo or the aquarium, and Berlin's stunning Zoo-Aquarium combines both with a large focus on conservation and responsible e…

Berlin Zoo-Aquarium

Children and families love nothing more than trips to the zoo or the aquarium, and Berlin's stunning Zoo-Aquarium combines both with a large focus on conservation and responsible enclosures. The facility is one of the most popular in Europe, entertaining millions of visitors each year with its immense biodiversity from rhinos and pandas to sharks and penguins. Thematic tours such as South America, Asia and Africa are on offer, while there are often special events during the year celebrating Halloween, Easter and Christmas which kids will love. The world's largest inner-city park, Tiergarten adjoins the zoo and a visit is pleasantly combined with a stroll or picnic through these beautiful gardens.

Address 32 Budapester Street

Website www.aquarium-berlin.de

Transport

S-Bahn - Zoologischer Garten S-Bahn stop (S5 + S7 + S75 + S9)

Opens Open daily from 9am-6pm.

Admission

Aquarium only: €16 (adults); €8 (children under 15). Zoo and Aquarium combined: €22 (adults); €11 (children under 15). Concessions available.

Allied Museum photo

Allied Museum

Occupying an abandoned movie theatre, this museum displays the history of the Allied forces in Germany during World War II and their peacetime presence until 1994. The Allied Museu…

Allied Museum

Occupying an abandoned movie theatre, this museum displays the history of the Allied forces in Germany during World War II and their peacetime presence until 1994. The Allied Museum's collections include all kinds of military memorabilia: airplanes, motor vehicles, weapons, uniforms, documents, photos and other artefacts, including the original Checkpoint Charlie shed. One section focuses on the years 1945 to 1950, covering the end of the war and the Berlin Airlift, while another explores Germany's Cold War experience between 1951 and 1994, featuring large pieces of the Berlin Wall illustrating the history of West Berlin as an island in the Soviet zone. The museum also organises periodic events such as lectures, film screening and special exhibitions.

Address Clayallee 135 - Outpost

Website www.alliiertenmuseum.de

Opens Daily 10am to 6pm; closed Mondays.

Admission

Free

Reichstag photo

Reichstag

The Reichstag is one of Berlin's most famous buildings and the seat of Germany's parliament since 1894. Enduring a volatile history, its 1999 renovation saw the building gutted, le…

Reichstag

The Reichstag is one of Berlin's most famous buildings and the seat of Germany's parliament since 1894. Enduring a volatile history, its 1999 renovation saw the building gutted, leaving only the facade and the addition of a glass-domed atrium providing stunning panoramas of Berlin. Tours are on offer but visits are done by contacting the Reichstag beforehand. Although the office is helpful there are thousands of people making this request so advance planning is required to avoid disappointment. There are free audio tapes available in a number of languages.

Address Platz der Republik 1

Website www.bundestag.de/kulturundgeschichte/architektur/reichstag

Opens Daily 8am-midnight

Admission

Free

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