Capital of Germany, Berlin attracts many tourists every year, but especially culture vultures and night owls. A destination renowned for its alternative dimension, Berlin is a mixture of modernity and history. It stands out as an essential city in Europe.
We visit it for its famous wall, for its emblematic monuments, as well as for the cultural attractions that animate it, starting with its many museums and its street-art. We also like it for its general avant-garde atmosphere, which sets it apart from other German cities.
In short, Berlin is a city apart, which holds many surprises. Are you planning to go there soon? We have selected 15 things to do and see for a first stay!
1. See the Berlin Wall
Impossible to miss this essential tourist attraction of the city. And that’s understandable when you know the (fairly recent) history of the Berlin Wall. Symbol of the opposition between the Eastern bloc and the Western bloc, the latter was destroyed on the night of November 9 to 10, 1989, but a section remained standing.
The most famous and important part of the wall is 1.3 kilometers long. Located to the east of the city, in the Friedrichschain district, it is called East Side Gallery , in reference to the many street-art works that adorn it.
Do you want to learn more about the History of the Berlin Wall and this period of division? Meet at
Wall Museum, at the East Side Gallery.
2. Visit the Reichstag Palace
Built at the end of the 19th century, when the first German Reich (empire) was created, the Reichstag Palace is an emblematic monument of the city. Located Platz der Republik, in the Tiergarten district, it houses the Bundestag , the parliamentary assembly of the Federal Republic of Germany, whose role is to represent the people.
Symbol of democracy, witness to the history of the country, the Reichstag also surprises with its architectural beauty. You can visit it and discover many works, a memorial, as well as the stigmata of the Nazi party.
3. Admire the Brandenburg Gate
Another must-see monument in the city of Berlin: the Brandenburg Gate. Erected between 1788 and 1791 by the Prussian architect and builder Carl Gotthard Langhans , in honor of the Prussian King Frederick William II, it dominates Pariser Platz and was one of the ancient gateways to the city.
Once representative of the division of the country, it was an integral part of the wall. It was only in 1989, during the fall of the latter, followed by reunification, that it regained the status of a symbol of peace, thus becoming an emblem of rediscovered unity.
From its 26 meters high, the Brandenburg Gate is inspired by the neoclassical style of the Propylaea of the Acropolis of Athens. It is a must on your next visit!
4. Stop at Checkpoint Charlie
The most famous border crossing of the Cold War era, marking the border between West and East Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie was a strong symbol of the city’s political division. Until the fall of the Wall, it was the most important transit point for diplomats, foreigners, but also prisoners.
For the record, his name comes from the phonetic alphabet of NATO: Charlie designates the letter “C”. Today, Checkpoint Charlie is an unmissable tourist spot, where many visitors flock to strike a pose.
5. Pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial
Many memorials are subtle, like the multiple bronze cobblestones in front of every Berlin apartment that housed a deported Jewish resident. But if you’re visiting Berlin, know that the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe , better known as the Holocaust Memorial, has none of that.
It is made up of 2711 stelae of different sizes, which constitute a sort of labyrinthine cemetery. Impressive, highly symbolic, it should be visited in parallel with the information center that completes it: an 800 square meter space bringing together resources and testimonies from one of the darkest periods in history.
To learn more about the rise to power of the Third Reich and the transformation of Germany under Nazi rule, leading to the genocide of the Jews, be sure to take a guided tour of the Holocaust Memorial with a local historian.
6. Treat yourself to a breathtaking view at the top of the Television Tower
What to do in Berlin to have a breathtaking view of the city? Climb to the top of the famous Fernsehturm , aka the TV Tower! With its 368 meters in height, it is the tallest building in the German capital. From its observatory, treat yourself to a panoramic view of the rooftops of Berlin.
Even better: revel in the view over a delicious meal at Sphère, the Tower’s revolving restaurant. You will taste it modern, international cuisine, from 28 euros. A word of advice: remember to book in advance!
7. Stroll through the Tiergarten garden
A veritable green lung of Berlin, the Tiergarten is ideal for escaping the hubbub of the city. The locals meet there to stroll in any season, on foot or by bike, in relaxation mode or for a sports session.
Located in the diplomatic (and eponymous) district of the capital, it includes many points of interest. Among them, the Café am Neuen See , the Kulturforum and to the southwest, the unmissable Berlin Zoo , the oldest in the country. Our recommendation? Discover the hidden corners of the famous park during a guided bike tour!
8. Getting to Tempelhof Park
Formerly an international airport, now transformed into a giant park, Tempelhof is a must-see tourist site during your visit to Berlin. Its area of 380 hectares and its atypical atmosphere attract many curious people every year, excited at the idea of strolling on the old landing strips!
Among the many sports and activities that you can practice on this site: sand yachting or kiteboarding. Fancy something more traditional? Take a walk in front of the community gardens then let yourself be tempted by a picnic in a musical atmosphere. This is also where the Berlin Music Festival takes place!
9. Visit Charlottenburg Palace
Are you coming to visit Berlin and you have a desire for castles? Don’t miss the one in Charlottenburg! Located to the west of the city, this Baroque-style monument is the largest palace in Berlin. It was built between 1695 and 1699, on the orders of Queen Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick III , then Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia.
Many marvels are to be discovered inside the palace, but also outside, with in particular the Gold Gallery, the Silver Room, the Mausoleum or the Belvedere. You can also dine and attend a concert at Charlottenburg Palace , to enjoy the magic of Rococo and be totally immersed in the era of Sophie Charlotte of Hanover!
10. Take part in the giant karaoke at the Mauerpark
In the heart of Berlin, in the bohemian district of Prenzlauerberg, the Mauerpark is an unmissable landmark for lovers of a musical and relaxed atmosphere with hippie accents.
The park’s unmissable attraction takes place every Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m.: it’s the Bear Pit karaoke , a giant karaoke that brings together nearly 1,000 people! You will have the opportunity to attend as a spectator but also to push the song, if the heart tells you…
As a bonus, the Mauerpark also offers a flea market and many spaces appreciated by Sunday sports enthusiasts and artists of all kinds, especially street artists. And if you let yourself be tempted by a graffiti workshop?
11. Discover Museum Island
Museum Island, in German Museumsinsel , was created on the initiative of King Frederick William III , at the beginning of the 19th century.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, it includes Berlin Cathedral aka Berliner Dom , the city’s main historic Protestant church. But above all, it brings together a set of 5 must-see museums in Berlin:
- Bode Museum
- The Altes Museum
- Le New Museum
- The Alte Nationalgalerie
- The Pergamon Museum
12. Visit the Pergamon Museum
Located on Museum Island, it deserved to have its own paragraph: because yes, visiting Berlin necessarily includes visiting the Pergamon Museum, to discover some of the most beautiful treasures of Antiquity. With more than 1 million visitors a year, it is also the most visited museum in the city and the most visited German art museum in the world!
In addition to the Antiquities Collection, you will be able to discover, among other things, very beautiful masterpieces promoting Islamic arts and other cultural delights of the Near East.
13. Have a doner kebab at Mustafa Gemüse Kebab
It’s hard to talk about the essentials in Berlin without stopping at Berlin’s most famous street-food kiosk: Mustafa Gemüse Kebab. Reputed to be the best kebab in Berlin , it is located in the very trendy district of Kreuzberg . Far from the salad-tomato-onion triptych, Mustafa’s kebabs surprise with their flavor and freshness: grilled vegetables, feta cheese, lemon, mint, small sautéed potatoes, meat that melts in your mouth, in short , the recipe for happiness (you will have understood, at the editorial staff, we particularly liked this address).
Good to know: a stone’s throw away is Curry 36 , another gourmet kiosk that showcases a Berlin street-food specialty: Curry wurst (literally curry sausage).
14. Go out to Berghain
Berlin is famous for its nightlife and especially for its electronic music clubs. If there is one to remember, it is the Berghain. Considered one of the most famous clubs in the world , the Berghain attracts the curiosity of many tourists… You still have to be able to get in!
The reputation – sulphurous – of the establishment is such that every weekend there is a queue that would demotivate more than one. A word of advice: arm yourself with patience. And if you thought you could share snippets of the club’s electro atmosphere with your friends, don’t even think about it: photos and videos are strictly prohibited. It is well known: what happens in Berghain stays in Berghain. On good terms…
15. Explore the city underground
There is much more to visit in Berlin than you might think. During the Cold War, many bunkers and shelters were built to protect residents from nuclear radiation fallout. In particular, you can take a tour of the underground world with the “Berliner Unterwelten ev” , an association that identifies, highlights and introduces people to Berlin’s underground heritage.
There are also a multitude of nightclubs in the basements of the city.