Berlin travel guide: what to see, do and eat in Berlin

This guide is for tourists who want to visit Berlin. If you want to move to Berlin, read my moving to Berlin guide .

Visa requirements

You might need a visa to visit Germany. It depends on your citizenship:

  • EU , EEA and Swiss citizens You can visit Germany without a visa. You can stay as long as you want. You can also live and work in Germany.
  • Other Schengen area residents You can visit Germany without a visa. You stay in Germany for 90 days in a 180 day period. 1 If you want to stay longer , or work in Germany , you need a residence permit .
  • Citizens of other countries People from certain countries can visit Germany for 90 days without a visa. Other people need a Schengen Visa to visit Germany. A Schengen Visa costs 75 €. 2 You can apply for a Schengen visa at the German embassy or consulate in your country .

Visa requirements by country  – Federal Foreign Office

How to travel to Berlin

Fly to the Berlin Brandenburg airport . Use Kayak , Omio , Rome2Rio or Google Flights to book your flight.

To get from the airport to the city, you can…

  • Use public transit (recommended) Take a train from BER airport to Berlin. It takes 30 to 45 minutes. Use Google Maps or BVG Fahrinfo . The airport is in zone C, so you must buy an ABC ticket. The ticket costs 4.40 €. You can buy tickets at the airport, near the train platform. You can pay with cash or a credit card. 3 Validate your ticket before you get on the train. –  How to use public transit
  • Take a taxi There are taxis outside the BER airport. A ride from the airport to the city centre costs at least 50 €. 4 You can also book a taxi with Uber or FreeNow . You can pay with cash or a credit card. 5
  • Rent a car You can rent a car at the airport. There are kiosks for different car rental companies. You can also rent a Miles car.

By intercity bus

Intercity buses are often cheaper than planes or trains. Use Rome2Rio or Omio to buy bus tickets. Some buses let you bring a bicycle.

Most buses have free Wi-Fi, power outlets and a small toilet.

Most intercity buses arrive at…

  • Berlin Brandenburg airport , 45 minutes from the centre
  • Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (ZOB), 25 minutes from the centre
  • Alexanderplatz , in the centre

If you arrive at BER airport, you need an ABC train ticket to get to Berlin. It costs 4.40 €.

Intercity trains are more comfortable, but also more expensive. They arrive directly in the city centre. Most trains have free Wi-Fi, but it’s often unreliable. Some trains let you bring a bicycle.

Most trains stop at the central train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof . This is in the middle of Berlin.

Use Rome2Rio , Omio , or Google Maps to find a train route. To pay less, use the Super Saver Fare or book your tickets long in advance.

By car or motorcycle

You can drive in Germany with a foreign driving licence. You might need a translation or an International Driving Permit.

Who can drive in Germany ➞

Driving in Berlin is easy, but free parking is hard to find.

Most parking spaces in the centre cost 1 € to 4 € per hour. 6 Use Parkopedia to find a free or paid parking space. Most parking spaces outside of the central neighbourhoods are free. Motorcycles can park on the sidewalk for free.

You can also park outside the city and take the train to Berlin. There are free Park and Ride (P+R) car parks . You can park your car there for free, and take the train to Berlin. You can find them on this map (in Multi-mobility), or with this list .

The area inside the Ringbahn is an environmental zone . You need a green environmental sticker to drive in this area. You can get a green sticker at most gas stations around Berlin. Motorcycles don’t need a green sticker to enter this zone.

Information about the environmental zone  –

By car sharing

BlaBlaCar lets you ride with drivers who travel to Berlin. You meet them in one place, and drive together to another city. Car sharing is usually cheaper and faster than intercity buses, but it takes more planning.

How to get around in Berlin

How to find your way around berlin.

Google Maps works really well in Berlin. It also works offline. The BVG app and the Jelbi app let you see train schedules and buy train tickets, but it does not work offline. and OsmAnd have offline maps and directions.

How to use public transit in Berlin

Berlin has very good public transit. It’s the best way to get around, even when you have a car. Just make sure you buy the right ticket and validate it . If you are caught with the wrong ticket, you will get a 60 € fine .

You can buy a 24 hour, 7 day or 1 month ticket. It’s cheaper than buying a ticket every time. There’s also the WelcomeCard , a ticket that gives you rebates on museums and attractions.

How to use public transit ➞

How to rent a bicycle or a scooter

This is the best way to see Berlin . Berlin is very flat and has a lot of bike paths, so it’s easy to ride a bicycle or a scooter. You can rent them for around 10 € per day.

When I have visitors, this is my favourite way to show Berlin. I take my visitors along the river Spree and the Landwehrkanal.

Where to rent a bicycle ➞

Where to rent an electric scooter ➞

How to rent a car

You don’t need to rent a car in Berlin. It’s easier to use public transit. If you have an International Driving Permit or a EU driver’s licence, you can drive in Germany.

Where to rent a car ➞

What to see and do in Berlin

There are many lists of things to see in Berlin. See , WikiVoyage and Lonely Planet .

Main attractions

  • Berlin Wall ( Berliner Mauer ) Some parts of the Berlin wall were preserved. There is preserved part of the wall and a free museum on Bernauer Straße . The East Side Gallery is another part of the wall that was turned into a gallery.
  • Berlin Cathedral ( Berliner Dom ) The most famous church in Berlin. You can visit it, or relax on the grass in front of it. It’s on the museum island , close to many old museums.
  • Berliner Unterwelten Bunker, tunnel and air raid shelter tours. The tours are in German, English, French, Spanish and more. I have done 3 of their tours. They are very interesting.
  • Brandenburg Gate ( Brandenburger Tor ) The iconic gate on Berlin’s East-West axis.
  • Christmas markets In November and December, you can visit Berlin’s Christmas markets. There are dozens of them. Many are in scenic locations. There are dozens of kiosks that sell hot drinks, food, sweets and home-made goods. The Christmas markets are open from the middle of November to the end of December.
  • East Side Gallery A long mural painted directly on the Berlin wall.
  • Mauerpark Every Sunday, this park hosts a big flea market and an open air karaoke. Many musicians also play music there.
  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe Next to the Brandenburg gate is a large holocaust memorial and museum. You can walk through the memorial.
  • Museum island ( Museuminsel ) Museum island is home to the Berliner Dom, and many of the biggest, oldest museums. If you like beautiful old buildings, it’s worth a visit.
  • Oberbaum Bridge ( Oberbaumbrücke ) A beautiful bridge that goes across the river Spree. It’s right next to the East Side Gallery. You can also kayak on the Spree to get a really good view on the bridge.
  • Palace of tears ( Tränenpalast ) A small, free museum about the border control between East and West Germany. It’s in the old border crossing point, right next to the Friedrichstraße train station.
  • Reichstag building ( Reichstagsgebäude ) An iconic building. You can visit the cupola and the rooftop, and learn about the history of Berlin. It’s free, but you must make an appointment .
  • Soviet war memorials There are many memorials to the Red Army, who liberated Berlin in 1945. There are big memorials in Tiergarten , Treptower Park , and in Schönholzer Heide . The biggest one is in Treptower Park.
  • Tempelhof airfield ( Tempelhofer Feld ) This giant former airfield is where many Berliners go to relax, drink beer, skate, kite surf and cycle. It’s a great place to visit on a sunny day.
  • Teufelsberg** Teufelsberg is an artificial hill. There is a cold war listening station at the top. It’s now an open air gallery with a really good view of Berlin. If you don’t want to pay to visit Teufelsberg, you can visit Drachenberg, the other hill next to it.
  • TV tower ( Fernsehturm ) The TV tower in Alexanderplatz is visible from almost anywhere in Berlin. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower, and get a panoramic view of Berlin.
  • Victory Column ( Siegessäule ) The Victory Column in Tiergarten sits on Berlin’s East-West axis. You can go up the tower and see Tiergarten, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building from above.  – Official website with really good information

You can find events on , Facebook and Resident Advisor . You can find live music on Resident Advisor , Bandsintown , Songkick and Echtzeitmusik .

  • Berlinale film festival  – February This is the third largest film festival in the world, after Cannes and Venice. You can meet movie stars, and see all kinds of films.
  • Cherry blossom  – April and May After the reunification, a Japanese TV channel donated 10,000 cherry trees to Berlin. Most of them were planted where the Berlin wall was. Every spring, the cherry trees bloom and cover the alleys in rose petals.
  • Fête de la Musique  – June 21 A music festival in the entire city. There are musicians and concerts in every part of the city.
  • Zug der Liebe  – End of August The Zug der Liebe is a big parade with techno, dance and a lot of happy people.
  • Berlin Pride (CSD) – End of July A big LGBTQ+ parade with music trucks. It’s one of the largest Pride events in the world.
  • Christmas markets  – Middle of November until end of December Germany is famous for its Christmas markets. Berlin has dozens of different markets, including alternative markets like the Japanese Christmas market and the Naughty Xmas Market.

Official event calendar ➞

Public holidays in Berlin ➞

Walking tours

Guided tours are a great way to discover Berlin. Use GetYourGuide or Airbnb experiences to find walking tours, or look at this list . I highly recommend the Berliner Unterwelten tours.

Outside of Berlin

If you have a bit more time, Potsdam and Wannsee are worth seeing. You can get there by train. Potsdam is in zone C , so you need an ABC ticket.

In the last week of April, you can also see the Baumblütenfest in Werder. It’s one of the largest folk festivals in Brandenburg .

Clubs in Berlin

Berlin is famous for its techno clubs. It can be hard to get into certain clubs. Clubs don’t let everyone in. For example, they often reject tourists, big groups, drunk people, and people under 21 years old. 7

In Berlin, people don’t wear fancy clothes to go clubbing. If you dress too nice, you won’t get in. 8 Ask the locals what the unofficial dress code is.

Most clubs have a cover charge. You must pay 5 € to 15 € to get in. Clubs in Berlin stay open until the morning. The party starts late, and the busiest time is around 2AM. You can buy presale tickets for club events on Resident Advisor . When you have tickets, it’s easier to get in. 9

Find club events on Resident Advisor , or follow clubs on Facebook and Instagram.

What to eat in Berlin

Typical berlin street food.

  • Currywurst  – Currywurst is street food. It’s a pork sausage with a curry and ketchup sauce. It’s usually served with fries ( mit Pommes ) in a cardboard plate. Curry 36 is a good place to try a Currywurst mit Pommes . Konnopke’s Imbiss is another famous place.
  • Döner kebab  – The standard street food in Berlin. The best kebab places are a secret, but the worst kebabs are usually in train stations and tourist areas.
  • Gemüse döner (also called a chicken döner) – A döner kebab with chicken and fried vegetables. Mustafa’s , K’Ups and Rüyam are some of the most famous chicken Döner places.

Typical Berlin dishes

Cuisine of Berlin  – Wikipedia

Fleischerei Domke and Englers Unikat have cheap, traditional working class dishes. For something fancier, try Max und Moritz .

Tipping in restaurants

Most people tip in German restaurants, but it’s okay if you don’t. The waiter won’t be rude to you if you don’t tip. German waiters don’t need tips to survive, but it’s a big part of their income.

How to tip in Germany ➞

Where to stay in Berlin

There is no “down town Berlin”. There are many popular neighbourhoods, and each one has a different personality. If you stay anywhere in the Ringbahn , you should be okay.

  • Hotels:
  • Hostels: Hostelworld
  • Vacation apartments: Airbnb or Wimdu
  • Long term apartments: see How to find an apartment in Berlin

If you are more patient, you can also use CouchSurfing and BeWelcome . People host visitors for free, and spend time with them during their visit.

Shopping in Berlin

In Germany, shops and supermarkets close on Sundays . Most restaurants, tourist attractions, Spätis and gas stations stay open on Sundays.

Always have cash with you . Some restaurants and businesses only accept cash and Girocards . Most street food kiosks and Spätis only accept cash. Cards are rarely accepted for small transactions.

Berlin cash only sign

If you live outside the European Union , you can get a refund for the VAT you paid in Germany. For example, if you buy a laptop in Germany and bring it home in the United States, you can get the 19% VAT back. It’s not easy to do.

VAT refund process  – Federal Foreign Office

Stay connected

If you visit from another EU country, your SIM card will also work in Germany. You make calls, send SMS and use mobile data without any extra costs.

German power outlets

Germany has Type F power outlets. They have a voltage of 230V, and a frequency of 50Hz. Before you visit Germany, check if your devices will work there. You might need a travel adapter to charge your devices.

Power sockets in Germany ➞

Free Wi-Fi in Berlin

If you don’t have mobile data, you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere:

  • All U-Bahn stations have free Wi-Fi. Look for the “BVG Free WiFi” network.
  • Some S-Bahn stations also have free Wi-Fi. Look for the “WIFI@DB” network.
  • REWE and Lidl supermarkets have free Wi-Fi. 10 Some Edeka supermarkets also have free Wi-Fi.
  • Hotels and hostels have free Wi-Fi for their guests.

Map of public Wi-Fi hotspots  –

Prepaid SIM cards for tourists

You can buy a prepaid SIM card at the airport, and at Vodafone, Telekom and O2 stores. Saturn and MediaMarkt also sell and activate SIM cards. You must show your passport and a registration certificate to activate the SIM card, but store employees will just use your passport and the address of your hotel. 11

Information about SIM cards in Germany ➞

Google Maps works really well in Berlin. If you need offline maps, use OsmAnd or . Google Maps also works offline , but you can’t get directions.

You should also download the BVG app or the Jelbi app to buy train tickets. It’s easier than the ticket machines, and it’s in English. The Jelbi app also lets you book cars, scooters, bicycles and taxis.

Be a good tourist

You don’t need to speak German. People in the tourism industry often speak English. If you are not sure, ask first. Museum exhibitions are in German and English. Signs in tourist areas are also in English. If you want to live in Berlin , you should learn German . If you are just visiting, English is fine.

Do I need to speak German in Berlin? ➞

In Germany, tipping is optional. In general, people tip up to 10% for good service, or round the amount on the invoice.

Things you should not do

  • Do not walk on the bike paths Look down, and make sure you’re not blocking a bicycle path. If you walk on the bike path, cyclists will ring their bell, scream at you or even bump into you.
  • Do not put your glass bottles in the trash People collect empty bottles and return them for money . Don’t make people search for bottles in the trash. Put your empty bottles next to the bin. In some parks, bottle collectors ( Flaschensammler ) will walk around and ask for your empty bottles.
  • Do not joke about Nazis and the war You probably shouldn’t joke about this. It’s not funny, and it’s not original.

Berlin is a safe city even at night, but crimes still happen. Pickpockets steal phones and bags in trains and restaurants.

Cannabis is illegal in Germany . You can still buy it from dealers in parks, but it’s a really bad idea. You will get bad weed, and it’s often contaminated with chemicals.

Magic mushrooms, cocaine and MDMA are also illegal. If you buy MDMA or ecstasy in Berlin, the KnowDrugs app can help you verify what you buy.

How to buy weed in Berlin ➞

Emergency numbers in Berlin ➞

Lost things

Where to find lost things in Berlin ➞

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Berlin Travel Guide

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

travel guide for berlin

Berlin is a place of stark contrasts. On one hand, reminders of its turbulent past are everywhere. But it's also a modern megalopolis—that's geographically nine times bigger than Paris—with exciting new attractions and an inherent subversiveness. This juxtaposition makes it a destination unlike any other.

The big question for most travelers when venturing to Germany's once war-torn capital then becomes how to navigate the past while living in the present. It's essential to confront the heavier aspects of the city's history. However, that doesn't mean a visit to Berlin is all memorials and museums. (Though, it bears repeating that you should absolutely carve out ample time to do all that.) The contemporary side of things very much deserves exploration, too.

An artsy mecca with a slew of galleries and eccentric installations, Berlin transformed the last pieces of the wall that once divided it into a permanent open-air exhibition.

This sprawling city also has a wild side with nightlife at its center. There are hedonistic drinking dens with cabaret acts, swanky speakeasies and anything-goes clubs where people party for 48 hours (that's not an exaggeration). Add to that picturesque parks, a thriving food scene that's garnered international acclaim of late, a world-class zoo and a cool aesthetic sensibility with homegrown designers making a global name for themselves.

Overwhelmed? Berlin tends to have that effect on out-of-towners. Bookmark this guide to help plan your first (or next) trip.

CEST (Central European Summer Time)

Best Time to Go

May through October is the peak travel period in Berlin. Temperatures tend to be moderate, making it a lovely time to walk around, see the historic sites, hang out in the many green spaces and enjoy al fresco dining. Winter isn't the season that most tourists visit due to the less welcoming weather. However, holiday festivities—notably the fabled Christmas markets—are a bright light in the middle of what can feel like a very long, grey few months.

Things to Know

Currency: Euro (Check the current exchange rate )

Language: German

Calling Code: +49

How to Get Around

U-Bahn: The most convenient and efficient way to navigate Berlin, the U-Bahn , or subway system, has a total of 10 lines stopping at 173 stations. During the day, the iconic yellow U-Bahn trains depart every five minutes. At night, they leave in 10-minute intervals. Tickets are also valid across the Transport Association Berlin-Brandenburg VBB-operated S-Bahn, buses and trams.

S-Bahn: The S-Bahn is a network of suburban train lines that covers 15 lines and nearly 170 train stations. In the city center, it mostly runs above ground.

Buses: Metro buses M11 to M85 run 24/7. Day bus lines 100 to 399 connect the suburbs and city center. Night buses —which are marked with an N—cover the day bus and U-Bahn routes that cease operating overnight.

Trams & Metrotrams: Upwards of 20 tram lines extend the network of the U-Bahn through the eastern part of Berlin. The difference between trams and metrotrams is frequency, with the latter running more often.

Taxis: Public transport in Berlin is fantastic—and would be our recommendation. That said, if you'd rather take a car, taxis are widely available.

Rideshare: Prefer to hail an Uber? That's also an option.

Bicycles: Bike sharing is a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around thanks to companies like Nextbike and Donkey Republic. While electric bikes are available to rent through Wheels, Jump and LimeBike.

Best Hotels

Hotel de rome.

Address: Behrenstraße 37, 10117 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 4606090 Website

Located on Bebelplatz in historic East Berlin, Hotel de Rome occupies what was once the headquarters of 19th-century Dresden Bank. Brilliantly, this prestigious Rocco Forte property preserved many of the building's most spectacular original features—most interestingly the jewel vault that's now an indoor swimming pool. While sleek furnishings and colorful accents add modern flair to the mix.


Address: Oranienstraße 40, 10999 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 30 69539680


An upscale addition to the edgier side of Kreuzberg, Oriana.Berlin is a boutique stay with an elevated yet totally laid-back sensibility. It's impossible to pinpoint the singular thing that makes this hotel so stellar, however, the subtle Asian influences—headboards swathed in elephant-printed fabric and signature crispy-skinned duck at the restaurant—as well as jazz in the open-concept lobby, definitely play a part.

Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection

Address: Steinpl. 4, 10623 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 5544440 Website

The same air of glamour and sophistication that lured the likes of Brigitte Bardo to Hotel am Steinplatz remains today. Sure, the decor is different—not that anyone would complain about the gorgeously refreshed interiors (or the upgraded amenities for that matter)—but the distinctive Art Nouveau details endure. Plus, it's within walking distance of Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin Zoo.

SO/ Berlin Das Stue

Address: Drakestraße 1, 10787 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 3117220 Website

Upon arrival, SO/ Berlin Das Stue looks incredibly posh. The 1930s neoclassical edifice, built by KaDeWe architect Johann Emil Schaudt, certainly gives off a regal first impression. Inside the former Royal Danish Embassy, it's just as resplendent with an eye-catching white marble staircase and dazzling, larger-than-life chandelier. Direct access to the Berlin Zoo is a bonus.

25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

Address: Budapester Str. 40, 10787 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 1202210 Website

Hip, youthful, off-beat, and affordable—25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin serves up major cool factor. It's the type of place you'd go to hang out even if you weren't a guest. Of course, staying at this urban oasis does come with a bunch of perks such as enjoying the jungle-themed rooms and skipping the line for the rooftop cocktail bar.

Hotel Adlon Kempinski

Address: Unter den Linden 77, 10117 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 22610 Website

Boasting (arguably) the most desirable addresses in Berlin, Hotel Adlon Kempinski sits directly across the way from Brandenburg Gate. Enviable location aside, this five-star property is a revered landmark for so many other reasons. From the opulent lobby and spacious suites to the Michelin-starred restaurant, grandeur and elegance are the very heart of everything.

Best Restaurants

Hackethals (german).

Address: Pflugstrasse 11, 10115 Berlin Germany Phone: +49 30 28387765 Website

When in Berlin, you must try traditional German food. Hackethals is a cozy gastropub that does classics right. Order the sauerkraut, potato dumplings, schnitzel, and slow-cooked venison. Be sure to leave room for apple strudel. To wash it down? Beer, of course.

Restaurant Tim Raue (Fine Dining)

Address: Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26, 10969 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 25937930 Website

Berlin-born chef Tim Raue needs no introduction. Neither does the elevated Asian-inspired menu at his Michelin-rated restaurant, which continually receives rave reviews from critics and diners alike. Needless to say, reservations are required.

Curry 61 (German)

Address: Oranienburger Str. 6, 10178 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 40054033 Website

Currywurst (pork sausage smothered in curried ketchup and served alongside fries) is an extremely popular street food in Berlin. You can sample it all over the city, but Curry 61 makes one of the best versions of this crowd-pleasing dish. Try it and thank us later.

Eins44 (Modern European)

Address: Elbestraße 28/29, 12045 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 62981212 Website

Sublime isn't a word that we toss around a lot. However, it's the most accurate way to describe the entire experience at Eins44. Enter the industrial-inspired eatery, inside an old distillery, and prepare to have your taste buds tickled by an unfussy interpretation of modern European fine dining.

Panama (German)

Address: Potsdamer Straße 91, 10785 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 983208435 Website

Oftentimes, you have to choose between Michelin-starred fare and a fun vibe. That couldn't be less true of Panama. The modern German cuisine, lively two-floor space and service are fantastic. Did we mention the craft cocktails and interesting wine list?

Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap (Turkish)

Address: Mehringdamm 32, 10961 Berlin, Germany Website

Mustafa's Gemüse Kebap in Kreuzberg is one of those places that's just universally adored. The only downside? Depending on when you visit, the queue might stretch an entire city block. We promise it's worth waiting just to dig into a juicy döner kebab.

Things to Do

East side gallery.

Address: Mühlenstraße 3-100, 10243 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 2517159 Website

What was once a symbol of division now reflects the spirit and resilience of the city. Perched along the banks of Spree River in Friedrichshain, the 4,318-foot-long East Side Gallery showcases a collection of colorful murals painted on the surviving pieces of the Berlin Wall. It's a beautiful metaphor that's so very Berlin.

Reichstag Building

Address: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 22732152 Website

Like so much of Berlin, the Reichstag Building has lived many lives. Today, it again houses the German parliament. Admire the neo-Baroque edifice from the outside or book in advance to step inside the Sir Norman Foster-designed glass dome.

Brandenburg Gate

Address: Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany Website

One block south of the Reichstag Building stands Brandenburg Gate. Widely considered to be Berlin's most iconic landmark, it's a shining symbol of freedom and reunification after four decades of Cold War division.

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Address: Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 2639430 Website

Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe honors the Jewish victims of the Holocaust. It's a heartbreaking and incredibly important reminder of what happened that should be mandatory to visit.

Tempelhofer Feld

Address: Tempelhofer Damm, 12101 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 700906710 Website

An abandoned airport turned 355-hectare public park, Tempelhofer Feld delivers that telltale mashup of past and present in the most Berlin way possible. You can stroll, cycle, or skate down the concrete runways where WWII dive-bombers took off, while feet away dogs run after frisbees and bikini-clad Berliners sunbathe.

Address: Am Wriezener Bahnhof, 10243 Berlin, Germany Website

Berliners love to party. As such, there are a lot of after-dark venues to do just that. But none compare to Berghain. The world's most infamous club invites revelers to leave their inhibitions behind, dance to techno beats and give in to every debaucherous whim.

Museum Island

Address: Bodestraße 1-3 10178 Berlin, Germany Website

On a small island in the Spree River sits a collection of five prominent museums. This UNESCO-listed, architecturally striking complex is known as Museum Island—and it's a must for any culture lover.

Best Shopping

Kaufhaus des westens.

Address: Tauentzienstraße 21-24, 10789 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 21210 Website

At a sprawling 650,000 square feet and with some 380,000 items for sale at any given time, Kaufhaus des Westens—typically abbreviated to KaDeWe—holds the title of Berlin's most famous retail space. It's actually the second-largest department store in all of Europe after Harrods in London.

Sing Blackbird

Address: Sanderstraße 11, 12047 Berlin, Germany Website

Berlin isn't lacking in vintage stores. Sing Blackbird sets itself apart thanks to an expertly curated selection of pre-loved pieces, plus a stylish café.


Address: Kurfürstendamm 10707 Berlin, Germany Website

Often compared to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Kurfürstendamm in Charlottenburg is lined with high-end designers like Gucci and Louis Vuitton. If you don't have that kind of cash, it's also a great place for window shopping.

The Amazing Crocodile Design Store

Address: Raumerstraße 23, 10437 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 40006930 Website

Fancy an upside-down geometric pendant lamp or neon pink floor mirror? You'll find both at The Amazing Crocodile Design Store, the buzziest spot to buy quirky, refined, and oh-so-chic homewares in Berlin.

Address: Oranienstraße 24, 10999 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 61651119 Website

A progressive, forward-thinking undercurrent has permeated its way into the Berlin aesthetic of late. Insert Voo Store, a contemporary concept shop meets specialty coffee roaster that's tucked away on the ground floor of a former locksmith in Kreuzberg.

Antique Jewellery Berlin

Address: Linienstraße 44, 10119 Berlin, Germany Phone: +49 30 20689155 Website

Antique Jewellery Berlin offers a vast array of vintage baubles. Whether you're in the market for a signet ring or enamel earrings, we'd be willing to bet it's sitting in the case at this beloved retailer.

Neighborhoods to Know

Berlin has 12 administrative districts ( Bezirk) , subdivided into 23 neighborhoods ( Kiez ).

Mitte: Keen to stay in the heart of the action? Mitte (which literally means "middle") lies in the center of the city. Not only is this sprawling borough chock-full of top sights—including Brandenburg Gate, Museum Island, and Tiergarten—but also cafes, bars, and shops. Another major selling point? Public transport. Basically, every train line runs through the main railway station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof.

Kreuzberg: People often liken bohemian Kreuzberg to Brooklyn, but there's really no accurate comparison. Of late, a spate of hip bars and trendy restaurants have popped up at a breakneck pace. Yet much of Kreuzberg still clings to its grittiness like a badge of honor. On one corner, a beautiful community garden and art installation. Veer left and you'll arrive on a gentrification-resistant street scattered with broken beer bottles and graffiti-covered buildings. And that's the beauty of this enigmatic, multicultural hood.

Charlottenburg: Charlottenburg could accurately be categorized as the more upscale side of Berlin. Graceful pre-war buildings, five-star hotels, top-rated restaurants, and designer boutiques dot the litter-free boulevards. The stately Charlottenburg Palace has ornate interiors and manicured gardens, while Berggruen Museum displays an incredible collection of modern art.

Neukölln: A diverse district known for its eclectic, international vibe, the bustling streets of Neukölln brim with Middle Eastern bakeries, vegan eateries, bars, breweries, and artists studios. Check out a poetry slam at Heimathafen Neukölln and shop for fragrant spices at the Turkish Market.

Schöneberg: The epicenter of nightlife back in the 1920s, today Schöneberg is the hub of LGBTQIA culture. It's home to an array of bars, cafes, galleries and shops, including Kaufhaus des Westens, as well as Natur-Park Südgelände.

Things begin to thaw in the spring. As the months move ahead, the temperature rises. Summer is warm, but rarely hot. Pack a light jacket and be prepared to layer as it moves later into fall. When winter rolls in, expect some clouds, rain, sleet and snow.

The following are average Fahrenheit highs and lows by season.

Spring: 65°F / 47°F

Summer: 74°F / 57°F

Fall: 57°F / 44°F

Winter: 39°F / 30°F

Apps to Download

Berlin Subway: U-Bahn and S-Bahn maps and route planner iOS | Android

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Going Local Berlin: Insider travel tips iOs | Android

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View over Berlin - Mitte

3 days in Berlin

Don't miss any top sights

You are planning your first trip to Berlin and don’t want to miss out on any of the highlights in this exciting city? Our 72-hour tour will take you to the most famous landmarks in Berlin and to its most beautiful places. Be guided through a sightseeing tour of Mitte, go shopping on Kurfürstendamm and in City West, and experience neighbourhood life in the districts of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain. With our 72-hour programme, you won’t miss out on any top sights during your first visit to Berlin.

Day 1 in Mitte: from Alexanderplatz to the Brandenburg Gate

Morning: alexanderplatz & nikolaiviertel.

Start your first day in Berlin at the World Clock at Alexanderplatz . Let the surrounding buildings take you back in time to the GDR of the 1970s, watch the lively goings-on as people pass by and look up across the S-Bahn railway tracks at the TV Tower , the first highlight on the tour. From the top you have a phenomenal panoramic view of the city - at a reduced rate with the Berlin WelcomeCard , by the way. Enjoy the view over breakfast or brunch at the restaurant sphere , which rotates on its own axis at a height of more than 200 metres.

Tickets for the TV Tower

You can continue the tour westwards, past the Rotes Rathaus (red town hall), where the Berlin mayor’s office is. Berlin’s oldest district, the Nikolaiviertel , awaits your visit by the Spree. You can stroll around the picturesque neighbourhood surrounding St. Nicholas’ Church . A bit further downstream of the river on the other side you’ll find the Berlin Cathedral with its gigantic dome – one of Berlin’s landmarks and something you most definitely should not miss.

Berlin Cathedral in Spring

Museum Island is not only a top Berlin attraction for art lovers. This ensemble consists of five museums that are on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites . The Altes Museum , the Neues Museum , the Pergamon Museum , the Bode Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie together form one of the most important museum complexes in the world, and you have free entrance to them with the Berlin WelcomeCard . Unfortunately, the Pergamon Museum is closed for extensive renovation work.

Buy your Berlin Welcome Card Museum Island

Afternoon: Humboldt Forum, Gendarmenmarkt, Holocaust Memorial and Brandenburg gate

Back on the magnificent boulevard Unter den Linden , you should visit Berlin's new forum for culture, art and science just opposite the Museum Island: The Humboldt Forum . Over Bebelplatz and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral which is a little hidden behind the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin State Opera), the journey continues with a short detour to Gendarmenmarkt , surely the most beautiful square in Berlin. Enjoy the harmonious ensemble of the concert house in the centre, flanked by the German and French cathedrals, from one of the many restaurants and cafés around the square.

Charlottenstraße on the western side of the square and then Behrenstraße going westwards will now lead you past the Komische Oper to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe , which is also known as the Holocaust Memorial . Walk through the memorial with its 2,711 concrete pillars and take in its contemplative atmosphere.

Rose on the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin Mitte

From here it’s just a few metres down Ebertstraße before you’ll find yourself in front of the most famous landmark of Berlin, the Brandenburg Gate . Few buildings are as closely connected with the history of Berlin as the former city gate is. After the fall of the Berlin Wall it became a symbol of German unity. Following a short walk around Pariser Platz the tour continues through the gate onto the Platz des 18. März . Now you’ll be able to recognise the Siegessäule (Victory Column) in the distance, in the centre of the large Tiergarten park.

The next highlight of our tour is also a truly historic place. The Reichstag , the seat of the Deutscher Bundestag (German parliament), has not only had an eventful history since the Reichstag fire in 1933. 

At night: Enjoy the nightlife around Hackescher Markt

To finish off the tour we recommend either a drink at Capital Beach , directly on the riverbank of the Spreebogenpark with a view of the main railway station – or a beer at Zollpackhof on the other side of the Spree. From there you can also comfortably reach Hackescher Markt , where you can spend the evening at any one of the numerous restaurants, cafés and bars.

Day 2 in City West: Between Charlottenburg Palace and the Gedächtniskirche

Morning: charlottenburg palace.

Begin your second day like royalty, with a stroll around Charlottenburg Palace . Initially constructed as a summer palace, today it is the most splendid palace in Berlin, with extensive gardens. Located directly by the Spree, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to the rococo period and the days of the Prussian kingdom as you stroll through the park.

Use our Day Ticket Charlottenburg+ for Charlottenburg Palace and all facilities in the Charlottenburg Palace Gardens.

Combi-Ticket Charlottenburg+

You can also visit the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in the theatre building of the palace complex.

Walkers in the summery park of Charlottenburg Palace

Afternoon: Ku'damm & Zoo

A short ride from there on the U7 metro will take you directly to Adenauerplatz in the middle of the legendary Kurfürstendamm – the most famous shopping street in Berlin. Here you can peruse the latest designer fashions or simply marvel at the impressive building façades during your walk along the boulevard. The next highlight is waiting for you at the end of the Ku’damm: the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) on Breitscheidplatz. The ensemble consists of the ruins of the church destroyed in the war and a new building next to it. It is a monument for peace and reconciliation and a symbol of Berliners’ will to rebuild in the post-war period.

Today the church is encircled by several tall buildings such as the Upper West , the Zoofenster and the Europa Center, the oldest shopping centre in Berlin. You can reach Kaufhaus des Westens at Wittenbergplatz in just a few minutes via the adjacent Tauentzienstraße. KaDeWe is the most famous department store in Germany. Ansbacher Straße and Kurfürstenstraße will take you to Olof-Palme-Platz. And here waiting for you at the end of the tour are two more highlights: Zoologischer Garte n and the Aquarium Berlin , that you can gain reduced admission to with the Berlin WelcomeCard .

At night: Enjoy the nightlife of the City West

You can round off the day right next door, at the Monkey Bar in the 25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin. The cocktail bar with panoramic windows offers you a breathtaking view over Tiergarten and City West. Alternatively, you can retreat to the Schleusenkrug on warm summer evenings, a cosy beer garden directly on the Landwehr Canal in Tiergarten.

Day 3 in Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain: Berlin Wall and neighbourhoods

Morning: along the river spree to the east side gallery.

Enjoy an easy-going start on the third day with a late brunch the way the Berliners love them. Things taste even better when there is a view to match. So check out one of the many cafés by the Landwehr Canal or the Neuköllner Schifffahrtskanal (Neukölln Ship Canal). Afterwards, you can stroll along the Spree River by the canal. There are unique gems in the way of restaurants, bars and clubs awaiting your visit. Freischwimmer , Club der Visionäre, Badeschiff and IPSE are just four of the locations on the island that form a summertime bar biotope on the left and right of the Flutgraben channel.

Schlesische Straße and Falckensteinstraße then lead you to Oberbaumbrücke . From here you have one of the most beautiful views of Berlin in both directions – towards Alexanderplatz with the TV Tower and out of the city with the Molecule Men in the Spree.

Bridge Oberbaumbrücke

Just around the corner from Oberbaumbrücke you’ll find the East Side Gallery stretching out before you. The longest connected piece of the former Berlin Wall is covered with many different and amazing artworks. The most famous painting is the brotherly kiss between Honecker and Brezhnev. And there are plenty more historic events depicted along the 1.3 km open air gallery.

More neighbourhood tips

You can find detailed information about all the districts, neighbourhoods and other secret tips in our Going Local app , that you can download for free at Google Play and in the Apple App Store. Also included: tours and videos. Download now .

You would like to stay a few days longer in Berlin or have less time?

Then let yourself be inspired by our suggestions for 24 hours in Berlin , for 48 hours or for a five-day stay !

Our tip for you: explore the city with the Berlin Welcome Card

We recommend the Berlin Welcome Card – Berlin’s official tourist ticket. The Berlin Welcome Card has over 200 sights and attractions as discount partners. It is also your ticket for public transport services across the entire city – and if you prefer, also includes Potsdam

Info about the Berlin Welcome Card

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14 of the best things to do in Berlin

Jul 8, 2023 • 7 min read

travel guide for berlin

Experience the best of Berlin with this guide to the top things to do © Westend61 / Getty Images

For a scene-stealing combo of glamor and grit, poised to mesmerize anyone keen to connect with vibrant culture, bold architecture, global food, intense parties and an easy-going vibe, head to Berlin .

Whether your tastes run to posh or punk, you can sate them in the German capital. Here are the best experiences Berlin has to offer.

The Bode-Museum at the Museum Island in Berlin at dawn

1. See the treasures of Museum Island

Berlin’s "Louvre on the Spree", this imposing cluster of five treasure-houses is an undisputed highlight of the city’s impressive landscape. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1999, Museumsinsel showcases art and cultural history from the Stone Age to the 19th century.

Feast your eyes on antiquities at at the Pergamonmuseum  and  Altes Museum , take in 19th-century art at the Alte Nationalgalerie and lean in for close-ups of medieval and Renaissance sculptures at the Bode-Museum . The  Neues Museum  is famous as the residence of the exquisite but controversial bust of Nefertiti which has been the subject of repatriation requests from Egypt for almost a century.

Planning tip:  As part of the ambitious  Museum Island Master Plan , the Pergamonmuseum will be completely closed to visitors starting October 23, 2023. The institution is not scheduled to partially reopen until spring 2027 – with some sections of the museum, including the famous  Ishtar Gate , scheduled to stay closed until 2037.

Graffiti at the East Side Gallery, the longest preserved stretch of the Berlin wall.

2. Follow the legacy of the Berlin Wall

Few events in history have the power to move the entire world. If you were alive and old enough for the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, you will probably remember the crowds of euphoric revelers cheering and dancing at the Brandenburg Gate . Although little is left of the physical barrier, its legacy lives on in the imagination and in such places as Checkpoint Charlie , the Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial) and the East Side Gallery  with its colorful murals.

3. Party at Berlin's world-famous clubs

Berlin’s reputation for intense and unbridled nightlife is rooted in the libertine 1920s when everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Christopher Isherwood partied like it was 1999. Since the fall of the Wall, Berlin’s club culture has put the city firmly back on the map of music-lovers everywhere .

The edgiest clubs can be found in locations like power plants, abandoned apartment buildings and other repurposed locations, especially in Kreuzberg & Neukölln and Friedrichshain . Electronic music dominates at cult favourites like ://about blank , Kater Blau and Griessmühle , while Prince Charles has made a name for itself as a hip hop mecca, fetish-focused KitKatClub is a must, and the local punks mosh away at SO36 .

Planning tip: Some of Berlin's best parties are its daytime raves: here's how to hit the clubs in the afternoon .

4. Enjoy drinks outdoors

Whether its beer gardens, rooftop bars or some casual drinks in parks and by the Landwehrkanal, Berliners take a relaxed approach to drinking and socializing outdoors. While Berlin has something to offer all year round, the city in the warm weather has a special buzz around it.

5. Be dazzled by the grandeur of Schloss Charlottenburg

An exquisite baroque palace,  Schloss Charlottenburg evokes the onetime grandeur of the Prussian royals. It is particularly special to visit in the summer when you can fold a stroll, sunbathing session or picnic in the lush palace park into a day of peeking at royal treasures.

6. Book ahead to visit the Reichstag

It’s been burned, bombed, rebuilt, buttressed by the Berlin Wall, wrapped in fabric and finally turned into the modern home of the German parliament, the Reichstag  is one of Berlin’s most iconic buildings. Designed by Paul Wallot in 1894, this is where the German parliament, the Bundestag, has been hammering out its policies since 1999.

Planning tip:  Reserve online in advance  to visit the striking glass dome  for free . This is a government building and you will need to provide identification to gain access.

View of a bread stall in an indoor food market

7. Shop and eat at Markthalle Neun

This delightful 1891 market hall was saved by dedicated locals in 2009. Not only do local and regional producers present their wares but also, on Street-Food Thursday, they're joined by aspiring or semipro chefs, who set up their stalls to serve delicious snacks from around the world. There’s even an on-site craft brewery, Heidenpeters .

8. Tour Berlin's art scene

Art aficionados will be truly spoilt for choice in Berlin. Home to hundreds of galleries, scores of world-class collections and thousands of international artists, the city has assumed a pole position on the global artistic circuit. Its main contemporary art showcase is the Hamburger Bahnhof , a vast museum housed in a former railway station whose loft and grandeur are the perfect foil for this top-notch collection of paintings, installations, sculptures and video.

Local tip:  If you’d prefer something even more Berlin-centric, try Urban Nation in Schöneberg . A relative newcomer to Berlin’s array of galleries, this street art celebration turns the concept of a museum on its head and celebrates art in a unique way.

9. Get to know Jewish history and culture at Jüdisches Museum

Berlin’s Jüdisches Museum  presents an eye-opening and emotional journey through 2000 years of Jewish history in Germany, not just the 12 years of Nazi horror that such exhibits often focus on. Find out about Jewish cultural contributions, holiday traditions, the difficult road to emancipation, outstanding individuals like the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn and jeans inventor Levi Strauss, and the fates of ordinary people and families.

An older couple riding bikes among autumn foliage in Tiergarten

10. Wander or cycle the paths of Tiergarten

Berlin’s rulers used the grounds to hunt boar and pheasants in the rambling Tiergarten until master landscape architect Peter Lenné landscaped the grounds in the 18th century. With its sweeping lawns, shaded paths, woodsy groves, romantic corners, ponds and creeks, the Tiergarten is one of the world’s largest city parks and a wonderful retreat from the city bustle.

Planning tip:  In summer, several charming beer gardens beckon, including Café am Neuen See and the Teehaus im Englischen Garten.

11. See urban renewal at Potsdamer Platz

Despite the name, Potsdamer Platz is not actually a square but an entire city quarter, forged in the 1990s from terrain once bisected by the Berlin Wall. A collaborative effort by the world's finest architects, it is considered a showcase of urban renewal.

Planning tip:  The area itself is rather compact and quickly explored – unless you stick around to see Berlin from above from the Panoramapunkt or dive into German film history at the Museum für Film und Fernsehen .

Couple take a selfie at Brandenburg Gate at sunset, Berlin

12. Pose for a photo at the historic Brandenburg Gate

Prussian emperors, Napoleon and Hitler have marched through this neoclassical royal city gate that was once trapped east of the Berlin Wall. Since 1989 Brandenburg Gate  has gone from a symbol of division and oppression to the symbol of a united Germany. The elegantly proportioned landmark is at its most atmospheric – and photogenic – at night, when light bathes its stately columns and proud Goddess of Victory sculpture in a golden glow.

13. Go shopping along Kurfürstendamm

No trip to Berlin would be complete without a saunter along Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm for short) in Charlottenburg . Along with its continuation, the Tauentzienstrasse, it is the city’s longest and busiest shopping strip, lined with high-street chains and designer boutiques. Don’t miss the KaDeWe , continental Europe’s biggest department store with a mind-boggling food hall, or the cutting-edge concept and flagships stores at Bikini Berlin , a revamped 1950s landmark near Zoo Station.

Local tip:  Take a moment to look up. Amid all this, the majestically ruined Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) stands quietly as a poignant reminder of the absurdity of war.

14. Explore the exhibits of the Topographie des Terrors

In the spot where the most feared institutions of Nazi Germany (the Gestapo headquarters, the SS central command and the Reich Security Main Office) once stood, this compelling exhibit documents the stages of terror and persecution, puts a face on the perpetrators, and details the impact these brutal institutions had on all of Europe. A second exhibit outside zeroes in on how life changed for Berlin and its people after the Nazis made it their capital.

This article was first published January 2015 and updated July 2023

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“Poor but sexy” is how hipster Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit, proudly describes his city. Its poverty stems back to World War II devastation when bombs razed 92 percent of buildings and provoked serious debate about leaving the city in ruins and starting afresh nearby. Decades of rebuilding have since almost totally rejuvenated Berlin, but have also left it broke.

Places to visit in Berlin

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Its sexiness dates back even further to the debauched 1920s, but began to take on its present-day form during the Cold War when a military service loophole and the huge West German arts scene subsidies attracted hippies, punks, gays and lesbians, artists and musicians. Subsequent waves of economic immigrants from Greece, Italy and Turkey; those linked to the occupying American, British and French forces; and the current crop of adventurous urbanites from all over the developed world, have all made Berlin Germany’s most cosmopolitan city by far.

Find fantastic things to do in Berlin

This multiculturalism is readily reflected in the excellent variety of cuisines on offer in the city’s restaurants, cafés and bars, but the “poor and sexy” combination has also created a vibrant place where cutting-edge designs and offbeat concepts have plenty of room to breathe, with both elements especially evident in Berlin’s legendary, nonstop nightlife , and energetic contemporary arts scene.

By day, however, it’s the city’s remarkable museums, memorials, historic sights and modern buildings that tend to capture the imagination of even those with little interest in history or architecture. The city’s medley of architectural styles range from its reconstructed sixteenth-century core, the Nikolaiviertel , and a grand nineteenth-century Neoclassical imperial showpiece quarter, all the way through to neighbourhoods that were mainly crafted during, and by, the conflicting ambitions and philosophies of the Cold War. Then, when the German government decided to move back to Berlin, it both brought with it, and stimulated, a whole host of contemporary building projects.

Berlin’s Mitte district – literally “centre” – is huge, cosmopolitan, varied and packed with enough attractions and parks to keep you busy for days. The city’s most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate , is here, as is its parliament and main train station, but what really sticks out on any Berlin map is the Tiergarten, a giant central park. At its southeastern corner, lie the world-class art museums of the Kulturforum and the thrusting modern skyscrapers of Potsdamer Platz – Berlin’s Piccadilly Circus or Times Square.

Northwest of here along the city’s premier boulevard Unter den Linden, Neoclassical Berlin asserts itself in districts built during the city’s time as Prussian capital. Here Museum Island incorporates Berlin’s most magnificent museums, while further east again lies the GDR’s 1960s socialist showpiece quarter, centred around the broad concrete plaza of Alexanderplatz and the distinctive Fernsehturm TV tower. The only real break from the area’s modernity is the Nikolaiviertel , a tiny rebuilt version of old Berlin, and the Spandauer Vorstadt , an old Jewish quarter, with fascinating reminders of those days, though today better known for its fairly touristy restaurants, bars and nightlife, and a loosely-defined fashion district full of stylish urbanwear boutiques.

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Though cut off by the Wall for thirty years, the eastern part of the city – the Mitte district – has always been the capital’s real centre . This is the city’s main sightseeing and shopping hub and home to many of the best places to visit in Berlin. Head here for inspiration on things to do in Berlin .

Most visitors begin their exploration on the city’s premier boulevard Unter den Linden , starting at the most famous landmark, the Brandenburg Gate , then moving over to the adjacent seat of Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag . Unter den Linden’s most important intersection is with Friedrichstrasse, which cuts north–south.

At its eastern end Unter den Linden is lined by stately Neoclassical buildings and terminates on the shores of Museum Island , home to eastern Berlin’s leading museums, but its natural extension on the other side of the island is Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse, which leads to a distinctively GDR-era part of the city around Alexanderplatz , the eastern city’s main commercial and transport hub.

Northwest from here, the Spandauer Vorstadt was once the heart of the city’s Jewish community, and has some fascinating reminders of those days, though today it’s best known for the restaurants, bars, boutiques and nightlife around the Hackescher Markt.

Back at the Brandenburg Gate, a walk south along the edge of the gigantic Tiergarten park takes you to the swish modern Potsdamer Platz , a bustling entertainment quarter that stands on what was for decades a barren field straddling the death-strip of the Berlin Wall.

Huddled beside Potsdamer Platz is the Kulturforum , an agglomeration of cultural institutions that includes several high-profile art museums. Also fringing the park are Berlin’s diplomatic and government quarters, where you’ll find some of the city’s most innovative architecture, including the formidable Hauptbahnhof.

The western end of the Tiergarten park is given over to a zoo, which is also the name of the main transport hub at this end of town. This is the gateway to City West , West Berlin’s old centre and is best known for its shopping boulevards, particularly the upmarket Kurfürstendamm.

Schöneberg and Kreuzberg , the two residential districts immediately south of the centre, are home to much of Berlin’s most vibrant nightlife. The former is smart and is popular as a gay area, while Kreuzberg is generally grungy and edgy.

Beyond Kreuzberg’s eastern fringes, and back in what used to be East Berlin is Friedrichshain which offers some unusual architectural leftovers from the Eastern Bloc of the 1950s, while to the north Prenzlauer Berg is one of the few places in which the atmosphere of prewar Berlin has been preserved – complete with cobbled streets and ornate facades.

Berlin’s eastern suburbs are typified by a sprawl of prewar tenements punctuated by high-rise developments and heavy industry, though the lakes, woodland and small towns and villages dotted around Köpenick offer a genuine break from the city.

The leafy western suburbs are even more renowned for their woodland (the Grunewald) and lakes (the Havel), with more besides: attractions include the baroque Schloss Charlottenburg, with its adjacent art museums; the impressive 1930s Olympic Stadium; the Dahlem museum complex, which displays everything from German folk art to Polynesian huts; and the medieval town of Spandau.

Further out, foremost among possible places to visit on day-trips are Potsdam , location of Frederick the Great’s Sanssouci palace, and the former concentration camp of Sachsenhausen , north of Berlin in Oranienburg.

During East Berlin’s forty-year existence, while Unter den Linden was allowed to represent Berlin’s glorious past, the area northeast of the Spreeinsel as far as major transport hub Alexanderplatz , was meant to represent the glories of a modern socialist capital city. It’s easily located thanks to its gigantic Fernsehturm , or TV Tower, and there’s almost no trace of an earlier history. Postwar rebuilding projects saw whole streets and neighbourhoods vanish under vast and dreary concrete plazas and buildings housing missable shops and cafés. Exceptions include two large prewar buildings, the Rotes Rathaus , seat of Berlin’s administration, and the Marienkirche , Berlin’s oldest church.

The Fernsehturm (Television Tower)

Looming over the Berlin skyline like a giant olive on a cocktail stick, the Fernsehturm (Television Tower) is Western Europe’s highest structure. This 365-metre-high transmitter was built during the isolationist 1960s, when East Berlin was largely inaccessible to West Germans, and was intended as a highly visible symbol of the GDR’s permanence. Having outlasted the regime that conceived it, the Fernsehturm has become iconic, and though few would champion its architecture, it does have a certain retro appeal. The tower provides tremendous views (40km on clear days) from the observation platform and the Tele-café . There are usually long queues to go up – early evening is your best bet.

At the northern tip of the Spreeinsel lies a museum quarter known as Museumsinsel (Museum Island), which was added during the nineteenth century by the Hohenzollerns and which really took off when German explorers and archeologists returned with bounty from the Middle East. Despite war losses and Soviet looting, some of the world’s finest museums reside here and they are becoming ever greater, thanks to a large-scale reorganization and remodelling that’s due for completion in 2015. Some sections will be temporarily closed as part of this process in the meantime. Covering any more than one of these museums in any depth in a day is a real challenge, so choose carefully before you set out – note too that you have to book a time to visit the Pergamon and Neues Museum at their ticket desks, so arrive early to ensure you can go at the time you want.

The Altes Museum

Overlooking the lawns of the Lustgarten, a former parade ground, lies one of Berlin’s most striking Neoclassical buildings: Schinkel’s impressive Altes Museum with its 87-metre-high facade and Ionic colonnade. As host to the city’s classical antiquities collection , this is the place for fans of ancient Greek and Roman pottery and sculpture. Many are small works but nonetheless captivating, such as The Praying Boy , a lithe and delicate bronze sculpture from Rhodes dating back to 300 BC. The Vase of Euphronios , decorated with athletes in preparation, is among one of the finest surviving Greek vases in the world.

The Neues Museum

After decades on the move around Berlin, the city’s impressive Egyptian Collection moved back into its original home in the Neues Museum in 2009. Built in 1855, the museum was badly damaged in the war then extensively rebuilt and remodelled under British architect David Chipperfield. He took pains to preserve as many original features as possible, including fluted stone columns and battered faux-Egyptian ceiling frescoes, as well as adding a few tasteful features – like the huge central staircase – to replace irreparably damaged parts of the building.

The museum’s greatest prize is the 3300-year-old Bust of Queen Nefertiti , a treasure that’s become a city symbol. There’s no questioning its beauty – the queen has a perfect bone structure and gracefully sculpted lips – and the history of the piece is equally interesting. Created around 1350 BC, the bust probably never left the studio in Akhenaten in which it was created, acting as a mere model for other portraits of the queen (explaining why the left eye was never drawn in). When the studio was deserted, the bust was left, to be discovered some three thousand years later in 1912.

A bit of a comedown after all the Egyptian excitement below is the Early and Prehistory Collection in the museum attic, encompassing a mainly underwhelming collection of archeological discoveries from around Berlin.

The Alte Nationalgalerie

Tucked just behind the Neues Museum, the Neoclassical Alte Nationalgalerie is a grandiose interpretation of a Corinthian temple that houses a museum of European art that’s particularly strong on nineteenth-century German Romantics, like Liebermann, though it also has great works by Cézanne, Rodin, Monet and Degas.

The Pergamonmuseum

The largest of the Museum Island museums, the massive Pergamonmuseum was built in the early twentieth century in the style of a Babylonian temple, primarily to house the city’s vast Middle-Eastern treasures. Highlights include the Pergamon Altar – a huge structure dedicated to Zeus and Athena, dating from 180 to 160 BC, and depicting a furious battle between the gods and the giants – as well as the enormous, deep-blue-tiled Ishtar Gate, a sixth-century-BC processional way from Babylon. The collection also numbers hundreds of other fascinating smaller items from as far back as 2000 BC.

The Bode-Museum

The stocky, neo-Baroque Bode-Museum at the northern tip of Museum Island suffered such heavy World War II damage that it was scheduled for demolition, until Berliners protested in the streets. Subsequent waves of renovation have resulted in opulent interiors that form a seamless backdrop for one of Europe’s most impressive sculpture collections , which spans the third to the nineteenth centuries. A particular strength is the early Italian Renaissance , though the German collection is equally authoritative. Also in the building is a solid collection of Byzantine art , notably early Christian religious items; ornamental Roman sarcophagi and several intricate mosaics and ivory carvings; and around half a million coins of the city’s Numismatic Collection .

A huge swathe of peaceful green parkland smack in the middle of Berlin, the Tiergarten was originally designed by Peter Lenné as a hunting ground for Elector Friedrich III, but now provides a great antidote to city noise and bustle. Bus #100 between Bahnhof Zoo and Alexanderplatz crosses the park, but it’s best appreciated on foot or by bike. At least wander along the Landwehrkanal, and the pretty little group of ponds of the grand-sounding Neuer See . In summer the popular beer garden here, Café am Neuen See , rents out boats by the hour.


Approached by great boulevards at the centre of the Tiergarten, is the eye-catching Siegessäule (Victory Column). Topped with a gilded Winged Victory, the column celebrates Prussia’s military victories. The mosaics at the column’s base show the unification of the German peoples and incidents from the Franco-Prussian War. The four bronze reliefs beside depict the main wars and the victorious marching of the troops into Berlin. The Siegessäule ’s summit offers a good view of the surroundings, but is 285 stairs distant.

The Kulturforum

The Kulturforum, literally “culture-forum”, is an umbrella term that covers several art museums and cultural venues in the southeast corner of the Tiergarten park, which could easily fill a day of your time.

The Berlin Philharmonie

Many of the Kulturforum buildings were designed in the 1960s by Hans Scharoun, including the honey-coloured Philharmonie , home of the Berlin Philharmonic, with its complicated floor-plan and top-notch acoustics and views, regardless of your seat. Daily tours explore the interior of the building.

The Kunstgewerbemuseum

Over the road from the Philharmonie, the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Applied Arts) holds an encyclopedic but seldom dull collection of European arts and crafts from the Middle Ages on. Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo pieces (wonderful silver and ceramics), along with Jugendstil, Art Deco and Bauhaus objects are all present, as are sumptuous pieces from the Middle Ages and Early Renaissance collections. Highlights are Lüneburg’s municipal silver and an eighth-century purse-shaped reliquary that belonged to Duke Widikund, leader of the Saxon resistance to Charlemagne.

The Gemäldegalerie

With its stupendous collection of early European paintings, the Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery) is the real jewel of the Kulturforum. Highlights include German work from the Middle Ages and Renaissance such as the large Wurzach Altar of 1437, from the workshop of the great Ulm sculptor Hans Multscher; landscapes by Albrecht Altdorfer; and several superbly observed portraits by Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein the Younger. The gallery’s Netherlandish section includes fifteenth- and sixteenth-century works by Jan van Eyck, Jan Gossaert, Quentin Massys and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, whose Netherlandish Proverbs is an amusing, if opaque, illustration of over a hundred sixteenth-century proverbs.

The later Dutch and Flemish collections , with their large portraits of Van Dyck and fleshy canvases of Rubens, are another strong point. But the major highlights are several paintings by Rembrandt : though The Man in the Golden Helmet has been proved to be the work of his studio rather than the artist himself, this does little to detract from the portrait’s elegance and power. Finally, the Italian section spanning the Renaissance to the eighteenth century, has impressive paintings by Botticelli, Caravaggio, Poussin, Claude and Canaletto.

The Kupferstichkabinett

Sharing its main entrance with the Gemäldegalerie, the Kupferstichkabinett (Engraving Cabinet) holds an extensive collection of European medieval and Renaissance prints, drawings and engravings. The collection includes Botticelli’s exquisite drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy .

The Neue Nationalgalerie

At the southeast corner of the Kulturforum, and by far its finest building, is the Neue Nationalgalerie . Designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1965, the building comprises a severe glass box, its ceiling seemingly almost suspended above the ground. The gallery divides between the permanent collection, featuring works from the beginning of the twentieth century onwards, including pieces by Braque , Gris and Picasso , and temporary exhibits, often of contemporary art.

The Brandenburg Gate looms over the ornamental gardens of Pariser Platz , from which the grand leafy boulevard Unter den Linden , or “beneath the lime trees”, runs east. The trees line its central island and the first saplings were planted by Friedrich Wilhelm, the Great Elector, in the seventeenth century, to mark the route from his palace to the hunting grounds in the Tiergarten. It gradually became the main thoroughfare of Imperial Berlin and site of many foreign embassies, yet after the war and until 1989 the western extremity of Unter den Linden led nowhere and, lined by infrequently visited embassies, the street had a strangely empty and decorative feel. Today the boulevard bustles with shops and cafés, though their presence is relatively muted.

The Brandenburg Gate

Heavily laden with historical association, the Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor), modelled on the entrance of Athens’ Acropolis, was built as a city-gate-cum-triumphal-arch in 1791 and soon became a symbol of German solidarity. In 1806 Napoleon marched under the arch and took home the Quadriga , the horse-drawn chariot that tops the gate. It was returned a few years later, and the revolutionaries of 1848 and 1918 met under its form, as did the Nazis with their torch-lit marches. The Berlin Wall placed the Gate in the East in a heavily guarded death-strip, and the opening of the border here just before Christmas 1989 symbolically re-created the historic east–west axis of the city.

The Reichstag

Directly behind the Brandenburg Gate a line of cobbles marks the course of the Berlin Wall where for 28 years it separated the Gate from the other great emblem of national unity, the Reichstag – the seat of Germany’s parliament. The solid Neoclassical building was built for a sham parliament answerable only to the Kaiser, in 1918, but is more famous for being set alight in 1933, allowing the Nazis to impose martial law, suspend democracy and establish a totalitarian regime. In a show trial, an itinerant ex-communist Dutch bricklayer, Marius van der Lubbe, was successfully charged with arson and executed, but it’s more likely that the Nazis started the fire themselves.

Equally famously, the Reichstag became a symbol of the Allied victory at the end of World War II, when soldiers raised the Soviet flag on its roof – even though heavy fighting still raged below. Evidence of this fighting is still visible as scores of patched bullet holes around some windows. Then, in 1999, the reunified German parliament moved back in after extensive renovations and the addition of a flashy cupola by British architect Sir Norman Foster. A circular ramp spirals up the inside to a viewing deck with stunning 360-degree views of the city, which 15 million visitors have since enjoyed. Sadly, security concerns have now shut this to all but pre-booked groups and visitors with reservations for Käfer Dachgarten , its gourmet rooftop restaurant.

The Holocaust memorial

Beside the Brandenburg Gate, the dignified and surreal Jewish Holocaust Memorial was unveiled in May 2006 after twenty-three years of planning, debate and building work. It’s the work of New York architect Peter Eisenman, who was inspired by the densely clustered gravestones in Prague’s Jewish graveyard. The entire site – about the size of three football pitches – is covered with 2711 tightly spaced, oblong, dark grey pillars of varying heights.

With no single entrance, visitors have to pick their own way through the maze to the centre where the blocks are well above head height and intended to convey a sense of gloom, isolation and solitude. The underground information centre in the southeast corner of the monument, carefully relates the harrowing life stories of selected Jewish victims of the Holocaust; its audio tour is largely unnecessary.

Over the road from the Holocaust Memorial, the fringes of the Tiergarten park hold another concrete oblong: a Gay Holocaust Memorial, which remembers the 54,000 people convicted of homosexual acts under the Nazis, of whom an estimated eight thousand died in concentration camps. Inaugurated by Berlin’s gay mayor Klaus Wowereit in 2008, the four-metre-high monument mimics those commemorating Jewish victims, but leans differently and contains a window behind which a looped film of two men kissing plays.

The skyscrapers of Potsdamer Platz , which soar beside the Kulturforum, represent Berlin at its most thrustingly commercial and cosmopolitan. Said to have been the busiest square in prewar Europe, Potsdamer Platz was once surrounded by stores, bars and clubs, and pulsed with life day and night. The war left it severely battered, though immediately afterwards it regained some vitality as a black market centre at the junction of the Soviet, American and British sectors. This ended with the coming of the Wall: all the buildings on the eastern side were razed to give the GDR’s border guards a clear field of fire, while the West put no real money into restoring its battered survivors. For years western tourists could gaze at the East from a viewing platform here, and ponder the sight of prewar tramlines disappearing under the Wall. The Wall’s dismantling then produced a premier lot, which was quickly carved up by multinationals who frantically built bold architectural forms for obligatory shopping malls with restaurants, cafés, a theatre, and a film multiplex with 3D cinema. Its tallest building – the red-brick skyscraper that’s a nod to the Chicago school of architecture – has on its top floor Panorama Punkt , an outdoor viewing deck with views to rival the Fernsehturm.

The Sony Center

The bravely twenty-first-century glass cylinder of the Helmut Jahn-designed Sony Center is the most eye-catching building on Potsdamer Platz. Several glass-sheathed buildings surround an airy, circular courtyard, sheltered by a conical glass rotunda, creating a huge atrium. In one building the Filmmuseum Berlin provides a superb introduction to the history of German cinema and television using a bevy of clips, reconstructions and artefacts, many relating to Marlene Dietrich.

Fanning out immediately east of Mitte, the residential working-class district of Prenzlauer Berg fared relatively well in the war, being fought over street by street, leaving many of its turn-of-the-twentieth-century tenement blocks battle-scarred but intact, and preserving the leafy cobbled streets and intersections which typified prewar Berlin. This sense of history helped make Prenzlauer Berg a bohemian centre even during the GDR days when large numbers of artists and young people seeking an alternative lifestyle chose to live here. After the Wende these pleasant corners with low rents were quickly seized on as ripe for gentrification and settled by some of the best restaurants, cafés, bars and clubs in the city.

The Berlin Wall Memorial

Opposite S-Bahn Nordbahnhof, on Bernauer Strasse, is the first of two buildings dedicated to the Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer), which contains a bookshop and screens an introductory film. Bernauer Strasse was literally bisected by the Wall; before the Wall was built you could enter or exit the Soviet Zone just by going through the door of one of the buildings, which is why, on August 13, 1961, some citizens, who woke up to find themselves on the wrong side of the newly established “national border”, leapt out of windows to get to the West. Over the years, the facades of these buildings were cemented up and incorporated into the partition itself, until they were knocked down and replaced by the Wall proper in 1979. A short section of Wall as it once was – both walls and a death-strip between – remain preserved at the corner of Bernauer Strasse and Ackerstrasse.

Down the road from the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Wall Documentation Centre keeps the story of the Wall alive using photos, sound recordings and information terminals, and has a useful viewing tower that you can climb to contemplate the barrier and the way in which it once divided the city.

Directly south of Mitte, the district of Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain loosely divides into the more middle-class and white West Kreuzberg , mostly of interest for its museums, including the impressive Jewish Museum ; unkempt, bohemian and heavily Turkish East Kreuzberg , great for wandering between café-bars, art galleries and clothes shops along its main drag Oranienstrasse ; and Friedrichshain , a modern and fairly bland part of former East Berlin, whose low rents and central location have attracted Berlin’s most happening bar and nightlife scene.

The rather sedate, predominantly white and middle-class district of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf is inner-city Berlin at its most affluent and restrained. However, Charlottenburg has its own gathering of fairly high-profile attractions, particularly the Baroque Schloss Charlottenburg – Berlin’s pocket Versailles with its opulent chambers, wanderable gardens, and several excellent nearby museums – along with the iconic 1930s Olympic Stadium .

Immediately southwest of Mitte, City West is West Berlin’s old centre and still a neighbourhood where shopping streets showcase Cold War building projects between rows of department stores . Berlin’s zoo populates the western fringes of the Tiergarten park and lends its name to Bahnhof Zoo opposite, the main transport hub of the neighborhood which technically straddles the districts of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf and Schöneberg.

Once a separate entity, Schöneberg was swallowed up by Greater Berlin in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By the 1920s and early 1930s it had become the centre for Berlin’s sizeable gay community: there were around forty gay bars on and near to the road and rail intersection Nollendorfplatz alone, and gay life in the city was open, fashionable and well organized, with its own newspapers and community associations. Local theatres were filled with plays exploring gay themes; homosexuality in the Prussian army was little short of institutionalized; and gay bars, nightclubs and brothels proudly advertised themselves – there were even gay working men’s clubs.

A block away, at Nollendorfstrasse 17, stands the building in which Christopher Isherwood lived during his years in prewar Berlin. Under the Third Reich, however, homosexuality was brutally outlawed: gays and lesbians were rounded up and taken to concentration camps and often murdered. A red-granite triangle at Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn station commemorates this. Though the neigbourhood was blown to pieces during the war, Schöneberg ’s gay village has proved more robust, and its attendant nightlife still first class.

The crescent-shaped area north of the River Spree between Friedrichstrasse and Alexanderplatz and known as the Spandauer Vorstadt emerged after the Wende as one of the most intriguing parts of unified Berlin. A wave of artists’ squats, workshops and galleries sprang up here in the early 1990s, and some still survive. But today the district’s appeal is based on its history as Berlin’s affluent prewar Jewish quarter and as a booming, if fairly touristy, shopping , restaurant and nightlife quarter, with fashionable boutiques, ethnic restaurants and stylish bars. The S-Bahn station and convivial square, Hackescher Markt , provides the main focus, along with the main drag Oranienburger Strasse . At its western end lies Berlin’s nebulous theatre district, where Bertolt Brecht lived and worked, while just beyond the northern fringes of the district, the Berlin Wall Memorial preserves the only remaining and entirely preserved section of the Berlin Wall .

Exploring Berlin’s suburbs completes a picture of the city, but is not always attractive, as this is where many of the city’s blandest Cold War building projects have survived. Particularly in the east, old socialist silo-like apartment blocks and soulless shopping precincts appear more desperate-looking in comparison to flashy new post- Wende buildings.

However, the sprawling working-class district of Lichtenberg , a mid-1970s model neighbourhood just southeast of Friedrichshain, is home to two sights of vital importance to anyone with an interest in oppression in the GDR, particularly by its secret police, the Stasi. Their headquarters at Normannenstrasse and prison at Hohenschönhausen are both preserved as haunting monuments.

Further on to the west of Lichtenberg, the Gardens of the World in Marzahn make a great day trip for those looking for a nature oasis. 10 international gardens allow for walks from Korea to Japan on to Italy and England. The adjacent cable car and many play grounds make this an ideal getaway for families.

All the other particularly worthwhile suburban destinations are on Berlin’s rural fringes, particularly Grunewald forest and adjacent Wannsee lake in the southwestern corner of the city, which is famed for its summertime bathing beaches but sadly also as the location of the Wannsee Villa , where a Nazi conference initiated the Holocaust.

Lying in the heart of Europe, Berlin’s climate is continental: winters are bitingly cold, summers hot. April is the earliest in the year you should go for decent weather: any earlier and you’ll need winter clothing, earmuffs and a decent pair of waterproof shoes; that said, the city (especially the eastern part) has a particular poignancy when it snows.

The best time to visit Berlin is in May; June and July can be wearingly hot, though the famed Berlin air (Berliner Luft – there’s a song about its vitality) keeps things bearable.

Berlin has plenty of hotels , pensions , hostels , private rooms and apartments for short-term rent, and even campsites , but it’s best to book at least a couple of weeks in advance. For quick results, try the BTM reservation service (030 25 00 25, who specialize in hotels and pensions. They do have private rooms on their books, but there’s a better selection via local accommodation agencies where private rooms start at €20 per night. Try Bed & Breakfast in Berlin (030 44 05 05 82,, Citybed (030 23 62 36 30, and Zimmervermittlung 24 (030 56 55 51 11,

Berlin has all the restaurants, cafés and bars you’d expect from a major European capital, with virtually every imaginable type of food represented; indeed, national food generally takes a back seat to Greek, Turkish, Balkan, Indian and Italian specialities. In line with Berlin’s rolling nightlife timetable, you can pretty much eat and drink around the clock. The majority of restaurants will happily serve until at least 11pm, and it’s not hard to find somewhere in most neighbourhoods. Eating at Berlin’s restaurants is by international standards inexpensive: main courses start at around €7, and drinks aren’t hiked up much in bars. For most restaurants you can just walk in, though on weekend nights or at expensive places, booking is recommended.

Multistorey department stores rule Berlin, but many small and quirky specialist shops have survived or emerged in neighborhoods like Prenzlauer Berg, while ethnic foods and “alternative” businesses thrive in Kreuzberg , along Oranienstrasse and Bergmannstrasse. If you like browsing and foraging you’ll find a second home in the city’s many flea markets – good places to find Eastern Bloc relics.

Since the days of the Weimar Republic, and even through the lean postwar years, Berlin has had some of the best – and steamiest – nightlife in Europe, an image fuelled by the drawings of George Grosz and films like Cabaret . Today’s big draws are its world-class techno clubs, growing out of the local scene, and colonizing abandoned buildings around the former East–West border. Berlin also has a wide range of other clubs : from slick hangouts for the trendy to raucous dives, and incorporating live music of just about every sort. To find out what’s on check the listings magazines Tip ( w and Zitty ( w, available at any newsstand. Club opening hours are very open ended – they rarely get going before midnight and some stay open beyond 6am. With the U- & S-Bahn running nonstop on Fri and Sat nights – and restarting from about 4am on other nights, getting home or jumping between areas of town could hardly be easier. And don’t worry too much about dress code as the prevalence of a shabby-chic aesthetic mean you can get into most places with little effort.

Berlin’s gay and lesbian scene is world class, making it a magnet for gay men and women from all over Germany and Europe. This has been the case since the 1920s, when Christopher Isherwood and W.H. Auden were both drawn here to escape the fear of harassment and legal persecution in the rest of Europe. Weimar Berlin’s gay scene in the 1920s and early 1930s was prodigious before it was outlawed and persecuted in the Third Reich. This is a distant memory today: the charismatic city mayor, Klaus Wowereit, nicknamed “Wowi”, is openly gay and it’s not uncommon to see glitzy transvestites dancing on tables at even conservative bashes. The monthly gay magazine Siegessäule ( has listings of events and is free from most gay bars and venues, while monthly publication Blattgold ( lists lesbian groups and events and is available from feminist meeting places and bookshops. The best time to explore the hurly-burly is during the annual month-long Pride Festival , centred on the Christopher Street Day parade ( ) at the end of June.

Though 1920s and 1930s Berlin was famed for its rich and intense satirical and political cabaret scene, the Nazis quickly suppressed it and the scene has barely recovered. Most of today’s shows are either semi-clad titillation or drag shows, though a few places are increasingly worth trying even if many make their money with high bar prices. Berlin’s greatest strength today is probably its vibrant fringe arts scene, which brims with experimental work. To find out what’s on check the listings magazines Tip ( and Zitty (, available at any newsstand, and the free magazine 030 (, distributed in bars and cafés.

Karl Friedrich Schinkel

The incredibly prolific architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1781–1841) was one of the most influential German architects of the nineteenth century. Nearly every town in Brandenburg has a building that Schinkel had, at the very least, some involvement in, and a lasting testimony to his importance is the fact that even today the distinctively Neoclassical heart of Berlin is defined by his work. His first ever design, the Pomonatempel in Potsdam, was completed while he was still a 19-year-old student in Berlin, but his architectural career did not take off immediately, as he first worked as a landscape artist and theatre-set designer. Towards the end of the first decade of the nineteenth century he began submitting architectural designs for great public works, and, in 1810, he secured a job with the administration of Prussian buildings. Between 1815 and 1830 he designed some of his most renowned buildings, including the Grecian-style Neue Wache , the elegant Schauspielhaus , and the Altes Museum . Later in his career Schinkel experimented with other architectural forms, a phase marked by the Bauakademie.

As heart of the Prussian kingdom, cultural centre of the Weimar Republic, headquarters of Hitler’s Third Reich and a key frontline flashpoint in the Cold War, Berlin has long been a weather vane of European and even world history. Its story began in the twelfth century when violent settlement of Slavic regions by Germanic tribes in the Dark Ages led to the creation of the margravate of Brandenburg in 1157.

Berlin slowly rose to become the capital of this marshy frontier territory and from 1415 Brandenburg became the possession of the Hohenzollern dynasty, who embraced Protestantism in 1538. Brandenburg merged with Prussia in 1618, then became entangled in the Thirty Years’ War, which left the whole region devastated and depopulated.

Rebirth was slow, but gathered momentum on the back of Prussia’s social tolerance – towards Huguenots and Jews in particular – which helped produce rapid industrialization throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. With increasing economic power came military might and ambitions, which sparked two centuries of martial adventures and horse-trading diplomacy, bringing about German unity and the creation of a second German Reich in 1871.

Within two centuries Berlin had gone from also-ran provincial town to Germany’s capital, but these drastic changes would be matched the following century by its demolition in World War II and subsequent division in the Cold War. Brandenburg was radically transformed too, losing all its territory east of the Oder and falling under the sway of communism.

Then, in November 1989, the world’s media converged on the Brandenburg Gate to watch Berliners chipping away at the Berlin Wall and witness the extraordinary scenes of the border opening for good. This triggered a series of events which saw Germany’s federal government re-established in the city, sparking a pace of urban change unrivalled in the developed world.

East Germany’s infamous Staatssicherheitsdienst (State Security Service), or Stasi, monitored everything in the GDR. It ensured the security of the country’s borders, carried out surveillance on foreign diplomats, business people and journalists, and monitored domestic and foreign media. It was, however, in the surveillance of East Germany’s own population that the organization truly excelled. Very little happened in the GDR without the Stasi knowing about it: files were kept on millions of innocent citizens and insidious operations were orchestrated against dissidents, real and imagined. By the Wende the Stasi had a budget of £1 billion and 91,000 full-time employees and 180,000 informers within the East German population, figures brought into context by the punier, albeit more ruthless, 7000-strong Nazi Gestapo.

At the beginning of 1991 former citizens of the GDR were given the right to see their Stasi files. Tens of thousands took the opportunity to find out what the organization had recorded about them, and, more importantly, who had provided the information; many a friendship and not a few marriages came to an end as a result. The process of unravelling truths from the archives also provided material for many a story, including Timothy Garton Ash’s book , The File: A Personal History and the film , Das Leben der Anderen ( The Lives of Others ). Not all documents survived though: many were briskly shredded as the GDR regime collapsed, resulting in an unenviable task for one government organization which spent literally years piecing them together to bring people to justice, thankfully with some success.

After the war, Berlin’s administration was split between Britain, France, the US and the USSR. Each sector was to exist peacefully with its neighbours under a unified city council. But antagonism between the Soviet and other sectors was high. Only three years after the war, Soviet forces closed the land-access corridors to the city from West Germany in what became known as the Berlin Blockade : it was successfully overcome by a massive airlift of food and supplies that lasted nearly a year. This, followed by the 1953 uprising, large-scale cross-border emigration (between 1949 and 1961, the year the Wall was built, over three million East Germans – almost a fifth of the population – fled to West Germany) and innumerable “incidents”, led to the building of what the GDR called an “an antifascist protection barrier”.

Backs to the wall

The Wall was erected overnight on August 13, 1961 , when, at 2am, forty thousand East German soldiers, policemen and workers’ militia went into action closing U- and S-Bahn lines and stringing barbed wire across streets leading into West Berlin to cordon off the Soviet sector. The Wall followed its boundaries implacably, cutting through houses, across squares and rivers, with its own cool illogicality. Many Berliners were rudely evicted from their homes, while others had their doors and windows blocked by bales of barbed wire. Suddenly the British, American and French sectors of the city were corralled some 200km inside the GDR.

Most people in West and East Berlin were taken by surprise. Crowds gathered and extra border guards were sent to prevent trouble. A tiny number – including a few border guards – managed to find holes in the new barrier and flee west. But within a few days the barbed wire and makeshift barricades were reinforced with bricks and mortar. Additionally, West Berliners were no longer allowed into East Berlin. From 1961 onwards the GDR strengthened the Wall making it almost impenetrable – in effect two walls separated by a Sperrgebiet (forbidden zone), dotted with watchtowers and patrolled by soldiers and dogs. It was also known as the Todesstreifen (death strip), as border troops were under instructions to shoot anyone attempting to scale the Wall: any guard suspected of deliberately missing was court-martialled, and his family could expect severe harassment from the authorities. Over the years, over two hundred people were killed trying to cross the Wall.

The wall crumbles

An oddity of the Wall was that it was built a few metres inside GDR territory; so the West Berlin authorities had little control over the graffiti that covered it. The Wall was an ever-changing mixture of colours and slogans. Late in 1989 the East German government, spurred by Gorbachev’s glasnost and a tense domestic climate, realized it could stay stable no longer. To an initially disbelieving and then jubilant Europe, travel restrictions for GDR citizens were lifted on November 9, 1989 – effectively, the Wall ceased to matter, and pictures of Berliners, East and West, hacking away at the detested symbol filled newspapers and TV bulletins around the world.

Today, it’s only possible to tell exactly where the Wall ran by the simple row of cobbles placed along much of its former course. Few significant stretches remain, the sections devoted to the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial being the most notable.

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Berlin   Travel Guide

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travel guide for berlin

Why Go To Berlin

More than three decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city basks in a cultural renaissance that boasts everything from museums and fashion to food and nightclubs. But that's not to say that this city has forgotten its dark past; in fact, attractions like The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe , the Topography of Terror and the Checkpoint Charlie Museum are evidence of its steadfast reverence. And yet, Berlin is on the upswing. An afternoon of visiting a lively cafe, a biergarten or an all-night dance fest at a club will provide you with the proof.

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  • # 1 in Best Places to Visit in Germany
  • # 11 in Best Places to Visit in July 2024
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Best of Berlin

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  • # 1 in Hotel Adlon Kempinski
  • # 2 in Grand Hyatt Berlin
  • # 3 in The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin

Hotel Adlon Kempinski

Best Things to Do in Berlin

  • # 1 in Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
  • # 2 in Reichstag Building
  • # 3 in Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Popular Tours

All-in-One Berlin Shore Excursion from Warnemunde and Rostock Port

All-in-One Berlin Shore Excursion from Warnemunde and Rostock Port

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Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Tour from Berlin

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Tour from Berlin

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Private Berlin Complete History All Day Walking Tour

Private Berlin Complete History All Day Walking Tour

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from $ 215.69

Berlin Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best time to visit Berlin is May through September, when the weather is ideal for cafe sitting, relaxing in a park, and leisurely city strolling. Winter, on the other hand, is   cold, however the city’s nightlife and arts scene continue to thrive and entertain travelers. Temperatures tend to range from 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter. However, this might be the best time for budget travelers to score deals on airfare and hotel rates.

Weather in Berlin

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

Don't risk it: Stamp your ticket  All public transportation tickets must be stamped at the platform, bus or tram before you begin your journey. Tickets that are not stamped are considered invalid and are subject to a fine of 60 euros (about $65) upon inspection.

Pack a phrasebook  Berlin is a friendly city, but knowing a few German words will help you exponentially. For example, bitte is "please," and danke schön is "thank you."

Don't plan your shopping spree for Sunday  Many shops (with the exception of those in airports and railway stations) are closed on this day.

How to Save Money in Berlin

Visit in the winter Bundle up and enjoy Germany’s capital in the winter. You'll have to face some cold temperatures (ranging from the low 30s to the 40s), but the superb deals on flights and hotels may make it worth it. During the holiday season, you’ll have the opportunity to visit more than 60 Christmas markets .

Party in Berlin East You should take advantage of the city's lively nightlife, but you don't have to pay a fortune to do so. Nightlife venues to the east of the city are generally more affordable than those in the west.

Buy a Berlin WelcomeCard Visitors can enjoy not only free transportation by subway, bus and ferry with the Berlin WelcomeCard , but also discounted tickets to major attractions. You'll also receive a free downloadable map of Berlin with your purchase.

Pack a picnic A variety of popular parks, such as Mauerpark or Tempelhofer Feld, are equipped with barbecues and vast green space suitable for a picnic. Consider packing a meal and enjoying it outdoors.

Culture & Customs

East and West Berlin were historically united after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Since then, Germany has experienced a vast economic and cultural revitalization that has propelled it to become one of the most powerful countries in Europe – and the world.

Although Germany's official language is German, you'll find that many Berliners are proficient in English, too. Still, you can't go wrong learning a few German words: Guten tag or hallo for "hello,"  bitte for "please" and danke for "thank you."

Punctuality and order are two characteristics highly prized by German culture, so be on time to any business meeting or formal engagement. When in a restaurant, do not leave your money on the table after receiving the check. Hand the money to the waiter and ask for your change. Tips are already included in your bill, but if the service was exceptional, it's customary to tip an extra 10 to 15 percent.

Berlin's official currency is the euro (EUR). Since the euro to U.S. dollar exchange rate fluctuates often, check what the current exchange rate is before you go. Major credit cards are accepted at most restaurants and shops.

What to Eat

Berlin's food options are wide-ranging, with an abundance of traditional German cuisine, a thriving international food scene and even healthier, vegetarian options. Still, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to nosh on authentic dishes Berlin is known for.

A variety of sausages – everything from bratwurst to bockwurst (pork and veal) to the unique currywurst (sausage covered with ketchup and curry powder) – are ever-popular, as are staples like Wiener schnitzel (flattened, breaded, fried veal). German cuisine relies heavily on pork – so much so that you'll find eisbein (pork knuckle) served with potatoes and sauerkraut. Pop over to Zur letzten Instanz , the oldest restaurant in Berlin, for some traditional eats. It is one block off the Klosterstraße U-Bahn station.

Berlin also has a large Turkish influence (around 150,000 Turks call the city home) and that's spilled over into the gastronomy. For a look at a variety of delicacies, check out Turkish Market along the banks of the Landwehr Canal in the Neukölln neighborhood (hop off the U-Bahn at U Kottbusser Tor or Schönleinstraße). Additionally, be sure to try a döner kebab sandwich, which was first introduced by Turkish immigrants (urban legend says it was invented in Berlin). The dish includes a special bread filled with thin slices of beef (or chicken or lamb ... take your pick) and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and a yogurt-based sauce. You'll find these sandwiches at numerous street vendors all over the city.

Finally, no trip to Berlin is complete without some (or lots) of bier ( beer). Beer is a big part of German culture; the legal drinking age for fermented beverages is 16 (or 18 for distilled alcohol). Germany also takes the quality of its suds seriously. There are a number of regulations, known as Reinheitsgebot  (literally translated to "purity order"), that limit the number of ingredients used in the brewing process to only malt, hops, yeast and water. There are biergartens all over the city, but one of the most beautiful, Cafè am Neuen See , is found in Tiergarten . Don't forget to say prost or zum wohl  (cheers and bottoms up, respectively). 

In general, pickpocketing tends to be a Berlin tourist's main safety concern. Watch out for pickpockets on public transportation, especially during rush hour and at major tourist attractions. Berlin’s tourism website advises travelers to also be aware of fake police officers who will try to steal cash or credit cards. Also, visitors should be aware that prostitution is legal in Germany, and a percentage of Berlin's sex workers are victims of human trafficking.

Getting Around Berlin

The best way to get around Berlin is via the U-Bahn underground trains or S-Bahn regional, elevated trains, which are both a part of the city's extensive BVG public transportation system. You can even reach the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport Willy Brandt (BER), which opened in 2020, by S-Bahn (there is a railway station directly below Terminal 1, and the one-way trip takes about 45 minutes from the airport to Berlin’s city center in Alexanderplatz). Although service is significantly slower than the U-Bahn or S-Bahn, travelers can also take advantage of the city’s extensive bus and tram lines.

As with every big metropolis, driving is discouraged: heavy traffic and scarce parking are the main culprits. For a bit of exercise, you can rent a bike and peddle along the city's bike lanes and through the parks. Many locals use bicycles as their main mode of transportation. Metered taxis are also abundant; they can be hailed on the street or scheduled ahead of time. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber, are also available and helpful for travelers.

Entry & Exit Requirements

United States citizens can visit Berlin for 90 days without a tourist visa. A passport that is valid three months beyond your planned departure date is required for entry. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website .

The Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate) is one of the most-photographed sites in Berlin.

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Whether your interests lean toward history or culture or shopping or out-all-night fun or, even better, a mix, Berlin is sure to become one of your essential vacation spots. The city is loaded with writers and artists who are driving the conversation about the history city forward. The once divided city has turned into one of Europe’s cultural hot spots, where the fun goes on into the early hours of the morning before kicking right back off again. But Berlin’s ultra-modern present sits side-by-side with Germany’s history—most notably the country’s role during the 20th century and World War II. The city doesn’t shy away from its past, with sites including the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Other worthwhile history stops include Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate.

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When’s the best time to go to Berlin?

Berlin is famous for its summers—not that they’re especially warm, but there is just so much to do. The summer season can be wet, so it’s best to pack an umbrella—though rain doesn’t stop Berliners from enjoying their city. May is often considered the best time to visit, with good weather and plenty of festivals and events. Winters in Berlin are cold (below freezing in January and February), but the cultural events don’t disappear. Locals stay busy with seasonal festivities and quirky adventures like skiing on the grounds of the former Tempelhof Airport, which is now a giant city park.

How to get around Berlin

Berlin is served by two main airports. Tegel (TXL) is conveniently located within the city limits. Public buses (20 minutes) run from Tegel regularly to Berlin Hauptbahnhof and Alexanderplatz. Schonefeld Airport is connected to the city by S-Bahn and regional trains (30 minutes).

Berlin’s transportation system, the BVG, is reliable, convenient, and vast, and it includes buses, trains, and trams. As in many European countries, the BVG runs on the honor system, so make sure to validate your ticket before boarding. At random times, officers check the tickets of each passenger. The U-Bahn trains (underground lines) run until late and are round-the-clock on weekends; S-Bahn trains (commuter lines) traverse the city, making them best for fast connections. Taxis in Berlin are readily available, as are services like Uber.

Can’t miss things to do in Berlin

To really get a feel for Berlin’s cultural life, it’s best to visit one of the many parks and public spaces on a sunny afternoon or early in the evening. Görlitzer Park is one of the most popular hangouts, but you’ll find more locals at the Volkspark Friedrichshain. There’s a beer garden, a small hill for hiking, and even a fairy-tale fountain (the Märchenbrunnen). Museum goers should head straight to Museum Island, where five exquisite museums (all on one ticket) await.

For an overview of all that happened before, during, and since the Holocaust, seek out the Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum). The museum is a challenging but extremely worthwhile place to spend time.

Food and drink to try in Berlin

Food in Berlin runs the gamut—from cheap street foods (don’t miss the ubiquitous doner kebabs) to fine dining. Each Berlin neighborhood, or kiez, typically has its own food market. Fresh vegetables, produce, and bread can be bought at the markets, and many have small stands selling lunch or snacks.

Though, years ago, few people would have shouted “Berlin!” if asked for one of the world’s best food cities, things have changed. Trendy brunch spots, Vietnamese restaurants, and traditional German fare all play a role in today’s Berlin. Most tourists flock to the bars around Görlitzer Bahnhof and Schlesisches Tor, but there are plenty of other areas worth exploring. Branch out into Neukölln for the freshest crop of good bars. And rather than hitting the restaurants on Simon-Dach Strasse in Friedrichshain, go a few blocks east to Boxhagener Platz.

Culture in Berlin

With hundreds of independent galleries in addition to its many city-owned museums, Berlin has history and culture in spades. Museums cover everything from typography (Buchstabenmuseum) to film (Film and Television Museum). Art galleries in Berlin have a solid reputation among enthusiasts. Berlin was a hotbed for culture in the 1920s, and in recent years the city has again embraced its creative classes. Get some deep background on what life was like in Berlin during the Cold War by participating in Divided City , a private walking tour led by a local historian or architect from AFAR’s partner, Context Travel.

Artists, musicians, and innovators have made Berlin home in the past couple of decades, changing the very face of the city—sometimes quite literally. Street art and graffiti in Berlin is often ranked among the world’s best thanks to Berliners’ need to speak up and be heard.

In a city as diverse as Berlin, festivals and events happen all year long. Summertime sees an influx of music festivals: watch out for MyFest, Christopher Street Day gay pride, Carnival of Cultures, and Berlin Music Week. The winter has its fair share of festivals as well, most notably the star-studded Berlinale indepedent film festival.

Local Resources

  • Finding Berlin
  • Digital Cosmonaut
  • The Local Berlin
  • Visit Berlin

Practical Information

  • The first language of Berlin is German. There’s a good chance you’ll run into English speakers in the city but a translation app or German language guide is definitely helpful.
  • Germany is a member of the European Union and uses the Euro as its currency.
  • The country’s standard voltage is 230v. Power sockets throughout the country require a type F adapter (though type C and E plugs will also work).

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The newest Fotografiska is in a 1908 department store turned famed artist squat in Berlin.

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Essential travel guide to berlin, germany [updated 2024].

Berlin is a city that holds a certain mystery, due to its interesting history that forever changed the world. Between its storied past and its modern present day, Berlin is a great place to visit.

If you’re planning a trip to Berlin, we’ve got you covered with our essential travel guide to Berlin, which includes what to do, see and eat in the city, along with an informative and helpful infographic that will give you a quick peek at all the top things you should plan to do in Berlin.

» You might be interested in these 13 Popular German Foods You Must Try.


Do keep in mind that Berlin is a very popular tourist destination, so hotels, tours and activities fill up quickly. It pays to plan ahead for your visit to Berlin, by booking your hotel, figuring out transportation, and deciding on what you’d like to do. This 3-day Berlin itinerary is the perfect guide. For more information on traveling through Germany check out this 7-day Germany itinerary.

If your plans take you to other parts of Europe, check out our how to plan a trip to Europe guide. 

↓ Click to jump down to the bottom to see the infographic.

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Table of Contents

What Are the Top Things to Do in Berlin?

The top things to do in Berlin are seeing the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, visiting Museum island – which houses a cathedral and art museum, admiring the Berliner Philharmonic building, the spire with its viewing platform, and Checkpoint Charlie.

There are walking tours of the city that will help you understand its history, as well as foodie things to do (don’t miss Markthalle Neun on Thursdays)!

Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

With so many great things to do in Berlin, you really need to set up a good itinerary before you leave, to make sure you can fit everything in.  You can pre-book some of the activities listed in our shortcut travel guide to Berlin (below) on Viator . (Note: These are affiliate links for which we may receive a small commission.)

  • Berlin Half-Day Walking Tour – this tour lasts 3.5 hours and gives a great overview of the city and its history, while visiting the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie and the Topography of Terror.
  • Private Walking Tour: World War 2 and Cold War Sites in Berlin – If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy this private 4-hour historical walking tour.
  • Berlin Neighbourhood Food Tour: Classic Bites and Culinary Trends – You can’t miss the opportunity to do a food tour in Berlin to try some of the most classic foods from the city, like Currywurst, Austrian Dumplings, and handmade falafel. The tour is 3.5 hours long and includes many food and drink samples.
  • Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial Tour – On this 6-hour tour, you can visit and learn more about Sachsenhausen, one of the first concentration camps established by Nazi Germany’s Third Reich. It leaves at 10am from the train station.

Where is the Best Place to Stay in Berlin?

The best locations for tourists in Berlin is right in the center of the city, called Mitte. From here, you’ll be in easy walking distance of all the top sights and you won’t need to take public transportation unless you want to head further outside the main areas.

Of course, the prices are much higher in the center of Mitte, so if you’re looking for affordable luxury at a slightly lower rate, check the areas just on the fringe of Mitte, especially to the west, near the park.

A great choices in the affordable luxury range in the center of Mitte is the Hilton . It’s right in the center of the Mitte area, and the closest hotel to everything.

Hilton Hotel Berlin

We enjoyed staying at the COSMO Hotel (newly opened Design Hotel) to the southeast. The Radisson Blu to the northeast and the Grand Hyatt to the southwest are also good choices.

  • Hilton Berlin ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor  |  Book a stay
  • The Grand Hyatt ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor  |  Book a stay
  • COSMO ⇒ Read reviews on Trip Advisor  |  Book a stay
  • Radisson Blu read reviews on Trip Advisor | Book a stay

How Long Should You Spend in Berlin?

Most travelers spend from 2-3 days in Berlin. If you’re short on time, or combining Berlin with other Germany destinations, then that’s plenty of time to see the main attractions and get a feel for the city.

The main sights most visitors wish to see are within close proximity to each other in Mitte. You can expect to do a lot of walking, but it’s also easy to get from sight to sight on the tram or metro. If you want to take side trips outside of Berlin, to the concentration camps for instance, you’ll need more time.

berlin, germany

When is the Best Time to Visit?

Berlin is a fun and vibrant city that is always alive with activity. The nicer weather leads to many outdoor festivals and beer gardens. The winter brings out the Christmas market stalls and Gluhwein drinking while strolling through the festive streets. I wouldn’t really say there’s a bad time to visit Berlin. It all depends on what season you like best and what activities you are hoping to do.

What To Eat in Berlin

You might be expecting the typical German foods in Berlin, but schnitzel isn’t the only thing on the menu in this melting pot of a city. There is a great international food influence in Berlin that leads to a lot of fusion. If you’re lucky enough to be in Berlin on a Thursday, be sure to check out all the street-food vendors at Markthalle Neun . It opens at 5pm and features dozens of food options.

Curry Wurst in Berlin

Currywurst – Even before I spent any time in Berlin, I knew about the Currywurst. It’s Bratwurst served with curry powder and ketchup, plus generally a side of fries. It’s one of the most popular street food dishes in Berlin.

Schnitzel – It wouldn’t be Germany unless schnitzel was on the menu. It’s a huge piece of breaded, fried pork cutlet, typically served with potatoes.

Berliner Pfannkuche – Yes, it’s a Berlin pancake, but it’s really more like a donut without a hole. It often comes stuffed with jam and dusted with powdered sugar.

Falafel & Doner – Just about as popular as the currywurst is the falafel and doner in Berlin. It’s a great snack, even if it’s not particularly German, and you can find it everywhere.

Food Tours You May Enjoy:

  • Berlin Evening Food Tour
  • Kreuzberg and Neukölln Walking Food Tour in Berlin

Essential Travel Guide to Berlin

Berlin Attractions

Frequently Asked Questions

The top things to do in Berlin are seeing the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag Building, visiting Museum island – which houses a cathedral and art museum, admiring the Berliner Philharmonic building, the spire with its viewing platform, and Checkpoint Charlie. There are walking tours of the city that will help you understand its history, as well as foodie things to do (don’t miss Markthalle Neun on Thursdays)!

The best locations for tourists in Berlin is right in the center of the city, called Mitte. From here, you’ll be in easy walking distance of all the top sights and you won’t need to take public transportation unless you want to head further outside the main areas. Of course, the prices are much higher in the center of Mitte, so if you’re looking for affordable luxury at a slightly lower rate, check the areas just on the fringe of Mitte, especially to the west, near the park.

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No matter how much time you spend in Berlin – from just a few days to a full month – you’ll be able to discover fascinating parts of the city you would never believe existed. We hope this travel guide to Berlin helps you easily plan your trip.

We’re happy to help answer your questions, if you need help planning.

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  • Research flight options (our favorite tool is Skyscanner )
  • Book a tour (we always use Viator to find the best tours)
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Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited over 75 countries. Her work has been published in numerous guidebooks, websites, and magazines.

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Things To Do On Your First Trip To Berlin

Berlin Reichstag

With just a few days in Berlin, here are a few tips on what to see and do, great tours to book, plus some of my favourite places to eat in the city!

As you’ll have seen in my recent blog, I’ve just got back from Berlin! I was there for four days and spent one of them exploring the IGA Berlin 2017 – the huge garden show that’s on until October. It was my first time in the city and I was REALLY excited to see and do as much as possible.

The history of Berlin is complex, but one I’d recommend reading up on. It’s multi-layered and obviously has very dark patches, but despite not being a history buff, I enjoyed learning what the city had been through. As I explored on foot, I felt like the city made more sense to me.

While I did some research on where to go, I also let myself explore, you know… get lost! The result? Some great places to eat, views, and spots to recommend to you guys.

How To Travel Around Berlin

Hurrah, a city with a great transport network! I used Google Maps to navigate the city, and other than not always being sure which side of the road I needed to catch the tram from, it was an easy experience. The U Bahn (subway system is really simple to understand, and trains come regularly (every few mins in peak times). There are trams and buses too.

The part I found strange was that you don’t show tickets very often or pass through barriers to enter public transport. I’ve heard that people buy tickets as there are strong penalties if you’re caught without – so just don’t risk it!

Berlin train

I’d recommend picking up a  Berlin City Pass . Along with discounts at many attractions in the city, it also covers your public transport for the duration of your trip. It also includes travel to and from the airport. I ordered mine in advance, printed it at home, and used it right from the start of my trip from Berlin Airport.

Berlin City Sights

There’s SO much to see and do in Berlin, and at times it feels so big (particularly with there not being just one centre). As mentioned, the transport system is excellent, so you really can see a lot, even if you only have a short time.

Head to the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. If you apply in advance you can visit the beautiful dome of the Reichstag (find out how here ). The Monument To The Murdered Jews is so moving, and a walk through the towering columns is something I’d urge anyone to experience as part of their trip.

Museum Island is another must-see and I also loved exploring the many courtyards of Hackesche Höfe . Tucked away, this really is one of the city’s hidden gems! Close by is a street covered in murals and graffiti,  just next to the Anne Frank Museum.

To be honest, I love just how walkable Berlin is. If you’re on a budget, I’d recommend taking yourself on a free walking tour of Berlin Mitte ,  which allows you to check out the key sights in your own time.

Exploring Museum Island, Berlin

Visit The East Side Gallery

Over 100 Artists from all over the world were invited to paint murals on the remaining section of the Berlin Wall in 1990. It’s now a brightly-coloured, outdoor gallery and while most are a direct comment on the political state of the world when the wall came down, some seem as relevant today as they did back then.

Take your time looking at each mural – they have so many incredible details, and are worth more than the photo-and-go that the coach loads of tourists do.

Check latest prices and availability for the Cold War Tour of Berlin including a visit to the East Side Gallery

Exploring Berlin's East Side Gallery

Mauerpark Fleamarket

After my time in the city, I’d say this Sunday market is so quintessentially Berlin! There are hundreds of stalls selling everything from vintage clothes and antiques, to handmade jewellery and the most random of nic-nacs. There’s also a huge street food section with plenty of great smells to lure you in!

Then in the park area you’ll find performers, street artists and the legendary Sunday karaoke (which draws huge crowds!) It was one of my highlights of my time in Berlin.

Sunday fleamarket in Mauerpark, Berlin

Berliner Fernsehturm

Berlin’s tallest building offers the best (and most central) views of the city. Once in the lift, you’ll venture upwards at speeds of 6m per second to the observation deck – a height of 203m.

Top tip – check out their offers . When I visited they were running a fast view ticket, with coffee and cake served in Sphere Restaurant for just 20.50 EUR. Considering a fast view ticket on its own is 19.50 EUR, it’s a great deal, but it only runs between 2-4pm on weekdays.

Check latest prices and availability for a trip up the   Berliner Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

Views of the Berliner Fernsehturm

Bite Berlin Food Tour

I am a strong believer that you learn a lot about a place by eating your way around it… so for me, the way to learn about the best things to eat in Germany  is by taking a food tour. The tour I took with Sam from Bite Berlin came highly recommended and was excellent.

She showed us the best place for currywurst, took us to her favourite Vietnamese restaurant and then for tasty cinnamon buns. I learned plenty about the history and culture of the city too, and rolled back to my hotel full and ready for a nap!

Check latest prices and availability for the Bite Berlin Food Tour

Currywurst at Curry 61, Berlin

Withlocals Urban Jungle Tour

This was another great tour, showcasing the gritty, urban, alternative side to the city. Betty from Withlocals  showed me some of the city’s best street art and took me to parts of the city I’d never have found on my own. We even popped along to Berlin’s smallest disco.

Check latest prices and availability for the Urban Jungle Alternative Tour Of Berlin

Exploring the street art of Berlin on a tour with With Locals.

If you have a few more days in Berlin, here are a few other tour suggestions to check out…

Berlin Segway Tour – Segway tours are so much fun, and a great way to cover a lot of ground when time is limited. On this segway tour of Berlin you’ll see the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Cathedral, Museum Island, Reichstag, Gendarmenmarkt and the East Side Gallery, while hearing stories about the city’s complex history.

Check latest prices and availability for a  segway tour of Berlin

Segway tour around Stuart, Martin County, Florida

Evening Berlin Food Tour by Bike – Nothing like burning a few calories on two wheels to justify eating more on your holiday! This tour takes you around the vibrant neighbourhood of Prenzlauer Berg with stops at some of the best restaurants in the area.

Check latest prices and availability for the Berlin food tour by bike

Berlin lunch cruise  OR  Berlin dinner cruise  –  A cruise along the River Spree is a great way to soak up the history of the city, while snapping some beautiful photos. Even better with a nice meal to tuck into! I love taking boat trips, so I’ll definitely check one of these cruises out next time I’m in Berlin!

Check latest prices and availability for a  Berlin lunch cruise  OR a Berlin dinner cruise

Exploring Berlin

Berlin Bike Tour  – I’m a little wobbly on two wheels so tend to avoid bike tours, but for many of my friends (and Berliners too) this is a fave way to travel. On this 4.5 hour tour you’ll hear the full history of Berlin, while speeding past the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate, the Spree River and Tiergarten Park. Plus, when you start to feel tired, there’s the opportunity to stop by a beer garden too.

Check latest prices and availability for a  Berlin bike tour

Nightlife Tour through Alternative Berlin with Local Guide  – As I was travelling solo, I was tempted to book onto a tour like this! I’m not usually brave enough to go to bars or clubs late at night solo, unless I know the lay of the land. On this tour you’ll find out where the locals drink, and party with them! From goth bars to craft beer spots, you’ll explore Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Neukölln and Wedding, and feel like a true Berliner by the end!

Check latest prices and availability for the  Berlin nightlife tour

Berlin Nightlife

3-Hour Berlin Beer Tour  – Beer is a big deal in Berlin, and beer lovers will be excited by the range of craft beers on offer in the city. On this tour, you’ll find out about Germany’s brewing industry, “biergartens” and try some great pints along the way.

Check latest prices and availability for the  Berlin beer tour

Where To Eat In Berlin

House Of Small Wonder – An Instagrammable delight, this café serves up healthy salads and tasty brunch-style food. Expect zucchini noodles, Japanese salads, katsu and watermelon with feta.

Amazing decor at House Of Small Wonder, Berlin

District Mot  – There is a very large Vietnamese population in Berlin (as I learned on my food tour) so with that comes great food around the city! I loved this restaurant, which specialises in a street food vibe and great flavours. The bao burgers have won awards and are particularly worth a try!

Bao burgers at District Mot, Berlin

Curry 61 – THE place for currywurst in the city. It’s not gourmet but you have to try it when you come to Berlin!

Cocolo Ramen – Expect to queue at this tiny ramen joint serving up tasty and authentic tonkotsu and gyozas. I waited for 45 minutes and am still debating whether it was worth it, but it was pretty good! I’m sure if you go during the day you’ll beat the queues!

Madang – This Korean restaurant serves up tasty hot pots and grills. Part of the fun is in sharing lots of dishes and the theatre of the huge grill trays! The spicy tofu grill was delicious, especially once the sauce caramelised!

Tasty tofu and vegetable grill at Madang Berlin

Neumanns – I really loved walking around Friedrichshain, and decided this was the café for my final lunch. I wasn’t disappointed! Along with it’s hipster interior, their coffee is great and topped-sourdough dishes make a delicious lunch.

Woop Woop Ice Cream – A bit of novelty, this ice cream shop opened earlier this year and makes four flavours of ice cream using liquid nitrogen. Have it in a cup or a bubble waffle and watch the magic happen in front of your eyes!

Woop Woop Ice Cream, Berlin

Where To Stay In Berlin

The Circus Hotel – Funky, stylish, quirky and well-located, this hotel was perfect for my stay. There are U-Bahn and tram stops right outside at Rosenthal Platz, plus plenty of lovely restaurants and boutiques nearby. The breakfasts downstairs at Commonground are excellent too.

Cute, kitsch decor at The Circus Hotel, Berlin

This blog was produced in association with the GNTB but as always, opinions are my own.

Enjoyed this post? Why not pin it for later…

Chloe gunning.

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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17 Best Things to Do in Berlin

By Eliot Stein and Krystin Arneson

17 Best Things to Do in Berlin

More than thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the German capital's intoxicating mix of grit, glamour, and anything-goes expression born from historical repression has made it one of the most dynamic cities on earth. Where else can you saunter through Prussian palaces, venture into Nazi-era bunkers, tour the world's longest outdoor art gallery, and lose yourself in Europe's most famous techno temple? (And that's just day one.) So bring an open mind, pack your stamina, and get ready to dive into all the city has to offer. Read on for the very best things to do in Berlin.

Click the link to read our complete Berlin city guide .

Germany Berlin Landmark Landwehr Canal

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You visit the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag to sightsee in Berlin. You wander the Landwehr Canal to fall in love with Berlin. Arguably the city's best people-watching spot, the canal unites two of its hippest 'hoods (Kreuzberg and Neukölln, called "Kreuzkölln") into the beating heart of the city's bohemian counterculture scene. In fact, one of the most quintessential Berlin experiences you can have is grabbing a €1 beer from a spätkauf (Berlin’s version of a bodega) and sitting along the canal’s grassy banks under a weeping willow tree. You'll be surrounded by scruffy hipsters, Turkish families, hard-nosed Berliners, and everyone in between. A well-marked footpath runs along the canal through much of Berlin. In addition, benches, biergartens, bocce courts, and other welcome distractions invite you to sit and linger.

Germany Berlin Activity Club Hackesche Höfe and Haus Schwarzenberg

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Beneath its rough exterior, Berlin hides elegant urban courtyards behind the Altbau buildings that survived World War II. In the heart of Berlin’s central Mitte neighborhood, Hackesche Höfe is a cluster of eight café- and boutique-filled public courtyards dating from 1907. Following a complete renovation to restore the interconnected höfs (courtyards) to their former glory, the labyrinth reopened in 1996. Several doors down on Rosenthaler Straße, Haus Schwarzenberg is Hackesche Höfe’s gritty, graffiti-covered brother, and it offers a fascinating glimpse of what much of Berlin looked like before gentrification swept in.

Germany Berlin Activity Charlottenburg Palace

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Built in 1699 as a summer residence for Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Friedrich I, this massive, multi-winged baroque structure is Berlin’s largest palace. Heavily damaged in World War II and rebuilt and restored over several decades, the palace is home to a number of priceless collections, including royal porcelain and silver, crown jewels, and important 18th-century French paintings by artists such as Antoine Watteau. The rooms themselves, most of which were entirely reconstructed, feature ornate plasterwork, gilding, and frescoes, all based on original designs. The highlight is the gardens, created in the French and English style, with orderly hedges, fountains, ponds, and tree-lined gravel paths.

Müggelsee Berlin TTD

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Berliners swarm the city’s outdoor spaces in the summer, and Müggelsee has long been a crowd favorite: It’s a popular spot to pass an afternoon when a short Ryanair hop to the Italian coast isn't in your weekend plans. Of course, this is an inland lake and not the sea, but it’s a respite on hot, AC-less days for city residents. The lake's golden sand is smoother than you might expect and is absolutely fine in bare feet. There's usually plenty of room on the beach to spread out, just don't set up camp too close to the curmudgeonly swans that strut the shoreline.

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Germany Berlin Museum Berlin Wall Memorial

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This free indoor/outdoor museum and memorial is the best place to learn how the Berlin Wall sprung up, practically overnight, what life was like in the former East German state, and the heroic (and heartbreaking) attempts people made to reunite with their families. As you walk along this one-mile stretch of Bernauer Strasse, an open-air exhibit features photographs and signs detailing the stories on either side of the barrier. There’s also a preserved piece of the original border wall and a watchtower, as well as an indoor visitor center with exhibits chronicling the political and historical events surrounding the city’s division.

Treptower Park Berlin

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Summer in Berlin is practically synonymous with sunny afternoons whiled away in Treptower Park, located along the banks of the Spree River. Berliners head here en masse after winter’s hibernation to picnic and drink Spati beers in the park’s wide expanses—and there’s plenty of room to hold them all, with 207 acres of green space. Those feeling a little more active head to the park for running or walking; tourists come to catch a Stern und Kreis City Tour by boat that departs from the food-stall-lined riverside jetty. This being Berlin, there’s some serious history behind it (the Soviet War Memorial is a cemetery for 5,000 Soviet soldiers), and stargazers should check out the Archenhold Sternwarte, which boasts the world’s longest refracting telescope.

Germany Berlin Activity Mauerpark Flea Market

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Located along a former part of the Berlin Wall that was a militarized no-man’s land known as the “Death Strip,” the area that is now Mauerpark (“Wall Park") was where guards stationed in watch towers would shoot would-be escapees trying to flee from East Berlin to West. Today, the attack dogs and soldiers are gone, and in their place, the city’s largest and best outdoor market is held every Sunday. Surrounding the bustling market in the trendy green space is something of an anything-goes circus, filled with jugglers, picnickers and the world's largest karaoke party, known as Bearpit Karaoke.


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Ask any proud Berliner and they’ll tell you that you don’t go to a döner kebab shop for the ambience, and Tadim is no exception. Located smack-dab in the heart of Kreuzberg’s bustling Turkish epicenter, Tadim has been attracting culinary pilgrims for more than 20 years. Inside, you'll salivate at simmering hunk of meat rotating on the spit like a glistening, fatty disco ball. A few sterile chairs and tables round out the place. It’s simple and straightforward, just as a proper kebab joint should be. Going to Berlin and not eating a döner kebab would be like going to Naples and not eating pizza—it’s cheap, it’s delicious, and it’s informal. You can eat in, take it wrapped to go, or stand and eat it outside—there’s really no wrong way to eat at Tadim.

Germany Berlin Night Club Berghain

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Perhaps no club in Berlin (or the world, for that matter) is more hallowed than Berghain. Set in a former East German power station, this cavernous, nondescript warehouse is the Holy Grail for techno fans, hosting three-day-long debauchery-induced raves. Every weekend, the club attracts some of the best DJs from all over the planet to spin and pump beats so intense that they ring in your bones instead of your ears. Things generally kick off well after midnight and hit their stride toward 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.; and this is a black jeans and Converse kind of city, so if you dress in expensive heels and cute tops, you won’t get in anywhere.

Germany Berlin Landmark The Reichstag

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Reduced to rubble after one of history's most infamous fires in the 1930s, and then rebuilt decades later, the stately Reichstag is arguably Germany's most iconic landmark . The building has been home of Germany’s parliament (the Bundestag) since 1999 and now serves as a symbol of the country’s reunification. Today, a glistening glass dome designed by starchitect Norman Foster sits atop the grand old structure, and anyone with an advanced booking can ascend its 755-foot-long ramp for sweeping views over the city. The Reichstag dome is one of the most enriching free experiences for first-time visitors to the city, where a troubled past exists side by side with a trendsetting future. Few places employ this juxtaposition quite as well as this monument to freedom and openness, which was literally built atop the site that saw Nazis rise to power.

Germany Berlin Activity Brandenburg Gate

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This triumphant neoclassical arch is Berlin’s most famous monument and the only remaining gate of the 14 that originally surrounded the city when it was a proud Prussian metropolis. Since then, Napoleon and Hitler have stormed through it and the world watched as thousands of Berliners swarmed the site with sledgehammers to topple the nearby Wall in 1989. Ever since, this Acropolis-inspired 1791 monument has come to symbolize German reunification. Conveniently located within easy walking distance of a trio of boldfaced Berlin sites ( Tiergarten Park , the Reichstag , and The Holocaust Memorial ), the Brandenburg Gate serves as a central meeting place for tourists.

Germany Berlin Museum Museum Island

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Berlin's Smithsonian on the Spree, Museumsinsel (“Museum Island”) is a UNESCO-inscribed collection of five world-class museums and a must-see for anyone coming to Berlin. Spanning 6,000 years of art and history, the island’s ensemble of museums (The Altes Museum, Neues Museum , Alte Nationalgalerie, Pergamonmuseum , and Bode Museum) represent the pinnacle of Germany’s museum collection. Here, visitors can come face to face with Nefertiti; ascend an ancient altar dedicated to Zeus; and marvel at Monet, Cézanne, and Degas’ landscapes before crossing the bridge back to mainland Berlin.

Germany Berlin Muesum Sammlung Boros

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A renovated Nazi-era bunker in the now-posh Mitte district houses this private collection of contemporary art, owned by Christian and Karen Boros (who actually live in an apartment on the roof). The selection of sculpture, paintings, photographs, and installations by international artists, including Ai Weiwei, Thomas Ruff, Tomás Saraceno, and Olafur Eliasson, rotates every four years. A guided tour across its five floors reveals not only the impressive collection but also the long history of the bunker, which was used as a Nazi air raid shelter and later became an underground techno club (you can still see vestiges of fluorescent paint in some rooms and stairwells). Tours (required) book up months in advance, so plan accordingly.

Germany Berlin Activity The Holocaust Memorial

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A short walk from Brandenburg Gate , this sprawling, maze-like set of 2,711 concrete columns is a haunting reminder of the atrocities and toll of World War II and Germany’s main memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Officially called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site occupies an entire 205,000-square-foot city block and was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman after an exhaustive 17-year planning process. The memorial’s abstract design offers no explanation or prescribed walking path, but simply invites visitors to enter and become swallowed in its tomb-like slabs.

Germany Berlin Mural East Side Gallery

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With more than 100 paintings, the East Side Gallery is the world's largest (and longest) open-air art gallery. The 0.8-mile stretch of the Berlin Wall, which runs parallel to the Spree River, once trapped East Germans inside. But when the rest of the Wall came crumbling down in 1989, this stretch remained and became a concrete canvas for international artists, who splashed it with murals between February and June of 1990.

Image may contain Human Person Vehicle Transportation Bike Bicycle Animal Bird Architecture and Building

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Built by Hitler’s henchmen and used as a lifeline by some two million people during the Allied Airlift, Tempelhof Airport is now a sweeping urban playground that’s larger than Central Park . On sunny days, thousands of Berliners come to jog down the abandoned runways, bike under the old radar station, and grill next to grounded Cold War-era planes. Stay long enough and you’ll see beekeepers in the lawn, windsurfers on the runway, cricket players by the tarmac, zipliners in the forest, and much more.


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Berlin Travel Guide

Last Updated: July 29, 2023

A sweeping view over Berlin, Germany at sunset with the iconic TV tower in the distance

Over the past decade, Berlin has become incredibly popular with students, artists, writers, and creatives. They’ve been drawn to the city’s cheap rent and anything-goes spirit. There’s a constant sense of motion in Berlin.

This city is one of the most vibrant on the continent. It’s also huge, so don’t try to see it in just a couple of days. Extend your stay, take your time, rent a bike, and don’t rush. There’s a lot to see.

This travel guide to Berlin can help you plan your trip, save money, and ensure you have an amazing time in this lively metropolis.

Table of Contents

  • Things to See and Do
  • Typical Costs
  • Suggested Budget
  • Money-Saving Tips
  • Where to Stay
  • How to Get Around
  • How to Stay Safe
  • Best Places to Book Your Trip
  • Related Blogs in Berlin

Top 5 Things to See and Do in Berlin

The famous Brandenburg Gate without any people nearby in Berlin, Germany

1. Visit the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

This outdoor memorial is a tribute to the millions of Jews that died during World War II. It’s made up of 2,711 large rectangular stones, which are all different sizes. You can walk between the stones and reflect on the Holocaust and the millions of lives that it claimed.

2. See the Brandenburg Gate

Built in 1791, Brandenburg Gate is the city’s best-known landmark. During the Cold War, the Brandenburg Gate was in no man’s land behind the Berlin Wall. When the Wall fell, everyone came to celebrate here and it has remained a symbol of a unified Germany ever since.

3. See the Berliner Dom

The Berlin Cathedral was originally built in 1905 as a royal court church, but now it’s also a museum and concert hall. While most visitors just stop by for photos, the ornate interior is decked in marble and onyx, with a 7,269-pipe organ and royal sarcophagi. Admission is 9 EUR.

4. Visit the East Side Gallery

This open-air art gallery features 105 paintings by artists from all over the world on a section of the Berlin Wall in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Most of the paintings are political in nature. Signs fill in the history along the way so you can learn about the wall and art too.

5. Hang out in Treptower Park

This park is near an abandoned amusement park. Bike, relax in one of the beer gardens, or rent a boat and paddle down the Spree River. It’s my favorite park in the city. Visit the Inselgarten beer garden with its giant bar swings and random tango classes.

Other Things to See and Do in Berlin

1. hang out in potsdamer platz.

In the 1920s, Potsdamer Platz was the busiest square in Europe but it was destroyed during World War II and then divided by the Berlin Wall. After German reunification, it became the largest building site in Europe. It was transformed into a showpiece for the “new Berlin,” with modern architecture like skyrises, hotels, cinemas, shopping centers, and the massive central plaza.

2. See the famous Reichstag

The seat of the German Parliament is one of Berlin’s most historic landmarks. It has a clear dome (to promote “transparency” in the government) and draws some of the biggest crowds in Berlin. You can visit the dome (it’s free), but you have to make a reservation ahead of time. From the dome, you can enjoy panoramic views over the city and learn about the parliament’s history from the interior exhibitions. (Bring your passport as it’s required for entry!).

3. Enjoy the view from Fernsehturm TV Tower in Alexanderplatz

Germany’s main city square contains the iconic 368-meter-high Fernsehturm TV Tower. You can visit the tower’s observation deck for dazzling views of the city. Tickets start from 25.50 EUR. Otherwise, Alexanderplatz is an exciting hub of activity as people come to shop, eat, and hang out.

4. Tour the German Historical Museum

This museum covers everything from prehistory right up to the present day. There are numerous in-depth exhibits here, so schedule a few hours to see it all. It’s one of my favorite history museums in the world because it is very, very detailed. Highlights include a 3.5-meter-tall coat of arms column from 1486, Napoleon’s hat from the battle of Waterloo in 1815, and a personal computer from East Germany. Admission is 8 EUR. Note: the permanent exhibitions are closed for renovations until 2025. Temporary exhibitions are still accessible.

5. Head to Grunewald Forest

If you are looking to escape from the city, the grand expanse of Berlin’s largest forest is the perfect destination for hiking, picnicking, and biking. On hot summer days, head to Kuhhorn Badestrand, which has a cove and beach where Berliners come to swim and lounge. In the northernmost part of the forest, you’ll find Teufelsberg, a man-made hill standing 120 meters high. You can hike up here for views over the city as well as to see the abandoned tower that was used as a listening station by the US during the Cold War. Admission to Teufelsberg is 8 EUR. Guided tours in English are 15 EUR and take place on Sundays at 3pm.

6. Go to Zoologischer Garten and Aquarium

First opened in 1841, this is Germany’s oldest — and Europe’s most popular — zoo. There are giraffes, elephants, gorillas, and Germany’s only giant pandas, as well as nearly 1,300 other species. The aquarium is equally as impressive and is home to fish, coral, jellyfish, sharks, and more. A combination ticket for the zoo and aquarium is 23 EUR.

7. Visit the Deutsche Kinemathek

More commonly referred to as the Film Museum, this museum hosts festivals throughout the year. However, it’s also worth visiting for its fascinating interactive exhibits on German film. You can learn about German movie history, try out historical filmmaking instruments, explore the ins and outs of cinematic storytelling, watch Nazi propaganda films, and play your own role in front of a green screen in the museum’s studio. The museum theater also offers regular showings of foreign and historic films. Admission to the museum is 9 EUR with a free audio guide available and tickets to see a film are 8 EUR. Entrance is free on the first Sunday of the month.

8. Check out Mauerpark’s market

This enormous flea market is held every Sunday, with vendors selling all sorts of vintage furniture, antiques, artwork, books, and more. Local artists also set up shop to sell their paintings and handicrafts, and there’s no shortage of food and beer to go around. Don’t forget to join the karaoke session in the outdoor theater.

9. Relax in Tempelhof Field

Located in the southern part of the city, this park is actually the site of an old airport that was used during the Berlin Airlift (when the Soviets tried to blockade the city). While the airport closed in 2008 and was transformed into a park, there are still a lot of plaques where you can learn about the old airport. The 951-hectare park is a favorite with Berliners, with lots of people running, working out, and cycling here. In the summer, people take over the barbecue pits. The entrances are open from sunrise to sunset.

10. See the DDR Museum

This museum focuses on life in East Berlin during Communist rule. Exhibits are interactive and divided to cover the various aspects of daily life in East Berlin. There’s even a section dedicated to how the East Germans rebelled against Communist rule by flocking to nude beaches to be “free.” Tickets are 12.50 EUR.

11. Visit Checkpoint Charlie

Dividing Berlin’s most well-known post-war border crossing was Checkpoint Charlie. The original border post on Friedrichstraße between former East and West Berlin remains, complete with a soldier’s post and border crossing sign. The museum has exhibits on the history of the Berlin Wall along with displays about people who attempted to escape to the West. Admission is 14.50 EUR. Audio guides and photo permits are an extra 5 EUR.

12. Take a bike tour

Berlin is a great city to explore by bicycle. There are plenty of themed tours run by operators like Fat Tire Tours that showcase the city, highlighting its history, food, and culture. Prices vary depending on the tour but expect to pay 30-70 EUR per person.

13. Go underground with the Berliner Unterwelten-Museum

This is not a museum in the traditional sense (though there is an exhibition), but rather a guided tour into bunkers, air raid shelters, and tunnel systems beneath the city, in Gesundbrunnen U-Bahnhof. You’ll see East Germany escape tunnels, ammunition findings, and even archaeological treasures. You can also descend into the basement of the BerlinerKindl brewery and sample some of the beers after the tour. Tours cost 15 EUR.

14. Explore the Jewish History Museum

This museum traces the arrival of Jews in Germany, and their contributions throughout German history, hardships faced as a people, and Jewish culture in general. Like most museums in Germany, the museum is huge and requires a few hours to properly explore. It doesn’t go too much depth on the Holocaust, as there is a separate museum for that (The Topography of Terror). Admission is free, with temporary exhibition tickets costing 8 EUR. Due to COVID, they ask that you book a time slot in advance.

15. Visit the Topography of Terror

This museum is on the spot where the SS and the Reich Security Main Office were located during World War II. It documents the terror and horror of the Nazi regime with harrowing video interviews with survivors, historical documents, photographs, and more. It also consists of excavated prison cells that were located under a remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall. Admission is free.

16. Relax in Tiergarten

Berlin’s central park is one of the most beautiful city parks in all of Europe. Founded in 1527 as a private hunting ground for Germany’s ruling class, Tiergarten first opened to the public in 1740. Unfortunately, the park was significantly damaged during World War II; most monuments and bridges were destroyed, thousands of trees were cut down to use for firewood, and war debris piled up. Today, the park covers 520 acres and visitors can visit war monuments, grab a beer in the beer garden, and go out on the lakes in a pedal boat (or ice-skate in the winter).

17. Take a boat tour

The Spree River flows through Berlin, meaning there are lots of canals and waterways on which you can take a boat tour. It’s quite relaxing on a warm day and provides a new perspective of the city. Tours start at 19 EUR for a one-hour cruise.

18. Hang out in Friedrichshain’s Markthalle Neun

If you’ve had your fill of Berliner currywurst and döner kebap and you’re looking for more variety, this huge food hall is a cool place to hang out during the day as it carries fresh produce, deli items, and handmade bread, pasta, and more. There are also various international-themed eateries as well. The regular weekly market is open Tuesday to Sunday until 6pm. Thursdays they have special street food where you can get Tibetan momos, British pies, tacos, Kässpatzen (dumplings with cheese), and more. They even have a selection of craft beer, wines, coffee, and other items to drink.

19. Rent a DDR Trabant Car

At Trabiworld, you can rent one of the old DDR gear shift Trabant cars and take a spin around Berlin on a “Trabi Safari” (the cars were manufactured in East Germany). Cruise around on a planned route by the sites of the East Side Gallery part of the former Berlin Wall. Plus, you even get to keep your “Trabi license” as a souvenir at the end. Rides cost 59 EUR for and last 75 min.

For more information on other cities in Germany, check out these guides:

  • Cologne Travel Guide
  • Frankfurt Travel Guide
  • Munich Travel Guide

Berlin Travel Costs

The Reichstag in Berlin, Germany as seen from the water nearby

Hostel prices – Dorms cost 17-25 EUR per night while private rooms for two cost around 45-56 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi and lockers are standard in all hostels in Berlin. Most hostels also offer free coffee/tea and have a kitchen and bar on site. Only a few hostels offer free breakfast, but many offer a breakfast buffet for an additional 5-8 EUR.

Many hostels also offer bike rentals for 10-15 EUR per day and some offer free walking tours. In a sign of the times, a few hostels even offer free COVID-19 testing.

Budget hotel prices – Budget hotels cost between 50-65 EUR per night. Free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and private bathrooms are standard, while free breakfast is not. Many hotels offer a breakfast buffet for 8-12 EUR.

Airbnb is available everywhere in Berlin, with private rooms costing about 30-45 EUR per night while full apartments start around 75-100 EUR per night in spring and 50-90 EUR in winter.

Food – Food in Germany is very cheap (and hearty). Meat is a staple of most meals, especially sausages; there are over 1,500 different kinds of sausages in Germany (sausages here are known as “wurst”). Stews are also a popular traditional choice, as are potato dumplings and sauerkraut. Breakfast is usually composed of bread, cold cuts, cheese, and boiled eggs.

Generally, eating out in Berlin is incredibly affordable. Currywurst, kebabs, and quick pizzas are all under 5.50 EUR. For the best kebabs, go to Mustafas. You’ll get a filling, delicious meal for around 5 EUR.

Eating out at one of the many Indian, Thai, or Turkish restaurants is the cheapest way to enjoy a sit-down meal in Berlin. A lunch meal at a Vietnamese restaurant is about 5.50 EUR while a main dish at an Indian restaurant is around 6.50-9 EUR.

For more cheap eats, check out Thai Park (Preußen Park). During the summer, Thai locals come to the park to cook up delicious and affordable Thai food. It started as just a small Thai community gathering but now it’s a huge food market with awesome eats for under 10 EUR.

At fast-casual eateries, a plate of schnitzel is around 6-8 EUR, pizza is 8-10 EUR, and a burger is 5-8 EUR. A combo meal at McDonald’s costs 9 EUR.

Expect to pay around 35 EUR for dinner for two. A meal at a higher-end restaurant costs about 15-17 EUR for a pasta entree, while a steak is around 23 EUR.

For drinks, a beer costs about 4 EUR at any bar or beer garden, a glass of wine is around 4.50 EUR, a cocktail is 7-10 EUR, and a cappuccino is 3.50 EUR.

Some of my favorite places to eat are Mustafa’s Gemuse Kebap, Konnopke’s Imbiss, Cocolo Ramen, Burgeramt, Markthalle Neun, MOM’S, and Nah am Wasser.

If you cook for yourself, you can spend as little as 45-50 EUR on groceries per week. This gets you basic staples like bread, eggs, rice or pasta, seasonal produce, and some meat. The cheapest places are Lidl, Penny, Netto, and Aldi.

Backpacking Berlin Suggested Budgets

If you’re backpacking Berlin, expect to spend about 55 EUR per day. This assumes you’re staying in a hostel, limiting your drinking, cooking all your meals, using public transportation to get around, and doing mostly free activities like walking tours and relaxing in the parks.

On a mid-range budget of 110 EUR per day, you can stay in a private Airbnb room, eat out for a few meals, rent a bike to get around or take the occasional taxi, enjoy a couple of drinks, and visit more attractions, such as the Berliner Dom or the Reichstag.

On a “luxury” budget of 200 EUR per day or more, you can stay in a budget hotel, eat out for all your meals, drink as much as you want, take taxis to get around, and do all the tours you want! This is just the ground floor for luxury though. The sky is the limit!

You can use the chart below to get some idea of how much you need to budget daily, depending on your travel style. Keep in mind these are daily averages — some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less (you might spend less every day). We just want to give you a general idea of how to make your budget. Prices are in EUR.

Berlin Travel Guide: Money-Saving Tips

Berlin is an incredibly affordable city, which is why so many people try to move here. You can easily visit the city on a budget without doing much work. Things just don’t cost a lot of money unless you try to splash out. If you want to save even more money, here’s how to cut costs in Berlin:

  • Use your student card – Student ID cards can come in handy to purchase meals, drinks, accommodation, and visit museums at a discount. Always ask if there is a student discount.
  • Eat the street food – Berlin’s street food scene is epic. There is a currywurst stand or fast-food stall on every corner, especially around markets and parks. You can get filling sausages and burgers for just a few euros, especially at busy places like Mauerpark, Markthalle Neun, and the Turkish Market.
  • Eat Asian/Turkish food – You can get a kebab or falafel for as little as 3 EUR. On weekends, Thai Park (at Preußen Park) offers the best cheap Thai food outside of Thailand!
  • Take a free walking tour – New Europe Tours run daily walking tours that cover the main highlights. They also run tours around various historic themes (communism, Nazism, Jewish history, etc.) for great low prices, if you have a more specific interest. You can also take the Alternative Berlin tour, which showcases the artsy side of Berlin.
  • Get the lunch specials – There are lunchtime specials during the week in Oranienburgerstr. For example, you can get a starter and main course in very nice restaurants for around 6 EUR. It’s a great deal if you want to eat out.
  • Stay at a hostel that includes breakfast – If you want to cut costs, stay at one of the city’s hostels that includes breakfast. You can expect different kinds of fresh bread, müesli, cheeses, cold cuts (like ham, turkey, and salami), maybe a boiled egg, and fresh fruit and coffee. It’s filling and will save you money.
  • Get a transportation pass – A day ticket with unlimited travel in city center zones costs 8.80 EUR, and a week pass is 36 EUR — much cheaper than paying per ride. You can use your tickets across the train, tram, and bus network, saving you a fortune if you plan on seeing a lot of the city.
  • Get the Berlin Welcome Card – The Berlin Welcome Card offers free public transportation, discounts on over 200 attractions, and free entry into many of the paid museums. It can be a good deal if you’re going to a lot of museums. A two-day card is 24 EUR, while a three-day card is 39 EUR. You can get a card for up to six days for 50 EUR.
  • Grab a beer on the go – You can enjoy a beer just about anywhere in Berlin. Pick up a large beer from the supermarket or Späti (a corner store) for as little as 0.80 EUR and head to the park to lounge the day away.
  • Stay with a local – If you want to cut down your travel costs while also getting some local insight into the city, use Couchsurfing. Not only will you save money but you’ll meet locals who can help get you off the beaten path. Since Berlin is a popular city, be sure to send your requests in advance (especially in the summer!).
  • Bring a water bottle – The tap water here is safe to drink so bring a reusable water bottle to save money and reduce your plastic use. LifeStraw is my go-to brand as their bottles have built-in filters to ensure your water is always clean and safe.

Where to Stay in Berlin

Berlin has hostels all over the city, so it’s really a matter of finding a neighborhood that suits you best. These are my suggested and recommended places to stay in Berlin:

  • Meininger Berlin Tiergarten
  • Heart of Gold Hostel
  • Circus Hostel
  • EastSeven Berlin Hostel
  • Pfefferbett Hostel
  • Minimal Hostel Berlin
  • St. Christopher’s

How to Get Around Berlin

view of Berlin's rooftops and the TV tower

Public transportation – Berlin is a sprawling city, but it’s incredibly well connected by its subway (U-Bahn) and above-ground train system (S-Bahn). You can even get to the outlying neighborhoods quickly. A single ticket is 3 EUR and is good for up to 90 minutes. If you’re outside the AB zone, the ticket price increases. For example, a ticket to Brandenburg Airport is 3.80 EUR.

You can purchase tickets on the platform or via the BVG app. Always keep your ticket on you as random checks on the train are common.

A day ticket with unlimited travel in Zones AB (Berlin city proper) costs 8.80 EUR, and a week pass is 36 EUR. You can use your tickets across the train, tram, and bus network, but be sure to check your route ahead of time.

There are a handful of tram lines around Berlin’s central neighborhoods, but they’re not as fast or efficient as the trains. Ticket prices are the same as the train.

There are also over one hundred bus lines around Berlin that get you anywhere you need to go, especially on weeknights after the trains shut down. Ticket prices are the same as the trains and trams.

Bicycle – Berlin is incredibly easy to cycle around, with well-marked bicycle lanes. Most bicycle rentals start at 5 EUR per day. Bike-sharing programs like Donkey Republic, nextbike and Call a Bike offer rentals for 1 EUR per 30 minutes or 9 EUR for the day. Nextbike also offers day passes for 3 EUR with which you get the first 30 minutes of each rental free. A week pass offering the same is 15 EUR.

Taxi – Taxis are not cheap here, but you’ll rarely need to use one. The base rate is 4 EUR, and it’s an additional 2 EUR per kilometer afterward. Skip them if you can.

Ridesharing – Uber is available in Berlin, but you shouldn’t need to use it much, if at all, as the public transportation here is fast and reliable.

Car rental – Car rentals start at 30 EUR per day for a multi-day rental, however, you won’t need one unless you’re leaving the city. Even then, the bus and train system can likely get you where you need to go for cheaper. Renters need to be at least 21 years old.

When to Go to Berlin

Spring and summer are peak seasons in Berlin (especially May-September). The whole city comes alive as people get out to enjoy temperatures in the 30s°C (high 80s°F). This is really when Berlin’s parks and markets come alive so I’d try to visit during this time if you can. Just book your accommodation in advance.

While winters are dark and cold with temperatures dropping to 0°C (32°F), Berlin doesn’t get a lot of snowfall and the Christmas season is magical — mostly due to the city’s many Christmas markets. You avoid the tourist crowds during this time as well.

How to Stay Safe in Berlin

Berlin is pretty safe, but like all big cities, there is petty crime (such as pickpocketing). Be careful on busy public transit and around crowded tourist attractions, especially in Alexanderplatz. ATM scams are unfortunately also a problem here. Whenever possible, withdraw money from inside a bank where you know there are security cameras and/or guards.

Violent crime is rare but avoid certain areas of town like Kottbusser Tor, Görlitzer Park, Neukölln, and Volkspark Hasenheide after dark if you’re traveling alone. The area around Warschauer Straße station is a natural nightlife hub where ridiculously drunk people always end up. Be mindful of your whereabouts and your belongings, as this place is a hotspot for pickpocketing and sometimes even assault.

It’s no secret that drugs are big in Berlin. Much of the drug exchange happens at Kottbusser Tor – if you’re walking through here, do so with caution.

When out at the bar, always keep an eye on your drink and never leave it unattended. Additionally, never walk home alone if intoxicated, especially if leaving a club late at night.

If you’re worried about getting scammed you can read about common travel scams to avoid here.

If you experience an emergency, dial 112 for assistance.

The most important piece of advice I can offer is to purchase good travel insurance. Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past.

Berlin Travel Guide: The Best Booking Resources

These are my favorite companies to use when I travel. They consistently have the best deals, offer world-class customer service and great value, and overall, are better than their competitors. They are the companies I use the most and are always the starting point in my search for travel deals.

  • Skyscanner – Skyscanner is my favorite flight search engine. They search small websites and budget airlines that larger search sites tend to miss. They are hands down the number one place to start.
  • Hostelworld – This is the best hostel accommodation site out there with the largest inventory, best search interface, and widest availability.
  • – The best all around booking site that constantly provides the cheapest and lowest rates. They have the widest selection of budget accommodation. In all my tests, they’ve always had the cheapest rates out of all the booking websites.
  • HostelPass – This new card gives you up to 20% off hostels throughout Europe. It’s a great way to save money. They’re constantly adding new hostels too. I’ve always wanted something like this and glad it finallt exists.
  • Get Your Guide – Get Your Guide is a huge online marketplace for tours and excursions. They have tons of tour options available in cities all around the world, including everything from cooking classes, walking tours, street art lessons, and more!
  • The Man in Seat 61 – This website is the ultimate guide to train travel anywhere in the world. They have the most comprehensive information on routes, times, prices, and train conditions. If you are planning a long train journey or some epic train trip, consult this site.
  • Rome2Rio – This website allows you to see how to get from point A to point B the best and cheapest way possible. It will give you all the bus, train, plane, or boat routes that can get you there as well as how much they cost.
  • FlixBus – Flixbus has routes between 20 European countries with prices starting as low 5 EUR! Their buses include WiFi, electrical outlets, a free checked bag.
  • SafetyWing – Safety Wing offers convenient and affordable plans tailored to digital nomads and long-term travelers. They have cheap monthly plans, great customer service, and an easy-to-use claims process that makes it perfect for those on the road.
  • LifeStraw – My go-to company for reusable water bottles with built-in filters so you can ensure your drinking water is always clean and safe.
  • Unbound Merino – They make lightweight, durable, easy-to-clean travel clothing.
  • Top Travel Credit Cards – Points are the best way to cut down travel expenses. Here’s my favorite point earning credit cards so you can get free travel!
  • BlaBlaCar – BlaBlaCar is a ridesharing website that lets you share rides with vetted local drivers by pitching in for gas. You simply request a seat, they approve, and off you go! It’s a cheaper and more interesting way to travel than by bus or train!

Berlin Travel Guide: Related Articles

Want more info? Check out all the articles I’ve written on backpacking/traveling Germany and continue planning your trip:

Where to Stay in Berlin: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

Where to Stay in Berlin: The Best Neighborhoods for Your Visit

How to Survive Oktoberfest

How to Survive Oktoberfest

The 18 Best Things To Do in Berlin

The 18 Best Things To Do in Berlin

Munich is Better than Berlin

Munich is Better than Berlin

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  • Where To Stay
  • Transportation
  • Booking Resources
  • Related Blogs

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Berlin Area Travel Guide

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my  disclaimer policy.

The capital of Germany, Berlin is a must-see for many visitors. Home of the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall, you’ll never run out of things to do in and around Berlin. Even if you’ve been to Berlin before, I recommend visiting again – the city has changed so much over the years!

Keep reading this guide for an overview of what to do and see in the Berlin area. Or dive into one of our more in-depth guides:

travel guide for berlin

Where Is Berlin?

Berlin is in north eastern Germany in what used to be East Germany (the GDR or DDR in German). It’s a city-state, meaning Berlin is both a city and a German Bundesland (state). I used to live near Berlin and have visited many times over the years. I never get tired of exploring Berlin.

Berlin is a big city but it doesn’t feel as big and overwhelming as other cities. If you stay in a hotel or apartment downtown you can walk to many of the popular sights. And it’s easy to get to take public transportation all over the city to sights that are outside of the city center.

Join our FREE Germany Trip Planning Facebook Group!

travel guide for berlin

What to Do and See in Berlin

READ our guide on what to do in Berlin!

Whether you’re into history, art, architecture, food and drink, nature, or spontaneous adventures, you’ll find plenty to see, see, and experience in and around Berlin! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

If you’re only in Berlin for a day or two, maximize your time by starting with the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour . In just a couple hours you can see a lot of the city, which then leaves you time to zero in on the sights you want to explore in more depth.

  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Museum Island
  • Take a river cruise
  • Berlin Wall Memorial
  • Pariser Platz
  • Palace of Tears
  • Pergamonmuseum
  • Tiergarten Park
  • Swimming in local lakes
  • Charlottenburg Palace
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Unter den Linden
  • Jewish Museum
  • Everyday Life in the GDR
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Topography of Terror
  • German Spy Museum Berlin
  • Tempehofer Feld Airport

TIP: if you have our Germany Travel Planner be sure to check out the interactive planning map so you can see where the best sights are located. Seeing where these sights are on the map, along with our up-to-date photos and tips, makes planning your trip SO much easier. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

travel guide for berlin

Where to Stay in Berlin

You’ll find a wide variety of accommodation options in Munich, including hotels and apartments. If you’re only in Berlin for a couple days, I recommend the NH Collection Berlin Mitte Friedrichstrasse because the location is excellent.

Nearly everything you’ll want to see is within walking distance, including the Friedrichstrasse station, and there are several places right near the hotel where you can pick up groceries or grab a meal, coffee, cake, etc.

READ our guide on the best hotels in downtown Berlin!

If you’re looking for an apartment in Berlin, do a search on . We’ve found several great apartments there (less than what we saw on Airbnb for the same apartment) and it’s SO nice to have all hotel and apartment reservations in one place.

Tip: if you have our Germany Travel Planner you’ll find recommended hotels on our interactive planning map. Seeing where these hotels are in relation to the top sights makes it a lot easier to find the perfect place to stay. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

Book your Berlin accommodations in advance! They tend to fill quickly during peak travel times (summer, Christmas, etc) so I recommend seeing what’s open for your travel dates .

Berlin TV tower

Berlin Tours & Tickets

READ our guide on the best things to do in Berlin!

Berlin has so many guided tour options that you will be spoiled for choice. Book in advance so you don’t have to scramble once you’re in town and potentially miss out on an activity or tour you’re looking forward to. Here are a few highlights.

Brandenburg Gate

Third Reich & Cold War Walking Tour

Pergamon museum ticket, berlin famous landmarks bus tour.


Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour

1-hour city boat tour, berlin trabi tour.

Grab our FREE Germany Trip Planning Checklist Now!

Berlin Day Trips

One of the best things about making Berlin your home base is that you have several day trip options. You can plan your own day trips for maximum flexibility or book a guided tour for maximum relaxation and convenience. Here are some ideas to get your planning started.


Day Trip to Dresden

Seven lakes tour, sachsenhausen concentration camp.

Sanssouci Palace

Potsdam Sanssouci Palace

Battle for seelow heights: wwii battlefield tour, berlin spree to müggelsee river cruise.

TIP: If you have our Germany Travel Planner/Bundle look at our interactive planning map to see do-able day trips. Seeing the castles, towns, and other must-see sights on the map (along with our photos and up-to-date tips) makes it much easier to decide what to add to your itinerary. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

Know Before You Go

Airport: Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BER)

Currency: euro Language: the official language of Germany is German (Deutsch) Time zone: Centra European Time (CET / GMT+ 2 / 6 hours ahead of US EST) Germany Visa: tourists from the US, Canada, and several other countries do not need a visa to visit Germany for under 90 days Germany Electricity Socket: Germany uses different voltage and sockets than in North America, the UK, and other parts of the world. Read our guide to adapters and converters so you can safely use your tech in Germany. Germany SIM card: Read our guide here to SIM cards and other ways to use your phone in Germany. Germany Car Rentals: We find great deals on rental cars here . You can also check out our scenic Germany road trips article here.

More Berlin Guides

travel guide for berlin

Berlin Castles & Pa laces

Best berlin museums, berlin christmas markets, where is berlin located.

Berlin is located in the eastern part of Germany. It’s not super close to other popular destinations but there are high speed trains to Berlin from Munich, Hamburg, Prague, and other cities. Berlin is worth the trip!

map showing Berlin

Where Can I Find The Above Map?

It’s part of our Germany Travel Planner , and it’s your Germany travel planning BFF! Using our custom interactive planning map you’ll be able to quickly see the best sights, castles, hotels, day trips, and more – along with our photos and up-to-date insider tips. Seeing where these things are in relation to each other makes it much easier to plan your overall itinerary, as well as each day of your trip. If you don’t yet have it, click here to get access.

Is Berlin Germany’s Capital?

Yes! During the years Germany was a divided country, East Berlin was the capital of East Germany (and Bonn was the capital of West Germany). When east and west reunited after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Berlin once again became the capital of a unified Germany.

What is Berlin, Germany Famous For?

So many things! Most people think of a divided and then reunited Germany, as Berlin was split into East and West Berlin until 1989. These days Berlin is a vibrant capital city with world class museums , all kinds of delicious restaurants, cafes, bars, and street food , historical sites, stretches of the old Berlin Wall, nightlife, and much more.

How to Get To Berlin ?

Berlin is easy to reach via train, bus, car or plane. If arriving from the US, consider flying directly into the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport. We’ve found flying into or out of Berlin (instead of Frankfurt) super easy and stress free. You can take public transportation, hop in a taxi or book an airport transfer here.

How to Get Around Berlin ?

You can easily walk all over Berlin with many tourist sites located in the city center. For the sites that are further away you can hop on a tram, bus, U-bahn or S-bahn. Or take a small group tour of Berlin in an historic Trabi do the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour !

Is Berlin, Germany Safe to Visit?

Yes. Germany in general is a safe country to visit. Of course, it’s always a good idea to take the same safety precautions you would at home.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin Basics

Population 3.7 million

Airport Berlin Brandenburg (new!)

Bundesland Berlin

Train Travel Times to Berlin Munich ➔ Berlin = 4-4.5 hours Frankfurt ➔ Berlin = 4 hours Hamburg ➔ Berlin = 1.5 hours Salzburg ➔ Berlin = 6-6.5 hours Paris ➔ Berlin = 8.5-10 hours Rome ➔ Berlin = 14-20 hours Prague ➔ Berlin = 4-5 hours

Fun Facts Berlin is full of greenery! More than 44% of the city consists of forests, rivers, and other green areas.

travel guide for berlin

Hello Jetlag

A First Timer’s Guide to Visiting Berlin // 15 Tips to Know Before You Go

During Nick’s last European tour we had a few days to spend visiting Berlin in between his shows. Having only heard rave reviews about the city, we were excited to finally get a chance to see what the big fuss was about.

Lately, on these shorter trips we’ve been taking, I haven’t been planning much until we get there. After arriving in Berlin, I realized that while this approach has worked out for us in smaller cities, I should’ve had a better plan for Berlin.

It was a little overwhelming! Keep reading for everything I wish I would’ve known, plus where to stay, what to eat and just some general good-to-know tips for visiting Berlin.


How to get to berlin city center from the airport.

Tegel Airport to Berlin City Center 

The fastest and cheapest way to city center from Tegel Airport is by using one of the Airport Express Busses. You can catch the busses outside of the terminal, they leave every 10 minutes. The journey takes around 35 minutes and costs €2.80.

For information on which Express bus to take click here 

Schonefeld Airport to Berlin City Center 

The quickest and easiest way to get from Schonefeld Airport to the city center is by the Airport Express train.

How to get from Schonefeld Airport to Berlin City Center

The Airport Express (RE7 and RB14) costs €3, it takes 28 minutes to reach Berlin’s central train station (Hauptbahnhof) and trains run from 05:00am to 11pm. Make sure your ticket includes zone C.


The Reichstag building is one of the top things to do while visiting Berlin and the glass dome on top of the building is a must see. Unfortunately, we didn’t know you needed an advanced reservation and it was entirely booked during our trip.

Berlin Tip: Reserve Your Reichstag Dome Reservations in Advance

Admission is free. C lick here to visit their official website.

Or click here to purchase the 2 hour tour including a visit to the dome. 


While you’ll find popular German dishes (schnitzel, eisbein etc) in most restaurants, there are a few food items Berlin is especially known for that you might want to check out.

Tips for Visiting Berlin // What to Eat and Drink

CURRYWURST  Garnering just as much love as doner kebabs, currywurst is another mega popular street food favorite. It’s made out of pork sausage with sweet curry ketchup and a pinch of curry spice on top. The most legendary currywurst stalls in Berlin are Curry 36 in Kreuzeberg and Konnopke in Prenzlauer Berg.

BERLINER A Berliner Pfannkuchen is a traditional german pastry which is basically a jelly filled donut. They usually come with icing or powdered sugar on top.

VEGAN FOOD Berlin was named Vegan Capital of the World by Happy Cow in 2017. The city has 471 restaurants that cater to vegans as well as the largest vegan grocery store chain, Veganz. 

BERLINER WEISS   A lightly sour, low alcohol beer usually served with a shot of syrup. Berliner Weiss is a popular summer drink.



Everyone I’ve ever met who’s been to Berlin loves it. Unfortunately for us, it just didn’t click and we were left wondering what we did wrong.

Visiting Berlin // What to Know Before You Go

I’m certain that the weather was responsible for our mixed feelings. Most of the things we wanted to do were closed and we were constantly being forced inside due to the rain.

It’s my fault for trying make beer gardens and outdoor clubs happen in the rain but I’m from California and sometimes I forget the rest of the world has to deal with seasons. If possible, go during the warmer months. Or, unlike me,  just make a more weather suitable itinerary. 🙂


There are a lot of bicycles in Berlin and on the walkways, the road is divided into 2 sections. One side for pedestrians and one for cyclists. If it’s your first time visiting Berlin, it’s easy to wander onto the wrong path.

Most cyclists will ring their bell if they’re coming up behind you, but it’s best to stay aware and off the bike lane.

Visiting Berlin // What to Know Before You Go


After purchasing a ticket for the bus or metro, you’ll need to validate it before you start your journey. Validation machines are located on the platforms and in busses. Occasionally plainclothes ticket inspectors will check validations so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you have purchased a day pass, you only need to validate your ticket the first time you use it.


Berlin is a huge city and chances are you’ll find yourself on the U-Bhan quite a bit. Single journey tickets cost €2.80 or you can buy a day pass for €7.70.

Day passes are good for all public transportation in Berlin (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses, trams and ferries) and include up to 3 children (ages 6-14). 

Just note that the Berlin travel day passes are not valid for 24 hours, and they expire at 3am.

Street Art in Berlin


In Germany standard voltage is 230V and frequency is 50HZ and they use type F power sockets.

travel guide for berlin

You will need a voltage converter if your country’s standard voltage is 100V – 127 V (US, Canada & most of South America). You don’t need a voltage converter if your country’s voltage is between 200V-240V (most of Europe, UK, Australia, Africa).


I feel like this is probably common knowledge to most people, but it wasn’t to us..

In 2016, we visited Munich and vibed hard with Bavaria’s beer culture. We just assumed the entire country got down like that, leaving us a little disappointed in Berlin.

After an inauthentic visit to Hofbrauhaus Berlin we immediately realized our mistake. It was like going to Las Vegas and expecting to see the real Eiffel Tower..

Berlin Beer Garden


So don’t be like us. Instead, immerse yourself in what Berlin has to offer, which is arguably some of the best nightlife in the world.


This isn’t imperative information but you might find yourself wondering what the colorful pipes are snaking throughout the city.

Groundwater in Berlin is located just 2 meters (6.5 ft) under the city surface. To eliminate city flooding, the pipes pump water from the ground and transport it to the canals.


As a traveler from the US (where we’re expected to tip for everything), I’m always researching tipping in other countries. While visiting Berlin, we discovered that while the tipping culture is much more lax, on average, you still tip the same people.

Victory Statue // Berlin

RESTAURANTS In restaurants a service charge will be added to your bill but tipping is still expected. 10%-15% is common. BARTENDERS   Round up to the nearest Euro. HOTELS It is common to tip the porter €1-2 per bag and the housekeepers €2-3 per day. TAXIS Round up to the nearest Euro on short trips. On long trips, add a Euro or two.


In bars, you might find yourself paying a bottle deposit when you order a beer. Get your money back by returning your card/token before you leave.


If you will be in Berlin for several days and plan on doing a lot of sightseeing, you might want to consider The Berlin Welcome Card. It offers free transportation during your stay and also discounted (25%-50%) admission to many of the museums, attractions, restaurants and tours.

Visiting Berlin // What to Know Before You Go

What you plan to do in Berlin will determine whether or not the Berlin Welcome card will be worth the money for you. Make sure to line up your itinerary with their discounted offers before buying, just to be sure.

For more information about The Berlin Welcome Card click here. 


A first timer’s visit is not complete without paying homage to Berlin’s turbulent history. This city has been through it, and the evidence is still here for everyone to see.

Whether you seek out WWII sites, or are more interested in the Cold War, it’s a good idea to do a bit of historical research before visiting Berlin. It’ll make everything a lot more impactful. Promise.




Berlin has over 170 museums. If you’re into this, check out the Museum Pass. It’s €29 and includes free admission to 30+ museums over the course of 3 days.

For more information about the Museum Pass click here.

Visiting Berlin // What to Know Before You Go


HUETTENPALAST   How adorable is this? At the retro-themed hotel, Huettenpalast, guests sleep in   (indoor) caravans or wooden cabins. 

For Huettenpalast Information & Booking Click Here   

Where to Stay in Berlin // Huttenpalast Budget Hotel

OSTEL DDR HOSTEL/HOTEL  is located in the central Mitte district and takes guests back in time to East Berlin’s former communist days. The rooms are decorated in authentic 1970’s East German style with original GDR furniture.

  For Ostel DDR Information & Booking Click Here

Otel DDR // Berlin East Germany Inspired GDR Hotel


BIKINI BERLIN  is a stylish, urban jungle hotel located in the city center complete with a hammock lounge, rooftop terrace and free mini car & bicycle rentals.

Bikini Berlin Info & Booking Click Here 

Where to Stay in Berlin // Bikini Berlin Hotel

NHOW HOTEL Europe’s first music themed hotel with a futuristic, very pink design. Nhow offers guests professional recording studios and guitars are available on the room service menu.

Nhow Hotel Booking & Information Click Here 

Where to Stay in Berlin // Nhow Hotel

PATRICK HELLMANN SCHLOSSHOTEL is a  luxury boutique hotel in the prestigious Grunewald district. It was once a former mansion built in 1914, and when it was turned into a hotel, Karl Lagerfeld exclusively designed the stylish interiors. 

For Patrick Hellmann Schlosshotel Booking & Info Click Here 

Where to Stay in Berlin // Patrick Hellmann Schlosshotel

HOTEL ADLON is one  of Berlin’s most luxurious hotels with Old Europe vibes and an excellent location (next to the Brandenburg Gate).

Famous guests include Albert Einstein, Her Majesty the Queen, and who could forget when Michael Jackson dangled his baby out of the hotel’s window when he was visiting Berlin in 2002.  

For Hotel Adlon Booking & Info Click Here 

Where to Stay in Berlin // Hotel Adlon Luxury Hotel

Do you have any Berlin travel tips to add for first timers? Leave them in the comments! 



Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Some of the links in this post are affiliate which means if you click them and buy something from the site, I receive a small commission (at no cost to you).

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travel guide for berlin

Travel Europe on a Budget

The Savvy Backpacker

City Guides .\33 a132798-3f3b-4585-954d-7e70cf863447{fill:#231f20}

Berlin travel guide — how to visit berlin on a budget.

Our guide to getting the most out of your trip to Berlin — including plenty of budget-friendly travel tips.

travel guide for berlin

What makes Berlin so great? Berlin’s mayor said it best, “Berlin is poor but sexy.” I think that really sums up Germany’s capital city. Our  Berlin Travel Guide will help you make sense of this crazy city while sticking to a backpacker’s budget.

What You’ll Find in This Berlin Travel Guide

Berlin Pass value

  • How Much to Budget to Visit Berlin
  • How Long To Visit Berlin

The Good and Not-So-Good Things About Berlin: A Quick Overview

  • Berlin’s Must-See Sights and Attractions // Neighborhood Guide

Cheap Eats and Drinks

Best berlin hostels, berlin nightlife.

  • More Resources to Help You Plan Your Visit on a Budget
  • Public Transportation

A bit of background of modern Berlin: After the fall of the Berlin Wall, people flooded into East Berlin (the part that was controlled by the Soviets). What did they find? Abandoned buildings. These cheap (and sometimes free) houses/workspaces attracted artists, musicians, and other creative people from all over the world because they could live there for practically nothing. This also injected a youthful, anything-goes spirit into the otherwise drab city. 

Then Berlin got popular…  so the city isn’t as cheap as it once was. But it’s still much cheaper than other major European cities. Luckily, the city still holds on to its youthful and creative spirit.

How Much to Budget to Visit Berlin


Alcohol is cheap, food is affordable, and accommodation is very reasonable — which is why Berlin is such a hotspot for artists, students, and budget travelers.

We recommend budgeting €35-€60/day if you’re on a backpacker’s budget. That said, if you stay in a hotel/rental apartment and eat out a lot then you’ll want to budget more. Visit to see current hotel rates.

We suggest checking out our Berlin Price Guide for a more in-depth cost breakdown to help you better budget your trip.

How Long to Visit Berlin: 4+ Days

travel guide for berlin

Berlin has a ton of stuff to do but the city is very spread out — so you’re going to want to give yourself plenty of time to explore. You could easily spend a week in Berlin, but we recommend at least four days.


There are so many amazing things about Berlin, but there are a few things that aren’t so great — just like any city.

  • Museums like crazy : Berlin has sooo many world-class museums that feature everything from ancient to modern. Its “Museum Island” has five world-renowned museums and the island itself is a  UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bottom line, you’ll find something that interests you.
  • Green space : Berlin has more green space than just about any city in Europe. And Germans appreciate their parks, so you’ll find tons of people relaxing outside when the weather is nice.
  • A mixture of a city: We allude to this in the “not-so-good” section, but the city’s architectural mix is fascinating. On one hand, you have plenty of boxy utilitarian buildings left over from the Communist era. On the other hand, you have older and more ornate pre-war architecture (that survived the war or was rebuilt). And then, you have a lot of new construction that has gone up in recent years that are ultra-modern.
  • Biking: Berlin has done a great job making sure the city is bike-friendly. You’ll find plenty of dedicated bike lanes as well as free/cheap bike-sharing programs.
  • This attitude is also one of the reasons there are so many subculture groups in Berlin — you’re free to do what you want. This is also a reason why there is such a strong LGBT community in Berlin.
  • Berlin also has plenty of bars, cafes, beer gardens, jazz clubs, and just about anything else you can imagine.
  • The prices : Beer is cheaper than water. Eating cheaply is easy. Hostels are cheap. Rental apartments are in abundance (and they’re cheap, too). The public transportation is… it’s actually kind of expensive (you can’t win them all).

The Not-So-Good

  • That also means the city isn’t very walkable — public transportation is great, though.
  • It’s not “traditional” German: Most people imagine old-world Germany when they think about Germany… but Berlin is largely modern because it was virtually destroyed during WWII. Berlin is pretty drab — except for the colorful graffiti that covers nearly every inch of the city (which is actually pretty cool). In fact, the city is under constant construction, so you’ll see a lot of cranes and construction sites all over the city.
  • Cold winters: Berlin’s   winters are long, cold, and dreary.

Berlin’s Must-See Attractions & Neighborhood Guide


It’s no surprise why Berlin is such a popular destination as it is packed with things to do. We’ve listed many of the must-see sights according to their neighborhoods.

Mitte Neighborhood Overview


Mitte means “the middle” and it’s Berlin’s historical center… so it’s essentially the center of the city. This is where most of the popular sights can be found.

Of particular note is Museum Island — a small island in the Spree river that’s home to multiple museums.

The Mitte has a bit of everything — new, old, and futuristic. In addition to the museums, you’ll find shopping, cafés, restaurants, bars, clubs, universities, and a lot of other things to experience. It’s also the most “touristy” so you may want to stay in a different part of the city to get a more authentic Berlin vibe.

Pergamon Museum

Ishtar gate from Babylon in Pergamon museum

The Pergamon Museum, which houses an impressive collection of artifacts of the ancient world, is Berlin’s most prominent cultural and tourist attraction.

It is currently undergoing a major renovation so the museum’s main attraction, the Pergamon Altar, is closed until sometimes in late 2019. The museum will be in various states of renovation until 2025 but the Pergamon is still worth visiting as there is still plenty to see.

  • Admission: €12
  • Visit Website
  • See On Google Maps

DDR Museum | Berlin Travel Guide

The DDR Museum is a quirky museum that chronicles the daily lives of people living in communist-era East Berlin. It has a ton of fun artifacts from that era, and it does a good job of comparing the lives of citizens in the West and East. It’s also a very interactive museum, so it’s a nice change of pace from Berlin’s other “heady” museums. I highly enjoyed my visit.

  • Admission: €6

Hamburger Bahnhof Museum

Housed in a former train station, this is the place to visit if you’re into modern and contemporary art. It features art from Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Beuys, and many other notable artists.

  • Admission: €14

The Reichstag

travel guide for berlin

Dating back to 1894, the Reichstag has had a tumultuous history — it’s been burned, bombed, and abandoned but it’s been rebuilt and now it serves as the home of Germany’s parliament. There is a large glass dome at the top that you can climb to get amazing 360-degree views of Berlin and down into where the parliament sits.

Admission is free, but you must make reservations online. (You might be able to get tickets at the visitor’s desk, but booking online is the best option.)

Topography of Terror Museum

This is the site where the Nazis planned a majority of their crimes between 1933 and 1945. The buildings were destroyed at the end of the war but were rebuilt as a museum documenting Nazi crimes.

  • Admission is Free

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Also known as the Holocaust Monument, this monument is made up of 2,711 concrete columns that form a maze-like memorial. The monument is open 24/7.

German Historical Museum

Germany has a long and interesting past. This museum does a great in-depth job of capturing over 1,500 years of German history from its origins to the end of the Cold War.

  • Admission: €15

Berlin Wall Memorial

Located in the middle of Berlin where East and West were once divided, this open-air exhibition chronicles the history of the Berlin Wall. The memorial still has almost a mile of the original wall for you to see and learn about how the wall affected Berlin citizens.

  • Admission is free

Note: If you’re looking for Berlin’s iconic street-art covered walls you should go to the East Side Gallery instead. The Berlin Wall Memorial covers the history of the wall.

Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate | Berlin Travel Guide

Constructed way back in 1791, the Brandenburg Gate is easily Berlin’s most famous landmark. I used to be the border of East and West Berlin, but now it represents the reunification of Germany.

Fernsehturm (TV Tower)

This weird-looking TV tower was built in the late ’60s in East Berlin, and it continues to be the tallest building in the city. While touristy, you can go to the top to get a nice 360-degree view of the city. There is also a bar and restaurant at the top if you wish to linger a little longer.

  • Admission: €13-€20

Berliner Dom Cathedral

The Berliner Dom is not only Berlin’s most grandiose church, but it’s also easily one of Berlin’s most elaborate buildings. It has an impressive organ with 7,000 pipes, and you can visit the top of the dome for great city views (if you can climb all the steps).

  • Admission: €7

Neuse Museum

This once bombed-out building now houses one of the finest collections of artifacts from the ancient world. Most famous is the bust of Nefertiti. The museum also has plenty of mummies, jewelry, sculptures, and other interesting artifacts.

Neue Wache and Babelplatz

I combined these two sights because they’re both quick visits and they’re very close to each other. Neue Wache is a small but powerful memorial for the Victims of War and Dictatorship.

Across the street is Bebelplatz. There you’ll find a small glass window on the ground that looks down into a library full of empty white shelves. This memorializes the spot where Nazi students burned over 20,000 “un-German” books.

travel guide for berlin

Kreuzberg was once home to immigrants, hippies, LGBTQ individuals, artists, squatters, punks, and bohemians. The neighborhood has gentrified, but it still holds on to its counter-culture roots.

There is still plenty of youthful energy pulsating through the streets, cafes, vintage shops, great bars, hip restaurants, and late-night food stalls. It’s a great area for nightlife so you can get a snack after dancing until 3 am. The neighborhood is also covered pretty much entirely in graffiti as well as amazing street art — which adds to the ambiance.

German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin)

This museum exhibits a large collection of historical technical artifacts — including 25+ full-size airplanes, boats, a Viking ship, u-boats, WWII rockets, trains, and more.

  • Admission: €8

Jewish Museum

travel guide for berlin

Housed in a very striking glass building, the Jewish Museum has exhibits that trace two millennia of German- Jewish history. The architecture of the building has become an exhibit in and of itself.

Checkpoint Charlie

This is a legit tourist trap that isn’t even at the location of the real Checkpoint Charlie… but you’ll probably end up walking past it anyways. Take a photo as you walk by but skip the museum because it gets bad reviews and is a waste of money.



With a vibe very similar (yet slightly more alternative) to Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain is a trendy neighborhood popular with artists, students, and other young hip people. Building-size street art can be found everywhere and most people come to visit the famous East Side Gallery. The neighborhood is also home to many bars, boutiques, cafés, and markets — and it has some of the best nightclubs in the city.

East Side Gallery

This open-air gallery features street art that’s been painted on the longest remaining portion of the Berlin Wall. The wall features 101 large-format paintings. It is one of Berlin’s most visited sights so fire up your Instagram and head out there.

Stasi Museum

This museum details the exploits of the East German secret police — The Stasi. These guys spied on 6 million of East Germany’s 18 million citizens. They kept detailed records on its citizens via phone taps, hidden microphones, photographic surveillance, and multiple other methods.

We recommend taking the free guided tour in English which occurs at 3 pm from Thursday to Monday.

  • Admission: €6

Prenzlauer Berg


Prenzlauer Berg is a nice mix of university students and young families. You’ll still find plenty of late-night bars and cafés but much of the club-scene has moved elsewhere. People joke that Prenzlauer Berg is where the hip kids from Kreuzberg go to have kids.

That said, the neighborhood still has a cool vibe and you’ll find plenty of great restaurants, markets, beer gardens, and excellent coffee shops. The neighborhood also has plenty of trees, parks, and green space.

Mauerpark translates to Wall Park — which makes sense because this used to be the “deadman’s land” between the walls of West and East Berlin. While not particularly pretty, the park is now a favorite for tourists and locals.

On a nice day, the park is packed with people drinking, playing soccer, and often karaoke-ing. The party often goes late into the night. The park also hosts a flea market every Sunday where you can sometimes pick up some good deals.

City West (Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf Neighborhood)


City West encompasses the  Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf as well as the expansive Tiergarten  park. This area used to be West Berlin and is now an affluent area and shopping district. It also has many of Berlin’s popular sights as well as entertainment options, markets, bars, and restaurants.

travel guide for berlin

This massive park is located in the heart of Berlin, and it’s a favorite place for locals to get away from the city. In addition to multiple monuments and statues scattered throughout, the park also has ponds, gardens, vast lawns, plants, trees, and walking paths.

It is also home to the Berlin Zoo.


This huge stadium was built for the 1936 Olympics hosted in Germany and it’s where Jesse Owens won four gold medals (much to Hitler’s dismay). It was renovated in the early 2000s and it currently holds sporting events (mainly soccer) and massive concerts.

KaDeWe Department Store

Dating back to 1907, KaDeWe is the largest department store in Europe and this is the place to go if you want to spend some cash since it mostly carries high-end and luxury items. There is a famous (and expensive) gourmet food court and grocery that offers a ton of dining options.

Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)

Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg) | Berlin Travel Guide

This grand royal palace was finished in 1699, and it’s the largest palace in Berlin. A lot of people find the inside of the palace to be fairly underwhelming but the grounds and gardens are beautiful. It’s a great place to stroll through on a nice summer afternoon (you might want to skip this if the weather isn’t nice).

What To Eat and Drink In Berlin

Berlin has an excellent food scene and there are plenty of budget options as well. Berlin also has a big street food scene so you can find vendors selling all kinds of things throughout the city.

In addition, Berlin has a very hip and international food scene so you can find just about anything you’re looking for. That said, we wanted to list a few local dishes that you might want to check out for yourself.

Currywurst is a true Berlin original and you’ll see it being served up by street vendors all across Berlin. Invented in 1949, this local favorite is a bratwurst covered in a mixture of ketchup, curry powder, and Worcestershire sauce.

Like spicy food? Order your currywurst ‘scharf’ — which means spicy.

Great Places To Get Currywurst:

  • Curry 36: Classic spot. Super popular. Always rated as one of the best in Berlin. See On Google Maps
  • Curry 61: Another super popular spots for Currywurst in Berlin. They even have veggie currywurst. See On Google Maps
  • Konnopke’s Imbiss: Popular for a reason. Always a long line. See On Google Maps
  • Curry Baude: Good, cheap, and fast. See On Google Maps
  • Curry Mitte: Cheap and tasty. Currywurst, french fries, and a drink for under €6. See On Google Maps

Ahh yes, the dependable and delicious bratwurst. These are sold by street vendors and restaurants all across Berlin. There are even guys called Grillwalkers who walk around with portable grills.

But honestly, most brats are pretty much the same in terms of quality so its the atmosphere that really makes a brat great.

Solid Places To Get Bratwurst:

  • Anything From The Currywurst Section: All the best currywurst begins with quality bratwurst so every place on that list will be good.
  • Prater Beer Garden: Great beer garden that has solid brats. See On Google Maps
  • Dicke Wirtin: Classic German restaurant. See On Google Maps
  • Gasthaus Krombach: Another classic German restaurant. See On Google Maps

Döner Kebab

Berlin has a huge Turkish population so it’s easy to find lots of delicious Turkish food — notably Doner Kebabs. Kebabs are cheap and filling so they make an excellent budget meal. Luckily, you can get a very good kebab throughout Berlin but there are a few standouts that we’ve listed below.

Solid Döner Kebab Spots:

  • Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap: See On Google Maps
  • K’Ups Gemüsekebap: See On Google Maps
  • Mustafa Demir’s Gemüse Döner: See On Google Maps
  • Döner Dach: See On Google Maps
  • Rüyam Gemüse Kebab: See On Google Maps

Wiener Schnitzel

Wiener Schnitzel is a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet. So good. And it is even better with an ice-cold German beer.

Solid Schnitzel Spots:

  • Max und Moritz: Old school bar/restaurant that’s been serving up tasty authentic German dishes since 1902. See On Google Maps
  • Scheers Schnitzel: A no-frill, cash-only spot that serves up a solid Schnitzel for cheap. See On Google Maps
  • Felix Austria: Popular casual restaurant with generous portions and friendly service. See On Google Maps
  • Schnitzelei: Excellent schnitzel and they give you a free beer with your meal. It is a little corporate/modern feeling so this isn’t the old school vibe many people are seeking out (but the food is still great). See On Google Maps
  • Schnitzelkönig: Huge portions and great prices. Come hungry. Local favorite. See On Google Maps
  • Prater Beer Garden: Cool beer garden and they have sell schnitzel as well. See On Google Maps
  • Café Restaurant Jolesch: Excellent schnitzel. Higher-end spot. Nice cocktails as well. Reservations highly suggested. See On Google Maps

One of Germany’s most beloved foods is the humble, yet hardy Spätzle — which is an egg noodle dumpling. You’ll be able to find it in just about every German restaurant.

Some Tasty Spätzle Spots:

  • Spätzle Club: Large portions of delicious home-made Spätzle. See On Google Maps
  • Spätzle & Knödel: These guys serve up some mean German comfort food — including excellent Spätzle. See On Googe Maps
  • Schwarzwaldstuben: Relaxed bar/restaurant with Germany fare and a range of beers. Casual spot with a nice vibe. See On Google Maps
  • Joseph-Roth-Diele: Cozy spot with a traditional ambiance, simple menu, and affordable prices. See On Google Maps

Königsberger Klopse

Königsberger Klopse ( meatballs in a white sauce) is true German comfort food. This is another staple that will be on the menu of just about every traditional German restaurant.

Where To Go:

Half Grilled Chicken

Berlin is also famous for its grilled chicken so you’ll find a number of places serving up grilled half-portions of chickens.

Where To Get Grilled Chicken:

  • Henne: The most famous place to go for crispy chicken in Berlin. So good. Go twice. See On Google Maps
  • Hühnerhaus: Excellent takeaway chicken spot. No-frills and affordable. Aways hopping for a reason. See On Google Maps

I mean, you can’t beat a giant pretzel and beer. So go find a nice beer garden and enjoy your pretzel.

Berliner Pfannkuchen

A Berliner Pfannkuchen is a traditional German pastry that’s basically a jelly-filled doughnut without a hole. Any good bakery will have multiple variations.

Where To Get A Great Berliner Pfannkuchen (& Other Baked Goodies):

  • Siebert Bakery: This is the oldest bakery in Berlin and they make plenty of baked goodies. They’re still family-owned. See On Google Maps
  • Bäckerei & Konditorei: Excellent Berliner doughnuts and a few other goodies. See On Google Maps
  • Zeit für Brot: So many baked goods. We’re fans of the cinnamon rolls but everything is good. See On Google Maps
  • Bäcker Walf: Excellent homemade baked goodies. See On Google Maps
  • Bäckerei Ladewig: Local spot and everything is homemade. Family-run since 1969. See On Google Maps

Beer in Berlin

While the Bavarian part of Germany (notably Munich) is most famous for its beer, Berlin also has a thriving beer scene. Furthermore, Berlin also has a solid craft beer scene if you’re looking to expand past the standard German brews.

One of the most popular beers in Berlin is the Berliner Weisse — a sour beer with only 3% alcohol. Bars will often add flavored syrup like raspberry (Himbeersirup), or woodruff (Waldmeistersirup) which turns the beer bright red or green. It’s very tasty.

German/Berlin Beers

German beer tends to be fairly similar as they had a law called Reinheitsgebot (Beer Purity Law) that was enforced until 1993 that said beer could only be made from water, hops, and malt. So the beer was of great quality but there wasn’t much innovation.

These days many breweries still follow the Reinheitsgebot but others are starting to experiment and create new kinds of beer.

The Official Visit Berlin Website has a great guide of Berlin’s local micro-breweries. Here is a nice article from St. Christophers about nice craft beer bars in Berlin. We also like this guide from TimeOut: Berlin about their favorite bars in Berlin. Of course, these links don’t even scratch the surface but hopefully it helps get you started.

Most German grocery stores will stock multiple different kinds of beer so you won’t have to search very hard to find a drink. Plus, beer from the grocery store is cheap!

Berlin’s Beer Gardens

You can’t visit Germany without enjoying a few frosty beers al fresco and luckily Berlin has plenty of beer gardens. Low on cash? You can always buy beer from the grocery store and drink in the park.

  • Prater Beer Garden: This is Berlin’s oldest beer garden and it’s also one of its biggest — it can seat over 600 people. They have a nice selection of beers, tasty snacks, and a fun atmosphere. We recommend trying the bratwurst and apple strudel​. We also like how everything is self-service here. See On Google Maps
  • Weihenstephaner : Located in a building that dates back to 1749, this super traditional Bavaria-style beerhall and they also have a nice courtyard. See On Google Maps
  • Hofbräu Wirtshaus Berlin: Bavarian food & beer. A bit touristy and a little expensive but still a solid spot. See On Google Maps
  • Schleusenkrug: This lovely beer garden is located on the edge of the Tiergarten. They might not have a huge selection of beer but the vibe is energetic and super friendly. See On Google Maps
  • Café am Neuen See : This secret spot is located in a park right beside a pond so the atmosphere is very peaceful. They have a great beer selection and decent food options. Prices are reasonable. See On Google Maps


As with any other city with a youthful international population, Berlin has a solid food scene that caters to people on a budget. There are always new and exciting restaurants and bars opening up, so finding solid dining options doesn’t take much work.

Cheap Breakfast In Berlin

  • Brammibal’s Donuts : Donuts, coffee, and other breakfast sweets.
  • Back-Factory : Cheap pastries for a quick breakfast on the run.
  • Cafe Creperie Melt : Cakes, crepes, and galettes.
  • Homemade : Brunch and breakfast with plenty of vegetarian options.
  • Romeo und Romeo : Lots of healthy and vegetarian options at this chilled-out spot.

Cheap Lunch and Dinner In Berlin

  • Scheers Schnitzel : Tasty and affordable German classics like schnitzel.
  • Curry61 : Famous currywurst and other traditional German street food.
  • Tiergarten Quelle : German pub serving up traditional German dishes.
  • Lia’s Kitchen : Plenty of great vegan options.
  • Trattoria Portofino : Pizza, pasta, and other great Italian options.
  • Flamingo Fresh Food Bar : Sandwiches, soups, and a bit of everything.
  • Burgermeister : Best burgers in Berlin.
  • Mabuhayt : Authentic Indonesian food at great prices.
  • Patta Finest Baked Potatoes : Tasty loaded baked potatoes.
  • Yarok Fine Syrian Food from Damascus : Tasty falafel and other middle eastern food.
  • PHO – Noodlebar : Affordable PHO and other Vietnamese food.

Street Food, Food Halls, & Farmers Markets

  • Street Food Thursday @ Markthalle Neun: This was the first major organized street food event in Berlin and it is still one of the most exciting. It attracts thousands of visitors each week. You’ll find multiple excellent food vendors, craft beer, wine, cocktails and more. Open every Thursday from 5pm-10pm. See On Google Maps
  • Arminius Market Hall: Opened in 1891, this nice market hall has vendors selling local food, crafts, art, and more. See on Google Maps
  • Bite Club: A cool new concept street food party located next to the Spree river in Berlin. Booze, food trucks, BBQ, DJs, and all that cool stuff. Check their Facebook page for dates and location.
  • Middle-Eastern Street Food Market: At this twice-weekly (Tuesday and Friday) outdoor market you’ll find vendors selling Turkish fare, fresh produce, seafood, and other random things. See On Google Maps
  • Boxhagener Platz Farmers Market: This Saturday market focuses on organic produce and a smattering of standard street food options. See on Google Maps
  • Thai Park: For a truly unique experience we suggest spicing it up with authentic Thai food as this unique food market that’s been operating for more than 20 years. This area on the outskirts of Berlin has long been home to a large Thai population who would visit this park to sell their food. Then other locals started catching on to the amazing food… and now it’s super popular. You’ll have the most luck by visiting on Saturdays and Sundays in summer. View on Google Maps
  • Kollwitzplatz Farmers Market: Some of the freshest food in Berlin. Open every Thursday. See On Google Maps

More Berlin Restaurant Resources

When in doubt, ask the locals! Below are a few excellent resources about food in Berlin.

  • They also have an excellent list of recommended list of kebab restaurants if you’re looking for a tasty meal for around €3-€4.
  • Eating In Berlin : Another excellent food blog that covers Berlin’s food scene.
  • TimeOut Berlin : TimeOut always does a solid job of showcasing new and popular food/drink spots so it’s another good place to look.
  • Spotted By Locals – Berlin : Spotted By Locals is a great resource that’s written by locals and expats (they also have a paid app that offers more suggestions).

best hostels in Berlin - Grand Hostel Berlin

Berlin has plenty of highly-rated hostel options and they’re all priced very reasonably — an average hostel will cost anywhere from  €14-€30 /night.

Personally, we use HostelWorld to book all our hostels. Here are some of the best-rated hostels in Berlin:

  • EastSeven Berlin Hostel
  • Wombats City Hostel Berlin
  • The Circus Hostel
  • PLUS Berlin
  • Jetpack Alternative
  • Pfefferbett Hostel


Berlin is world-famous for its nightclubs and overall nightlife scene — it’s actually one the city’s largest draws. Many of the best DJs show off their skills in Berlin; check out Resident Advisor  to see where DJs will be playing.

Thrillist  and TimeOut both have a good rundown of the best nightclubs in Berlin.

If you really want to learn the nitty-gritty about Berlin’s nightlife scene, check out  Vice’s Guide To Berlin’s Nightlife .

By the way… getting into clubs isn’t always easy. Some clubs (i.e. Berghain) are known for turning away a majority of people. Here are some tips for getting past the notoriously finicky doormen:

  • Don’t go in big groups — keep it under four people. And a group of all dudes probably won’t get in.
  • Don’t show up drunk.
  • Be quiet in line. Loud = no entry.
  • Try to speak a little German. Even “Sorry, I don’t speak German” will help.
  • Go with a local. This will make things a lot easier.
  • Dress like a Berliner. Don’t dress up.

More Resources to Help You Plan Your Berlin Budget Travels

Berlin is packed to the gills with things to do… so you’ll want to do a little research before you arrive. We’ve listed a few of our favorite  budget-minded  guidebooks, websites, and expat blogs that you may want to check out.

  • Rick Steves — Berlin (guidebook)
  • Lonely Planet — Berlin (guidebook)
  • Spotted By Locals: Berlin
  • Berlin Food Stories
  • Still In Berlin
  • Slow Travel Berlin
  • Travels of Adam
  • iHeartBerlin

Traveling Around Berlin


Berlin is a huge, sprawling city, so you’ll need to take public transportation. Luckily, it is plentiful; you’ll find subways, trains, trams, buses, bikes, and taxis. The U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus, tram, and regional rail all use the same ticket. Don’t forget to validate your ticket before entering the train. 

  • Single One-Way Ticket:  €2.80
  • Short Distance (three-stop) Single One-Way Ticket:  €1.50
  • Day Card: €7.00
  • Small-Group Ticket (for up to five people — this is the most cost-effective for three people and above):  €19.90
  • Bike Rental:  €8-€15/day
  • Bus between Tegel Airport and City Center:  €2.80
  • Taxi Between Tegel Airport and City Center:  €25–€35
  • Berlin Schönefeld Airport Express Train:  €1.60
  • Taxi Between Schönefeld and City Center:  €50+

Practical Travel Tips

Berlin Pass Review

Save Money With a Berlin Pass:  If you plan on seeing a lot of museums, you might consider getting a Berlin Pass . It could save you a bit of money.

Take A Walking Tour: It’s a great thing to do on your first day as it’s a good way to get orientated with the city.

There are good free (tip-based) tours from  Sandeman’s New Europe  and  Brewer’s Berlin Tours  — these tours will hit many of the highlights. If you’re looking to learn more about the alternative sides of Berlin, you should check out  Alternative Berlin Tours .

Of course, there are a ton of paid tours that are led by professional guides that will give you more in-depth information. Check Get Your Guide as they have multiple walking and bike tours.

Visit Flea Markets for Cheap Souvenirs: The flea market at Mauerpark is the most famous, but it’s also the most touristy (i.e., it’s overpriced). You’ll need to venture out to find the best deals. This is a good site that lists most of the markets in Berlin.

Bring Your Student ID : Most museums have student prices (usually 1/2 price). It helps if your ID has a date on it — I was turned away for using my old ID, so your results may vary.

Winters Are Tough. Dress Warm : Invest in a legit warm coat, hat, gloves, and warm clothes if you visit in the winter. Don’t worry about fashion as everyone, including the locals, is bundled up.

Backpacking Packing Tips & Tricks

Madrid Packing Tips

If you’re looking at this article, I’m going to bet you’re getting ready to travel. Check out these helpful articles that we wrote for tips and advice for packing for your trip.

  • Backpacking Europe Packing List for Women
  • Backpacking Europe Packing List for Men
  • Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

Berlin Travel Guide — The Ultimate Guide to Berlin on a Backpacker's Budget

Insure Your Trip

Not to get all doom and gloom but it can get very expensive when things go wrong on the road. Travel insurance is a cheap way to cheap way to ensure you don’t end up with a $10,000+ medical bill. We like World Nomads they’re affordable and it only takes a few minutes to get covered.

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Berlin Travel Guide

There's nowhere quite like Berlin. Sensual, gritty, hip and debauched, it's a colossal city with a tumultuous back-story. It also has a myriad of different faces: the staunch solidity of the Reichstag, the rainbow melee of its multicultural population, the insistent bass-thump of its numberless nightclubs.

The city is a cosmopolitan, creative hub with a thriving underground pulse. This is not somewhere to cover in one visit. Its history is labyrinthine, its design and food scenes are worlds unto themselves and its hedonistic nightlife is among the best this side of the Atlantic. It's also one of the most liberal destinations in Europe – there are few taboos left here.

While the locals might have moved on from the past, the scars of war are still visible on some of the most iconic monuments. Sections of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades, still stand today. There are also plenty of world-class museums documenting life under both the Nazis and the Soviets.

For visitors, today's Berlin is mostly sought after for its vibrant cultural life. In the early 2000s, cheap rents, widespread squatting and alternative economies in the face of the city's financial woes gave rise to a generation of home-grown creative types; even former mayor Klaus Wowereit described his city as 'poor but sexy'.

Gentrification and rising house prices have begun to challenge that. But Berlin still boasts thrilling street art, resident artists of all disciplines, and a strong music scene befitting the one-time home of names such as Lou Reed, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.

From a tourist perspective, Berlin remains relatively inexpensive – moderate budgets will suffice to eat, drink and sleep well here. The city also offers a kaleidoscope of different culinary cultures, so you can dine on Vietnamese, Japanese and Turkish food as easily as German. The city's large Turkish community has earned the trendy district of Kreuzberg the nickname 'Little Istanbul'. Legend has it the doner kebab was born here, and takeaway shops selling it can be found on almost every street corner.

With its global gastronomy, stormy history and vivacious subcultures, Berlin is unrivalled in its ability to entertain, asking only one question of its visitors: when are you joining the party?

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Featured hotels, soho house berlin.

Part of the Soho House empire, this private club and boutique hotel is based in Mitte, east Berlin's achingly hip heart. The 40 bedrooms vary enormously in price and layout, but all include vintage furniture and quirky features such as record players. Bring your swimmers for the glamorous rooftop pool.

Honigmond Berlin-Mitte

This gem of a hotel is a real find - the building's exterior doesn't suggest its gorgeous combination of period features and swish modernity. The rooms have antiques scattered throughout, and the breakfast is excellent. There's a second property too on a nearby street, in much the same style.

Ritz-Carlton Berlin

Expect the full whistles and bells of an international five-star chain hotel at this sumptuous 300-room property on Potsdamer Platz. Notable features include four restaurants and bars, among them the Tea Lounge, known for its ceremonial afternoon teas. Underground parking is another perk.

The prices vary enormously here at this retro showcase for the garish/fabulous interior design of the former East Germany. Part hotel and part museum, this is definitely one of Berlin's more idiosyncratic places to stay; prepare for lots of brown and orange. It's also a stone's throw from techno temple Berghain and the adjacent attractions of hipster Friedrichshain.


Based in a one-time vacuum cleaner factory, this wonderfully eccentric "hut palace" offers colourful accommodation in a range of indoor vintage caravans and repurposed huts. Standard rooms are on offer too – they give more space but they're not nearly so much fun. The backyard has been transformed into a wild garden.

Billed as Berlin's first luxury boutique hotel, the none-more-cool Das Stue sits on the southwestern fringe of the Tiergarten park. It's full of grand design touches, while the rooms themselves are modern with hardwood floors. The hotel also plays home to a spa and, in Cinco by Paco Pérez, a Michelin-starred restaurant.

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I lived in Berlin for 2 years and return often as a travel writer. Here's my complete visitor's guide to the German capital.

  • Berlin is packed with historic sites and cultural experiences, and a diverse array of restaurants.
  • Our comprehensive guide to visiting Berlin includes the best places to see, stay, eat, and more.
  • Visit Insider's hub for travel guides, tips, and recommendations .

Insider Today

More than three decades after the fall of the Wall, the formerly divided Berlin has emerged as one of Europe's most dynamic, captivating capitals. With shiny new architecture constantly popping up around the city, and abandoned World War II- and Soviet-era buildings reimagined as edgy contemporary art spaces and trendy clubs, Berlin is on a steady course of reinventing itself. Even so, the German capital holds on to its wonderfully authentic, scruffy side — in its smoky, hole-in-the-wall bars, graffiti-covered streets, and anything-goes attitude.

This progressive spirit is what drew me to move from Amsterdam to Berlin in 2016 and stay for two years. Although I've since relocated to Barcelona, I come back frequently to take advantage of Berlin's vibrant culture, great bars, and diverse global dining scene.

I'm an avid museum-goer, and love exploring the city's vast array of museums — around 170 at last count — with new ones opening all the time. And when the weather is good, I enjoy strolling and picnicking in the many parks, or stopping for a Berliner Weisse (a traditional local wheat beer) at a neighborhood beer garden. 

It's also a relatively inexpensive city — especially compared to other European capitals like Paris and Amsterdam. While there are plenty of pricey five-star hotels and spendy Michelin-starred restaurants, you can just as easily find a decent, centrally located hotel room for less than 100 euros, or around $98, a night, grab a tasty traditional currywurst with fries for around 5 euros, and wash it down with a beer for under 4 euros. 

Navigating Berlin can be a bit of a challenge, whether you're a newbie or a veteran visitor like me, because of its huge size. The city is made up of 12 different kiez (neighborhoods), each with its own distinctive vibe and attractions. Fortunately, there's an excellent public transportation system to get you where you need to go. 

With Insider's guide, you'll have everything you need to plan the perfect Berlin vacation. 

→ An expert's tips on getting to Berlin and navigating the city's public transit system

→ where to stay in berlin — the 9 best hotels and accommodations, → 10 of the best restaurants in berlin where you should actually eat, → 8 unique adventures and activities to do in berlin, from street art to city parks, → important advisories for your berlin trip from a former resident.

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Travels of Sarah Fay

Berlin City Break: Ultimate Guide Travel Guide To Berlin, Germany

A re you looking for a fun and affordable destination for your next city break? If so, you might want to consider Berlin, the capital of Germany and one of the most exciting and diverse cities in Europe. Berlin has something for everyone, whether you are interested in history, culture, nightlife, or food. Here are some reasons why you should book a Berlin city break and some tips on how to make the most of your time there.

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Brief History of Berlin 

Berlin’s history is fascinating and complex, and you can see traces of it everywhere you go. From the iconic Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall to the former Nazi headquarters and Checkpoint Charlie, you can learn about the city’s turbulent past and how it shaped its present. You can also visit some of the world’s best museums, such as the Pergamon Museum, which houses ancient treasures from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Greece, or the Jewish Museum, which tells the story of Jewish life and culture in Germany.

Berlin Culture- Perfect for a Berlin city break?

Berlin is also a cultural hotspot, with a vibrant art scene, a rich musical heritage, and a diverse population. You can admire street art and graffiti in areas like Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, or visit some of the many galleries and museums that showcase contemporary art. You can also enjoy classical music at the Berlin Philharmonic, or catch a show at one of the many theatres and opera houses. And don’t forget to explore the different neighborhoods of Berlin, each with its character and charm.

Berlin City Break Nightlife 

If you are looking for a good time, Berlin has plenty to offer. The city is famous for its nightlife, with some of the best clubs, bars, and pubs in Europe. You can dance until dawn at legendary venues like Berghain, Tresor, or Watergate, or chill out at a cozy beer garden or a trendy cocktail bar. You can also sample some of the delicious food that Berlin has to offer, from traditional German dishes like currywurst and schnitzel to international cuisine from Turkish, Vietnamese, or Indian restaurants.

Berlin is a city that never sleeps, but if you need a break from the hustle and bustle, you can also find some green spaces and relaxing spots. You can take a stroll along the Spree River, or visit one of the many parks and gardens that dot the city. 

How many days is ideal in Berlin?

If it is your first time in Berlin I suggest coming for a minimum of 3 days if you want to see some of the main attractions, but 4- 5 days in Berlin if you want to get a sense of the culture, history, and get the full Berlin city break experience. 

Is Berlin a walkable city?

Berlin is extremely walkable and easy to get around. If you are not going to take public transit there are also a lot of escooters, and bikes around the city. Making it easy to get around to most of the things to do in Berlin without having to have a car or taxi.

Public transport

Berlin has an extensive and efficient public transport system that includes buses, trams, subways (U-Bahn), and trains (S-Bahn). You can buy tickets at stations, machines, or online, and use them for any mode of transport within the same zone. A single ticket costs 2.90 euros for zones AB, which covers most of the city center. You can also buy day tickets, weekly tickets, or monthly passes for more savings. Remember to validate your ticket before boarding or you might face a fine.

Berlin is a bike-friendly city with many bike lanes, paths, and rental services. You can rent a bike from one of the many shops or stations around the city, or use an app like Nextbike or Donkey Republic to find and unlock a bike nearby. The average price for renting a bike is 1 euro per 30 minutes or 12 euros per day. Biking is a great way to explore the city at your own pace and enjoy the scenery.

If you prefer a more comfortable and convenient way to travel, you can always hail a taxi or use an app like Free Now or Uber to book one. Taxis are easy to find in most areas of the city, especially near tourist attractions, hotels, and train stations. The base fare is 3.90 euros and then 2 euros per kilometer. You can pay by cash or card, and tip around 10% if you are satisfied with the service. I preferred using Uber, especially after going out at night. 

What part of Berlin is the best to stay in?

This is the historical and cultural center of Berlin, where you can find many famous landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, the Museum Island, and the Alexanderplatz. Mitte is also home to many government buildings, embassies, and business offices. If you want to be close to the main sights and enjoy a lively and cosmopolitan atmosphere, Mitte is a great choice. However, it can also be crowded, noisy, and expensive.

This is the alternative and multicultural heart of Berlin, where you can find many artists, students, immigrants, and activists. Kreuzberg is known for its vibrant nightlife, street art, ethnic cuisine, and creative scene. If you want to experience the edgy and diverse side of Berlin, Kreuzberg is a good option. However, it can also be chaotic, dirty, and unsafe.

Prenzlauer Berg

This is the trendy and hipster district of Berlin, where you can find many cafes, bars, boutiques, and galleries. Prenzlauer Berg is popular among young professionals, families, and ex-pats. My friend from high school moved here four years ago and loves it. It has a relaxed and friendly vibe, with many green spaces and parks. If you want to enjoy a cozy and stylish neighborhood with a lot of charm, this is the perfect area if you find a Vrbo in the area. 


This is the elegant and upscale area of Berlin, where you can find many luxury hotels, shops, and restaurants. Charlottenburg is also rich in history and culture, with attractions such as the Charlottenburg Palace, the Kurfürstendamm Boulevard, and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. However, it can also be boring, snobby, and far from the center.

This is the emerging and dynamic part of Berlin, where you can find many young people, immigrants, and artists. Neukölln is known for its cheap rents, diverse culture, and lively nightlife. If you want to discover a new and exciting side of Berlin that is constantly changing and evolving, Neukölln is a good option. However, it can also be noisy, dirty, and dangerous.

What is the best month to visit Berlin?

I would say May through September is the perfect time to visit Berlin. Berlin comes alive in the summer, with its beer gardens, outdoor markets, and ample green spaces to enjoy. Also, there are many events and festivals during this time. The sun also sets after 10 pm in the summer which makes it great for you to have a lot of time to explore Berlin. 

Although, I also think Berlin during the holidays and Christmas markets in Germany are special and well worth a visit in December!

Can I visit Berlin without speaking German?

If a language barrier is holding you up to booking your Berlin city break, don’t let that stop you. I love Berlin and I have been more than 5 times now. Don’t worry if you don’t speak German there are many expats, as well as English speakers. So I recommend just downloading the Google Translate app just in case, but you have nothing to worry about. 

Berlin City Break – Things to do 

Fat tire tours – berlin city bike tour .

One of the first things I would do is take a tour of Berlin. If you want a great overview of Berlin, I recommend taking a Berlin City Bike Tour with Fat Tire Tours. It was an amazing experience to check out the main attractions of the city by bike, but also bike to some places that would be a little off the beaten path for me. Our guide was very knowledgeable of the city from learning about Nazi Germany, as well as the Cold War to incorporating modern cultural elements in the tour it was eye-opening 

They offer a 3-hour city tour and a 6-hour city tour, food tours, Cold War-specific tours, and more. 

Berlin TV Tower and Rotating Dining Experience

After a few visits to Berlin, I finally decided to make it my mission to head to the top of the Berlin TV tower and it was so worth it. The Berlin TV Tower stands 368 meters high above the city. It is the highest building open to the public in Europe. It was inaugurated on October 3 1969 in East Germany, built as a symbol to show the world the Communist party was superior to the rest of the West. 

After you take in the views, dine at the Sphere restaurant which rotates 207 meters above the city! They serve amazing traditional foods with a modern twist, and there is also Bar 203 if you rather just have a drink. At the end or beginning you can also enjoy a VR experience showing the evolution of Berlin since ancient history. 

Finally, enjoy Alexanderplatz located at the base of the Berlin TV Tower. There are many shops, the square also has the World Clock, and the Fountain of Friendship. 

Explore Museum Island 

One of the most famous places to visit museums is Berlin, Germany. They even have a whole island meant for museum lovers called “Museum Island”. It is also recognized by UNESCO. 

World-class museums for travelers looking to experience a range of history, culture, art, architecture, and more. I happened across this, but actually, the first Sunday of the month offers a free museum day throughout Berlin. However, if you know you will be there in advance, book the tickets online (even for free or not) because the most popular museums do sell out! 

Altes Museum

Altes Museum is the first museum on museum island. It was built in 1825 by order of King Frederick 3 of Prussia. The Altes Museum houses the Antikensammlung Collection, one of the most important collections of classical art in the world. Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday- Sunday, Closed Monday 

Neues Museum

The Neues Museum is located in a historic building built in 1843 and houses art from ancient Egypt and artifacts from the Stone Age. The building is worth visiting alone, it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list for its outstanding architecture. It is the second oldest museum on Museum Island. Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Thursday 10 am – 6 pm. 


Pergamonmuseum is the most popular museum in Berlin. So definitely make sure to reserve this in advance. The museum includes artifacts from antiquity in Iran, Egypt, etc. Currently, the north wing will be closed for refurbishment until 2025. Hours: 10 am – 6 pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Thursday 10 am – 6 pm. 

Bode Museum

Bode Museum houses one of the largest medieval art collections as well as Byzantine art.

Alte Nationalgalerie

Alte Nationalgalerie is the national art gallery that was originally a contemporary art gallery, and now you can see 19th-century paintings as well as sculptures. Hours: 10 AM – 6 PM CLOSED Mondays 

Berlin Cathedral 

While I did not get to go inside the Berlin Dom or Berlin Cathedral, it costs 10 euros and 6.50 euros with the Berlin Welcome Card. Berlin Cathedral is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city. It is a magnificent example of neo-Renaissance architecture, with a dome that rises 98 meters above the ground. The cathedral was built between 1894 and 1905, and it houses a museum, a crypt, and an organ with over 7000 pipes. The cathedral is open daily from 9 am to 8 pm, except on Mondays when it closes at 5 pm. Visitors can enjoy guided tours, concerts, and exhibitions throughout the year.

See Berlin By Boat

Berlin is a city with a rich history and culture, but also a modern and vibrant metropolis. One of the best ways to explore its diverse attractions is by boat. You can enjoy a relaxing and scenic cruise along the Spree River, passing by landmarks such as the Reichstag, the Museum Island, the Berlin Cathedral, and the East Side Gallery. You can also admire the architecture and urban landscape of Berlin from a different perspective, and learn more about its past and present from the onboard commentary. A boat tour of Berlin is a great option for anyone who wants to see the city in a short time and in a comfortable way. Tours last about an hour, some 2 hours, and range in price from USD 25 and up. 

Charlottenburg Palace 

Charlottenburg Palace is a Baroque palace in Berlin, Germany. It was built at the end of the 17th century by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Frederick I, the first king of Prussia. The palace was expanded several times in the 18th century and has rich interior decoration in Baroque and Rococo styles. The palace also has a large formal garden with a belvedere, a mausoleum, a theatre, and a pavilion. Charlottenburg Palace is a major tourist attraction and a cultural heritage site.

  • Opening hours: 10.00 – 17.00 (all days except Monday).
  • The cost of visiting the castle: adult – 19 euros, child (under 18 years) – 15 euros. Please note that when buying tickets online (through the official website), tickets will cost 2 euros less. Entrance to the park is free.

Free things to do for a Berlin City Break

Take a free walking tour .

If you are visiting Berlin and want to explore the city without spending a lot of money, you might want to consider taking a free walking tour. A free walking tour is a guided tour that does not have a fixed price, but instead relies on tips from the participants. You can join a free walking tour by booking online or showing up at the meeting point. Many free walking tours in Berlin cover different topics and areas, such as the history of Berlin, the street art scene, the Third Reich, and more. You can find more information about free walking tours in Berlin on websites like or Taking a free walking tour is a great way to learn more about the city, meet new people, and have fun!

The Reichstag 

The Reichstag building is a historic government building in Berlin that has been the seat of the German Bundestag since 1999. It was built from 1884 to 1894 by Paul Wallot in a Neo-Renaissance style. The building has a large glass dome that offers a panoramic view of the city. If you want to visit the roof and the dome, you need to register online in advance and go through a security check. The visit is free and includes an audio guide that explains the history and functions of the Reichstag.

The Reichstag building is more than just a tourist attraction. It is also a symbol of German democracy and history. The building witnessed many important events, such as the proclamation of the German Empire in 1871, the Reichstag fire in 1933, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and the reunification of Germany in 1990. The building was renovated by British architect Norman Foster after reunification, who added the modern glass dome as a contrast to the old structure. The dome also symbolizes transparency and openness, as visitors can look down at the plenary hall where lawmakers debate and vote.

The Reichstag building is open every day from 8:00 am to midnight, with the last admission at 10:00 pm. You can register online up to three months in advance or on the same day at the service center near the building. It is required to bring proof of your identity for security purposes. You can also book a guided tour of the building or a visit to the roof garden restaurant. For more information, visit .

Jewish Museum Berlin 

If you are interested in learning more about the history and memory of the Holocaust, you might want to visit one of the museums dedicated to this topic. One of them is the **Jewish Museum Berlin**, which has a core exhibition that explores the Jewish history and culture in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as temporary exhibitions that focus on specific aspects of the Holocaust and its aftermath.

The Jewish Museum Berlin is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm, except for some Jewish holidays and Christmas Eve. Admission to the core exhibition is free for everyone, while the temporary exhibitions cost 8 € at the regular rate or 3 € at the reduced rate. Children and teenagers under 18 get in free, as do a few other visitor categories. You can find more information on their website or buy a ticket online.

The Berlin Wall Memorial 

Another museum that you can visit is the **Berlin Wall Memorial**, which commemorates the division of Berlin by the wall and its victims. The memorial consists of an outdoor exhibition on Bernauer Strasse, where you can see the remains of the wall and other historical traces, as well as a documentation center and a visitor center that provide information and education about the wall and its impact on the people of Berlin. The outdoor exhibition is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm, while the documentation center and the visitor center are open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm. Admission to the memorial is free for everyone.

Don’t miss a chance to walk along the East Side Gallery in Berlin this is the largest section of the Berlin Wall still standing and there is amazing street art here as well. 

Topography of Terror 

One day I was looking for free things to do in Berlin and this popped up. I am so glad it did. The Topography of Terror is a museum in Berlin that documents and commemorates the crimes committed by the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945. It is situated on the former site of the central institutions of Nazi persecution and terror: the headquarters of the Secret State Police (Gestapo), the SS, and the Reich Security Main Office. These buildings were the nerve center of the Nazi terror apparatus, where orders were issued, reports were received and victims were interrogated, tortured, and executed. 

The museum consists of two parts: an indoor exhibition and an outdoor exhibition. The indoor exhibition covers 800 square meters and displays more than 800 photos, documents, and media stations that illustrate the history of Nazi terror and its impact on individuals and society. The Topography of Terror is a place of remembrance and education that aims to inform visitors about the Nazi dictatorship and its crimes, as well as to raise awareness of the dangers of dictatorship and violence in general.

Checkpoint Charlie 

Checkpoint Charlie was named by the Western Allies, who also had Checkpoint Alpha and Bravo along the border. It was located on Friedrichstrasse, a historic street in the American-occupied city center. Checkpoint Charlie was the only place where East Germany allowed foreign diplomats, military personnel, and tourists to enter or leave East Berlin. The Allies stationed their guards there to ensure their access to the Soviet sector. The Allied side of Checkpoint Charlie was very simple, consisting of a small shack and some sandbags. The East German side was more elaborate, with guard towers, barriers, and a shed where vehicles were searched for fugitives.

Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War and the division of Germany. It attracted many visitors and protesters, who often expressed their solidarity with the people of East Berlin or their opposition to the Wall. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Checkpoint Charlie was dismantled and removed. Today, there is a replica of the original guardhouse and a museum that displays artifacts and stories related to the checkpoint and the Cold War.


Is a picturesque square known for the iconic three buildings that surround it. It is surrounded by three historic buildings: the French Cathedral, the German Cathedral, and the Concert Hall. Gendarmenmarkt is a popular tourist attraction because of its beautiful architecture and cultural events. You can visit Gendarmenmarkt to admire the monuments, enjoy a concert or explore the Christmas market in winter.

Visit Berlin Markets 

Mauerpark Flea Market: This is the most popular and crowded flea market in Berlin and for good reason. You can find everything from antiques and vinyl records to art and jewelry. There’s also live music, karaoke, and street performers to keep you entertained. It’s open every Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Markthalle Neun: This is a historic market hall that hosts different themed markets throughout the week. You can find organic produce, artisan cheese, fresh bread, and more. My favorite is Street Food Thursday, where you can sample cuisines from all over the world. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, with varying hours depending on the day.

Nowkoelln Flowmarkt: This is a hip and trendy flea market that attracts young and creative people. You can find clothes, books, accessories, and more. It’s also a great place to chill by the canal and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s open every second and fourth Sunday of the month from 10 am to 5 pm.

Kollwitzplatz Farmers Market is a great farmers market I went to in Prenzlauer Berg. It had over 50 vendors and a lot of great food. Come here and grab a coffee or crepe!

Berlin City Parks 

I was surprised to learn Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Europe! There are over 25000 parks and over 1 million trees in the city!

The Tiergarten is one of the most famous parks and comes alive in the summer. Take a bike and cycle through the park, see the victory statue, and even go to one of the best beer gardens in Berlin. 

The Tiergarten is like a green oasis in the middle of the urban jungle! The Tiergarten was once a royal hunting ground, but now it’s open to everyone who wants to relax, have fun or learn something new. There are many monuments, museums, and landmarks in and around the park, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Victory Column, and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt. You can also find a lovely beer garden by a lake, where you can taste some local specialties.

I had a wonderful time walking around the park, admiring the trees, flowers, and animals. The Tiergarten is a must-see for anyone who visits Berlin!

Treptower Park

If you love nature and history, you should visit Treptower Park in Berlin. It is a beautiful park along the river Spree, where you can enjoy the sun, the water, and the greenery. You can also see the impressive Soviet War Memorial, the Archenhold Observatory, and the former Spreepark amusement park. Treptower Park is a great place to relax and explore. Come and see for yourself!

Hot tub down River Spree for a fun adventure with friends. Berlin Bootsverleih. It looks super fun, especially from the Zenner Biergarten and Weingarten a cool beer garden located along the river Spree. 

Tempelhofer Park

If you’re looking for a unique and fun place to spend your day in Berlin, look no further than Tempelhofer Park! This former airport has been transformed into a huge urban park where you can enjoy nature, culture, and sports. Here are some reasons why you should visit Tempelhofer Park:

– Explore the history of aviation and see the old terminals, hangars, and runways.

– You can join the locals in biking, skating, jogging, or flying kites on the vast open space.

– Relax on the grass, have a picnic or barbecue, or visit the community gardens and urban farms.

– Check out the events and festivals that take place throughout the year, such as concerts, markets, and exhibitions.

Tempelhofer Park is a must-see attraction for anyone who loves adventure, creativity, and diversity. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience one of the most amazing parks in the world!

Eat Traditional German Food

In Berlin, there are two staples Doner Kebab and Currywurst. Of course, there is more to German cuisine, but the birthplace of the doner kebab is in Berlin. The sandwich as most of us know it today was popularized by Turkish immigrants in the 1970s. Today there are more doner kebab shops in Berlin, than there are in Istanbul.  This is a must for any Berlin city break.

Currywurst is another fast food dish in Germany.The curry wurst is a fried sausage, cut. up, and served with fries and curry sauce on the side.   

Don’t forget to spend an afternoon in a beer garden. Don’t worry they have choices too for those not looking to drink. 

Watch Sunset at Klunkerkranich 

If you are looking for an epic view of the skyline of Berlin and a place to go to watch an epic sunset with vibes, Klunkerkranich is the place. It is located in  Neukölln . There are also many vegan options for food, and there was even a DJ. The location is cool, on top of a parking lot that is attached to a mall! Very Berlin and a must on your Berlin City Break.

Day Trips From Berlin

Potsdam is about a 40-minute train ride from the center of Berlin. Here you can find a quaint Old Town, next to the stunning Sanssouci Palace and gardens. This is the Versailles of Berlin. I have been here for the Christmas Market, which was a magical experience and I can only imagine the experience would be amazing with the full bloom of the palace gardens.

The Perfect Berlin City Break Wrapped

As you can see, Berlin has something for everyone, and it’s a great destination for a city break. You can find cheap flights and hotels online, or book a package deal that includes everything you need. You can also get around easily by using public transport or renting a bike. No matter what you choose to do in Berlin, you will have an unforgettable experience that will make you want to come back again.

Cool tip: Take a selfie at the Photoautomat for a souvenir to take home.

Where to stay in Berlin as a solo traveler?

The Circus Berlin Hostel 

If you looking for a cool and cheap place to crash in Berlin? Well, you’re in luck, because I’ve got the perfect spot for you: the Circus Hostel. This hostel is not just a place to sleep, it’s a place to have a blast with other travelers and locals. Let me tell you why you should book your stay at the Circus Hostel.

The Circus Hostel is in the middle of Berlin, near the awesome Rosenthaler Platz. This place is happening, with tons of bars, cafes, and shops to check out. It’s super easy to get around the city from here, because there are many modes of public transport options nearby, like the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, tram, and bus. You can also walk or bike to some of the coolest sights, like Museum Island, where you can see some ancient stuff and art; the Brandenburg Gate, where you can feel the vibe of Berlin; and the Berlin Wall, where you can snap some pics of the colorful graffiti and monuments. The hostel has bikes for hire so you don’t have to worry about returning or picking them up elsewhere. 

The rooms 

The hostel has all kinds of rooms to fit your style and budget. You can pick from dorms, private rooms, or apartments. All rooms are neat and roomy, and have everything you need, like free Wi-Fi, lockers, and linens. Some rooms also have balconies or private bathrooms. I got lucky with a beautiful view, and apartment, and loved having coffee each morning from my balcony overlooking the Berlin TV Tower and Berlin Cathedral. My apartment/suite was amazing with a wrap-around balcony, full kitchen, fridge, and coffee maker. There was also a seating area with a smart TV. It was by far the best hostel suite I have ever had. 

Best Hostel For A Berlin City Break

The hostel also has a 24/7 reception, a laundry room, luggage storage, and a cafe with breakfast all you can eat til 1 pm. This is not your average hostel either. They have a microbrewery in the basement, which makes it easy to meet other travelers. 

But what makes the Circus Hostel different from other hostels is its fun and chill vibe. The hostel has tons of events and activities for guests and locals, like pub crawls, walking tours, yoga classes, karaoke nights, and live music. You can also dig into a yummy breakfast buffet at the hostel’s cafe, which has organic and fair-trade stuff; or grab a drink at the rooftop bar, which has an amazing view of the city and a microbrewery that makes its beer.

The Circus Hostel is not just a place to sleep. It’s a place to meet new people, explore new cultures, and have a blast in Berlin for a Berlin city break. If you’re looking for a hostel that has comfort, convenience, and creativity, you’ll love staying at the Circus Hostel. Also, they have a boutique hotel across the street, but I enjoyed my experience at the Circus Hostel as a solo traveler to Berlin. It was a perfect base to set off to explore on my Berlin city break. 

Save this post for later!

Enjoy an athens city break this summer or enjoy an island escape in tenerife check out my articles below for an epic european adventure.

The post Berlin City Break: Ultimate Guide Travel Guide To Berlin, Germany appeared first on Travels of Sarah Fay .

Start planning your Berlin city break with this ultimate travel guide to Berlin, Germany. Perfect for solo travelers or first time visitors.


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