31 x highlights of Berlin, info + photos
Are you planning a visit to Berlin? We've listed all the must do highlights for your trip. In this overview you can find numerous highlights that will show the diversity of the city along with its multiculturalism.
Explore alternative Berlin during the day and go out in one of the famous clubs at night! The options in Berlin are endless!
Tours, tickets and excursions with guide in Berlin
Would you like to explore Berlin by yourself or prefer to join an organized tour or guide? Tours will pick you up at your hotel or accommodation. View all tours and possibilities online.
Tours are done with recognized local guides by GetYourGuide, you can cancel up to 24 hours before departure + you have a 'not satisfied, money back' guarantee. For more tours see below:
- Would you like to save some money? Buy your Berlin Welcome Card online, use public transport for free and get up to 50% off tickets and museums.
- Want to discover Berlin on a hop-on/hop-off bus tour? Book your ticket online for €19.
Alexanderplatz & Fernsehturm
Alexanderplatz is named after Tsar Alexander I who visited Berlin in 1805. the square has had the same purpose since its creation. Shops and a market hall are still present on the square to this day. However, many parts were destroyed during World War II. After the World War, the place fell into the hands of the Soviets, which you can tell by its social-democratic architecture.
The square is a busy traffic junction and is dominated by the 368 m high television tower or Fernsehturm (1969), the tallest building in Germany. In the big ball, which refers to the Spunik, is a restaurant that rotates around its axis, showing you the entire city.
On the square you can also find the Marienkirche, which is build in early Gothic style. However, more striking is the Rote Rathaus from the 19th century, with a tower of almost 100 meters.
Our tip: Would you like to visit the top of the Fernsehturm? Buy your tickets online for € 22.5, so you don't have to queue up. The tower is crowded and only a limited number of visitors can go up at the same time. Avoid waiting in line by booking tickets online. Would you like a unique lunch or dinner? Book a spot at the window!
Old City Hall & Nikolaikirche
The Old City Hall (Altes Stadthaus), originally called the New City Hall (Neues Stadhaus), was put to use in 1911, when the Rotes Rathaus had become too small. The building was damaged during the bombing of WW II and was renovated by the GDR after the war. Until 1955 the administration of East Berlin was based here. After that the GDR Council of Ministers took over the place.
The Nikolaikirche is the oldest church in Berlin (ca 1300). It was destroyed in 1945, and finally rebuilt in 1987. Today there is a permanent exhibition on the history of Berlin along with numerous funerary monuments.
In the DDR Museum (GDR in english) you can get to know more about life in the former DDR in an interactive way. It is one of the most interesting museums you can find in Berlin. Order your ticket online and skip the queue.
The Berliner Dom, for many the most beautiful church in Berlin and after the unification restored in all its glory. It is a Protestant church of which the organ is the main attraction. It is a monumental building that indirectly wanted to compete with the St.-Pietersbasiliek in Rome.
In the Berliner Dom you can visit the crypt of the Hohenzollern, one of the largest family tombs in Europe.
As the name suggests, the Museuminsel is home to numerous museums, mainly exhibiting art and history (since 1999 Unesco World Heritage Site).
Altes Museum (1830)
The Altes Museum exhibits a lot of ancient Greek, Etruscan and Roman art and utensils that sketch the daily life of that time.
Neues Museum (1855)
The Neues Museum was built to exhibit part of the collection from the Altes Museum, which had become too small. Now you will find mainly prehistoric and Egyptian art, including the world famous portrait statue of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti. You can also discover artifacts from the legendary Troy.
Alte Nationalgalerie (1867)
In the Altes National Gallery you can find 19th century European (painting) art pieces, such as paintings from Adolph von Menzel, Max Liebermann and many other French impressionists.
Pergamon Museum (1930)
The main attraction is the Pergamon Museum, named after the Pergamon Altar that is on display. Three large collections can be seen: sculptures and art from classical antiquity, a large co-collection dedicated to the Middle East and a museum of Islamic art. Palaces, temples and city gates who were excavated by archaeologists, were brought over and reconstructed. most impressive is the market gate of Milete (120 B.C.), the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (6th century B.C.), and the clay tablets of Uruk (the earliest written documents in the world).
The Bode-Museum offers a glimpse of European sculpture from the Middle Ages to the late 18th century. Along there is a large collection of coins, from Ancient Greece, and Byzantine art to check out.
Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden was the most important street in former East Germany and is packed with historical buildings. At the corner of Hinter dem Gießhaus and Unter den Linden you will find the Neue Wache neo-classical building on the right, which is a memorial to the war victims. A little further on you will pass by the statue of Frederick the Great. The State Opera House Unter den Linden, the most beautiful opera house in Germany, is also located further along this boulevard.
Gendarmenmarkt is named after the gens d'armes of the regiment who used to have their sheds here. the marketplace is dominated by two churches. The Französischer Dom and The Deutscher Dom.
The Französischer Dom (1705) is now a museum about the Huguenots (French Protestants) who played a major role in the development of Berlin as a science and commercial centre. Fun fact: did you know that the Berlin dialect has a lot of French loan words?
The Deutscher Dom (1708) burned down in 1945. In 1993 that the building was completely renovated. It became a museum about the parliamentary history of Germany.
Topographie des Terrors
The headquarters of the SS and Gestapo used to be on the site of Topographie des Terrors. This is the place where prisoners were interrogated and tortured by the SS. After the war the building was razed to the ground. Now there is a museum that focuses on the creation, operation and atrocities of the Gestapo and SS.
Checkpoint Charlie & the Berlin Wall
There is not much left of Checkpoint Charlie. This was the border post between East and West Berlin in the years 1961-1990. The frame in which the sign with the warning is placed, is still the only authentic thing about the place. All the rest is made up to paint a better picture of the history. Those who want, can have their picture taken by some actors dressed up as soldiers.
Would you like to visit the Checkpoint Charlie Museum? Buy your tickets online and skip the queue.
- There are many different museums nearby Checkpoint Charlie:
- In the BlackBox, on the corner of Zimmerstraße and Friedrichstraße, you can get an overview of Checkpoint Charlie's history.
- Across Friedrichstraße you will find the asisi Panorama - The Wall which provides a panoramic view of Berlin in 1980.
- Further along Friedrichstraße there is the Haus am Checkpoint Charlie, also called the Mauermuseum. The museum shows the influence of the Berlin Wall, what it used to look like and the ways people tried to flee to the West. There is also an original watchtower.
- If you want to know more about the Berlin Wall, visit the open air gallery, East Side Gallery.
The former Ministry of Aviation in Niederkirchnerstraße is a perfect example of Nazi architecture. It was used by the GDR back in the days, but now the building belongs to the German Ministry of Finance.
If you walk to the corner of Wilhelmstraße, you can admire a ray of socialist propaganda. Alongside, there is also a memorial to the number of victims who lost their lives during the manifestation of 1953 which was held to fight for more social rights.
Before the Second World War Potsdamer Platz was synonymous for modern technology. Since it was such a busy intersection, they decided to build their first traffic lights here. However, after the war nothing remained of this glory mainly because the Potsdamer Platz was located in a neutral zone.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Potsdamer Platz became the entertainment centre of the city again. Many new buildings arose from the ground as well as the famous Sony Center. Under the enormous dome there is a large cinema complex and numerous catering establishments. Where the Wall used to be, there is now a double row of cobblestones in the ground.
The annual Berlin Film Festival, which is located here, takes place in September. The ideal time to spot some celebrities!
The Kulturforum is a collection of modern buildings of which most are museums. The most important museum is the Gemäldegalerie. It holds an enormous collection of paintings (ca. 25.000) from the 13th to the 18th century with works by a.o. Rembrandt, Vermeer, Rubens, Goya . Modern art can be found in the Neue Nationalgalerie. In addition you will also find the Berlin Philharmonic (orchestra), the State Library, the Musical Instrument Museum and others.
Hitler's Bunker (Führerbunker)
The last months of the war Hitler led his troops from this bunker. When it became clear that the war was definitively lost, he committed suicide on 30 April 1945 together with Eva Braun here.
To prevent the place from becoming a place of pilgrimage, the bunker was completely decommissioned after the war. Only an information board with a map of the bunker indicates the history of the place.
The memorial to the murdered European Jews
In May 2005 the memorial to the murdered European Jews opened up. The memorial consists of 2751 blocks of different sizes, spread over an undulating area of 19,000 m². When you walk along the blocks, you get an oppressive feeling of disorientation.
There is also an underground information centre attached to this memorial with more information about the Holocaust. Entry is free, but queues can be long!
The Brandenburg Tor (Gate) is the symbol of the unification of Germany and Berlin. This 18th century gate is the only remaining city gate of the original 18. After the construction of the Wall, the gate was closed until 22 December 1989. The national symbol underwent restoration and now shines in all its glory, although time and history has left its marks.
In 1894 Reichstag was inaugurated as a parliament building for the German empire. Throughout the year the Reichstag is viewed as a symbol for freedom.
In 1933, the large assembly hall was destroyed by arson. Hitler saw this incident as a threat to the German people and used this event as a sign to take further control and power. At the end of the Second World War the Soviet soldiers placed their flag on the Reichstag as a symbol of defeat for the Germans.
After the war, the Reichstag was almost completely destroyed and was no longer used. This mainly because West Berlin was no longer a capital city. Only after the unification and the upcoming relocation of the seat of government the major restoration began. The British architect Norman Robert Foster created a glass dome on top of the building. Today, the Reichstag is again the parliament building of the Bundestag (German Parliament). The numerous visitors mostly come to admire the beautiful architecture of the building.
How to plan your visit to the Reichstag?
if you want to visit the dome: you need to book in advance! The number of people interested exceeds the capacity. Register at least 4 days and a maximum of 2 months before your visit via an online form. Telephone registrations will not be accepted. However, sometimes you can obtain tickets a few hours in advance during less busy periods but this is pretty rare, so make sure to do it in advance. Read more in our blog about our visit to the Reichstag.
Siegessäule or Victory Column
The Siegessäule or Victory Column was designed by Heinrich Strack. The 66 meter column is located in the Tiergarten. It was built to commemorate the victory of Prussia in the war of 1864. The bronze statue on top of the column is to commemorate the victory in the Austrian-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War.
These courtyards are connected to each other, which makes the Hackesche Höfe an ideal destination for strolling around Berlin. You will find all kinds of terraces, fashion houses, theaters (mimetheater) and even a cinema (ideal on a rainy day!).
18.1 Art Nouveau and Jugendstil
These buildings are one of the most beautiful Art-Nouveau buildings to be build in Europe, especially industrial Jugendstil (Art Nouveau). You will find Hackesche Höfe just behind the Hackescher Markt. As soon as you visit the central courtyard, you'll see why these buildings attract many tourist: they are tiled with beautiful glazed tiles and Moorish mosaics.
18.2 Hackescher Markt and Station
This market square is often crowded, but very cozy! It is the ideal place to rest and enjoy the beautiful architecture around. Be sure to take a look at the Hackescher Markt station, this is the oldest station in Germany and therefore also a protected monument. In this beautiful brick station you will find cozy terraces and cafes.
Haus Schwarzenberg is a small street near the Hackescher Markt and it is considered a hotspot for street art. It is close by Café Cinema and Kino Central. You may have to search a little harder for the entrance, because it is not that easy to spot!
The street is full of art, studios, offices, museums and cafes.
East Side Gallery Berlin
The East Side Gallery in Berlin is the largest remaining piece of the Berlin Wall and now serves as the largest open-air gallery in the world. From 1989 this piece of wall was painted by 118 different artists. It opened on September 28, 1990. Since then the wall has been restored several times (also because these works of art are often vandalized).
Important works of art
Some of the beautiful artworks include the Bruderkuss (Brooderkus) by Dmitri Vrubel where Erich Honeker and Leonid Breznev give each other a 'brother kiss' (typical socialist custom). Also very well known is the Trabant of Birgit Kinder.
Would you like to discover more about this East Side Gallery and get to know some tips to avoid crowds? We've dedicated a full article to it!
Visiting Potsdam from Berlin
Potsdam, also called 'Versailles of Berlin' is about thirty kilometers from Berlin and is ideal for a day trip. The name probably sounds familiar to you: this is where the Potsdam Conference took place in 1945. After Nazi Germany and Italy were defeated, important agreements were made here.
Destruction under the GDR
When the city was divided under the GDR in 1945, many monumental buildings were destroyed. To this day, restorations are in progress to restore most buildings to their former state. Read all about Potsdam and how to reach Postdam from Berlin.
Join a guided tour to Potsdam from Berlin
On this 3 hour guided walking tour through Potsdam you will explore the baroque city centre of Potsdam. You will walk past the most famous castles, walk through the beautifully landscaped gardens, Sanssouci Park, the Dutch district and the Russian district. Along you will also visit the tomb of the famous Frederick II, who had most palaces built in the city. During the tour, various Soviet anecdotes are told. Book this walking tour online for € 18.
There is also a 6-hour walking tour through Potsdam, From which you will visit the historic Palace of Cecilienhof. Tickets cost € 17. book online!
Badeschiff: Swimming in a bath boat
The perfect place to take a swim and enjoy a beach bar. It is a great way to relax and escape the busy city for a while.
21.1 Why a bathing boat?
But why is a bath boat really necessary? Bath boats were often used as swimming pools because the locals would otherwise go swimming in the polluted stream or river. Just like in many other big cities, you are not allowed to swim in the rivers. This is also the case with the Berlin Spree, therefore a bathing boat is the ideal solution! Also enjoy a refreshing drink from the beach bar connected to it.
21.2 Also during the winter months a hotspot
You can also visit the Badeschiff pool boat in the winter and make use of the saunas.
This airport was the largest airport in Berlin and is one of the largest Nazi buildings ever built. It is very well known because of the great role that the airport played during the airlift that supplied West Berlin. You can only visit it under supervision, but if you do so, you can walk through the secret corridors and bunker.
From airport to park
Tempelhof airport closed in 2008, under loud protest. Today the runways are used as a park where visitors are able to walk freely, cycle and do a lot of urban gardening.
Do you want to know more about this airport? Discover it together with other hip and new highlights in Berlin.
Street art or Polaroid tour in Berlin?
There are several street art locations in Berlin that you can discover by foot or bike. It's a good idea to book these street art tours in advance as they sell out quickly. This is a very different way to get to know Berlin, but it's definitely worth it. Book your street art tour of Berlin online.
Or how about a Berlin Polaroid Photography Street Art Tour? On this guided tour you'll discover Berlin with a local instant photographer. Be creative with a vintage Polaroid camera and capture colorful graffiti and street art. Experience the city off the beaten track! Interested? Book your spot for your tour here.
Visit Sachsenhausen concentration camp from Berlin
The former Sachsenhausen concentration camp is located 35 kilometers from Berlin in Oranienburg. Around 200,000 innocent prisoners were detained in this camp. Alongside, also an estimated 30,000 to 50,000 people has lost their lives here.
You can visit this camp, but keep in mind that a visit can be very intense. It is therefore not recommended to visit the camp with children under the age of 12. Read more information about the former concentration camp Sachsenhausen.
Where to go out in Berlin?
Berlin has a vibrant and extensive nightlife and that attracts a lot of people to the city. There is wide variation of clubs, especially with techno music. These are, of course, attractions for foreign tourists, so you will probably experience long queues here. Also note that in some clubs it is even hard/ impossible to get in since they are very strict.
Would you like to go out in Berlin, but don't want to go to the big tourist hotspots? We've collected some alternative nightlife spots and clubs in Berlin: from the techno-temple Berghain to the more kinky Kit Kat, in Berlin you'll find nightlife spots and clubs everywhere. Discover our 9 favorite alternative nightlife spots in Berlin here.
How to get around Berlin?
27.1 Exploring Berlin by bike
Berlin is very nice to explore by bike. You won't have to search long to get a rental bike during your stay. With a bike you'll get the most out of the atmosphere in the streets and you'll be able to take a look left and right at the striking buildings.
27.2 Public transport in Berlin
Public transport is an excellent way to get around in Berlin. The buses, trams, metros and trains are well organized. We advice you to buy a Berlin Welcome Card to make use of the public transport during your stay. City transport is arranged by the BVG. On their website you can find more information about the time tables and tickets.
Berlin's public transport system includes 3 different zones.
- Zone A includes the city centre (Mitte, Charlottenburg, Kreuzberg, Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain).
- Zone B includes the suburbs of Berlin
- Zone C includes the surrounding villages such as Potsdam and Oranienburg as well as the airport in Schönefeld, buy your Welcome Card online.
Where to spend the night in Berlin? (with discount)
Looking for a place to stay during your visit to Berlin? Then we advise you to search mainly in the districts of Mitte, Charlottenburg and Friedrichshain. These districts have the largest selection of hotels.
Meininger Hotel (Mitte)
For a sharp price you can stay in Meininger Hotel. This non-smoking hotel is located right next to the train station in the Mitte district, which is considered the centre of Berlin. Many of the most important sights are nearby: the Brandenburg Tor, Checkpoint Charlie, the Berliner Dom, the Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial, Gendarmenmarkt, Hackescher Markt and Oranienburger Strasse. Around the accommodation you will find many trendy restaurants and bars, but you can also enjoy the breakfast buffet at the hotel.
Mitte is a great choice for travelers interested in history, museums and architecture. More info and prices via this link.
Hotel nhow Berlin (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg)
Wow! That's the first thing that comes to mind when you enter the unique Hotel nhow Berlin. This extraordinary building is the first music hotel in Europe and has 2 professional music recording studios. It is located directly on the banks of the River Spree, close to MTV Berlin and Universal Music.
Here you can entertain yourself creatively with the electric guitars that are at your disposal and free of charge. Rock and roll! More info and prices via this link.
Michelberger Hotell (Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg)
The Michelberger Hotel is known for quality and its personal approach. In the restaurant you will find only organic meals with local ingredients, and vegan and vegetarian dishes on request. In the summer you can eat outside in the beautiful courtyard garden. For atmosphere you should be in the café-bar, where you can enjoy some live music.
The hotel is located in the middle of the lively Friedrichshain district and close to the Mercedes-Benz Arena. More info and prices via this link.
25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin (Tiergarten)
After your stay at the 25hours Hotel, you will indeed have the feeling that one day is more than 24 hours. A view of the monkeys from the Zoologischer Garten, right from your hotel room! Does this sound interesting to you? How about sleeping in a hammock? Adventurous!
For even more excitement pay a visit to the Neni restaurant, where you can feast on spicy oriental dishes. Don't forget the fine sky bar "Monkey Bar". Enjoy the beautiful view of the city from the roof terrace. More info and prices via this link.
Download the free city walk Berlin
Discover the city with our free city walk Berlin. Ideal to explore Berlin completely at your own pace. In the free city guide Berlin you can find 2 city walks. But if that still doesn't satisfy you, buy our complete Berlin travel guide and discover everything you need to know about this beautiful city.