It doesn’t take a genius to find loads of things to do in Berlin. Germany’s capital is filled with attractions and sites to visit. However, to get the most out of your Berlin experience you need to look a bit deeper than your average travel guide.
Berlin has a rich and dark history characterized by division and reunion. Bombed into near oblivion during World War II, home to the Nazi headquarters, and the site of a recent creative renaissance – Berlin has a fascinating story to tell around every corner. To compare the city of Berlin as it is today to the city that it was less than 100 years ago results in such a shocking comparison that it’s almost impossible to believe it’s the same city.
Berlin today is a capital of culture that celebrates freedom, expression, and individuality. Regardless of its financial sector, parliament buildings, and numerous start-up companies – at the heart of Berlin remains creative energy that characterizes the city. Some of the best Berlin attractions are hidden away, so knowing where to look can definitely save hours of going around in circles on the metro.
With its non-stop nightlife scene, trendy neighborhoods, a multitude of museums, and international gastronomy – there are so many things to do in Berlin that you won’t know where to start. That’s where we come in! We’ve come up with a list of some of the most unmissable sites to see in Berlin to help you plan your itinerary. Whether you’re a history buff, a party animal, or a vegan foodie – this incredible city is guaranteed to have something that’ll capture your interest. Let’s get started!
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14 Awesome Things to Do in Berlin Germany
Spreepark – Visit Berlin’s Creepy Abandoned Theme Park
Located in southeastern Berlin, Spreepark is an abandoned, derelict theme park that mother nature has taken over. The park is easily reachable from the city via S-Bahn, and tours leave frequently with tickets costing as little as 5 euro. It’s one of the creepiest Berlin attractions if you want to see the alternative side of Berlin.
Spreepark was originally constructed in 1969 by the communist government in East Germany. Throughout the communist era, the theme park was consistently popular, and attracted 1.7 million visitors each year! It was taken over in 1991 by a man named Norbert Witte, who redesigned the park and began using ride equipment to smuggle cocaine. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before his criminal activities and lack of paying visitors resulted in Spreepark being shut down in 2002.
Abandoned, the park slowly gave way to dereliction and disuse. Many of the rides from the original park have been removed, however, some remain, but are, of course, not in use. A rusty roller-coaster, an eerily still Ferris wheel, and dried up water rides are some of the things you can still see when you visit the park. If you want to stray away from the tourist hot-spots in Berlin, then a visit to Spreepark is guaranteed to be a curious day out.
Berlin Unterwelten – Explore Subterranean Berlin
Berlin Unterwelten offers visitors a unique experience that’ll take you back in time, and give you a feel for the terrifying reality of the past. This is one of the best things to do in Berlin if you wanted to understand more about life in the city during the war. The underground tours explore some of Berlin’s most important underground structures, such as eerie abandoned subway stations, air-raid shelters, and bunkers that date back to World War II. You can also wander through tunnels that were used for smuggling people out of the city during the Cold War.
Founded in 1977 as a means to preserve the city’s underground architecture and open it to the public. It’s a fascinating tribute to the city’s dark history and is one of the most eye-opening and unique sites to see in Berlin. Enter at the Gesundbrunnen subway station, where the former air-raid bunker has been transformed into the Underwelten Museum. You can choose from various tours which take you through dozens of bunkers, tunnels, abandoned subway stations, bomb and ammunition storage rooms, and canals. One of the best Berlin attractions, Berlin Unterwelten offers a harrowing insight into what life was like during the distressing days of the war that would change the city forever.
Tours are offered in different languages, and it’s best to book online to secure your place as they sell out fast.
Reichstag – Germany’s Most Iconic Building
The city’s most iconic building, a visit to the Reichstag is one of the things to do in Berlin you simply can’t miss. One of the most talked-about Berlin attractions, Reichstag attracts thousands of onlookers and visitors every day who come to admire its sheer size and historical significance.
Reichstag is the modern home of the German parliament, and its past tells a fascinating story that reflects the entire city. Originally constructed in the 1880s, It has been burned, bombed, and rebuilt over the centuries. The building suffered the worst damage during the infamous Reichstag fire of 1933, which catalyzed Hitler’s National Socialists to power. It fell into disuse and remained that way for decades until efforts to rebuild began in 1960. However, Reichstag’s most impressive feature, it’s glass dome, wasn’t added until the 1990s by British architect Norman Foster. The entire glass dome was an architectural breakthrough that offers breathtaking views of Berlin from above.
Reichstag’s sheer size and imposing structure make it a marvel to behold, and is one of the most impressive sites to see in Berlin. There’s usually always a crowd, so ensure you plan extra time for your visit or book in advance. Head up to the glass dome at sunset to enjoy sweeping 360-degree views of the city as it’s bathed in glittering orange light. You can even skip the lines with this tour!
Take a Dip in One of Berlin’s 80 Lakes
Berlin might seem like a pretty unforgiving concrete jungle, but don’t forget the fact that Berlin and its greater area is home to 80 or so lakes. During the summer Berliners flock to the shores of one of its lakes to relax, take in some much needed fresh air, and cool off in the clear waters. If you wake up feeling a bit fragile after experiencing Berlin’s wild nightlife, then a stroll around a lake followed by a dip in the cool waters is the perfect antidote.
The lakes are easily reachable by public transport from the city. Some of the most popular lakes include Wannsee, Krumme Lanke, Schlachtensee, and Müggelsee. Each one provides a unique experience to its visitors and is a great way to escape the city and recharge your batteries for the day.
Snag a Bargain at Mauerpark Flea Market
One of the best things to do in Berlin if you love grabbing yourself a bargain, the Mauerpark flea market takes place every Sunday and is always buzzing with excited shoppers and curious travelers. The flea market gets pretty busy around midday, so try to arrive before or after to make sure you can sift through the flea market steals without getting too claustrophobic. Although it’s a great place to pick up second-hand bargains and a lot of stuff that you don’t really need but want anyway, Mauerpark on a Sunday is just as much about the crowd that it attracts.
After you’ve finished at the flea market, head over to the amphitheater where you’ll find one of Belin’s coolest and most unique events taking place. Every Sunday people gather here to be part of a classic Berlin experience: Bearpit Karaoke. Talented and not-so-talented singers volunteer to sing their little hearts out to some classic tunes in a fun, interactive event that’ll either have you looking on in awe or in stitches.
Inside the park, you can also find a path where the Berlin Wall used to stand, a hill which affords stunning views of the city, and plenty of spots to relax with some beers and a picnic.
Sanssouci Palace – Freidrich the Great’s Summer Retreat
Located near Potsdam, Sanssouci Palace was constructed between 1745-47 as a modest summer retreat for Freidrich the Great. Over the years Sanssouci became Freidrich’s escape from reality, his personal sanctuary where he could relax with his dogs – away from the chaos of the world. This extravagant summer palace was Freidrich’s ideal of everyone’s wish of living without a care – hence the name “Sans Souci”.
Today, the palace remains one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the world and has been enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visitors can marvel at the opulent interiors and stroll through the tranquil and perfectly manicured gardens while imagining what life must have been like for someone who was so modestly attuned to royalty and extravagance.
If you’re looking for unforgettable things to do in Berlin then a visit to Sanssouci Palace shouldn’t be missed. If tours are your thing then take a look at this one, you’ll explore Potsdam and the Sanssouci Palace in just three hours!
Get Outdoors in One of the City’s Parks
One of the best surprises about visiting Berlin is realizing just how green it really is! Berlin is home to many lovely parks perfect for strolling, picnicking, and relaxing. When the sun shines, Berliners flock to the city’s green spaces to make the most of its warmth with friends and family. Each park offers visitors something different, and while we can’t name them all we do have a few of our top Berlin parks to share with you.
Tiergarten is known as the “Central Park” of Berlin. It’s the most popular park in the city and offers unbeatable spots for chilling out, jogging, biking, canoeing, and drinking. Inside the park, you’ll find numerous cafes/beer gardens where you can stop off for a pint of delicious German beer or two, as well as plenty of fabulous sculpture and architecture to admire.
Treptower Park is another fantastic option if you’re looking for a breath of fresh air in the city. The Spree river runs through the park, which offers great boating opportunities if you enjoy getting out onto the water.
Victoria Park is West Kreuzberg is a hilly park where you can find marvelous views of Berlin’s skyline, as well as plenty of beer gardens to chill out in.
The list goes on an on, but one thing’s for sure: a visit to Berlin isn’t complete without experiencing a day relaxing, socializing, and drinking in one of its parks.
The Holocaust Memorial
Opened in 2005, the Holocaust Memorial is located in the center of the city and is one of the most important Berlin attractions that everyone should visit. The memorial consists of 2711 concrete slabs placed together in close proximity on an uneven surface. Walking through the memorial gives one the uneasy feeling of instability or uncertainty. The abstractness of the memorial gives the visitor space to contemplate the topic in a personal way.
It’s a far cry from the traditional concept of a memorial, and its size and lack of a central focus point confront the viewer with a unique experience of remembrance. Free guided tours are available and there’s also a museum dedicated to explaining the memorial and the story behind it.
Museum Island – A Cultural Hub in the Heart of Berlin
In the heart of Berlin lies an island home to an ensemble of 5 incredible world-renowned museums. Museum Island (Museumsinsel) is a work of art in itself and is one of the best things to do in Berlin for any lover of art and culture. Pergamonmuseum (Pergamon Museum), Bode-Museum, Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Altes Museum (Old Museum) each offer visitors a unique insight into world history and culture like nowhere else in the world.
Featuring collections of art and historical objects and artifacts, there’s something guaranteed to capture your interest. Among the many fascinating collections lies the famous bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti, the Pergamos Alter, Ishtar Gate, and breathtaking displays of byzantine, neoclassical, romantic, impressionist, and modern art. Visitors to the island can purchase a ticket that allows entry to all 5 museums, or pick and choose depending on personal interests.
East Side Gallery – 1.3km of Art
The East Side Gallery is one of the sites to see in Berlin that should be on anyone’s bucket list. The 1.3km long wall was once used to divide the East and West of the city during World War II.
Nowadays it’s an enormous open-air gallery featuring stunning artworks and murals that’ll take your breath away. Immediately after the Berlin Wall came down, over 100 international artists began painting on what was left of it to pay tribute to those whose lives it had affected and to comment on the political changes that took place in 1989/1990. Attracting thousands of visitors every day, the East Side Gallery is one of Berlin’s most popular destinations and is a fascinating tribute to the city’s dark and tumultuous history.
Explore Berlin on Bike
Explore the German capital like a true Berliner – on two wheels! Berlin is a sprawling metropolis, so reaching all your bucket-list spots can be a drag when you have to spend half the day on public transport. Exploring the city by bike makes it so much easier to see everything you want to see – and get some exercise at the same time!
Bikes are almost as populous as people in Berlin, and with over 620km of bike paths, it’s no wonder that bikes are the preferred transport method here. There are plenty of tourist agencies offering guided bike tours, where you don’t have to worry about getting lost.
However, it’s entirely possible to rent a bike for yourself and go where the road takes you. You’re guaranteed to discover quirky spots and charming neighborhoods that aren’t on the usual visitor trails.
Experience Berlin’s One of a Kind Nightlife
Berlin is renowned for having some of the best nightlife in the world – and who are we to argue? Berlin truly is a city that never sleeps, and no visit is complete without a night of raging techno music. However, the sprawling city can be pretty hard to navigate – especially when there are a few beers or gin and tonics involved. So it’s best to do your research and find a good area that has plenty of nightlife to offer. Luckily, that’s not hard to do.
Brimming with 24/7 clubs, bars, and music venues; Berlin’s nightlife scene has something for everyone. Whether you’re into cabarets, live jazz, or non-stop techno – you’ll find it here. Pubs in derelict ruins, multiple story clubs, and trendy beach bars – there are plenty of things to do in Berlin for any party-goer.
The former eastern-bloc slum of the Mitte district has been the place to be for Berlin nightlife for a while now, so it’s definitely a good place to start when planning your big night out. Kreuzberg is the city’s edgiest district, filled with artists you’ll find a hip nightlife scene with plenty to offer. Fans of David Bowie should head to Schoneburg where the recent star used to live and hangout, which is now home to a thriving gay community.
Charlottenburg Palace is a palace fit for a queen – and that’s exactly what it was.
Sophie Charlotte of Hanover was the first Queen consort in Prussia, and after her untimely death at just 36 years old, this stunning palace was named in her honor. Sophie Charlotte was a great lover of the arts and would invite poets, philosophers, artists, and musicians to stroll through the grounds of Charlottenburg Palace by her side.
Today, the palace remains in incredible condition despite being badly damaged during World War II. Visitors can take in the inspiring rococo details inside the palace, admire collections of incredible artifacts on display, and wander through the peaceful palace gardens. The largest and most magnificent palace in the city, Charlottenburg Palace is one of the best sites to see in Berlin for anyone fascinated by the opulence of the past.
Take a Day Trip Out of Berlin
One of the best things you can do while exploring Berlin is to leave the city for a day or two. While it sounds a bit counter intuitive you’re just going to have to trust us. And it just so happens that we wrote an entire article about it. You can read it right here – the best day trips from Berlin.
Where to stay in Berlin
If you are looking for budget accommodations check out our article on the best hostels in Berlin.
For some awesome and comfy hotels browse through our selection of the best boutique hotels in Berlin.