Berlin is one of the most colourful, fascinating and historically-rich cities in the world! People travel to the city from all around the globe to experience the beating heart of Deutschland first-hand. The bustling city has a reputation for some of the best clubs, cutting-edge contemporary art and enriching historical sites just waiting to be explored!
Choosing from the many things to do in Berlin, Germany is tough as there is so much going on. From the city’s major role in 20th-century politics to the festivity associated with Oktoberfest, Berlin promises a well-rounded and memorable experience!
To help guide your way, we’ve put together some of the Berlin attractions, places to see and things to do – from the standard bucket list items to some of the more unique things to do.
Table of Contents
- Top Things to Do in Berlin
- Unusual Things to Do in Berlin
- Things to Do in Berlin at Night
- Where to Stay in Berlin
- Romantic Things to Do in Berlin
- Best Free Things to Do in Berlin
- Berlin Packing List
- Things to Do with Kids in Berlin
- Other Things to Do in Berlin
- Day Trips from Berlin
- 3 Day Itinerary in Berlin
Top Things to Do in Berlin
With such a rich history, fascinating culture and eclectic mix of communities, it’s no wonder that Berlin is overflowing with things to do. Here are our top things to do in Berlin.
For the majority of people, the most pertinent part of Berlin’s recent history is the role the city played in both world wars and the cold war. Events in Berlin had ramifications throughout the world during the last century, and the Berlin Wall has become one of the most iconic symbols of that influence.
A visit to Berlin would be incomplete without visiting the wall. Retrace the surviving 3-miles of wall and get transported back to a pivotal moment in recent history.
Berlin has an incredibly diverse artistic community, and this is best demonstrated through the vibrant graffiti culture in the city. If you love art and are looking for things to do in Berlin, then you have to make a plan to discover the local graffiti. Stemming from 1980’s US hip-hop culture, Graffiti has conquered the world, and you’ll find work by all the world’s major artists on display throughout the city.
Not only is the history behind the expression interesting but the creative process itself a pretty compelling. All of this can be discovered on a Berlin graffiti tour as you explore some of the city’s best street artists!
Humans are fascinating and incredibly complex creatures. Body Worlds at Menschen Museum showcases this with an amazing display of the intricacies of the human body! It features more than 200 real human plastinates (Real human cadavers, donated to and preserved by the museum) that explain the functions of organs & diseases in simple language.
A visit to Body Worlds is a great way to learn more about the human body’s various components and how they interact to result in a fully functional being! If you have a body (which you probably do), then come and see how it works!
- Strike a pose in front of the formidable Brandenberg Gate
- See the Reichstag, Hitler’s former centre of power
- Admire the fine architectural details of Berlin Cathedral
For more Places to Stay, check out our full Berlin Neighborhood Guide!
With Berlin’s rich history, it’s no wonder that there are several world-class museums to visit. There is a local term for all of Berlin’s top museums – Museum Island. On this “island” are some of the most enriching and educational attractions in the whole of Europe.
Museum Island includes Neues Museum, Altes Museum, Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, and Alt Nationalgalerie. These museums tell the German narrative – all the way back to the influence of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Byzantine culture!
As the epicenter of the Cold War, Berlin was once awash with spies, double agents and intrigue. The German Spy Museum in Berlin is open to visitors from 10 am until 8 pm and showcases this through multimedia and interactive demonstrations.
Immerse yourself in the world of spies and secret agents in Germany’s only spy museum. As you work your way through the halls of espionage, mystery, and technological demonstrations, you can better discover the role that Germany played on the world stage.
6. Tick off Brandenburg Gate (and Reichstag Dome)
The fame of Berlin’s Reichstag glass dome resonates throughout the world and is a must-see spot in Berlin. The site offers incredible views of the city from the rooftop, giving a mesmerizing view of the whole area.
Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Dome go hand-in-hand, and not just because of their close proximity! Both spots are iconic sites in the city and promise an enriching encounter with those that visit.
Berlin’s history extends well beyond the last century, with a natural history reaching back through the millennia. One way to discover what lies beneath is to visit Germany’s largest natural history museum, which makes for an incredible day out for the whole family!
Walk through the exhibitions and catch a glimpse into the history of life across the continent. Some special sights to look out for in the museum are Tristan, Europe’s first original T-rex on display, various prehistoric giants and the museums’ amazing wet collection (which features 1 million animals preserved in alcohol)!
In line with Berlin’s dark history, you have to add a visit to the Berlin dungeons to your itinerary. Detailed stories of the past are told in an entertaining and humorous way while revealing some of the city’s darkest moments.
Enjoy scary, true stories that cover 800 years of Berlin’s past, as told by professional actors. The 11 shows are full of fun and, of course, scares! Prepare to hear the legend of the dreaded White Lady, the notorious serial killer Carl Großmann and a ride on the 12-meter drop into total darkness!
If Berlin’s Museum Island feels a little overwhelming, then make sure that you at least stop by Berlin’s Altes Museum. Originally designed by famous architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, the exterior itself is a work of art.
Once you enter through the huge columns, you’ll discover ancient sculptures, an antique collection and even currency from the Roman empire in the museum’s coin cabinet. Art and history-lovers – this site is for you!
Want to brush shoulders with your favourite celebrities? Berlin’s Madame Tussauds is home to at least 120 lifelike wax figurines! Wander through the displays which feature some of the world’s most famous entertainment and sports stars!
The museum also has interactive sets and amazing costumes to marvel at. The interactive displays at Madame Tussauds, such as the IQ test which compares you to Albert Einstein, makes a visit here unforgettable!
Unusual Things to Do in Berlin
Berlin is not only fascinating, it’s also incredibly quirky. If given the chance, why not explore the city in a way that is as unique as its culture!
Little BIG City Berlin is an intricate miniature model city and interactive exhibition that boasts lifelike special effects and projections. By immersing yourself into the miniature city, you can recount the history of Berlin from a unique perspective.
Kudos must be given to the impressive audio and special effects which hooks visitors on the narrative of Berlin’s history! The impressive tech really helps bring some of the moments and characters vividly to life! Visit the Little BIG Berlin if you have kids, or want to feel like a giant.
If there’s one aspect of the city that gives Berlin’s world-renowned history a run for its money, it’s Berlin’s lively underground music scene. If you’re a music-lover and wondering what to do in Berlin, then look no further than the nearest underground music location.
Punk, Metal, Techo, Folk. They all have deep roots in Berlin. Venues are scattered throughout the city just waiting to be discovered and in many cases have a history that extends back the genesis of the genre. Even though music can be accessed anytime anyplace these days, there’s nothing like the true immersion of an authentic venue for the real connoisseur.
13. Zoot Around Berlin With a Trabi Safari
The Trabant was the official car of the DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik otherwise known as East Germany). They were mass-produced by the ruling Communist party to be cheap, affordable, no-frills workhorses. The consequence was what many pundits describe as the worst cars ever made!!!! In some cases, the chassis was made from plywood or even cardboard and the vehicles were notoriously unreliable. But in East Berlin, it was the only car you could buy!!!!!!
Driving around East Berlin in a Trabant is a novel & hilarious way to connect with life under the DDR. You will come out the other side with a newfound respect for the steely drivers who rode these ugly, iconic little bangers to work each morning for 40 years!
Safety in Berlin
Great news! Berlin is a fairly safe city! Berlin does have a kind of seedy underbelly but the crime rate is quite low. However, while it’s very easy to feel safe in the city, there is still a small risk of pick-pocketing or mugging.
There have also been a few terrorist attacks in Germany over in recent years, and this may happen again. However, the statistical threat is so low that’s it’s almost non-existent.
Luckily, this can easily be solved with a little bit of vigilance. Keep your valuables close to you, stay away from dark places at night, and remain aware in big crowds. A little bit of care can go a long way, and make your trip significantly less stressful!
Things to Do in Berlin at Night
Berlin’s night scene is regarded globally among the worlds best. Whether you prefer a quiet night out enjoying the German culture, or you’re looking for the biggest night of your life – Berlin promises to provide!
A pub crawl is a great way to make friends while enjoying the nightlife of Berlin. The German pub has a reputation for its beer, atmosphere and authenticity. What better way to taste it than a night on the town!
Map out a route and stop by several pubs in one night, giving you a wide variety of different environments and people. Berlin has a very unique culture after dark, and it won’t take much for you to settle in and go with the flow. A pub crawl is a great introduction to Berlin’s vibrant nightlife!
15. Soak up the Festival of Lights on a Cruise
One of the best things to do in Berlin is to enjoy the Festival of Lights. The city’s beautiful architecture is illuminated during the Festival of Lights, providing an incredible and relaxing night out in Berlin!
If you really want a special experience, then a sightseeing cruise along the Spree River kicks the experience up a notch (or ten) for an unforgettable evening! Make sure that you pack your camera to capture unique shots of Berlin’s illuminated buildings!
In the middle of Berlin’s government district is the entertainment hub Tipi am Kanzleramt. A visit to the spot ensures a fun night of cabaret, music and a variety of theatre! Prepare for a spectacular night out and be swept away in a world of entertainment!
Tipi am Kanzleramt hosts renowned artists from around the world who mesmerize patrons while they enjoy a delicious dinner. The mood is magical, and promises to be a night to remember!
Where to Stay in Berlin
Looking for the best place to stay in Berlin? We’ve rated our top three picks for accommodation in Berlin below!
Best Hostel in Berlin: PLUS Berlin
Situated in Friedrichshain, the award-winning PLUS Berlin has mixed four and six-bed dorms; four-bed dorms for females only, and private rooms for two and three.
The awesome common areas include a swimming pool, a games room with a pool table, Wifi, foosball, a terrace, and a restaurant-bar. Laundry facilities, free Wi-Fi, a book exchange, luggage storage, and parking make your stay even sweeter.View on HostelWorld
Best Hotel in Berlin: Leonardo Royal Hotel Berlin Alexanderplatz
This centrally located hotel has a comfy and colourful lounge area where you can relax and mingle, a business centre and meeting facilities, an elevator, ticketing services, a fitness centre, a sauna, a steam room, a restaurant, laundry services, and more!
It’s pet- and child-friendly, meaning that no member of the family needs to be left out of a trip to Berlin. Wi-Fi is free and some rates include a buffet breakfast. Rooms are cheerful, modern, and filled with light.
All rooms are en-suite with a TV, tea and coffee making facilities, free Wi-Fi, and a fridge. Interconnected rooms are available and there are several room types to choose between.View on Booking.com
Best Airbnb in Berlin: Design loft with rooftop & pool
Chic and stylish with access to a shared pool and cool rooftop garden, this apartment is located in the heart of Berlin, in the neighborhood of Mitte.
The compact apartment has a modern kitchen and the large windows provide plenty of natural lighting. There’s a separate desk and dining table and the apartment has free Wi-Fi. The monochrome pad is ideal for a couple.View on Airbnb
Romantic Things to Do in Berlin
As harsh as German history is, the city of Berlin is equally as romantic. For this reason, Berlin is a great city to visit with your loved one for a mood of love!
If you’re looking for an upbeat, theatrical night out with your partner, then Bar Jeder Vernunft is the place for you! The spot is hidden in the Wilmersdorf neighborhood where the glamour of the 1920s has been preserved! The mirror tent provides a stage for small-scale performing arts such as chanson, cabaret, theater and comedy.
Share a delicious meal and get swept away in a magical world of cabaret entertainment with a show put on by some of Berlin’s finest!
18. Lose Yourselves Together at a Berlin Techno Club
For the uninitiated, a sweaty, dark club pumping electronic music may not exactly sound romantic. But take it from one who know’s, losing yourself along with your other on a proper, Techno dance floor is one of the most intense, passionate experiences imaginable.
Berlin is packed with first class Techno clubs many of which open for days at a time and don’t even close. The most famous one is the Berghain with its notoriously selective admission policy, but it’s by no means the be all and end all. Keep your ear to the ground and you’ll hear tell of a buffett of incredible venus in the city, all with there own quirks and secrets.
Do You Need Travel Insurance
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favorite travel insurance provider.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
Best Free Things to Do in Berlin
One of the best things about Berlin is the number of fun, free activities that are available to enjoy! Here are some of the best ones!
19. Stroll Through the Flea Markets
Berlin has countless flea markets scattered throughout the city, just waiting to be explored. Some of these flea markets specialize in antiques, others in arts and many which sell trinkets, memorabilia and records.
A flea market is a great way to brush shoulders with the locals while learning about the day-to-day life and history of Berlin! Make sure that you pack an extra bit of cash because you never know what gem you may find!
20. Wander Through the Holocaust Memorial
Nearby one of Berlin’s main attractions, the Brandenburg Gate, are two important memorials. Both honor the victims of persecution under the Nazis, the most famous of which is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, otherwise known as the Holocaust Memorial.
The site covers an area the size of a city block and is filled with grey concrete pillars. Walking through these pillars, you’ll feel the haunting mood while reflecting one of humanities darkest hours. As far as sculptures and installation art goes, this really is one of the most powerful in the world.
21. Marvel at the Sunset from Landwehrkanal
If you’re looking for a relaxing way to wind down at the end of the day, make your way to Landwehrkanal. The wonderful green space is located along the south bank of the canal at Carl-Herz-Ufer and offers an epic sunset spot!
Pack a few beers and make your way to the area in time to watch the sun go down over the canal. Enjoy the company of locals and absorb the social mood of the friendly atmosphere!
Berlin Packing List
1. Travel Water Bottle: Always travel with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and reduce your plastic footprint on our planet. AR bottle are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are. For every AR bottle sold, we donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an initiative to reduce plastic in our oceans!
2. Microfibre Towel: It’s always worth packing a proper towel. Hostel towels are scummy and take forever to dry. Microfibre towels dry quickly, are compact, lightweight and can be used as a blanket or yoga mat if need be.
3. Security Belt with Hidden Pocket: I never hit the road without my security belt. This is a regular looking belt with a concealed pocket on the inside – you can hide up to twenty notes inside and wear it through airport scanners without it setting them off. This is hands down the best way to hide your cash.
4. Camera or Cell Phone Camera Accessories: One thing’s for sure – Berlin is a picturesque destination! Get perfect shots from your phone using clip-on-lenses with wide-angle, close-up and optical zoom. With the ability to turn travel pictures from basic to professional, this universal lens sits neatly over any phone camera and comes with a durable, travel-friendly case!
5. International Adapter: Berlin outlets accommodate typical US two-pronged plugs, but for electronics that have three prongs or if your plugs are of a different variety, you’ll need an adapter. Save yourself the hassle of trying to track down an adapter at your destination and paying twice as much than planning ahead by buying one online.
Books to Read in Germany
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Berlin Noir (Philip Kerr, 1993) – A mystery series set in 1930s/40s Berlin about an ex-policeman turned detective. who struggles with secrets and crime.
Night (Elie Wiesel, 1960) – The Holocaust survivor and Nobel Peace Prize winner gives his true survival account in a Nazi concentration camp.
Peeling the Onion (Günter Grass, 2007) – The Nobel Prize winning author’s memoir recounts his childhood in Danzig and his experiences as a soldier in the Nazi Waffen SS.
Things to Do with Kids in Berlin
Traveling with kids should not mean that you don’t have fun. The great news is that Berlin has countless experiences catered to a family trip!
Legoland is the ultimate indoor playground where you can let your kids run wild! With over 5 million lego bricks, you’ll have to drag your young ones away. Legoland features incredible 4D films with very cool special effects, and a play arena that can only be described as an “adventure”.
For a more educational twist, you can also tour the factory and make your own lego Duplo bricks. Exploring what Legoland has to offer promises a great day out for the whole family!
Sit back and relax as your children get swept away in an elaborate theatrical performance designed specifically for them! Watch as fanciful award-winning children’s stories are performed on the largest stage in the world!
The performances are dressed in intricate costumes and act out some of the world’s most beloved children’s works, framed by elaborate sets. This promises to keep the kids gawping, and it might even steal your heart as well!
Other Things to Do in Berlin
Regardless of your interests, travel plans and budget, there are so many Berlin things to do.
24. Experience the Spree in a Fun Way
The river Spree running through Berlin offers a quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. However, if you want an alternative experience on the Spree, then grab a paddleboard and test your balance!
The activity of stand up paddling and doing yoga on the Spree has become an increasingly popular experience in Berlin. As the trend attracts both locals and travelers alike, you can test your balance and have on the river in a different kind of way!
World Balloon gives thrill-seekers a special way to experience the city – from 150 meters in the air! The secure steel cable allows travelers to hover over the city and take in the city from a unique perspective!
The best time to jump on-board the world’s largest helium balloon is at sunset, when the balloon (and the city) illuminates with light! The World Balloon, which is located in the center of the city, has become so popular that it’s becoming considered an icon in it’s own right!
Another heightened experienced in Berlin is the iconic TV Tower, which attracts over 1.2 million visitors a year. Located at Alexanderplatz, the TV Tower is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in the city!
Once at the top, take your time to absorb the incredible panoramic view from the observation deck. For a truly special experience, book a table and sip a drink from the tower’s revolving restaurant, “Sphere”!
27. Kayak Through the City
Some of Berlin’s most popular sites include the Spree River, Zoologischer Garten and the city’s impressive water lock system. One of the best ways to experience these highlights is from the riveting seat of a kayak!
Experiencing the city from a kayak promises to be an unforgettable one, kicking your heartbeat up a notch one moment, while providing a tranquil and relaxing mood the next. Paddling along the scenic route is a morning out to remember!
Day Trips from Berlin
Berlin is a gateway to one of Germany’s fascinating wider regions. There are great spots around the city for great day trips. So, pack your cameras and get ready to impress your friends back home by showing them just how much the Berlin surrounds has to offer!
Potsdam is known as the “City of Emperors” and once arriving, it’s easy to see why! The Baroque-style streets are full of magnificent castles that have housed wealthy and influential Kings and Kaisers over the years. The garrison city was once the jewel of the Prussian empire and can be easily reached by hopping on a train from Berlin.
The history of Potsdam is a royal one, and this elegance is demonstrated in the intricate architecture and design of Brandenburg’s state capital! Book a Potsdam guided tour and make sure that you plan enough time to stroll through the park of Sanssouci Palace, and dip into one of the quaint cafes in the area!
Dresden is the capital of Saxony, and suffered a massive firebombing that destroyed the majority of the city in the last months of World War II. However today, Dresden is a place of cultural and artistic splendor.
To this day, Dresden is beloved as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany, and can easily be reached from Berlin. Wander through the Old Town and Old Market, visit the Church of Our Lady, the Semper Opera House and the Balcony of Europe. If you want a magical escape and unforgettable experience, then a Dresden day trip needs to be added to your itinerary!
3 Day Itinerary in Berlin
So now that you know some of the top things to do in Berlin, how do you group them together?
On your first day in Berlin, we suggest that you walk around the tourist center and tick off some of the main attractions! Berlin is huge, and walking around is a great way to orientate yourself – especially when you can use iconic landmarks as points of reference.
Start off at Brandenburg Gate, one of the most popular attractions in Berlin, and take the time to appreciate it’s beautiful architecture. Surrounding the Brandenburg Gate are various shops, museums and galleries for you to pop into in your own time.
While at the Brandenburg Gate, another spot that you simply have to tick off is the Reichstag which is an impressive building, and the home of the German parliament. The beautiful building is a popular spot to visit because of its past and present significance.
Once you’ve settled in the city, it’s time to dive deep into the dark past of Berlin (and Germany as a whole). Berlin is a great city to explore if you are a history-lover – and not just because of the country’s huge role in both World Wars and the Cold War.
The East Side Gallery eases visitors into Berlin’s history as it reminds travelers of past mistakes, and how important it is to not repeat them. It’s also where the Berlin Wall is located which is incredibly symbolic!
Other very important historical sites in Berlin include the Holocaust Memorial and Museum Island. The Holocaust Memorial is an incredibly introspective place to visit, and highly recommended as a reminder of what humans are capable of. Remembering the mistakes of the past is a great way to ensure that they are not repeated.
Museum Island is home to several museums, and is every history-lover’s dream! Five museums are located in the space and they dip in and out of various eras of Germany’s history, revealing the complex foundations of the country’s society!
Day three of your itinerary in Berlin prioritizes fun in the city – of which there is a lot to be had! From the Olympiastadion, which is used for sports games, and Charlottenburg Palace, which is a beautiful spot to visit, Berlin has a wealth of beauty and fun to offer!
If you want to kill many birds with one stone, then make your way to Alexanderplatz, the largest square in Germany. From here, you can have fun by ascending the TV Tower, having a beer at one of the surrounding bars and brushing shoulders with the locals!
More Great Resources
There are so many things to see in Berlin, that you may even decide to extend your time! If you love history, prepare to spend hours learning about Germany’s weighted narrative. If you’re an art-lover then prepare to get lost within Berlin’s vibrant art scene.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape, a family adventure or a fun way to make new friends as a solo traveler – Berlin has it all! Berlin attractions are diverse and enthralling, with bold architecture and intricate designs, making each stop on your Berlin itinerary a memorable one.
Many things to do in Berlin require a small entrance fee, but some of the best of Berlin is free – making it a great destination for the budget traveler!
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Freeborn Aiden. Senior Editor, resident travel insurance expert and 2nd longest-serving member of team Broke Backpacker. Can’t resist a colourful shirt, ideally one with no buttons. Rampant Psytrance addict and seriel cat fancier. Aiden recently realised that his entire reality is little more than a badly written 90’s sitcom.