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10 Things To Do in Berlin – The Ultimate List

There are so many things to do in Berlin it’s hard to choose. But there are ten things to do in Berlin you should not miss when you’re in there. If you’ve been to Berlin, you probably know them. I hope you do. If not, or if you’re a first-timer, these are the top ten things to do in Berlin. Afterward, you might not be ready to say the famous words “Ich bin ein Berliner,” but you will have much to tell at home. PLUS: I do have a special tip for you at each point that will make the experience even better.

Top 10 Things To Do In Berlin

1. Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate)

monument at night

The  Brandenburger Tor is one of Germany’s most visited landmarks and an icon of Berlin, and definitely one of the top things to do in Berlin. During its more than 300-year history, it has played many different roles. It has been a symbol of peace, war, victory, terror, and war all over (that time, the cold one), and since 1989, it has stood for the reunification of Germany. Ronald Reagan said his famous words here:  “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”.

Special Tip: Walk down the full Unter den Linden and read about the history of the separation of the city. Also – Go there by night! There will be fewer people, and the chance to get a pic in front of the illuminated Brandenburger Tor with no one else on it than you is greater.

2. Fernsehturm  (TV Tower)

view of a tower in the city

The Fernsehturm was built in the late 1960ies in what used to be East Berlin. With its 368 meters, it’s the tallest structure in Germany. You have a breathtaking view over Berlin from the observation deck, with clear visibility up to 42 kilometers. Maybe you’ve been told that the Fernsehturm is called “Telespargel,” or perhaps you’ve heard some strange nicknames. Everybody calls it “Fernsehturm,” although different political regimes and media have tried to assign one or the other nicknames.

Special Tip: Buy your ticket online so you don’t have to stand in a waiting line. Eat a Currywurst at the Telecafé.

Best Tip: For the best view in Berlin, go to the viewing platform at Park Inn Hotel

3. Museums (seriously!!!)

It wouldn’t be a list of top things to do in Berlin without talking about its museums. There are about 200 museums in Berlin. You will find some of the most important ones all in one spot at the “Museumsinsel,” the Museum Island in the Spree River, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The museums there mostly display critical historical artifacts from antiquity, such as the famous Ishtar gate of ancient Babylon or the bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti. In Berlin’s Museum of Natural History, you will see the world’s largest mounted dinosaur skeleton. Another famous museum is the Jewish Museum, with its spectacular building designed by Daniel Libeskind.

Special Tip: Twice a year, there’s the “Lange Nacht der Museen,” when most museums are open till 2 am or later, accompanied by a memorable motto and special events.

4. Eat a Currywurst

plate with food on a white napkin and wooden table

If there is anything you must eat in Berlin – it’s Currywurst. A hot sausage cut in slices with ketchup and curry powder. It was invented in 1949 by Herta Heuwer in Berlin and is Germany’s most popular fast food. So where will you find the best one? I think Konnopke’s in Prenzlauer Berg is the best, but just eat your way through Berlin, and you will find your favorite!

Special tip: If you’re not into fast food, go to the Currywurst Museum to feed your culture hunger!

5. Checkpoint Charlie

Having been the best-known border crossing point between East and West Berlin, this checkpoint symbolizes the Cold War. Many GDR citizens left East Berlin through this loophole. After the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, this was the place where the famous standoff between US and Soviet tanks happened. In the “Mauermuseum (Haus am Checkpoint Charlie),” you can see some of the most spectacular escape vehicles, such as the one-man submarine, and other exhibits documenting the time during the division.

Special tip: Checkpoint Charlie is frequently featured in spy movies and books. Watch “Octopussy” to see what James Bond did here.

6. Get wet!

view of a lake with trees and a blue and red boat

Something different than the usual top things to do in Berlin! Believe it or not, Berlin has more bridges than Venice. And there’s not only the Spree River; there are many more like the Havel or the Panke. And there are about 70 lakes in and around Berlin. So take a boat trip, swim, or drink a fancy cocktail in one of the many beach bars.

Special tip: Sing “Pack die Badehose ein, nimm dein kleines Schwesterlein und dann nichts wie ab an Wannsee” and bring a red rubber boat – just do it and you will get in touch with a lot of Germans! Or go on an adventurous road trip to Brandenburg!

7. Zoologischer Garten (Zoological Garden)

It’s Germany’s oldest zoo, and with its 16,000 animals, including about 1,500 various species, it’s one of the most prominent zoos in the world. It was rebuilt after World War II when it was utterly destroyed with only 91 surviving animals. Polar bear Knut was the most famous animal here – but sadly, he died in March 2011!

Special tip: Visit it in spring because that’s the best time to see newly born animal babies.

8. Reichstag building (Parliament)

The Reichstag was built in the late 19th century to house the German parliament. In 1999, after a turbulent history during World War II and the Cold War, it became again the German government’s meeting place. At the top of the building, there’s a huge glass dome from where you can watch the German politicians at work. And it also provides a fantastic view of Berlin!

Special tip: Make a reservation at the roof garden restaurant Käfer, have a piece of cake, and laugh about the others waiting to enter the dome.

9. East Side Gallery

woman walking in front of street art

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, many famous artists immortalized themselves and the wall through a piece of art never seen before. The East Side Gallery is now the world’s most extended open-air gallery. Over 100 paintings, such as the famous Kiss of Erich Honecker and Leonid Brezhnev, can be seen here on a more than one kilometer-long, still intact original section of the Berlin Wall.

Special tip: Please DON’T destroy the East Side Gallery with your paintings or chipping off some little wall pieces. Thank you!

10. Kurfürstendamm

Last in the list of top things to do in Berlin! Berliners call it “Ku’damm,” and on this avenue, you can shop till you drop. If you need anything, you will find it here. And if not here, just go around the corner to the KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens). It’s Europe’s biggest mall, with a gourmet section as large as 7,000 square meters. At Ku’damm, you can also see the “Gedächtniskirche” (Memorial Church), the ruins of which remain ever since World War II.

Special tip: Don’t ever go there on a Saturday! Don’t! Believe me!

Where to stay:

When I travel to a city for longer than just two days, I prefer staying in an apartment or renting a room from locals, as it gives more freedom and comfort than a hotel. However, there are plenty of excellent hotels to choose from in the city, and here there’s a few recommendations:

door handle with white sign

More things to do in Berlin:

You’re looking for more things to do in Berlin? Check out all my posts about Berlin.

Have you been to Berlin? What do you think are the best things to do in Berlin when visiting for the first time?

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