Berlin is a city break which ticks all the boxes: full to the brim of must see sights, a compelling history that feels so recent you can almost touch it and a vibrant party and social culture which sees its residents and its visitors spill onto the streets of the city the moment the sun pops out! We spent an incredible 48 hours cycling through the Berlin streets, sampling its top sights and embracing the vibrant energy of a city that has everything a weekend visitor could ask for. Here’s our guide to the best things to see in Berlin: from its must see sights and experiences to its quirky hidden gems, this is the perfect list for a two or three day stop in Berlin. Enjoy!
BERLIN: THE MUST SEE SIGHTS!
Where to Stay in Berlin
Berlin is a massive city and the tourist spots are quite spread out so we highly recommend staying in the centre of the city. This will allow you to see all the sights and photo locations easily. The two key areas you should be looking at staying are Potsdamerplatz or Alexanderplatz. Both of these areas will give you a good selection of hotels and restaurants, plus they are very central so getting around won’t be difficult. We stayed at Potsdamerplatz and loved how central it was for seeing the sights.
- Berlin Marriott Hotel – For us this is a perfect location and where we chose to stay. The Berlin Marriott is located just around the corner from Potsdamerplatz and a 10 minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate. Make sure to check out the view from the lounge across the city which is incredible. – check prices now!
- Grimm’s Hotel am Potsdamer Platz – a good budget alternative to the Marriott, this boutique hotel has spacious rooms and a great location – check prices now!
- Park Inn by Radisson Alexanderplatz – This hotel is located right on the square with views of the Fernshturm. Make sure to check out Panorama 37 on the 37th floor for epic views across Berlin –check prices now!
- H2 Hotel Berlin-Alexanderplatz – a fantastic budget option in Alexanderplatz, this modern hotel offers great value for money and is perfectly located for exploring the city – check prices now!
1 | East Wall Gallery
After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 118 artists from across the globe came together in Berlin to paint their interpretation of the aftermath of events onto a former section of the wall. The open air gallery stretches for over 1km and is home to some of the most famous images from the take down of the wall era.
2 | Brandenburg Gate
The iconic Brandenburg Gate that once divided Berlin now acts as a focal point of the city and it was here than Ronald Regan declared ‘Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall’. The gate is both a chilling reminder of the past and a symbol of hope and unity for the future. Be sure to pop over both during the day and in the evening when it is beautifully lit up.Lit up in the evening:
3 | Potsdamer Place
Potsdamer Place marks the dividing junction of East and West Berlin and the Berlin Wall once dominated its streets. The busy crossroads is now home to skyscrapers, shopping and tree lined streets but if you look closely at the pavement you’ll find stark reminders of Berlin’s past.
4 | The Reichstag Building
The sparkling glass dome of the Reichstag Building is one of the highlights of Berlin’s skyline and a trip to the top results in spectacular views of both the city and the inside of the dome. The building has a checkered past with fires, bombs and a location in close proximity to the wall but it survived and now houses the German Parliament. Tickets are free and highly sought after so be sure to pre register for a spot.
We were celebrating Dave’s birthday during our Berlin visit and decided to lunch in style with a date at the top of the Reichstag. The food was delicious and the views were better!
5 | Memorial to the Murdered Jews
2,700 concrete slabs are arranged in a grid pattern and stand at various heights and angles to comprise the Memorial to the Murdered Jews, a tribute to the millions of Jewish victims of the Holocaust. A visit to the open air memorial is a moving experience and the underground exhibition is also worth visiting.
6 | Fernsehturm de Berlín: Berlin TV Tower
The tallest building in Berlin and Germany is visible from all over the city and the red and white striped mast of the Berlin TV Tower are instantly recognisable above its steel sphere. We found a high vantage point, ordered a cocktail and sat back and enjoyed the view!
7 | Checkpoint Charlie
It’s mind blowing to realise that Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous border crossing between East and West Berlin, was only decommissioned in 1990. The border crossing, used almost exclusively for foreigners, was the scene of many tense stand offs during the War and is synonymous with Berlin and its Wall. It is strange to see it as it sits today, surrounded by household names like McDonald’s!
8 | Hitler’s Bunker
Führerbunker, which translates as the ‘leaders bunker’, was an air-raid shelter where Hitler took up residence during the final months of the Nazi regime. He married Eva Braun here and it was in the bunker where he killed himself with a gunshot and his wife ended her life by consuming cyanide. The bunker is nondescript, marked only by an information sign, but it is fascinating to be so close to such a monumental part of Berlin and world history.
9 | River Spree
I’m not sure if we were water babies in a previous life but we love being close to water wherever we go! The River Spree cuts through the city and its banks house some of Berlin’s must iconic sights as well as numerous beer gardens to sit back and enjoy the river views.
10 | Berlin Cathedral
Visible from all over the city, the Berlin Cathedral is a magnificent building on Museum Island. The inside of the Cathedral is stunning and the beautiful dome centerpiece can be climbed for a stunning view of the city.
11 | Topography of Terror
The Topography of Terror was the site that once housed Hitler’s elite killers and the secret police in its function as the engine room of the Nazi regime. The complex is surrounded by an original segment of the Berlin Wall and the well documented and graphic account of events from the period are an eye opener to say the least. A visit to the Topography of Terror is a moving experience so be prepared.
12 | Tiergerten Park
Every city needs a park to offer an escape from city living and Berlin delivers with Tiergerten. The huge park has beautiful open spaces, tree lined walks, monuments and even a boating lake. Tiergerten is home to the Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism: in Nazi Germany all male homosexuality was classified as a crime in 1935 and was persecuted. Thousands of men were sent to concentration camps solely for being gay and many perished there. The tree, which if you peek inside, shows a video of two men kissing, is a tribute to those who lost their lives and a symbol of inclusion for all.
13 | Museum Island
As incredible on the inside as it on the out, Museum Island is a collection of museums and galleries located on an island in the River Spree. It would take days, or even months, to trawl through the 6,000 years of history housed on the island but we’ve narrowed down our favourite to the Pergamon Museum with its collection of antiquities, a Middle East section and a portion dedicated to Islamic art. Museum Island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you know how we love UNESCOs….!
14 | Neue Wache Memorial
We stumbled across the stunning Neue Wache Building by accident and standing in front of the centre piece, a sculpture of a Mother with her Dead Son, was one of the most poignant moments of our trip. The sculpture, in memory of the Victims of War and Tyranny, sits under an open roof and, sun, rain or snow, it embraces the elements beautifully.
15 | Victory Column
Victory Column towers above its Berlin surroundings and Victoria, the showstopping bronze sculpture which sits atop the column, glistens across the city. The hike to the observation platform is rewarded with excellent views of the Brandenburg Gate making it worth the lengthy climb!
BERLIN: THE QUIRKY HIDDEN GEMS!
16 | Stand by Me Tree
17 | Michael Jackson dangling baby Blanket
The Hotel Adlon, close to Brandenburg Gate, was the backdrop to a scene which caused hearts to skip a beat across the globe. In an unexplainable moment, Michael Jackson dangled his baby son Blanket precariously over the balcony railings of his hotel room in the Hotel Adlon. Luckily Blanket was fine but the hotel gained some unwanted publicity in the resulting furore!
18 | The street sculptures
Berlin is a mecca for street art and sculptures and one of our favourites is the metal sculpture reaching for freedom, a piece by Tejn who is known for lock on sculptures like this.
19 | Lakes, row boats and beer gardens!
Another Tiergerten special! A beer garden, row boats for rent and a beautiful lake: what’s not to love?! Plus these colourful lake huts are a gorgeous photo opportunity and one of the most Instagram worthy pics we captured!!
20 | The Berlin Street Art
In the gritty Berlin side streets and alleys street art, graffiti and murals adorn every wall, doorway and bridge. There are some amazing pieces throughout the city and the Kreuzberg district is a mash of vibrant street art and grafitti.
THE ULTIMATE BERLIN EXPERIENCES!
21 | Eat Currywurst
22 | Beer Garden Fun
Is a visit to really complete without a visit to a beer garden?! The relaxed atmosphere, local music and al fresco surrounding are a real treat on a sunny day. Cheers!
23 | Whizz around on Bikes
With its hundreds of miles of bike paths Berlin is a cyclists’ dream and we loved whizzing around the city on bikes. The streets are wide, the drivers and pedestrians make way for the cyclists and, as a bonus, the city is as flat as pancake!
24 | Get Nostalgic with the Trabis
The Trabis, in a rainbow of colours, are a Berlin icon and make frequent appearances on the city streets. They’re synonymous with the old East Berlin and were driven in their thousands across the border when the Wall fell. Spotting the most retro Trabi in Berlin provides hours of fun!
25 | Get above the city
Berlin is a city that can be appreciated from the sky and nothing beats watching the sunset high in the clouds with a Berlin skyline backdrop. Whether it’s the TV Tower, Victory Column or the Reichstag building it’s worth a climb to see Berlin from above!
So there you have it, 25 of the Berlin’s must see sights, its hidden gems and our must try experiences. Now all that’s left to do is explore the city!