The Best Things to do in Berlin, Germany

The 15 Best Things to do in Berlin

Did you know Berlin is the largest city in Germany? It holds three UNESCO World Heritage sites, three opera houses, around 175 museums, and roughly 300 galleries. But that’s not all! Berlin is also one of the most diverse European cities, with 3.7 million people from 190 different countries living there.

Berlin offers so much diversity and contrasts that it needs a proper place on your bucket list. From its street art-filled neighborhoods and gastronomy delights to its architectural gems and WWII history, there are endless possibilities to learn and discover in Germany’s capital city. 

You can walk along the 1,316-meter East Side open-air gallery, climb the 986 steps of the Berlin TV Tower, and enjoy German cuisine and beer at the 400-year-old Zur letzten Instanz pub. The options are endless!

With so many things to see, do, and eat, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Berlin for you. Stick to these fun and unique Berlin bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring Germany’s gorgeous capital city!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: The 15 Best Things to do in Berlin

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Berlin

1. Pay a Visit the Reichstag Building

Best Things to do in Berlin: Reichstag Building

Home to Germany’s government, Reichstag Building has bared witness to the country’s often tumultuous history. It was built in the 19th century, and imperial laws were debated and adopted in the building until 1918 when the German monarchy came to an end. 

Later on, in February 1933, the building suffered fire damage and resulted in a destroyed plenary chamber. However, other parts of the building served as a hospital and maternity ward during the war. Since 1994, the building has been renovated, and today, it serves as the seat of the German federal parliament.

As part of the renovation efforts, the building now holds a glass dome that is open to the public, along with a roof terrace offering 360-degree views of Berlin. When parliament is not sitting, you can attend the 90-minute guided tour to learn about the building’s history and architecture. 

You will end your guided tour with a visit to the glass dome, which serves as a symbol of the reunification of Germany. Don’t forget to make dinner reservations at the restaurant on the roof terrace to finish your day with a unique culinary experience!

Book a Reichstag Tour

2. Contemplate the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Fun Things to do in Berlin: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

You will find the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the middle of the city, serving as a place of remembrance and warning. The memorial opened in 2005 to commemorate the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Also known as the Holocaust Memorial, it is quite an interesting sight to see, especially due to the building’s unique architecture. 

The Holocaust Memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman, and it has an information center underground. The underground center documents the awful persecution and extermination of Jews in Europe. 

The memorial itself covers an area of 19,000 square meters, where 2,711 concrete slabs or blocks of different heights rest. The concrete slabs lay on a slight slope giving it a wave-like appearance. 

The memorial is open 24/7 from all sides, so you can visit at any time to wander through it, but don’t be surprised if you get a bit emotional at this must-visit Berlin attraction.

3. Get Cultured at Museum Island

What to do in Berlin: Museum Island

Berlin is home to around 175 museums, so it can take days, months, or even years to explore all the exhibitions and highlights these museums have to offer. One of the not-to-be-missed places that deserves to be on your Berlin bucket list is Museum Island.

Museum Island is the largest museum complex in Europe and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. With five world-famous museums dating back to the Prussian rulers, it is home to multiple treasures and unique collections by Donatello and Bernini, as well as the world-famous bust of Nefertiti.

As part of Museum Island’s buildings, you can explore the Pergamon Museum, home to ancient architecture (think ancient buildings inside the museum!). 

You can appreciate the Pergamon Altar – built under King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BC – which is 35.6 meters wide and 33.4 meters deep. The 17-meter high Market Gate of Miletus and the Ishtar Gate are architectural marvels that shouldn’t be missed. 

Then there’s the Altes Museum (the Old Museum), the Neues Museum (the New Museum), the Alte Nationalgalerie, and the Bode Museum to explore!

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4. Check Out Checkpoint Charlie

Unique Things to do in Berlin: Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie – on the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße – served as a military checkpoint during the Cold War and a border crossing between East and West Berlin. Nowadays, you will see a replica of the checkpoint with a booth, flag, and sandbags. 

In 1961, it became the location of a tank confrontation between the US and the Soviets that almost sparked a third world war. You can have a full experience using an augmented reality app – “Cold War in Berlin” – to see a recreation of the Checkpoint Charlie confrontation. 

Peruse the museum, and you’ll also find exhibits highlighting historic events that occurred in the area, as well as interesting artifacts and photographs.

5. Marvel at the Berlin Cathedral 

Berlin Bucket List: Berlin Cathedral

The Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom), with its impressive basilica, is one of the most iconic things to see in Berlin. It is actually a Protestant church built between 1747 and 1750, but between 1894 and 1905, the structure went through a redesign in the Neo-Baroque style. The cathedral has a central copper dome that is a whopping 98 meters (322 feet) high. 

The cathedral was one of the many buildings that suffered damage during World War II, so restoration efforts started in 1975 with a simplified form. The Berlin Cathedral is home to the Hohenzollern crypt, which contains almost 100 sarcophagi, including the one of Prince Friedrich Ludwig.

For a unique experience, the Berlin Cathedral hosts year-round concerts that you can attend, and summer programs include classical music festivals. The acoustics won’t disappoint! 

Book a Berlin All-in-One Famous Landmarks Guided Bus Tour

6. Gaze at the Impressive Brandenburg Gate

What to do in Berlin: Brandenburg Gate

One of the most famous landmarks in Germany is the Brandenburg Gate, which serves as a symbol of peace and unity. Designed by Carl Gotthard Langhans, the neo-classical structure resembles the Propylaia of the Acropolis in Athens. 

You can gaze at the quadriga – depicting a chariot drawn by four horses – and think about how much history this structure has witnessed. 

Big events take place at the Brandenburg Gate, such as the German Unity Day to celebrate when the Federal Republic of Germany and the Democratic Republic of Germany created one single government on October 3. 

On the parallel street to the gate named Strasse des 17 Juni, this street has many landmarks, including the Soviet War Memorial, and has been used as a site for marathons and parades. If you’re in town in the fall, don’t miss the Brandenburg Gate during the Festival of Lights, as it serves as a spectacular backdrop for visual light arts.

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7. Attend the Festival of Lights

Best Things to do in Berlin: Festival of Lights

The Festival of Lights takes place every year in Berlin during the fall season. The city becomes a city of light art productions with many historical landmarks, buildings, and monuments, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral, and the Berlin TV Tower, lighting up at night.

Both national and international artists make the time and effort to create a story represented in light, projection, and video art. The Festival of Lights usually lasts around 10 days in October, taking place from 8 pm until midnight. Bundle up and make sure you don’t miss this artistic, creative, and spectacular festival.

During the 10-day festival, there will be plenty of pop-up events and food stands, live music, and photography workshops. Plus, you can also take one of the guided “lightseeing” tours if you want to learn more about the art projections. 

Book a Festival of Lights Lit-Up Bike-Taxi LightSeeing Tour

8. Ride the Runway at the Tempelhof Airport

Best Things to do in Berlin: Tempelhof Airport

Closed for air traffic in October 2008, the 954 acres of land of the Tempelhof Airport is easily one of the most unique things to do in Berlin. Also known as the Tempelhofer Feld, the Tempelhof Airport is located 8 kilometers south of the city center. 

You can check out the visitor center to learn about the history and explore the exhibition, or attend one of the guided tours to see the terminals and hangars and the hidden places, such as bunkers and vaults.

Once you’re done exploring the buildings, you can proceed to ride the runway on a bicycle, unicycle, skates, or segway across the four miles of paved runways. 

Locals love to grill and have picnics when the weather is nice, and many get involved in the community gardens, which have over 250 raised beds for gardening. The Tempelhof Airport also serves as a great location for concerts and city events, and you can even catch stunning views of the TV Tower.

9. Stroll across the Oberbaum Bridge

Must do things in Berlin: Oberbaum Bridge

Did you know Berlin has nearly 1,000 bridge structures? One of its most elaborate bridges is the double-deck Oberbaum Bridge (Oberbaumbrucke), connecting the Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg districts since 1896. You may recognize the bridge from some scenes from The Bourne Supremacy movie. 

You can cross the Oberbaum Bridge by foot, car, or train, as the medieval-looking structure serves all three. If you get the chance, another option is to explore the bridge via the river with one of the Spree River cruise tours. The area around the bridge also houses many clubs along with music and fashion companies. 

The Oberbaum was originally a timber bridge. Fast-forward to today, and it now has seven arches with granite and brickwork. Don’t be surprised if you see street art on some of the walls!

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10. Walk along the East Side Gallery/Berlin Wall

What to do in Berlin: East Side Gallery

The longest open-air gallery in the whole world is located in Berlin on what used to be a section of the Berlin Wall. It is about 1.3 kilometers in length near the river Spree. When the Berlin Wall came down, about 118 artists from 21 different countries completed artwork along the wall. 

Not even a year later, the site became a memorial. You’ll notice that most of the artwork shows the political changes that happened between 1989 and 1990, with some of them particularly famous, such as My God, Help Me to Survive This Deadly Love (aka the Fraternal Kiss) by Dmitri Vrubel. 

Start your walk beside the East Side Gallery near the Warschauer Station or when you reach the Oberbaum Bridge. Walk beside the East Side Gallery and gaze at all the artwork. We recommend you do so in the evening to avoid the crowds and bicyclists. 

You’ll notice that some of the artwork may be deteriorating since the wall is exposed to the harsh German weather. Restorations and preservation efforts have been taking place since the late ‘90s, so you may notice some areas where work is ongoing.

11. Spend Some Time in St. Nicholas Quarter 

Fun Things to do in Berlin: St. Nicholas Quarter

St. Nicholas Quarter (Nikolaiviertel) has a history that goes all the way back to the Middle Ages when it served as a trading route. Merchants and tradesmen settled on the road that crossed the river. Fast-forward a few centuries, and the quarter housed taverns, shops, and courtyards on its narrow streets.

It’s no surprise that some of the oldest buildings in Berlin stood in St. Nicholas Quarter, but many of them were destroyed during World War II. Between 1979 and 1987, St. Nicholas Quarter was reconstructed following historical records. The result is a quarter with medieval-looking streets and homes.

Nowadays, the narrow streets are filled with small shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants that both locals and tourists love to visit. The quarter also houses a few museums and the Nikolaikirche (St. Nicholas’s Church), which was rebuilt in 1987. 

Now it houses an exhibition about the history of the church, and on Fridays, you can check out the Zuhören – Entspannen – Nachdenken (Listen – Relax – Contemplate) organ concerts.

Book a Berlin: City Highlights Walking Tour

12. Get panoramic views from the Berlin TV Tower

Best Things to do in Berlin: Berlin TV Tower

Sip a cup of coffee or enjoy a meal from the revolving Berlin TV Tower restaurant as you enjoy the panoramic 360-degree views of Berlin. 

The Fernsehturm – known as the Berlin TV Tower or, as some locals may call it, the toothpick – is a 368-meter (1,206-foot) structure located in Alexanderplatz. It is also one of the tallest structures in Europe, and after the German reunification, it became a symbol of Berlin on a national and international level.

The structure has elevators to take visitors up to the viewing platform in the sphere, which is over 200 meters up, providing views of Berlin and beyond. Make your way around as you take your panorama tour to appreciate the city below. 

You’ll find written information while you gaze at some of the city’s most famous monuments – such as the Reichstag building, the Olympic Stadium, and the Tempelhof Airport – from a sky-high vantage point. 

Once you’re done, you can have a drink on the observation deck at Bar 203 or make a dinner reservation at the revolving restaurant sphere to enjoy sparkling wine and a 3-course meal.

Book a Berlin: TV Tower Window Seat Restaurant Ticket & Fast View

13. Attend a concert at the Konzerthaus Berlin

Cool Things to do in Berlin: Konzerthaus Berlin

If you love classical music, then attending a concert at the Konzerthaus Berlin is one of the best things to do in Berlin. It was originally built to house a theater in 1802, but it was destroyed due to a fire and later reconstructed in the neo-classical style. It houses the Apollo Hall and an organ with around 5,811 organ pipes! 

Some legendary composers performed at the Konzerthaus Berlin, including Mozart, Paganini, Franz Liszt, and Richard Wagner. However, similar to many buildings in Berlin, the building suffered damage during World War II and was rebuilt in 1977. It reopened in 1984 with a gala concert, and it wasn’t until 1994 that it changed its name to Konzerthaus Berlin.

Nowadays, the Konzerthaus is considered to be one of the best concert halls with the best acoustics. You can either visit when no music is playing with a guided tour or get a concert ticket to have the full classical music experience! 

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14. Walk along the Iconic Unter den Linden

Must do things in Berlin: Unter den Linden

Unter den Linden is considered one of the most famous streets in Berlin. It used to be the route to the royal hunting grounds, which are now known as the Tiergarten park. Unter den Linden roughly translates to “under the linden (lime) trees.” The street was given its name due to the lime trees that were planted there back in the 17th century.

During the years, the street filled up with some prestigious buildings, including the Baroque Zeughaus (today known as the Deutsches Historisches Museum), Humboldt University, and Neue Wache. Plus, you’ll find the statue of Frederick the Great on one end of the street with the Brandenburg Gate on the other end near the Tiergarten. 

As you make your way down the boulevard, you’ll find several cafes, restaurants, and shops, so you won’t go hungry as you walk along Unter den Linden. The street also serves as a venue for fun outdoor events on occasion.

15. Drink beer at a Biergarten

What to do in Berlin: Biergarten

No trip to Berlin (or Germany, if we’re honest) is complete without stopping at one of the many biergartens in the city. Berlin has no shortage of beers to offer, and there are some you simply must give a try, including the Augustiner, the Berliner Kindl Weisse, Rothaus Pils, and the Furstenberg Lager. 

There are also beer gardens we must recommend, including Brauhaus Georgbraue and Prater Biergarten. Brauhaus Georgbrauer has its own brewery in the heart of Berlin and offers both light and dark beers. 

Prater Garten is one of the oldest and most famous beer gardens (keep in mind they only accept cash), where you can enjoy an alfresco beer while sitting under one of the many trees. It’s the perfect way to chill out after a long day of Berlin sightseeing!

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Berlin. What’s your favorite thing to do in Berlin?

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About the Author:

  • Diana Lotti

    Diana is a professional writer, editor, and photographer who lives in a beautiful German village with her husband, daughter, and a Jack Russell Terrier named Mona Lisa.

    Diana is an avid coffee drinker thanks to her Puerto Rican roots. She caught the travel bug in her 20s, and has visited over 15 countries and counting. One of her goals is to explore all of the European micronations.

    Once caffeinated, Diana works as a freelancer, writes about her travel adventures, and photographs the beautiful German landscape. When work is done, you can find her practicing Yoga, at hiking trails with her family, or trying new recipes.

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