Berlin is one of those global cities where visitors are guaranteed to find activities satisfying their travel style.
If you’d love to sleep all day then dance hard in a club to techno music until the early hours, or get up early to walk through a park then get brunch at a quaint cafe, or spend all day wandering through museums then head to a classic beer hall, you can do it all in Berlin.
Germany’s vibrant capital is a place where history, art, and culture peacefully co-exist, and this means that everyone is sure to be pleased with what the city has to offer.
To make the most of a short visit of just a few days, I’ve curated a list of the top 10 essential activities that will help you immerse yourself in the spirit of Berlin. So, grab your German phrasebook and get yourself set for a Berlin weekend adventure!
Top 10 things to do in Berlin:
1. Take a photo at the Brandenburg Gate
The iconic Brandenburg Gate is a must for any visitor to Berlin. This neoclassical monument is a symbol of the reunification of East and West Germany, and it remains a powerful symbol of peace, democracy, and the residents’ enduring spirit.
As a popular Berlin attraction it can get quite busy, so head over early in the morning to snap some photos and take in the gate’s grandeur without the daytime crowds. It’s also great for viewing in the evening as the monument is lit up with floodlights.
2. Visit some of Berlin’s many museums
Berlin has a plethora of museums that contain everything from ancient artefacts to ultra-modern art. As you might guess, many museums are focused on the Nazi regime and are designed to memorialise the era. One that I found really interesting was the Topography of Terror museum and historical site (also known as the SS Museum) which is set on the grounds of the former Gestapo headquarters.
If you’d like to make a full day of museum-ing, I’d suggest a visit to Museum Island. This UNESCO World Heritage site boasts five world-class museums, including the Pergamon Museum and the Neues Museum which is home to the famous bust of Nefertiti.
3. Admire the murals at East Side Gallery
In my opinion, East Side Gallery is one of the most awesome attractions that I’ve visited throughout Germany and Europe. It combines a 1.3-kilometer long historic remnant of the Berlin Wall with edgy murals and colourful graffiti. Each of the artistic installations tells a unique story. It’s a Berlin attraction that mustn’t be missed.
4. Book a bicycle tour
I normally suggest doing a walking tour for most city visits, however, Berlin is rather big. Getting around to all the sites requires some additional methods of transportation to ensure that that your legs don’t fall off at the end of the day.
A Berlin bicycle tour is an efficient way for tourists to explore the top Berlin attractions in a short amount of time. It’s easy to travel between historical landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall, while enjoying the city’s bike-friendly infrastructure. Guided bike tours with knowledgeable guides also allow you to receive insights into Berlin’s history and culture.
5. Check out the Reichstag Building
Learn about Germany’s political history at Berlin’s Reichstag Building. This iconic structure houses the German Parliament and features a stunning glass dome, designed by Sir Norman Foster, which offers panoramic views of the city. Inside you can witness firsthand the democratic processes that have shaped the country.
6. Head out to Charlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace is a baroque residence that once housed Prussian royalty, offering a captivating glimpse into Germany’s royal past. Opulence is an understatement when describing the rooms, gardens, and artifacts found at this historic building. For an in-depth Charlottenburg experience, you can even book to see an orchestra concert performance!
7. Wander through the Holocaust Memorial
I found the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (otherwise known as the Holocaust Memorial) to be an intriguing and thought-provoking site. The huge, maze-like structure, consisting of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights, has an intentional lack of a prescribed narrative which allows for an individual interpretation of the memorial.
8. Indulge in a Bratwurst or Currywurst
Germany really loves its sausages. Bratwurst (german sausage) or Currywurst (sausage with curry ketchup) are popular street foods that can be found all over the city. As a vegetarian, I discovered that meatless sausages are not too hard to find in Berlin – head to Curry 36 or Yellow Sunshine in the trendy Kreuzberg district, or visit one of the Witty’s fast food chains for a veggie sausage option.
If you’d like to experience Berlin from a taste perspective, hop on a walking food tour where you can sample sausages as well as other fare, such as German pizza and sweet treats.
9. Order a Berliner Weisse at a beer garden
A trip to Germany wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a beer harden, would it? Stop in at a beer hall to try some of the local brews served in a hefty stein glass. One popular beer style associated with Berlin is the Berliner Weisse which is a sour wheat beer, often light in alcohol content and known for its refreshing and tart flavor profile. It’s typically served with flavored syrups, such as raspberry or woodruff, to balance the sourness.
The historic Hofbräu Berlin is one of the best beer halls in the city, and it has hearty German cuisine to go along with the brew selection. Another gem is BRLO Brwhouse, an innovative brewery housed in repurposed shipping containers, offering craft beers and a trendy industrial setting. For those seeking a more traditional experience, head to Prater Garten for one of the city’s oldest and most charming beer gardens. Alternatively, jump on a craft beer tour to visit a few of Berlin’s exceptional micro-breweries.
10. Take a half day trip to Potsdam
Only a short train ride from Berlin is Potsdam. History nerds will love Potsdam as it has a deep royal history. Check out Sanssouci Palace and its enchanting terraced gardens, where Frederick the Great sought refuge from the rigors of royal life, or Neues Palace with it’s vibrant burnt orange exterior.
Potsdam’s historic center has some fascinating UNESCO-listed sites – check out Around walking tours in Potsdam if you’d like to learn about them as you wander the streets. And if you’ve got some extra time, visit the charming Cecilienhof Palace which was the site of the historic Potsdam Conference.