Rich with history and filled with plenty to see and do, it’s no surprise to see Berlin at the top of many travelers’ European vacation itineraries. Berlin has a lot to offer the average traveler; this busy city is a business hub, a cultural center, and a great spot to indulge in some local cuisine. You can easily spend a few days here eating, drinking, and exploring the local sights, and you’d be missing out if you passed up an opportunity to spend some time here!
Not sure what all the fuss is about? Here are some of the best things you can see and do when you’re in Berlin:
EXPLORE MUSEUM ISLAND
If you’re in Berlin, you absolutely cannot miss the chance to check out Museum Island. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a collection of five museums situated on an island, true to its name. Each museum has something special to offer:
- The Pergamon Museum, where you can witness the Ishtar Gate.
- The Bode-Museum, which is home to a remarkable collection of Byzantine art and relics.
- The New Museum, where you’ll see the famous bust of Nefertiti, the Egyptian queen.
- The Old National Gallery, which holds a collection of artwork from artists like Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and Caspar David Friedrich.
- The Altes Museum, filled with pieces from classical antiquity and busts of well-known historical figures, like Cleopatra.
The museums are closed on Mondays but are otherwise open daily to enjoy. Plan to spend at least a few hours here, especially if you’re a history buff – you’ll find something new to look at around every turn.
And while you’re there, you should also check out Berliner Dom, a Neo-Renaissance cathedral that stands out among the best architecture in Berlin. For a stunning view of the city, climb to the top of the dome.
SNACK ON SOME CURRYWURST
German cuisine features a number of different sausages, and many regions and cities have laid claim to their favorites. Berlin is no exception. There, the currywurst reigns supreme, and it’s a must-try when you’re in town.
Currywurst is a pork sausage – usually a bratwurst – that’s been cut into bite-sized pieces and smothered with curry sauce (which tastes pretty close to ketchup). Many times, it’s served with french fries from a food stand, making it a great on-the-go snack or late-night bite. Check reviews for currywurst spots near you while you’re exploring on your favorite food review app, like Yelp, or take a chance on the first street vendor you find. Chances are, you’ll be happy with what you’ve found!
TAKE A BOAT TOUR
While Berlin is certainly no Venice, it does feature two rivers and a number of canals. You can see a surprising amount of the city from the water, and local guides take advantage of this by offering a number of different boat tours. You can find tours that focus on explaining the history of Berlin’s most noteworthy sights, cruises that highlight the numerous bridges that crisscross the city’s canals, and others that spotlight the natural beauty of Berlin’s southwestern lakes. You’ll also find cruises that feature food, including brunch buffets, and tours that take place at twilight for those looking for a little romance.
One thing to note is that these tours are primarily offered during the warmer months. When winter rolls around, you’ll be limited to special seasonal cruises – and those will be weather-permitting.
CHECK OUT THE BRANDENBURG GATE
The Brandenburg Gate is probably Berlin’s most recognizable landmark, making it a must-see when you’re in the city. Built in the 18th century, this monument is significant architecturally (an early neoclassical building in Berlin) and historically (a symbol of the division between East and West Germany).
There isn’t much to do at the actual gate, but it’s well worth a stop for a photo and a moment of reflection. Brandenburg Gate is illuminated beautifully at night, making it the perfect time to take a few photos of the landmark.
EXPLORE TIERGARTEN PARK
Tiergarten Park is a beautiful green space situated in the heart of Berlin. Cycle through the forests, stroll through the gardens, and admire the multiple monuments and memorials scattered throughout. The park is at its liveliest during the warm summer months, filled with picnickers, sunbathers, and families enjoying free Sunday concerts, but it’s a great place to check out regardless of when you’re in Berlin. At the very least, you can plan to enjoy a quick meal here: stop for a snack at the Tea House, or enjoy Sunday brunch at the Cafe am Neuen See on the water.
ADMIRE THE ORNATE CHARLOTTENBURG PALACE
Europe’s palaces and castles are always a sight to behold, and the Charlottenburg Palace is no different. This gem of Berlin is a shining example of 17th- and 18th-century architecture, and it’s a beautiful spot to spend some time exploring on a lovely day. The palace once served as the summer home for royalty, but it’s now open to the public to enjoy throughout the year.
The palace is split into two primary divisions – the Old Wing and the New Wing. The Old Wing is well worth a visit, but many of the more lavish displays can be found in the New Wing, including the Silver Vault (filled with bejeweled forks, knives, spoons, and other tableware) as well as the Golden Galerie, a stunning rococo ballroom. You can also enjoy a stroll through the well-kept palace gardens and even visit the mausoleum where Queen Luise and other German royalty have been laid to rest.
You can pay for admission to each of the components of Charlottenburg Palace separately, but if you plan to enjoy everything, they offer a single Charlottenburg* ticket that will save you time and money.
There are so many things to see and do when you’re in Berlin, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit everything into your itinerary. But if you don’t think you’ll be making another trip to the city anytime soon, make sure to include some – or all – of these top attractions and activities into your plans to take advantage of some of the best things the city has to offer.