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The Best Things To Do in Berlin, Germany

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Thirty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the German capital’s intoxicating mixture of grit, glamor and casualness, born out of historical repression, has made it one of the most dynamic cities on earth. Where else can you stroll through Prussian palaces, step into Nazi-era bunkers, tour the world’s longest open-air art gallery and get lost in Europe’s most famous techno-temple? (And this is just the first day.) So keep an open mind, have some stamina, and be ready to immerse yourself in everything the city has to offer. Keep reading for the very best things to do in Berlin.

Hakeshe Höfe and Haus Schwarzenberg

Germany Berlin Events Charlottenburg Palace

Berlin’s rough exterior hides the elegant city courtyards behind the Altbau buildings, which survived World War II. Hackesche Höfe, located in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, is a group of eight public courtyards with cafes and boutiques dating back to 1907. After a complete renovation to restore the interconnected höfs (courtyards) to their former glory, the labyrinth reopened in 1996. A few houses down on Rosenthaler Strasse is Haus Schwarzenberg, Hackesche-Höfe’s gritty, graffiti-covered brother, and it offers a fascinating look at what much of Berlin looked like  before gentrification began.

Charlottenburg Palace

Germany Berlin Museum Berlin Wall Memorial

Built in 1699 as the summer residence of Sophie Charlotte, wife of King Frederick I, this massive, multi-winged Baroque structure is Berlin’s largest palace. Heavily damaged during the Second World War and rebuilt and restored over several decades, the palace is home to a number of priceless collections, including royal porcelain and silver, the Crown Jewels and important 18th-century French paintings by artists such as Antoine Watteau. The rooms themselves, most of which have been completely renovated, feature ornate stucco, gilding and frescoes based on the original design. The highlight is the gardens, created in French and English style, with neat hedges, fountains, ponds and tree-lined gravel paths.

  • Address:  Spandauer Damm 10-22, Berlin 14059, Germany
  • Website:  spsg.de

Berlin Wall Memorial

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This free indoor and outdoor museum and memorial is the best place to learn how the Berlin Wall came to be virtually overnight, what life was like in the former East German state, and people’s heroic (and heartbreaking) efforts to reunite with their families. . . As you walk along this mile-long section of Bernauer Strasse, an open-air exhibition features photographs and signs detailing the stories on both sides of the barrier. It also retains part of the original border wall and watchtower, as well as an indoor visitor center with exhibits detailing the political and historical events surrounding the city’s division.

Flea market Mauerpark

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Situated along the former part of the Berlin Wall, which was a militarized no man’s land known as the “Death Strip”, the area now called Mauerpark (“Wall Park”) was where guards stationed on watchtowers shot would-be escapees. trying to escape from East Berlin to the West. Today the fighting dogs and soldiers are gone, and in their place is the city’s largest and best open market every Sunday. Surrounded by a bustling market in a trendy green space, it’s something of a something. -The circus is on, filled with jugglers, picnickers and the world’s largest karaoke party known as Bearpit Karaoke.

  • Address:  Bernauer Str. 63-64, Berlin 13355, Germany
  • Website:  berlin.de

Berghain

Germany Berlin Landmark Reichstag

Perhaps no club in Berlin (or in the world, for that matter) is more revered than Berghain. This nondescript warehouse, located on the site of a former East German power plant, is the holy grail for techno lovers, hosting three days of debauched raves. Every weekend the club attracts the best DJs from all over the planet, who spin and pump beats so intense that they ring in your bones, not your ears.

  • Address:  Am Wriezener Bahnhof, Berlin 10243, Germany
  • Website:  berghain.berlin

Reichstag building

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Reduced to ruins after one of history’s most infamous fires in the 1930s and then rebuilt decades later, the majestic Reichstag is arguably Germany’s most iconic landmark  . The building has housed the German Parliament (Bundestag) since 1999, and now serves as a symbol of the country’s reunification. Today, a gleaming glass dome designed by star architect Norman Foster sits atop the grand old structure, and anyone with a reservation can walk up the 755-foot ramp for sweeping views of the city. The Reichstag Dome is one of the most interesting free experiences for first-time visitors to a city where a troubled past exists side by side with a trend-setting future. Few places use this juxtaposition as well as this monument to freedom and openness, which was literally built on the spot where the Nazis rose to power.

  • Address:  Platz der Republik 1, Berlin 11011, Germany
  • Website:  Bundestag.de

Humboldt Forum

Germany Berlin Activities Brandenburg Gate

The Humboldt Forum’s collection is vast and varied – and, frankly, more than stunning. The main exhibition is the Ethnological Collection and Asian Art, which displays about 20,000 objects from the former Berlin Ethnological Museum and the State Museums Museum of Asian Art. What’s most interesting here is that many of the objects are examined in a critical context – for example, looking at how they were removed from African countries during colonial rule, with descriptions in both German and English. A fascinating, albeit expansive exhibition, Berlin Global explores Berlin’s influence on the world in six categories: borders, entertainment, fashion, connectivity, revolution, space and war. After Nature (Humboldt Laboratory) takes a critical look at the interactions between climate change and democracy in countries around the world. Then there are several exhibitions reminiscent of the building’s complex history: the Sculpture Hall, which displays fragments of the original palace as well as six large 18th-century sculptures; the palace’s underground basement, which includes part of the medieval Dominican monastery that was originally located on this site, as well as surviving parts of the foundations of the Berlin Palace; and a large-scale video panorama about the history of this place (“800 years of history in just 14 minutes!”). In addition, the panoramic rooftop on the fourth floor (additional cost) offers wonderful views of the rooftops of Berlin. Also of note: As befits a modern museum, a large number of the exhibits are interactive, with buttons to press, virtual reality videos and stories to watch, and audio to listen to.

Brandenburg Gate

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This triumphal neoclassical arch is Berlin’s most famous monument and the only surviving gate of the 14 that originally surrounded the city when it was a proud Prussian metropolis. Napoleon and Hitler have since stormed through it, and the world watched as thousands of Berliners swarmed the site with sledgehammers to destroy the nearby wall in 1989. This 1791 monument, inspired by the Acropolis, has since become a symbol of German reunification. Conveniently located within walking distance of Berlin’s three bolded landmarks (Tiergarten, Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial), the Brandenburg Gate serves as a central meeting point for tourists.

  • Address:  Pariser Platz, Berlin 10117, Germany
  • Website:  berlin.de

Topography of terror

Germany Berlin Museum Museum Island

You are on the site of the headquarters of the Gestapo, Nazi Germany’s secret police force active between 1933 and 1945, where many political prisoners were tortured before being sent to concentration camps and prisons. Since 1939, it was also the headquarters of the Reich Security Main Office, created by the head of the Nazi paramilitary organization Schutzstaffel (SS) and the German police chief Heinrich Himmel, responsible for organizing the Holocaust. Indoor and outdoor exhibitions introduce visitors to history. these organizations and the crimes they committed. Particularly touching is the open-air exhibition “Berlin 1933-1945. Between Propaganda and Terror,” which tells the story of how the Nazis came to power in Berlin; it is displayed among the excavated parts of the former building (visible through glass panels) where the Nazis planned their crimes against humanity. The extensive interior exhibition goes even deeper, using photographs and stories to tell the story of the Nazis’ rise to power and the crimes they committed until the end of World War II. Both exhibitions, as well as regularly changing temporary exhibitions, are free to visit. For even more history, just north of this location you’ll find the longest section of the Berlin Wall still standing in the city center.

  • Address:  Niederkirchnerstraße 8, Berlin, 10963, Germany
  • Website:  topographie.de

New National Gallery

Germany Berlin Museum Boros Collection

All of the New National Gallery’s artwork dates from the 20th century. The museum’s permanent collection is rich in works of German Expressionism – think Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann and Emil Nolde – along with works of Cubism and Dada, as well as worthy works by such luminaries of the 20th century art world as Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Piet Mondrian, Joan Miro and Wassily Kandinsky. Although the permanent exhibition on the lower floor is large, it only holds about 250 works, so selections from the museum’s collection of about 5,000 works of art rotate throughout the year. (A new, larger Berlin Modern museum is being built next to the Neues Nationalgalerie, which will feature more art; however, its planned opening in 2027 is in doubt because it is already behind schedule and millions over budget.) When The Neue National Gallery reopened in 2021. The permanent exhibition space features works of art from 1900 to 1945; From late 2023 to October 2025, the museum will feature works from 1945 to 2000 by artists including Barnett Newman, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon and Louise Nevelson. Visitors also have the opportunity to explore the Gerhard Richter Art Foundation, which has loaned 100 works by the famous German artist to the museum until at least 2026. You can cover the highlights in 60-90 minutes, but it will be a bit rushed. Two hours will give you a much more relaxed pace to explore the permanent and temporary collections and perhaps even spend some time enjoying the beautiful sculpture garden if the weather is good.

  • Address:  Potsdamskaya ul. 50, Berlin, 10785, Germany
  • Website:  smb.museum

Tempelhofer Feld

Germany Berlin Amusement Park Tiergarten

Tempelhof Airport, used as a lifeline for some two million people during the Allied airlift, is now a vast urban playground larger than Central Park. On sunny days, thousands of Berliners come to jog along abandoned runways, bike under an old radar station and sunbathe next to grounded Cold War planes. Stay long enough and you’ll see beekeepers on the lawn, windsurfers on the runway, cricketers on the tarmac, zipliners in the forest and more.

  • Address:  Tempelhofer Damm, Berlin 12101, Germany
  • Website:  gruen-berlin.de

Zoo

Germany Berlin Bar Prater Garten

Berlin’s iconic park and green lung, Tiergarten is a 519-acre green oasis that was once used as a hunting ground for Berlin’s rulers (Tiergarten means “animal park”). These days, the wild boars and pheasants are gone, and in their place a series of lakes, walking trails, English gardens and even a biergarten attract runners, cyclists and sunbathers. Rising above the center of the park, the gilded Siegessäule (Victory Column) is the most famous of Tiergarten’s many monuments and commemorates Prussia’s military victories. Nearby is the white Schloss Bellevue Palace, where the President of Germany lives. Elsewhere, don’t miss the manicured English Garden and tea house, as well as Berlin’s most attractive and romantic beer garden, Café am Neuen See, where lovers can enjoy a pint, pizza and paddle boat rides on the lake. It will take you a few days to explore the entire park – we recommend downshifting and spending time here with a bike, a blanket and a book.

Boros Collection

Germany Berlin Event Holocaust Memorial

Housed in a restored Nazi-era bunker in the now upscale Mitte district is this private contemporary art collection owned by Christian and Karen Boros (who actually live in the rooftop apartment). The selection of sculptures, paintings, photographs and installations by international artists changes every four years, but has recently featured contemporary artists such as Katya Novitkova, Guan Xiao and Chris Martin. A tour of the five floors reveals not only the impressive collection, but also the long history of the bunker, which was used as a Nazi bomb shelter and later became an underground techno club (remnants of fluorescent paint can still be seen in some rooms). and staircases). Tours (necessarily) book months in advance, so plan accordingly.

  • Address:  Reinhardtstraße 20, Berlin 10117, Germany
  • Website:  sammlung-boros.de

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Germany Berlin Fresco East Side Gallery

This vast labyrinth of 2,711 concrete columns, a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, is a haunting reminder of the atrocities and sacrifices of World War II and Germany’s main memorial to the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Officially named the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site occupies an entire city block of 205,000 square feet and was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman after a tedious 17-year planning process. The memorial’s abstract design offers no explanation or prescribed walking paths, but simply invites visitors to enter and immerse themselves in its tomb-like slabs.

East Side Gallery

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With over 100 paintings, the East Side Gallery is the largest (and longest) outdoor art gallery in the world. The 0.8-mile section of the Berlin Wall, which runs parallel to the Spree River, once trapped East Germans inside. But when the rest of the Wall collapsed in 1989, the site remained and became a concrete canvas for artists from around the world, who decorated it with murals between February and June 1990.

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