City Guide to Berlin, Germany | Must See Attractions, City Cards & Public Transportation
If you’re visiting Berlin, Germany (or Potsdam, Germany) and are looking for must see attractions and/or wanting to save money on sightseeing, hotels, and public transportation, then we have you covered with our Berlin City Guide!
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Visiting Berlin, Germany Was Special for Us
As we travel different parts of Europe, we often see a particular attraction or even an entire city that reminds us of a loved one.
For example, bagpipes always make Shannon think of her father, and Liverpool and the Beatles of Sergio’s mother. So, while in Berlin, Shannon often thought of her aunt, who spoke to her only in German while she was growing up. Even though it was Shannon’s first time in Berlin, being there brought up many cherished memories of her aunt, and she thought often of how wonderful it would be to share her time in Berlin with her! (We miss you Tante Lynn!)
From Budapest, Hungary to Berlin, Germany
We traveled to Berlin after a house sit in Budapest, Hungary and the differences between the two cities were quickly apparent!
Budapest just recently, within the last 60 years, had their Hungarian Revolution and shed communism, adopting a parliamentary representative democratic republic. The city of Budapest felt older, with small shops lining narrow streets.
Berlin, and in particular West Berlin, is a modern city. We found the streets easy to walk, wide and surprisingly clean for such a large city. The stores and malls we walked through were large and similar to malls in the United States.
East Berlin was somewhere in the middle between West Berlin and Budapest, in our opinion. It had narrow cobble stone streets, more graffiti, and was had older buildings.
Please understand, we by no means think that any of these three cities and our depictions of them are better or worse than the others. They’re simply our observations and opinions, and each have their charm, all with positives and drawbacks.
Visiting Berlin, Germany
As we’ve traveled we’ve learned that it’s best to plan our schedule and accommodations before arriving to a new place, it simply makes things easier and less stressful. Since we prefer not renting a car if we can avoid it, it’s also much easier to have a basic knowledge of how public transportation works and how much it costs before we arrive.
Our tool box is full of resources! From travel hacking to house sitting, digital nomad jobs to privacy and security, financially independent retire early (FI/RE) to entertainment, plus travel hacking (credit cards, miles, points, and rewards), and much much more…
A place to sleep each night is usually be the largest expense, not only while traveling, but also when staying in a fixed location (paying rent or a mortgage). In an effort to save money, we’ve found many alternatives to the standard retail priced hotel room.
For our stay in Berlin, we decided to take advantage of a point earning promotion with Club Carlson (now Radisson). On its own, the promotion was mediocre and not something that most people would deem worthy of going out of their way to do. However, since we were going to be paying for lodging one way or another, in our situation it made sense for us to take advantage of the promotion!
Essentially, it was a tiered promotion; the more nights you stayed at a Club Carlson property, the more bonus points you earned. We found the sweet spot of the promotion and signed up with a goal of staying eight nights and earning 50,000 bonus Club Carlson points.
The promotion unfortunately ended in July, but if you're interested in how it worked (to have an idea of what to expect from future Club Carlson promotions) head on over to One Mile at a Time.
How We Saved $250.00 in Hotel Expenses
Since Club Carlson points are generally valued at $0.004 per point, then 50,000 Club Carlson points are worth approximately $200. However, this valuation is done based on a middle of the road redemption of hotel points. In other words, we’re talking about redeeming for category three or four hotels that cost 28,000-38,000 points a night.
We value our points a bit higher, because we stick to category one and two hotels (9,000-15,000 points per night). On the conservative side, we value 50,000 points at roughly $250 ($0.005 per point).
As budget travelers, we make the most of our hotel reward points by staying at category 1, 2, and 3 hotels. Use our Award Travel Map for Hilton, Radisson, Marriot/SPG, and Hyatt properties to find a hotel within the category you want at your next destination. Plus, check out how we maximize our points with our The Ultimate Mattress Run!
To fulfill our eight-night stay and receive our promotional reward points, we stayed three nights in Budapest (after the conclusion of our house sitting job) and five nights in Berlin.
The Math and How Much We Saved on Our Hotels
The Budapest Park Inn by Radisson, only a quick metro ride into city center, was only $46.58 per night (including taxes).
The West Berlin Park Inn by Radisson, also only about a 10-minute U-Bahn ride into city center, cost $70.60 per night (including taxes and fees for an additional occupant). We were taken aback by an additional $10.50 charge per night for a second person, but we’ve heard this is fairly standard in many countries.
In total, our eight-night stay at Club Carlson cost us $492.74 out of pocket. Once you include the $250 we made in points, which were almost immediately deposited into our Club Carlson account after completing the eighth night, our total cost was $242.74.
That's just $30.34 per night!
Our stay was by no means free, but we can’t sneeze at saving $250.00. We weighed out the hotel stay with an Airbnb or stay at a hostel, taking into consideration the amenities of privacy and comforts of a hotel stay. With everything taken into account, we think we made off pretty well!
Public Transportation in Berlin
Berlin Public Transportation Quick Links
Before arriving to any new place, the first thing we do is look up the basic information on public transportation. Since we’re not renting a car, it’s a bit more complicated than just showing up at a car rental desk, confirming the reservation, and getting the keys.
We learned our lesson about researching public transportation ahead of time after just one time stuck in a terminal trying to figure out what ticket type to purchase, what direction to head towards, and how to pay for the tickets.
It’s not always clear cut, since often times buying a single fare ticket has a surcharge attached to it and it’s a better proposition to buy a pay as you go transportation card or a travel pass that allows unlimited travel for a day or more. So knowing your public transportation ticket options will save you money!
Another reason we like to be prepared ahead of time is that things are a bit more complicated when the stations, signs, and machines are in another language. Yes, there’s usually a button to change the language, but that doesn’t always mean that everything on the screen or the payment machine is translated. Both Berlin and Budapest had language buttons to translate everything to English, however, the credit card machines gave instructions in the local language.
We saved time when we landed in Berlin and by knowing that the best option for us was going to be to buy a single fare ticket to get to the hotel. Once we started sightseeing, our Berlin Welcome Card would include unlimited public transportation.
Don’t miss our Ultimate Gear and Packing Lists! Whether you’re traveling long-term or going on a short vacation, we'll show you how to travel with a single carry-on. We share our packing lists (his and hers!), packing tips, and our favorite gear. Plus, we discuss what we don’t carry and why!
Berlin Public Transportation Basics
Types of Transportation in Berlin
Buses – Buses cover the area that other public transportation doesn’t.
Bus lines 100 to 399 connect the suburbs with central city, S-Bahn stations and U-Bahn Stations.
Metro buses (M11 to M85) run 24-hours a day, seven-days a week, in ten-minute intervals.
Night buses are marked with an ‘N’. Buses N1 to N9 replace the corresponding U-Bahn lines U1 to U9. Buses N10-N97 replace vital day bus lines.
Designated bus and tram stops are marked by a sign with a green ‘H’ inside of a yellow circle, known as Haltestelle in German.
Look for the posted sign with the bus numbers and schedule to find what buses and trams stop there and when the next one will arrive.
Some stations have a digital sign showing the bus number, bus name, and time of arrival for the next couple of buses/trams.
On board, most buses and trams have a digital screen that lists the next stop. If you’re on an older bus that doesn’t have this feature, use the google transit map (Google Maps) on your phone to see where you’re at in relation to your stop. Alternatively, ask the driver or another passenger for help in disembarking at the correct station.
Buses may not always stop at every stop, so be sure to indicate to the driver that you want to get off the bus at the next stop by pressing the “Stop” button. These buttons are located on the yellow poles throughout the bus and labeled with the word “stop”.
Trams and Metrotrams – Tram and Metrotram lines extend the network of U-Bahn lines.
There are over 20 tram lines in Berlin. Metrotrams run more often than regular trams do. Keep in mind, times of operation vary by line and you can check timetables to find out more.
Regional Trains – Designated by an RB for RegionalBahn or RE for RegionalExpress. As it sounds, the RB stops frequently and the RE is faster because it makes fewer stops. There's also the Interregio-Express (IRE), which connects regions, but doesn't stop at all stops.
S-Bahn – An abbreviation for Stadtschnellbahn (which is German for city rapid rail).
There are 15 S-Bahn lines and during the week, the S-Bahn runs 4:30 am to 1:30 am, with five-minute, ten-minute ,or twenty-minute intervals depending on the time of day. Service on the weekend is 24-hours, with thirty-minute nighttime intervals.
U-Bahn – An abbreviation for Untergrundbahn which is German for underground.
There are 10 U-Bahn lines and over 170 stations in Berlin. During the week, the U-Bahn runs 4 am to 1 am, with five-minute intervals during the day and 10-minute intervals at night. Service on the weekend is 24-hours, with ten-minute daytime intervals, and 15-minute nighttime intervals.
Fähre – Meaning 'ferry' in English.
To serve transportation on the rivers, lakes, and canals, there are six ferry lines on BVG's public ferry transport in Berlin.
Lines F10, F21, F23 and F24 run every 60 minutes, while lines F11 and F12 run every 10-20 minutes. All lines are motor powered ferries except for the F24, which is a row boat.
The F24 line was discontinued in 2013 when it was integrated into the F23 line. However, in 2015 it was re-introduced, however only on weekends and bank holidays. Route and timetable information can be found on the BVG website.
Public Transportation Zones in Berlin
Tickets are sold based on the zone you’re traveling to. You can buy tickets for AB zones, BC zones, or for all three zones (ABC). Here's a PDF of the Berlin Zone Map for reference.
AB zones – Most of Berlin, Tegel Airport, and almost all of the major attractions are in AB zones.
C zone – Potsdam and Schönefeld Airport are in the C zone.
Public Transportation Tickets in Berlin
You can purchase public transportation tickets from automated machines located at most train, S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations. You’ll recognize the machines by their bright yellow and white color. Don’t worry, the machines have an easy to use touch screen and there’s a button on the lower right side of the screen to select your preferred language. There are six language options to choose from (represented by country flags): German, English, French, Spanish, Turkish, and Polish.
Larger S-Bahn stations may also have a ticket counter staffed where you can purchase tickets. You can also purchase tickets on the bus, but exact fare is required, as no change will be given.
There's a mobile app available for Berlin Public Transportation (BVG). You can purchase and use mobile tickets, find and save routes, and much more. Find more information on the BVG website. There's an iOS app for iPhones and a Google Play app for Android based phones.
Here’s the Berlin public transportation tickets you can choose from:
Children – Children five years old and under travel for free when accompanied by an adult. Children six to fourteen years old travel at the reduced fare rate of €1.70 in zones AB.
Single Fare – Good for two hours and will work on all modes of public transportation (listed above). The ticket allows for transferring between different modes of public transportation, as long as you're going in a direction away from your starting point (where you validated the ticket). For zones AB the cost is €2.80, for zones BC the cost is €3.10, and for zones ABC the cost is €3.40.
Four Trip Ticket – A pack of four Single Fare tickets. For zones AB the cost is €9.00, for zones BC the cost is €12.00 and for zones ABC the cost is €13.20.
Short Distance Ticket – Good for three stops on the U-Bahn or the S-Bahn. Changing trains is allowed. It’s valid for a trip length of six stops on buses and trams, as long you don’t change vehicles. This ticket saves €0.90 compared to a Single Fare ticket.
Day Ticket – A day ticket is valid for unlimited travel, on all types of public transportation, for the entire day. It’s valid from the time you validate the ticket until 3 am the following day. Three children, ages six to fourteen are included at no additional cost with this ticket. For zones AB the cost is €7, for zones BC the cost is €7.40, and for zones ABC the cost is €7.70.
Seven Day Ticket – Similar to the Day Ticket, but it's valid for unlimited travel for seven days. The ticket will expire on the seventh day at midnight. Three children, ages six to fourteen are included at no additional cost with this ticket. For zones AB the cost is €30.00, for zones BC the cost is €31.40, and for zones ABC the cost is €37.50.
Group Tickets – Valid for one day of unlimited travel for up to five people traveling together. After validation, the ticket will be good until the next morning at 3 am. Children under six years of age are included at no additional cost with this ticket. For zones AB the cost is €19.90, for zones BC the cost is €20.60, and for zones ABC the cost is €20.80.
Traveling with a Bicycle – There’s an additional cost of €1.90 to travel with a bike. Bicycles are allowed in marked S-Bahn, U-Bahn and trams, and are allowed only when sufficient space is available. Priority is given to wheelchair users and strollers (prams, carriages).
Travelling with Dogs – Small dogs (the size of a house cat) can be carried inside a pet carrier at no additional charge. All other dogs must be on a leash and muzzled. All leashed dogs incur an additional €1.70 fare.
Always remember to validate your ticket at the beginning of your journey. It’s pretty simple to do. Simply look for the small-ish yellow machine and stick your ticket into the slot. The picture on the machine shows what direction to insert the ticket into the machine.
A time and station stamp will print onto your ticket. You can find ticket validating machines near the front of the bus or on U-Bahn and S-Bahn station platforms.
As a word of caution, don’t forget to validate your ticket at the beginning of your journey. If you don’t stamp your ticket in the validation machine, your ticket won’t be valid. Ticket inspectors, dressed in civilian clothes randomly check passengers for valid transportation tickets. If you’re caught with an invalid ticket, even if you just forgot to stamp it, you'll be fined €60.00 on the spot for fare evasion.
Berlin Public Transportation Tips
Public transportation ticket machines don’t accept credit cards. So be prepared to pay with cash or a bank debit card only.
Always validate your ticket at the beginning of your journey. If you have a ticket that’s good for multiple journeys, like a day pass, only validate it once at the start of the journey.
There are station maps at the entrance to stations, usually found at the top of the stairs. Use these station maps as a guide to which train to take. (Sergio here! We initially missed the signs at the top of the stairs/entrance to the S-Bhan stations and for the life of us couldn’t figure out why there weren’t any station maps on the platforms).
Trains are labeled with their final destination. Use the station maps to locate your desired destination, then, look at the final stop/end of the line to see which train to take.
While using public transportation we got on the wrong direction a couple of times by accident. However, since we’re in the habit of double checking our direction of travel with Google Maps (GPS) we realized it right away. We got off at the next stop and just took the train/bus/metro going in the opposite direction. If you don’t have a map with your current location, just pay attention to the name of the first stop and then match it up with the map on board the train. You’ll then be able to confirm your direction of travel as being correct, or not, as the case may be.
If you’re the first or only person disembarking, to exit you’ll probably need to press the ‘open door’ button once the train, tram, or bus has fully stopped.
Trains come often and we never waited more than 10-15 minutes for a train.
Some buses run less often. Once, we waited 20 minutes for the next bus.
U-Bahn stations are indicated with a white bold letter ‘U’ inside of a blue square.
S-Bahn stations are indicated with a white bold letter ‘S’ inside of a green square.
If you’re lost or unsure about anything, just ask someone nearby. We asked for help with directions as well as confirmation that we were on the right train platform many times. Almost everyone we asked spoke English.
Save Money with the Berlin Pass, the Berlin Welcome Card, and the Berlin Museum Pass
We’re big fans of sightseeing with a city pass or card. It’s touristy, but it saves a bunch of money! And frankly, we’re tourists!
Bigger cities usually have more than one option for city passes and Berlin, Germany isn’t an exception. There are a few different options for city cards in Berlin and we did some research to figure out what card(s) would be the best money savers for our sightseeing in Berlin.
Sightseeing Passes and Cards Offered in Berlin, Germany
Which Sightseeing Pass Offers the Most Sightseeing Savings?
First, we did some research and figured our what we wanted to see while in Berlin and nearby Potsdam, Germany.
Second, we then added up retail costs to see everything on our itinerary.
Third, we compared our itinerary to the attractions each pass included.
Fourth, we added up the cost of the card and compared it to the retail cost of what was included with the card that we’d be doing.
Finally, we had all the information we needed to make the most logically choice of sightseeing card(s) that would save us the most money!
Tip: City cards and passes routinely boast about how many attractions they get you into. It sounds impressive, but don’t be fooled. Even if the card has dozens of attractions included, it does you no good if they aren’t places you plan to visit.
The Berlin Pass
We’ve used Leisure Group (Dublin Pass and London Pass) a couple of times in the past and were pleased to see they had a Berlin Pass. Overall it’s a great deal for most visitors because of the sheer amount of must see attractions that are included!
The Berlin Pass includes over 50 things to do and see, including some of the major must see attractions, like the Berlin Dungeon, Madam Tussauds Berlin, a boat cruise, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, and Aquadom & Sea Life Berlin. Plus, you can add on a Travelcard for public transportation, which just about means your sightseeing planning is taken care of!
However, once we compared the attractions we wanted to see and the cost savings of the Berlin Pass, it wasn’t the right choice for us this time. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great deal for most, but because we didn’t want to see most of the major big ticket items and because the boat cruise was closed because it was off-season during our visit, the value of the card wasn’t there for us.
If you want to see the major attractions and can do the boat cruise, then the Berlin Pass card is likely a very good deal!
The Berlin Welcome Card
The Berlin Welcome Card includes free public transportation and discounts at over 200 attractions across Berlin and Potsdam!
The card is easy to get since it can be purchased all over the city. We were able to buy ours at the hotel we were staying at.
You can purchase the card for two to six days of use. The prices vary depending on the number of days your purchase and what public transportation zones you want included on the card.
If you’re staying in Berlin and not venturing beyond, stick with the AB zone travel card option (the base level). If you’re planning on going to Postdam as well (we did and highly recommend it!), then pay a few Euros more to get the Berlin Welcome Card with the travel pass that's valid in both AB and C zones.
The Berlin Museum Pass
The Berlin Museum Pass is valid for three days and costs €24. The pass includes entry into over 30 museums, including all of the museums on Museum Island!
If you just want to visit the museums on Museum Island, you can get a pass that's valid for one day and costs €18. For us, since there were a couple of museums we wanted to see beyond Museum Island and we were going to take more than just a day to explore them, the Berlin Museum Pass turned out to be our best option!
The pass is also easy to get since you can purchase it at any of the museums that accept it.
How We Saved 45% on Sightseeing in Berlin
After running the math it was clear for what we wanted to do that purchasing and using both the Berlin Welcome Card and the Berlin Museum Pass were going to give us the best deals on sightseeing.
For the two of us, including the cost of both the Museum Pass and the Welcome Card, we spent €182.02, while the full retail cost would have been €336.00.
Berlin Must See Attractions
We created a comprehensive sightseeing itinerary, researching all the destinations we could find in Berlin. So, to possibly make your research on sightseeing in Berlin (and other destinations) easier, we’ve kept our maps with all of the information we gathered (accurate at the time of our sightseeing).
Finding hours, prices, and general information can sometimes be challenging, so we’ve tried to include these details on our maps and provide appropriate links below.
We encourage you to explore the map below, copy it to your Google account, and make the map your own. It’s a fantastic resource to have on hand when touring the city!
NOTE: We used this sightseeing map for our personal sightseeing adventures, because of that, some notes may not make perfect sense, and some information could be outdated. Information on this map was valid at the time of creation. All prices are shown in US dollars but are actually Euros (local currency). That being said, feel free to save it to your Google account and use it as a starting point (or modify it accordingly) for planning out your personalized itinerary in Berlin, Germany.
Tip: Our sightseeing map is created and saved under our personal Google account under “Your Places” and “Maps”. We turn these maps on and off on our mobile device as needed. You can also add layers. So for Berlin we had a Berlin Layer as wells as a Potsdam Layer. This is helpful because you can turn layers on and off as needed. We use the basic Google map under our account to “Save” locations such as our hotel and grocery stores. We use the basic map to navigate walks and everyday activities. We then turn on the sightseeing map, which will show up over the basic navigation map.
Berlin Sightseeing Itinerary
We didn’t limit our sightseeing to the items included with the Berlin Welcome Card and the Berlin Museum Pass because when we visit a new place, we want to see it all!
Essentially, the goal is that once we’ve left a city we feel satisfied that “we’ve been there, done that”. We’re not saying we’ll never be back, but if we never make it back, we won’t feel like there was something major that we missed out on.
Our Berlin Itinerary Overview
We spent six days in Berlin, Germany and split up our sightseeing like this:
Berlin Sightseeing: Four Days
Potsdam Sightseeing: One Day
Free Time to Walk and Explore Berlin: One Day (plus our everyday walking for leisure and getting groceries)
We usually jam-pack our sightseeing days with as much as we can. However, for our sanity and for time to work in the evenings, we took a slightly less hectic and a bit more leisurely pace for our time in Berlin.
Don’t be fooled though, by most metrics we still got a lot done in just a few days!
Must See Attractions in Berlin and Potsdam, Germany for the Perfect Itinerary
Including the major attractions and the off-the-beaten-path attractions.
There’s something for everyone, whether you want to be among the crowds at the most famous sights (like Brandenburg Gate), or avoid the crowds at the lesser known places (like the GDR Watchtower at Postdamer Platz).
Brandenburg Gate is one of the most well-known landmarks in Berlin. This is a must see, but beware, there are hundreds of people at just about any given time.
Tip: We had many people approach us asking for signatures and donations towards a deaf charity. Beware though, it’s usually a scam.
East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a 1,316 meter section of the Berlin Wall. It’s a memorial to freedom and a monument to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Siegessäule - Berlin Victory Column
Siegessäule (Berlin Victory Column) is also known as Golden Lizzie. The monument is located in Tiergaten Park and wasbuilt between 1864 and 1873, after Prussia’s victory in the German-Danish war in 1864. Also, you can take the 285 steps up to the top for a view of Berlin.
Pergamonmuseum is the most visited museum in Berlin! It has three wings, the Collection of Classical Antiquities, Middle Eastern Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art.
The museum is currently undergoing renovation and it’s expected to be complete in 2025-2026. However, it’s still worth seeing, even with parts of it being closed to visitors. Also, we highly recommend allotting a few hours, as entrance is capacity metered/controlled, and the line can get long.
Check the website for up-to-date information on visiting and the renovation. Pergamonmuseum is located on Museum Island.
Bode Museum was originally intended to house Renaissance art. However after reopening in 2006, it now houses two collections, the Sculpture Collection and Byzantine Art.
Bode Museum is located on Museum Island.
Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery)
Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) features 19th century art.
Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) is located on Museum Island.
Neues Museum (New Museum)
Neues Museum (New Museum) museum’s two permanent collections are the Armana Art and Papyrus Collection, and the Museum of Pre-history and Early History.
Neues Museum (New Museum) is located on Museum Island.
Altes Museum (Old Museum)
The permanent exhibition at Altes Museum (Old Museum), New Antiquity in the Old Museum, is of Greek and Roman art and sculptures.
Altes Museum (Old Museum) is located on Museum Island.
Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag, Deutschen Bundestag)
Reichstagsgebäude (Reichstag, Deutschen Bundestag) is the Parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany.
There’s much to see and do at Reichstag, although visiting the dome is the most popular attraction. It’s free to visit the dome, but registration and time slots are required. It’s strongly recommended that you book a slot in advance online.
TIP: If you want to go to the top of the Reichstag Dome (Deutscher Bundestag) you’ll have to book a time. You can do it at the gate, when you arrive, but there’s usually a long line and a good chance there’ll be no space until later in the day, if at all.
Instead, book your space ahead of time online (it’s free!). Just provide the name and birthdays of everyone in your party and then select three preferred dates and times. After submitting your request, you’ll get a response by email with the date and time they selected for you from the three dates and times you initially chose.
Kaufhaus des Westens (Westens Department Store)
Kaufhaus des Westens (Westens Department Store) is the largest department store on the European continent, comprising over 60,000 square meters (645,834 square feet) of sales floor!
In all of Europe (not just continental Europe), it's the second largest department store, with Harrods in London being the largest.
Berlin Cathedral Church
Both the exterior and the interior of the Berlin Cathedral Church are breath taking!
Entrance to the church includes the view from the dome. It’s a great way to see the city from up high. Plus there’s no glass of fence obstructing your camera lens for pictures!
Berlin Cathedral Church is located on Museum Island.
Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin. It was damaged in World War II and has undergone extensive reconstruction and renovation. Just take note that if you want to take pictures inside, you’ll have to pay an extra fee on the top of the regular admission.
Jewish Museum Berlin
Jewish Museum Berlin is a museum about German Jews and Jews in Germany as seen through the perspective of Jews in Germany.
Bellevue Palace is the official residence of the President of Germany. Since it’s an active palace and residence, only a few tours are offered each month and require a formal request and registration.
If your in the area though, it’s worth a visit to at least see from afar.
It’s near the Berlin Victory Column in Tiergarten park.
A square in the Mitte district that’s worth visiting for the three buildings around the square. Here you’ll find the French and German cathedrals and the Konzerthaus (concert hall).
Konzerthaus Berlin Concert Hall – Located in Gendermenmarkt, this classical building was built as a theater in 1821 and was later changed to a concert hall after World War II.
Französischer Dom – (French Cathedral) Located in Gendermenmarkt, the cathedral was built to be a safe haven for French Protestants seeking refuge. It’s currently used for worship, concerts, exhibits, and events, as well as housing a library and archives of the French parish. Climb the nearly 300 steps to the tower for panoramic views of Gendarmenmarkt!
Deutscher Dom – (German Cathedral) Located in Gendermenmarkt, it dates back to 1708. The building and dome were damaged during World War II and weren’t fully restored until 1996. The Cathedral is now home to a permanent exhibition on the parliamentary democracy of the German Bundestag.
DDR Museum is one of the more popular museums in Berlin. It’s an interactive museum where you can see, touch, and feel the exhibits as you learn history. Fun for adults and kids alike.
If you want to go to a concert while in Berlin, the Berliner Philharmonie is the place to go! It’s home of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and is known for its architecture and acoustics.
Take a one-hour tour that’s offered daily at 1:30 pm (tours aren’t offered in July or August).
Topography of Terror
Topography of Terror is a historic site that was the headquarters of the Secret State Police, the SS, and was the Reich Security Main Office during the Third Reich.
Topography of Terror is both an indoor and outdoor museum that’s free to visitors. Outside, a portion of the Berlin Wall still stands with excavated segments of the cellar wall, an exhibition addressing the National Socialist policy and the consequences for Berlin. Inside, the exhibition is of the history of the site and the Gestapo, SS, and Reich.
If you’re a car buff, Classic Remise is a must see! From a Bugatti Veyron, to the Lamborghini Countach, to American Muscle cars like the Ford Mustang and Dodge Charger.
It’s free to visit and is a service center specializing in classic, vintage, and collector cars. As the Classic Remise is a place for car owners to store their vehicles in controlled environments, visitors have a chance to see rare old and new cars.
German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin)
German Museum of Technology (Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin) is a well done museum featuring exhibits of science and technology, as well as large collections of historical technical artifacts. Originally featuring an exhibit on rail transport, it now also consists of industrial, maritime, and aviation technology exhibits.
Olympiastadion Berlin was built for the 1936 Summer Olympics and it’s now the largest stadium in Germany for football (soccer). It’s hosted matches for the World Cup on several occasions and maintains a reputation for being a sporting and entertainment venue.
Olympiastadion Berlin’s Olympic history has been well preserved and in the lobby you can still see the original Olympic flag used during the 1936 opening ceremony!
Zoo Berlin is the most visited zoo in Europe! It was opened in 1844 and has 1,380 different species. Regular animal feedings, as well as a giant panda make this a great zoo to visit.
Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum)
The star of the Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum) is the newly redesigned dinosaur exhibit, The World of Dinosaurs. Kids will enjoy the giant dinosaur as soon as they enter the museum and be amazed by the world’s biggest dinosaur skeleton, a Brachiosaurus that’s over 43 feet high!
Other permanent exhibitions include Evolution in Action, System Earth, The Cosmos and the Solar System, Trisitan (Tyrannosaurus Rex), and much more.
Located at Postdamer Platz, this GDR watchtower originally stood between the Brandenburg Gate and Leipsiger Platz to serve as a base to monitor the House of Ministries. It was built in 1966, relocated in 2001 to Postdamer Platz.
Of the more than 200 built of its kind this watchtower the last remaining watchtower from the Berlin Wall. It’s close to the very popular and crowded attraction Checkpoint Charlie, and in our humble opinion this lesser-known GDR watchtower is worth the time to visit!
Soviet War Memorial Treptow
Soviet War Memorial Treptow is located a bit out of city center, but worth the time to visit!
It’s the largest anti-fascist memorial in Western Europe and serves as a cemetery for 5,000 Soviet soldiers. The Soviet War Memorial Treptow opened in 1949 and the memorial honors the approximately 80,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
The focus of the monument is a sculpture of a Soviet soldier holding a German child and standing over a broken swastika, in honor of Sergeant of Guards Nikolai Masalov who risked his life to save a three-year-old German child. In the center of the memorial, the 16 stones represent each of the Soviet Republics and is the area of rest for 5,000 soldiers. The two large structures, made of red granite are representations of the Soviet flag, each with a statue of a kneeling soldier.
Bebelplatz (Bebel Square)
Bebelplatz (Bebel Square) is where nearly 20,000 books were burned by the German Nazis on May 10th, 1933. In memory, visitors can now find a subterranean monument that’s viewed through a clear covering where empty shelves (that could hold 20,000 books) can be seen.
The public square, dating back to 1740, is in the Mitte district and surrounded by the State Opera building, Humbodlt University buildings, and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral.
Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most well-known crossings between East and West Germany, as it was a crossing for Allied forces starting in 1961. This historical crossing is a destination for sightseers and tours, making it very busy all times of the year. So, we recommend visiting first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Mauermuseum – The museum at Checkpoint Charlie shows many of the ways people escaped out of East Germany.
Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Church)
Located in the middle of a busy shopping district, the tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Church) is the only remaining part of the church that stands. Further more, it’s the only building to have survived the bombing of this area during the war.
The remaining tower of Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Church) has been preserved as an anti-war memorial for peace and reconciliation.
A modern church was built in 1963 next to the tower.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Near the Brandenburg Gate, this 4.7-acre memorial can be walked through. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was designed with 2,711 blocks of differing heights and on an uneven incline as a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Hamburger Bahnhof is a modern art museum in the former Berlin-Hamburg Railway Station built in 1846. It offers an interesting contrast of old and new.
Berlin Sightseeing Tips
Most museums, especially on Museum Island, are closed on Mondays. So, plan accordingly.
The Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall at the Topography of Terror are two very different experiences. We recommend going to both, especially since both are free.
We highly recommend going to Potsdam for a day and visiting the palace. However, be aware that during the winter months (through March), statues are covered with gray boxes to protect them from the elements. This takes away from the beauty of the grounds and buildings, but we still enjoyed it despite the boxes.
The Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is a bit out of town, but in our opinion worth the bus trip!
Checkpoint Charlie is worth a visit, but can be extremely crowded, even during off-season. In contrast, when we visited the GDR Watch Tower, it only had a couple of people on the street.
Wondering what the pipes are all over town? So were we! Berlin Global explains that they’re water pipes, meant to drain water from the city since it was built on swampy ground.
Be careful of scammers. We were approached, a few times, by women and children who were asking for charity donations for non-verbal and/or hearing-impaired citizens. They can seem very legitimate, as they are or seem to be disabled and carry a petition for signatures. However, chances are it’s a scam. Berlin is a busy city, be sure to stay safe and keep your belongings secure.