Berlin is a city steeped in history and culture, making the sights in Berlin an ideal destination for tourists. From the government district surrounding the Reichstag to the art collections in the city’s many museums, there is something for everyone in Berlin.
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If you’re planning your first visit to the German capital, be sure to check out some of the city’s top sights. These include:
- The Brandenburg Gate
- The Reichstag with dome
- The Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews in Europe
- The Berlin Cathedral
- The Victory Column
- The East Side Gallery
- Checkpoint Charlie
- The Berlin TV Tower
- Museum Island Berlin
- Old Tempelhof Airport (Guided Tour)
While these are the top 10 sights in Berlin, the city has so much to offer that you could easily spend two weeks exploring and still will not be able to see everything. From its rich history to its vibrant culture, Berlin is a city that is sure to leave a lasting impression on visitors. So, pack your bags, and get ready to discover the best of Berlin!
Main sights in Berlin
There are many landmarks and experiences that are worth visiting for first-time visitors in Berlin. Here are some of the most famous and important places to see:
1. Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is one of the most iconic symbols of Berlin and Germany. It stands 26 meters tall and 65.60 meters wide and marks the western end of the boulevard Unter den Linden. Originally built as a symbol of peace and unity, it became a symbol of division during the Cold War.
Today, it once again stands as a symbol of Germany’s unity. As the only preserved city gate in Berlin (there were once 18), it’s an ideal starting point for your sightseeing tour. From there, you can easily reach several other important landmarks such as the Reichstag, which houses the German parliament, the Holocaust Memorial, which honors the victims of the Holocaust, the Tiergarten park, Potsdamer Platz, and more.
If you follow Straße des 17 straight ahead, you will come directly to the Victory Column. The American Embassy is also located on Pariser Platz.
2. Reichstag in Berlin (Seat of the German Bundestag)
The Reichstag building is a political center of great importance in Germany, having served as the seat of government for the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and now the German Bundestag. Visitors have the opportunity to tour the building free of charge every day.
One of the highlights of the visit is the glass dome, designed by renowned architect Norman Foster, which offers a panoramic view of the city from the roof terrace. The dome is one of the most popular sights in Berlin and is definitely worth visiting.
Opening hours and more information:
- The dome and roof terrace is open daily from 8 a.m. to midnight, entry closes at 9.45 p.m. Closed all day on December 24th and after 4 pm on December 31st.
- To ensure your visit is as smooth as possible, you can register in advance by filling out the online form.
- You can find more information about the Reichstag and the German Bundestag at bundestag.de
- You can also find the location and all other information (opening hours, website, and more) on Google Maps
The best view of the city can be enjoyed from the top of the dome. So, be sure to make your way to the top for an unforgettable experience.
3. Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
The Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a powerful and moving tribute to the victims of the Holocaust. Located in close proximity to the Brandenburg Gate, it is one of the most important sights in Berlin. The memorial comprises of an accessible field of 2,711 steles, which serve as a poignant reminder of the murdered Jews of Europe.
A free information center is located below the steles, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the Holocaust and its victims. To gain a more profound understanding of the exhibition and memorial, it’s highly recommended to take an audio guide for 3 euros.
The Holocaust Memorial is a must-see for anyone visiting the city and one of the most historically significant sights in Berlin. It serves as a powerful reminder of the atrocities committed during the Holocaust and the importance of remembering and honoring its victims.
4. Berlin Cathedral
The Berlin Cathedral, also known as the Berliner Dom, is an impressive church located in the heart of the city. Its richly decorated interior and mighty dome offer a great overview of the city, the Spree River, Lustgarten Park, and Museum Island.
The opening times and more information about the Berlin Cathedral are as follows:
- Monday to Thursday: 11 am to 8 pm
- Friday: 11 am to 7 pm
- On Sundays, admission is from 12 p.m.
- The entry fee is 7 €
- You can find more information on the Berlin Cathedral’s website.
The Berlin Cathedral is a must-see for anyone visiting the city, and it’s an ideal spot for those looking to explore the city’s rich cultural heritage. Its grand architecture and stunning views make it a great addition to any itinerary. Whether you’re interested in history, or architecture, or just looking for a beautiful place to visit, the Berlin Cathedral is definitely worth a visit.
5. Victory Column
The Victory Column, also known as the Berliner Siegessäule, is a monument located at the Großer Stern roundabout in the Tiergarten park. The column is topped by the Berlin Angel of Peace and is commonly referred to as the “Goldelse”.
The Victory Column was originally built to commemorate Prussia’s victory in the German-Danish War in 1864, and it was originally located on Königsplatz (now Platz der Republik) in front of the Reichstag. However, in 1938/39, it was moved to its current location in the Tiergarten as part of the redesign of Berlin by the National Socialists. Today, the Victory Column is a protected monument.
The highlight of the Victory Column is the viewing platform, which can be reached via a spiral staircase with 285 steps. The platform offers a panoramic view of the Tiergarten and much of Berlin. The best time to visit is in the fall when the leaves in the park are changing color.
Information on visiting Victory Column:
- Opening hours: Monday to Friday between 9.30 am and 6.30 pm, depending on the season. In winter only until 5.30 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday until 7 p.m. (summer) and 5.30 p.m. in winter.
- The entry fee for adults is 3.50 euros and for minors it’s 3 euros.
6. East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery is a section of the Berlin Wall that has been converted into an open-air art gallery. It is located in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin and is the largest open-air gallery in the world. A mere few months after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, 118 artists from 21 countries painted a 1.3 km section of the wall.
The East Side Gallery is a must-see for art lovers and history buffs alike. One of the most famous and most photographed artworks on the wall is the “fraternal kiss” between GDR leader Erich Honecker and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. However, the artwork has been heavily graffitied and smeared over the years. You can check out the street art tour I did a few years ago.
Guided tours of the East Side Gallery are also offered, which provide a more in-depth understanding of the artwork and the history behind it. You can find more information on the website of the foundation eastsidegalleryberlin.de.
Visiting the East Side Gallery is an opportunity to see history and art come together in an incredible way. It is a powerful reminder of the past and a celebration of the human spirit. So, be sure to add it to your itinerary when visiting Berlin and take the time to explore this unique open-air art gallery.
In addition to the East Side Gallery, there are other must-see sights in the Friedrichshain district of Berlin, such as the Molecule Man artwork on the Spree, and the beautiful Oberbaum Bridge. The latter is particularly spectacular at sunset when the television tower and the artwork stand out like a silhouette. These sights are not only visually stunning but also hold historical significance. The Molecule Man artwork is a representation of the division of the city and the reunification, and the Oberbaum Bridge was a former checkpoint between East and West Berlin. So, don’t miss these sights while you’re in the area. They are sure to leave a lasting impression.
7. Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was once the most important border crossing between East and West Berlin during the Cold War. Today, it is a popular tourist destination and a symbol of the division of the city during that time. Although the wall is no longer standing here, a colored line marks its location.
At Checkpoint Charlie, visitors have the opportunity to pose (for a fee) with extras dressed as American soldiers at the guard houses. Caps (from the USSR to the GDR to the USA) are also available for purchase. While this can be a touristy experience, it is still worth visiting Checkpoint Charlie as it is an important place in German history. The former control huts are also popular photo motifs, so it can be challenging to get a picture without tourists.
The Wall Museum is also located nearby and it is considered a great addition to the visit. The museum offers an in-depth understanding of the history of the Berlin Wall and the division of the city. Information about the museum can be found on the Wall Museum website.
Checkpoint Charlie is an important historical site that offers insight into the division of the city during the Cold War. It’s a must-see for anyone interested in history, and the addition of the Wall Museum makes it an even more comprehensive experience. So, be sure to include it in your itinerary when visiting Berlin.
8. Berlin TV Tower
The Berlin TV Tower, also known as the Fernsehturm, is a landmark of the city and is located in the heart of the metropolis at Alexanderplatz. Standing at a height of 368 meters, it is the tallest building in Germany. Visitors can take an elevator to the viewing platform at a height of 203 meters for one of the best views of Berlin.
- Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm
- Tickets cost 24.50 euros for adults and 14.50 euros for minors.
- It is best to book the ticket in advance with fast-track skip-the-line as often you have to wait 2 hours for the next free slot on site.
Plan about 1 hour for the visit so that you can take a closer look at Berlin from above. It’s important to note that timed tickets are popular and limited, so it’s best to book in advance.
While you’re at Alexanderplatz, you should also check out the Hackesche Höfe, which is nearby. These historic Art Nouveau buildings have beautiful courtyards that invite you to stroll around. They are accessible every day, but after 10 p.m. access is only permitted for residents as the upper floors are normal apartments. There are numerous flagship stores of cool fashion labels, a pretty good gin shop, and lots of street art which is best explored as part of a street art tour.
The Kurfürstendamm or Ku’damm for short is one of the most popular shopping streets in Berlin. It is also known as the “promenade” and is the largest and best-known shopping street in the western part of the city. The road was originally a bridle path for the electors from the city palace to the hunting lodge, but in 1886, Otto von Bismarck turned it into a shopping street, making it a symbol of the prosperous western part of the city.
The Ku’damm is home to many shops, restaurants, and cafes. You can find everything from high-end designer boutiques to vintage stores. Some of the notable places to visit include the “Hard Rock Café”, which is located in a listed Bauhaus building, the former Café Kranzler, which is now operated by the hip Berlin coffee roastery “The Barn“, and the “BIKINI” Berlin, which is a “Concept Shopping Mall” with many pop-up stores and the famous Monkey Bar.
Additionally, if you’re looking for a cultural experience, the Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz is highly recommended for fans of contemporary theater.
10. Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is another must-see landmark located on the Kurfürstendamm. The church was built in the 19th century, but was bombed in 1943 and not rebuilt afterward. The best-known part of the church is the altar room, which was added in 1961 and is known for its many small colorful windows, which shine beautifully when the light falls on the inside.
A place to slow down on the otherwise busy Breitscheidplatz.
The Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin, created at the end of the 17th century. The square is located in Berlin-Mitte and is surrounded by three important monuments: the German Cathedral, the French Cathedral, and the Konzerthaus. The square still retains its charm from the past and during Christmas time, it houses a wonderful Christmas market.
The Gendarmenmarkt is a great place for taking photos, especially in the early morning or later in the evening. The lighting is perfect and the historical buildings make for a picturesque setting.
Another notable location in Berlin is Friedrichstrasse, which is considered one of the most popular shopping streets in the capital. Here, you can find expensive stores and small cafes. However, for a more unique shopping experience, consider exploring the small shops around Hackesche Höfe and in Prenzlauer Berg. These neighborhoods offer a more authentic experience and you’ll be able to find one-of-a-kind items and souvenirs.
12. Charlottenburg Palace
Charlottenburg Palace is the most beautiful palace in Berlin, located in the Charlottenburg district of the same name. With its palace park, orangery, and outbuildings, it once served as the summer palace of the wife of Elector Friedrich III. Today, it is a museum with many magnificent halls and furnishings. If you are interested in castles and history, this is a must-see attraction.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5.30 p.m.
- The entry fee for the old palace for adults with a guided tour or audio guide is 12 euros and for minors its 8 euros
- The entry fee for the New Wing for adults with a guide or audio guide is 12 euros and for minors its 8 euros
- Tickets are only available on-site at the box office
- You can find more information on the website
Please note that the palace is closed on Mondays, and certain sections may be closed for maintenance or renovations. It is recommended to check the website before your visit to plan your itinerary accordingly. The palace is also located in a charming neighborhood, and it’s worth taking a stroll around the area after visiting the palace.
13. Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is not just a square, but rather an entire area full of modern glass buildings. The Sony Center, in particular, with its imposing tent-like roof construction, attracts many tourists. Before reunification, the area was in the border zone and mostly left unused. After reunification, it was completely redesigned, which is why there are hardly any signs of older buildings here.
If you are interested in modern architecture, it’s worth taking a look at the different buildings around the square. The area also offers a variety of restaurants and shops. However, it’s worth noting that some people may find this area less charming and with less to offer compared to other areas of the city. It is a more modern and commercial area of Berlin, lacking the historic charm of other parts of the city.
14. View from Panoramapunkt Berlin
Panoramapunkt Berlin is a must-visit for those seeking an unparalleled view of the city. Located in the Kollhoff Tower at Potsdamer Platz 1, this viewpoint offers an open-air exhibition called “Berliner Blicke” that allows visitors to take in the city’s beautiful skyline. Additionally, visitors have the opportunity to ride on Europe’s fastest elevator, making the experience even more exhilarating.
Opening times are as follows:
- Summer: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Winter: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
It is important to note that the last ride on the fastest elevator in Europe is 30 minutes before closing.
Skip-the-line tickets are available at getyourguide.de, making it a convenient option for those looking to avoid long lines. So, if you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable view of Berlin, Panoramapunkt is the place to visit.
15. Museum Island
Located in the heart of Berlin, Museum Island is a must-visit for history and art lovers. The island is home to five of the city’s most important museums, all of which are located on a promontory in the Spree River. The entire Museum Island was even included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1999.
The five museums on the island are:
One of the newer attractions on the island is the Humboldt Forum. This exhibition includes ethnological collections from non-European cultures. However, the museum has faced controversy as it plans to exhibit spoils of war, particularly from Africa.
More information can be found on the official website.
Two of the most popular museums on the island are the Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum, both of which are highly recommended. To save time in lines, consider purchasing a museum pass in advance.
Located across the street from Museum Island, the German Historical Museum is another must-visit museum in Berlin.
16. Tempelhof Airport
Tempelhof Airport, a disused airport located in Berlin, is a must-see destination for those interested in history and architecture. Built by the Nazis, it was once the largest building in Europe and remains one of the most spectacular structures in the world.
One popular way to explore the airport is by joining a tour, such as the “Mythos Tempelhof Tour.” Led by guides who previously worked at the airport, this tour provides unique insights and information about the building. The runway must always be visible, making it appear almost new even years after it was closed.
During the tour, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the grand hall, former restaurant, American basketball hall, underground air raid shelter, and even ascend to the roof. For those interested in seeing the bunkers, the “Hidden Places” tour is another option, also lasting 2 hours.
To visit Tempelhof Airport:
- Take public transport to Entrance Tempelhofer Feld from Neukölln with U8: Boddinstraße or Leinestraße. Ringbahn and S8 stop Tempelhof.
- To reach the airport building, take the U6 Paradestraße or Platz der Luftbrücke.
After exploring the airport, visitors can also enjoy the Tempelhofer Feld, a popular leisure area located directly at the former airport. The opening hours vary depending on the season, usually from 6 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. For more information, visit gruen-berlin.de.
17. Nikolai Quarter and Red Town Hall
The Nikolaiviertel is one of the oldest parts of Berlin. The small streets with cobblestones take you back to the time of the Middle Ages. It is the first and oldest residential area in the city.
Another landmark is the Red Town Hall from 1861. It is the seat of the Lord Mayor and the Senate of Berlin. The town hall owes its name to its bricks, which glow red in the sun.
Visitors can tour the town hall from Monday to Friday, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. without any entry fee.
More Sights To Visit in Berlin
1. Mauerpark flea market and karaoke
Located in the Prenzlauer Berg district, Mauerpark is a popular leisure and recreation area for both locals and tourists. The main attraction is the large flea market that takes place every Sunday. Despite being a well-known destination, it’s still a must-visit for those looking for unique finds and vintage items. However, it can get crowded as the park is a popular spot among Berliners and tourists, especially during the summer.
Another popular activity in Mauerpark is Sunday karaoke, which takes place in an open-air amphitheater. The karaoke event gets fuller every year, which is why some locals avoid going there. However, the park is still a major attraction for young and old.
The park is open all day and freely accessible.
2. RAW site and Simon-Dach-Kiez
The RAW Site and Urban Spree, located on Warschauer Strasse, is worth a visiting destination for those interested in street art and alternative culture. The area is covered in graffiti and offers a variety of bars, clubs, markets, exhibitions, and intercultural projects. It’s a perfect spot to immerse yourself in the vibrant street art scene of Berlin.
Another neighborhood worth visiting is the Simon-Dach-Kiez in the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district. Named after the German songwriter Simon Dach, the neighborhood is home to many bars, clubs, shops, and restaurants that have become popular destinations for tourists. The area is known for its bohemian atmosphere, and it’s a perfect place to spend an evening out and experience the nightlife of the city.
3. Schwarzenberg house
The Schwarzenberg House, located at the Hackesche Höfe, is a must-visit for those interested in street art. Many street art tours take visitors to this building, which is left in its post-war condition. Inside, visitors can find a small cinema, a gallery, shops, and two museums.
One of the highlights of the Schwarzenberg House is the collection of works by well-known street artists such as El Bocho (Little Lucy), Jimmy C, and D Secret. It’s a great place to see some of the most important street artists’ work in one place.
Kreuzberg is a neighborhood in Berlin known for its vibrant street art scene. It has long been the center of alternative culture in the city and is home to many political murals and graffiti. Visitors can find a wide range of artworks on the streets of Kreuzberg, from small tags to large murals.
One of the most famous and iconic artworks in Kreuzberg is the astronaut by Victor Ash on Mariannenstraße. This mural is worth a visit for street art enthusiasts and serves as a great representation of the political and alternative scene of the neighborhood. It is a perfect spot to discover the dynamic street art culture of the city.
Teufelsberg, an abandoned listening station is a unique and great destination for street art enthusiasts. The station is covered in graffiti and murals, making it a perfect spot to spend a day exploring and discovering the dynamic street art culture of Berlin.
Visitors can book tours at Teufelsberg Berlin, which offers two tour options: one lasting 60 minutes, and the other lasting 90 minutes. These tours provide an in-depth look into the history and art of the abandoned listening station and are a great way to experience the unique and off-beat destination that is Teufelsberg.
6. Berlin Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium is a bit outside of the city center, but it’s worth the visit. Located in Grunewald, the stadium is a popular destination for sports fans and history buffs. The highlight tour, which lasts about an hour, takes visitors to areas that are not normally accessible to the public such as VIP areas, player cabins, and the warm-up hall (underground).
Depending on your interests, you can book different tours on the website. The highlight tour is included in the Berlin Welcome Card which offers discounts on many other attractions in the city.
Special city tours
If you’re only in Berlin for a short period, I recommend that you book a city tour and/or a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus. This way, you can get a compact overview of the city. Another great way to explore the city is by bike.
An insider tip for city tours is the Berlin Underworlds tour. This tour is fantastic and I highly recommend it to friends who visit Berlin. There are several tour options available, but I recommend the 90-minute tour of the bunkers.
You can read more about the tour and check out several other activities in Berlin.
Street Art Tour
The best way to explore street art in Berlin is with a connoisseur guide who can provide insight and knowledge about the art and the artists. Hidden Path’s Paul is one such guide and you can reach out to him for a tour. Alternatively, you can book a tour with a different guide.
However, I would recommend avoiding a tour with Alternative Free Walking Tour Berlin. Some visitors have had a negative experience with the tour and reported that the guide, who was an English-speaking Australian, was not well-versed in German history and was not able to provide accurate information.
You can read all further information about street art in Berlin here.
Food in Berlin
When it comes to food and drink, Berlin offers a diverse range of options. Here are some of the best places to check out for different types of meals and drinks:
- Friedrichshain: Brekkie 44 (brioche), Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore (bagels), and Sion Café (bowls, also vegan)
- Prenzlauer Berg: Café Anna Blume (delicious for several people on shelves), Haferkater (porridge), and Time for Bread
- Kreuzberg: Adana Grillhaus and Mustafa’s Vegetable Kebab
- Central Station, Mehringdamm, S-Bahn station Warschauer Straße and Bahnhof Zoo: Curry 36
- Azzam Restaurant (Kebab & Shawarma) and Mae Charoen Thai Takeaway
- Schöneberg: The Hot Dog Shop
- Mitte: classic Borchardt and Grill Royal, Cocodrillo, Joseph (Israeli cuisine), and friendship (Austria)
- Friedrichshain: Hako Ramen and Il Ritrovo
- Kreuzberg: Markthalle Neun (best on weekends)
- Prenzlauer Berg: Tossakan
- Charlottenburg/Schöneberg: 6th floor of KaDeWe (truffle restaurant, oysters & seafood)
Berlin map with all places worth seeing
Here you will find my city map for Berlin, with all the sights, places worth seeing, restaurants, bars, and other highlights. You can save the city map offline on your mobile phone and navigate through the city quickly and easily.
Travel tips for sightseeing
How much time should you plan for Berlin?
If you want to see the most important sights in Berlin, you should plan for at least three days. You can see a lot in this short time, but you don’t have enough time for extensive exploration. Take this into account when planning and check out our suggested itinerary for 3 days in Berlin.
This is how you (like us) save money: Buy the Berlin Welcome Card
City passes for city breaks are in vogue. They can often save you money when you want to visit attractions. The tickets are not always worth it. For Berlin, there is, among other things, the Berlin Welcome Card (view details here in the field report). You can read here whether the card is worthwhile for your trip:
The Berlin Welcome Card is a ticket that offers free travel on buses, and trains (BVG – S-Bahn, U-Bahn, tram) as well as to over 200 sights, museums, exhibitions, cultural events, and some shops and restaurants between 25 and brings 50 percent discount.
My recommendations as to which Berlin card is worthwhile and when:
- Welcome Card AB: For spontaneous decision-makers who always buy tickets at the entrance
- Tip: Berlin City Pass – 3 days free entry and free travel (see details here) The best card for your first trip to Berlin: Free entry to many museums and exhibitions, free hop-on hop-off bus ride in the panorama bus, visit to the Reichstag (Rooftop terrace with glass dome without queuing)
Here you can see how the Berlin Welcome Card works and what advantages it brings you
Travel Guide for Berlin
Before the last trip to Munich, I bought the following travel guide. They all have great tips. I highly recommend everyone: 500 Hidden Secrets Berlin and the Dumont direct Berlin.
Frequently Asked Questions
The top sights are the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag (Bundestag), Holocaust Memorial, Tiergarten, Berlin Cathedral, Museum Island, TV Tower, East Side Gallery, Gendarmenmarkt, Jewish Museum, and TV Tower Alex.
The Berlin Zoo, German Spy Museum, Legoland, Museum of Natural History, Jungfernheide forest high ropes course, and the Labyrinth Children’s Museum is suitable for children.
Berlin is famous for its rich history, including its role in World War II and the Cold War, as well as its vibrant street art and alternative culture. It’s also known for its iconic landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. Additionally, Berlin is also renowned for its nightlife and diverse communities.
One could spend three days in Berlin by visiting historical sites such as the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Holocaust Memorial. Visiting the famous street art and alternative culture scene in neighborhoods like Kreuzberg and Teufelsberg. Take a stroll on the East Side Gallery, enjoy the local food and drinks, and experience the nightlife. Also visit museums such as the Pergamon Museum, and Topography of Terror. Additionally, exploring the beautiful parks like Tiergarten, and the leisure area like Tempelhofer Feld.
A good place to start exploring Berlin would be the historical heart of the city, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie, which are some of the most famous landmarks of the city and give a good understanding of Berlin’s past. After that, you could explore the alternative culture scene in neighborhoods like Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Neukölln, and see street art and graffiti. You may also want to consider visiting the East Side Gallery, which is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall covered in graffiti and street art.