Germany’s capital is a hard-partying metropolis with a tumultuous history and tons of cultural attractions. Of course, you can’t escape reminders of the Holocaust and the Cold War, but Berlin isn’t singularly defined by its painful past. Remnants of the infamous wall that once divided the East and West are now clad in colorful murals, a testament to how far the city has come. Add to that a vibrant art scene, legendary nightlife and many modern attractions.
With so much to see and do, you couldn’t possibly bang it all out in one or two days. Want to make the most of your time in Berlin? Add these fun, funky and fascinating things to your itinerary. Here, the best 50 things to do in Berlin.
1. RENT A BIKE
Renting a bike gives you the flexibility to navigate Germany’s expansive capital on your terms. Ask your hotel or hostel for recommendations (they probably rent them or can refer you to one of the hundreds of shops around town) or check out the bike-share program, Call a Bike.
2. HOP ABOARD THE U-BAHN
You could certainly hoof it or pay a pretty penny to Uber everywhere, but the U - Bahn remains the most expedient and cost-effective option.
3. CHECK OUT THE EAST SIDE GALLERY
In 1990, artists from 21 countries transformed the longest intact section of the Berlin Wall from a symbol of communist oppression to a vibrant commemoration of peace. The open-air gallery, which underwent a face-lift in 2009, attracts millions of tourists each year.
4. WANDER AROUND KREUZBERG
Berlin has a wild, rebellious spirit. Nowhere is that more evident than the eclectic Kreuzberg neighborhood, where counterculture, graffiti and creativity thrive.
5. PEEP STREET ART
Renowned street artists such as Banksy, Sobre and El Bocho have all left their colorful mark on the city—and many of those iconic tags are in Kreuzberg.
6. SAMPLE STREET FOOD
Have a hankering for street food? Devour pulled pork sandwiches, vegan tofu burgers and ice cream-stuffed waffles at Markthalle Neun.
7. POP INTO PRINZESSINNENGARTEN
Eco-oriented initiatives are popping up throughout the city. Insert Prinzessinnengarten, an urban garden oasis with community-tended plots and a cute outdoor café.
8. HANG OUT IN GÖRLITZER PARK
Berlin is a playground when it's nice out. Take advantage of the weather with a leisurely afternoon in Görlitzer Park.
9. EAT CURRYWURST
If you go to Germany and don’t eat wurst, were you even really there? Ponder that question while polishing off a plate of currywurst, a popular fast-food dish consisting of pork sausage that’s smothered in curried ketchup and served alongside fries.
10. BOOZE (AND BURLESQUE) IT UP AT PRINZIPAL KREUZBERG
A self-proclaimed “rabbit hole of bizarre and unpredictable wonder,” Prinzipal Kreuzberg blends burlesque and boozy elixirs.
11. REST YOUR NOGGIN AT ORANIA.BERLIN
Orania.Berlin is a relaxed retreat in Kreuzberg. Stylish rooms are fitted with contemporary comforts like Apple TV, giant windows and Schramm mattresses for quality zzzs. The lounge also stages jazz, rock and world-music concerts.
12. EXPLORE MITTE
If you’re staying at Orania.Berlin, ride the U - Bahn from Moritzplatz five stops to Rosenthaler Platz. That will put you right in the heart of the city, Mitte (aka the middle). From there, you can explore the many restaurants, cafés and boutiques.
13. PERUSE CERAMICS AT MOTEL A MIIO
Regardless of whether you're in the market for ceramics, it's hard to resist the handcrafted bowls, plates, mugs and vases at Motel a Miio.
14. LOAD UP ON NUTRIENTS AT FUNK YOU
In the mood for healthy fare? Funk You is a cleverly named natural food haunt that mixes up juices, smoothies, salads and vegan treats in a cool, plant-filled space.
15. VISIT ALEXANDERPLATZ
From a cattle market to the site of a milestone anti-GDR demonstration to a transport center and busy shopping area, Alexanderplatz reflects Berlin’s past and present.
16. SEE THE WORLD CLOCK
While you’re there, glimpse the World Clock. A prominent feature of Alexanderplatz, it displays all 24 time zones.
17. SOAK IN THE VIEWS FROM BERLINER FERNSEHTURM
Nearby, you’ll find Berliner Fernsehturm, a 368-meter television tower and the tallest building in Berlin. Its observation deck provides unique perspective high above the city.
18. LUNCH AT RESTAURANT SPHERE
Restaurant Sphere in Berliner Fernsehturm revolves 360 degrees every 30 minutes. Because nothing pairs better with potato dumplings than spellbinding panoramas. Right?
19. GO TO MUSEUM ISLAND
Folks interested in archaeology and art should prioritize a trip to Museum Island.
20. TAKE A BREATHER IN JAMES SIMON PARK
Need a break from sightseeing? Rest your legs on a brightly colored chair in James Simon Park.
21. REFLECT ON RECENT HISTORY AT THE BERLIN WALL MEMORIAL
It’s hard to imagine that division was a part of daily life for Berliners from August 13, 1961, until November 9, 1989. The Berlin Wall Memorial commemorates the impact of the barrier that separated the city for decades.
22. HEAD TO MAUERPARK ON SUNDAY
Located on the land that was the “death strip” between East and West Berlin, Mauerpark (which translates to "Wall Park”) hosts a lively flea market with food stalls and karaoke sessions on Sundays.
23. MEANDER ALONG ODERBERGER STRASSE
Also in Prenzlauer Berg, Oderberger Straße is a hub of vintage shops, record stores, cute cafés and hip bars.
24. TOSS BACK A PINT AT PRATER GARTEN
To learn more about local beer, visit Prater Garten. A Berlin institution since 1837, it’s the oldest beer garden in the city.
25. PERK UP AT DISTRIKT COFFEE
Stave off the dreaded mid-afternoon slump (yes, it even happens on vacation) with a caffeine boost courtesy of Distrikt Coffee.
26. FIND YOUR WAY TO BUCK & BRECK
It's easy to miss Buck & Breck, an intimate speakeasy with potent tipples and a no-phone policy. The only indication you're in the right spot? The discreet buzzer that reads "bar."
27. RESERVE A TABLE AT KATZ ORANGE
A highlight of dining out in Berlin, Katz Orange focuses on seasonality and sustainability (that means using every product in its entirety).
28. CLIMB THE GLASS DOME OF THE REICHSTAG BUILDING
After a massive restoration, the magnificent Reichstag Building again shines in all its glory. Travelers can ascend the glass dome and relish the 360-degree views for free.
29. CELEBRATE FREEDOM AT BRANDENBURG GATE (BRANDENBURGER TOR)
Snap a few photos in front of Brandenburg Gate, the ultimate symbol of freedom.
30. PAY YOUR RESPECTS AT THE MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE
A visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is sobering, but it's incredibly important to understand European history and honor the millions of lives lost in the Holocaust.
31. STROLL THROUGH TIERGARTEN
32. MEET WILDLIFE AT THE BERLIN ZOO
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! The Berlin Zoo boasts 1,500 different types of animals.
33. SIP COCKTAILS AT TIGER BAR
Fancy a craft cocktail? Tiger Bar is the perfect place for an aperitif before dinner.
34. DINE AT PANAMA
Next door, Panama serves contemporary German cuisine with an international twist. Menu favorites include dry-aged rump steak as well as fried chicken with cabbage and chili maple syrup. Don’t forget to make a reservation.
35. ADMIRE CHARLOTTENBURG PALACE
Grand both in size and scale, Charlottenburg Palace dazzles with its lavish rococo interiors and manicured grounds.
36. WAIT IN LINE FOR BERGHAIN
People wait outside Berghain for hours in hopes of gaining admittance to the king of clubs. To that end, the lengthy queue and discriminating door policy have become as notorious as the debauchery that ensues inside.
37. PARTY AT KATER BLAU
For something less hard-core, seek out Kater Blau. Categorized as more of a middle-speed spot with melodic techno music, it’s still a fist-pumping party...though certainly tamer than Berghain.
38. BOOGIE ALL NIGHT AT SISYPHOS
Housed in an old factory with a large outdoor area, Sisyphos beckons club-goers to dance until dawn and then watch the sunrise.
39. HIT UP CLUB DER VISIONAERE ON SUNDAY
Situated on a scenic canal, between Kreuzberg and Treptower Park, Club der Visionaere is a great environment for chill drinks. Don’t miss the Sunday afternoon parties.
40. EMBRACE PUNK SUBCULTURE
41. DEVOUR LATE-NIGHT GRUB AT SCHWARZES CAFÉ
No matter what time hunger strikes, you can bank on Schwarzes Café. It’s open 24/7 (with the exception of 3 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Tuesday).
42. GET LOST IN KAUFHAUS DES WESTENS
Sprawling 60,000 square meters, Kaufhaus des Westens is the second-largest department store in Europe. We dare you to leave empty-handed.
43. DROP A FEW EUROS ON KURFÜRSTENDAMM
One of Berlin’s most famous avenues, Kurfüstendamm often draws comparisons to Champs-Élysées in Paris.
44. SCOUR SECONDHAND STORES
45. SWING BY POTSDAMER PLATZ
You might recognize Potsdamer Platz from live footage of “The Wall,” a watershed rock concert that took place just days after German reunification. Decades later, the historic square buzzes with shops, restaurants and entertainment.
46. MAKE YOUR WAY TO CHECKPOINT CHARLIE
An important Cold War landmark, Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin.
47. BUY TICKETS TO A COMEDY SHOW
After a heavy day, laugh and lift your spirits at Cosmic Comedy Berlin.
48. APPRECIATE CONTEMPORARY ART AT GROPIUS-BAU
Originally built in 1881 and meticulously restored in the late 1970s, Gropius-Bau is an acclaimed venue that showcases a diverse array of contemporary art exhibitions.
49. SPRAWL OUT IN TEMPELHOFER FELD
Spend a few hours lazing on grassy lawns in Tempelhofer Feld, an abandoned airport turned public park.
50. VENTURE TO TEUFELSBERG
A Cold War listening station, constructed on a mound of WWII rubble, piled atop the remains of a never-completed Nazi military university, Teufelsberg has heaps of history. Nowadays, travelers can tour the formerly secret site, while soaking in the eerie ambiance and fantastic vistas.