Top Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin is filled with exciting neighborhoods, amazing architecture and fascinating bits of history waiting to be explored. If you're headed there, you'll have endless possibilities for things to do and see, but if you're short on time and need to pick a few, here's a list of some of the top things to do in Berlin.

Enjoy the view from the Fernsehturn

The Berliner Fernsehturn is an old television tower near the city center. At 1,207 feet (368 meters), the tower is the highest accessible public building in Europe and the tallest structure in Germany. A 40 second elevator ride takes visitors up to the sphere, where they can unparalleled views of the city. Feeling the need for a little extra exercise? You can also take the 986-step staircase.

Marvel at the Brandenburg Gate

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor) is one of the most recognizable German landmarks. Built as a symbol of peace in the 1700s, it was originally a city gate leading directly to the city palace of the Prussian monarchs. During the Cold War it became a symbol of a divided city. Then it took on a new meaning after the fall of the Berlin Wall, as a symbol of the newly-unified German state.

Head Over to the Reichstag Building

The Reichstag Building is Germany's second-most visited attraction. Though it opened in 1894, it was severely damaged in a fire in 1933 and fell into disuse until the 1960s. It wasn't until 1999 that it underwent a full restoration to become the stunning building it is today, complete with a large glass dome at the top, offering a 360-degree view of the city. Though entrance to the roof is free, visitors must register in advance.

Stroll the grounds of Schloss Charlottenburg

This Baroque Prussian royal palace was originally meant to be a small garden castle for the wife of Elector Fridedrich III, Sophie Charlotte. When Friederich became King of Prussia, the expansion of the palace, modeled after Versailles began. As a result, Charlottenburg became the largest palace in Berlin.

Visit the Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie

Though traces of the Berlin wall can be found throughout the city, it is the restored stretch along the southern border of Mitte and Wedding and Checkpoint Charlie that travelers visit. Haus am Checkpoint Charlie is a private museum located near there, which provides a comprehensive display of the walls and its history.

Explore Museum Island

Every museum nerd's dream, Museum Island is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Five world class museums make up this site on the banks of the Spree.

  • Neueus Museum: want to see one of the world's most famous renderings of a legendary beauty of ancient Egypt? Visit the Neueus Museum to see the bust of Queen Nefertiti, a 3,300-year old limestone bust of the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Akhenaten.

  • The Alte Nationalgalerie: if you love artwork for the Romantic, Neoclassical, Impressionist, Biedermeier or early Modernist periods, visit this museum.
  • The Bode Museum: After nine years of restoration and a $209 million refurbishment, the Bode Museum reopened its doors in 2006. It houses a famous collection of sculptures, as well as late Antique and Byzantine art, medals and coins.
  • Pergamonmuseum: one of the world's major archaeological museums, including a partial recreation of the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate at Miletus and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon. If you want to feel like you're stepping into an Indiana Jones movie,this is the place for you.

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  • Altes Museum: this museum was built in the 1800s to host the art collection of the Prussian royal family. Since it was restored in 1966, it has housed the antique collection of the Berlin State Museum.

Take a Trip to the Berlin Zoo

It's the oldest zoo in Germany and Europe's most popular zoo. Opened in 1841, it now houses almost 17,500 animals, many of them rare. The most famous zoo inhabitant was the polar bear cub Knut, whose 2007 birth made news around the world. An aquarium with one of Europe's largest collections of wildlife is part of the same complex.

Visit the Holocaust Memorial

The memorial covers an expansive one block area in the center of Berlin. It was designed as a huge network of cramped walkways between 2,711 gravestone-like slabs of concrete. Underneath the monument are four large rooms containing sobering exhibits.

Picnic, Bike or Hike Around Grunewald

As Berlin's largest forested area, Grunewald provides visitors with an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and is easily accessible via S-bahn. Located south-west of Charlottenburg, it is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the spring and summer. The woods can be explored by foot, on horseback or via bicycle.

What's your favorite thing to do in Berlin? Anything we should add to the list? Leave a comment!

Also looking for things to do not found in guidebooks? Check out this app written by locals from our friends at Urban Adventures - the Berlin Urban Adventures - Treasure mApp.

And if you're headed to Berlin, you can find the perfect place to stay via Tripping. Browse top sites to find a great Berlin vacation rental. Happy Travels!

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Post by Anis Salvesen.