What to do in Berlin: The ultimate Berlin city guide

by | Berlin

Berlin is one of our favorite cities in the world. It is cosmopolitan, worldly, quirky, exotic, bohemian, evolving, vibrant and so very, very alive — there is something to do or see or experience 24 hours a day if you are so inclined. Little wonder so many tourists, wanderers, artists, authors, musicians, actors and creative minds discover and fall in love with Berlin.


You will fall in love with Berlin too. Marvel at the Brandenburg Gate or immerse yourself in history and art on Museum Island. Enjoy a sunset from the top of the TV Tower. Visit the Reichstag building and wander up into the dome. Climb to the top of the Berliner Dom and walk around looking out at Berlin. Appreciate history and art colliding in the East Side Gallery. And that’s just for starters There’s The Holocaust Memorial – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Topography of Terror, the Memorial of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Stasi Museum and still more. If you are into street art, you’ll want to visit Urban Nation. No matter what your interests are, there is something here for you.

Whether you are visiting for one day, two days, a week or more, the best way to begin your quest to find what to do in Berlin is here. Our resource guide and links, map, as well as numerous articles highlighting insider traveling tips for you will ensure your visit to this historic city is memorable.

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The Berlin Travel Map

Know what to do in Berlin with our travel map. Use the map in tandem with our ultimate Berlin city guide to help you decide where to go, what to do next, and even find your way from one fantastic sight, restaurant or place to stay to the next.

Know what to do in Berlin – Travel Resources

Berlin Travel Weather

Click on the image below to launch our 36-hour forecast.

Getting to and from Berlin

  • By Train – It is easy to get to Berlin on either the fast train (InterCityExpress) or the other lines (InterCity, EuroCity, and InterRegio). For booking information, go to the Deutsche Bahn website here. Trains will depart or arrive primarily from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Berlin’s central train station and also its newest station), Ostbahnof (the east train station connects with S-Bahns going to Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz, or Bahnhof Zoo), and Südkreuz (north-south trains pass through here), Bahnhof Spandau (the ICE train from Hamburg / Hannover stops here).
  • By Plane – Most international flights will arrive and depart from Tegel TXL International Airport. There is no S-Bahn or U-Bahn station near the airport. To connect to the local trains and U-Bahn requires riding the TXL Express Bus or taking Express Bus X9. Both arrive and depart right outside the airport terminal.

Getting Around In Berlin

The official Berlin website offers detailed information regarding transportation, including ticket, fare and route map information. This is also the clearest way to understand the various tariff zones that Berlin is divided into — AB, BC and ABC.

  • U-Bahn, Bus, Tram  – (operated by BVG — bvg.de) Use the company’s Journey Planner to find the best routes combining all forms of public transportation, including the S-Bahn, between point A and B. Be sure to download the BVG app to use on your Android or iPhone.
  • S-Bahn – The local railway and a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn (the German railway system), and an often faster and more direct way to get places that are farther apart. It also runs mostly above ground.

Managing Money

The Euro is the currency Germany. Use the calculator from Oanda below to help you manage your money exchanges and know how much something selling in Euro would cost in dollars.

Currency Converter by OANDA

Berlin Welcome Card

One price includes admission to museums, attractions, special tours, as well as public transportation. Click on the image to open buying information.

Berlin Welcome Card

Language basics

Learning at least a few key phrases of the local language will be helpful and appreciated, even if many Germans (especially the younger generation) do speak English quite well. Be sure to read A German language cheat sheet for travelers and A traveler’s guide to dining and shopping in Germany before you go. Both have downloadable PDF’s you can take with you.


Guided Tours of Berlin

Know what to do in Berlin — traveling tips & destination advice

Stasi sights in Berlin not to miss

No visit to Berlin should be without a closer look at history – specifically the horrific history of East Germany’s former secret police, the Stasi. These Stasi sights in Berlin should find a place on your to-do list.

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Open-air exhibit traces fall of the Berlin wall

As a part of the developing “Campus for Democracy” at the former headquarters of East Germany’s state security or Stasi in Berlin, an open-air exhibit details the fall of the Berlin Wall and the peaceful revolution Berlin that helped bring about German unity.

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Urban Nation Berlin street art museum reopens with new exhibits

After being open just a year, the Urban Nation Berlin street art museum re-opened with a reinvention that truly speaks to its roots. A new street art exhibit, redesigned interior with an authentic street feel, and a number of street artists residences make this museum in Berlin a must to visit for art lovers of all kinds.

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Stasi Museum – Berlin museum brings alive Stasi terror

The Stasi Museum Berlin brings alive the terror lived by GDR’s residents for 41 years before the Berlin Wall fell. Inside the Stasi musuem walls a visitor is reminded why the Stasi secret police force of former East Germany was one of the most feared agencies in Europe.

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Long Night of Museums: all-night festivities in Berlin museums

Whoever thought we would stay up all night to go to museums? When the Long Night of Museums in Berlin rolled around this year, however, we were there – along with many thousands of our best friends for the night. This year, the 20th birthday of the museum night drew more than 30,000 visitors all across Germany’s capital city.

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5 great Berlin street food markets

As the burgeoning and bustling capital of Germany, Berlin offers an addicting restaurant scene with any international or trendy cuisine you may desire. But in keeping with its gritty, artistic ways, Berlin has a superior street food market scene. We show you 5 great Berlin street food markets you won’t want to miss.

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Thai Park Berlin a feast for eyes and tummies

Germany’s capital of Berlin offers every international food imaginable, in restaurants, street markets or, in the case of the most authentic Thai food in the city, spread across a park. Thai Wiese (Thai Park) comes alive every weekend with arguably the best Thai food in Berlin.

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Battle for Berlin memorial at Museum Seelower Höhen

Just 1 hour and 30 minutes east of central Berlin by car, near the Polish border and the Oder River is the site of the biggest battle of WWII fought on German soil – the Battle for Berlin. Memorializing this battle at at Seelower Höhen (Seelow Heights) and located at the highest point overlooking the farmlands below sits the Museum Seelower Höhen.

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Q110 Bank of the Future in Berlin by Deutsche Bank gets revamp

Earlier in 2016, HI Travel Tales wrote about a new kind of banking experience by Deutsche Bank called “Q110 Bank” or “Bank of the Future.” We were quite enthralled by the casual and friendly, yet efficient and hard-working experience. The concept we wrote about had been active for several years without much change (the branch itself originally opened in 2005), so Deutsche Bank decided it was time to re-think its original “concept bank” and try out something different. The update was unveiled on Nov. 18, 2016, on a rainy day near the outlet not far from Checkpoint Charlie in central Berlin (Mitte).

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Haunting history on Berlin Underground tours

Underground city tours always seemed to be a tourist come-on to me, but then I discovered Berlin Underground tours. Not a for-profit business, not a tour that drops you off in a gift shop, not a tour that starts in a bar and highlights raucous partying, this is the real deal in Berlin’s Underground.

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Quick Prenzlauer Berg travel guide to a Berlin hotspot

One of our favorite areas to highlight in our Prenzlauer Berg travel guide (and there are so many wonderful places it is hard to pick just one) is indeed along Kollwitzstrasse and around the Kollwitzplatz (named after artist Kathe Kollwitz appropriately enough — check out her artwork at Artsy’s Käthe Kollwitz page). Farmers markets, street festivals and more are regular occurrences.

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Artist’s war memorial at Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz

The memorial on the Berlin Bethlehemkirchplatz (Bethlehem Church Square) is actually the work of Spanish artist Juan Garaizabel to commemorate the Bohemian Bethlehem Church. This small church was built for Bohemian evangelical refugees in about 1735 and was a center of the community. It was destroyed by bombing in 1943.

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Berlin Bank of the Future by Deutsche Bank

A concierge? A gift and trinket store? A bar and coffeehouse? Waiters and fine décor? This is a bank? Yes, this is Germany’s “Deutsche Bank” — the so-called “Bank of the Future” in central Berlin, the company’s one-and-only concept bank where it tests ideas for the world.

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Berlin Wall 25th anniversary commemorates fall and freedom

It’s been 25 years since the Berlin Wall came tumbling down … suddenly, surprisingly, peacefully. Memories of the wall’s horrors seem like yesterday to those of us old enough to remember it and to have personally seen the wall and its “death zone.” The Berlin Wall 25th Anniversary remembrance reminds us to never forget.

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Where to stay in Berlin

We recommend the following very different though equally wonderful hotels: Hotel Oderberger, Hotel am Steinplatz, and Hotel Tiergarten. You can search for other hotels and accommodations using our Booking.com map, below, showing best deals on top hotels in Berlin. By booking your stay using Booking.com, we receive a small commission and you pay no more than if you would have booked directly … which helps us keep the lights on here in our offices, so thank you in advance for your support.


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The Ultimate Berlin City Guide

Michael Hodgson & Therese Iknoian
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Michael Hodgson & Therese Iknoian

Co-Conspirators at HI Travel Tales
Award-winning travel writers, Michael Hodgson and Therese Iknoian, use words, art, video and photography to guide you on their journeys around the world, and inspire you to embark on your own travel adventure soon. They are members of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Professional Travel Bloggers Association.
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