Things to Do in Berlin, Germany (Hometown Series)
The Hometown Series has taken us to cities and small towns around the world, giving us the inside scope on the location from a local! The series has taken us to San Jose in the Golden State of California, the city skylines of Brisbane, the roaring thunder of Niagara Falls, Ontario, the small town of Russellville, Arkansas, the capital city of Delhi, the tiny New York town of Herkimer, and beyond! This week we will travel to Germany’s capitol city and discover the many fabulous things to do in Berlin with Ali from Berlin Travel Tips!
I’ve been living in Germany since 2011, but in 2015, my husband and I moved to Berlin. It’s a fantastic city with so many people from all around the world, which was a big appeal. The intriguing history of a city that was divided for so long makes it a great place to explore for tourists and locals alike. No matter what you enjoy doing, Berlin has you covered!
Top Things to Do in Berlin
Go to the Bernauer Strasse Berlin Wall Memorial
Most people visiting Berlin know to check out the East Side Gallery, that famous still-standing section of the Berlin Wall that’s covered in art. It really is wonderful, and you should go see it. But the Bernauer Strasse Memorial gets overlooked, and I think that’s a shame.
Bernauer Strasse is a street that was divided by the Wall, with one side of the street remaining in the West, while their neighbors across the street were over the line in the East. This huge outdoor memorial tells the story of those who lived there, teaching you how people tried to escape, successfully and unsuccessfully, how a church and cemetery were displaced, and much more.
At the Nordbahnhof end of the street is the visitor center. I highly recommend going in to watch the two short films about the Wall. They’re very moving, and every time I bring guests, I get choked up.
Halfway down the street you’ll see a building across from the memorial, and it has a tower you can go up. It’s not very high, but it gives you a view over the section of Wall that still stands and into the former death strip.
Get the best views from the TV Tower
The TV Tower is one of the most iconic sights in Berlin. Built by the Soviets during the Cold War, it was intentionally constructed to be tall enough to see from almost anywhere in the city.
Today you will still see the TV Tower unexpectedly pop up behind a building or around a corner as you explore Berlin. It makes for some really great pictures. It’s also one of the best places to go for views of Berlin from above. Touristy yes, but if you want the views, you have to go to the highest point around. Book ahead to avoid the long lines.
Visit Charlottenburg Palace
Do you like visiting castles when you travel? Then don’t miss the best castle in Berlin, Charlottenburg Palace. This was Sophie Charlotte’s summer palace and now serves as a museum. It’s a gorgeous Baroque palace with Rococo interiors, and it was built in 1695.
The palace is surrounded by a huge park and has intricate gardens in the back. Even if you don’t want to go inside, you can admire the palace from the outside and explore the park and gardens without having to purchase a ticket.
Book the free Reichstag Tour
The Reichstag Building is the seat of the German Parliament, and you can take a tour in its impressive glass dome on top. The best part? It’s free! The only downside is that you must register ahead of time, and it’s often booked up weeks in advance.
The self-guided audio tour takes you up the path into the glass dome while telling you interesting information about the German government, history, facts about the building and surrounding areas, and more. This is a great activity for all ages.
Look down to find Stolpersteine
When the Nazis ruled Germany, Jews and many others were taken from their homes and sent off to concentration camps, often resulting in their death. Today these victims are honored in many different ways, including one simple but effective way called Stolpersteine.
Stolpersteine, which translates to “stumbling stones”, are small brass plaques placed in front of the former homes of Holocaust victims. These plaques list the names, birth and death dates, date they were deported, and where they were taken.
They exist all over Europe, but you’ll find the highest concentration of them in Germany. Look down while walking around Berlin, and you’re sure to see a few while you’re here.
Go for a walk on Unter den Linden
Many of Berlin’s attractions can be found in Mitte, the central district of the city. One of the most beautiful streets here is Unter den Linden, a wide, tree-lined boulevard. It runs between Museum Island and Brandenburg Gate, and it’s a gorgeous area for a stroll while stopping as you go to see the sights.
If you start from Brandenburg Gate and walk east, you’ll see sights like Bebelplatz and the Nazi book burning memorial, the Berlin State Opera House, several museums and monuments, and eventually you’ll reach Museum Island. This is where you’ll find the famous Berlin Cathedral and the UNESCO museum ensemble the island is named for.
If you keep going, the street name changes, but there are still more attractions, like more museums, the Neptune Fountain, and eventually you’ll reach the TV Tower and Alexanderplatz.
On the other side of Brandenburg Gate, to the west, you’ll find Tiergarten park, the Holocaust Memorial, and the Reichstag Building.
Visit Tempelhof park, a former airport
Berlin has lots of quirky sights, and Tempelhof Park is one of them. I love this park because it’s so unique. It used to be an airport, but it closed in 2008, and in 2010, it was turned into a park that is now a local favorite.
If you’re interested in history, this park will intrigue you because it was the base of the Berlin Airlift during the Blockade. The Soviets had blocked all land routes into West Berlin, so instead, supplies were flown into West Berlin.
Today it is a huge park where you can still see the runway and the terminal building. People walk, run, cycle, and skate here. The park has several fenced areas for off leash dogs, gardening sections, bird protection areas, and it’s a great place for picnics.
The airport building has been used for lots of different purposes, such as a vaccination center, refugee temporary housing, and recently there was a special event showing movies. You can also take a tour of the building.
Where to Eat in Berlin
After sightseeing, you probably want a nice meal. Just a few blocks away from many tourist attractions is Gaststätte Sophieneck, a traditional German tavern where you can have schnitzel, sausages, or many other dishes. Wash it down with a tasty German beer.
But Berlin isn’t really like the rest of Germany, and you’ll find loads of international restaurants serving delicious food, from Vietnamese and Turkish and so much more. One of the most interesting places to eat, if you’re visiting during warm months, is Thai Park.
Thai Park is actually located in Preußenpark, and it’s where you’ll find stalls selling Thai food (mostly) that’s both cheap and delicious. They started selling food here decades ago while gathering with their families, and someone asked if they could buy some of their wonderful-smelling food.
Where to Stay in Berlin
Looking for a place to stay that’s worth the splurge? The 25 Hours Hotel is fantastic! It’s located near the Berlin Zoo, and rooms on the Zoo side actually overlook Tiergarten and the Zoo. There are city view rooms, but that view isn’t so impressive, so it’s worth the extra expense to book the Zoo view rooms.
This trendy hotel also has a great bar called Monkey Bar. It also looks out over the Zoo and Tiergarten, and they have tasty and creative cocktails. Even if you don’t want to splurge on the hotel, try to stop for a drink at Monkey Bar.
Bio: Ali Garland is a full-time blogger who visited all 7 continents before her 30th birthday. She is originally from the US, but she and her husband have been living in Berlin since 2015. They recently added an adorable Yorkie to their family. Ali loves Berlin and is dedicated to sharing the best advice for visiting this fascinating city on her site Berlin Travel Tips.
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