With the incredible amount of culture that Berlin has to offer, it is not hard to see why it is a hotspot for explorers from around the world. The German capital is famous for its massive party scenes, exquisite artwork and delicious food. Since its creation in the 13th century, Berlin has experienced one of the most fascinating histories we have ever heard. Spanning 900km2 and home to 4million residents, Berlin is the largest city in Germany in both population and size.
During our European Adventure we spent three days exploring this backpacker paradise. Taking in all of the best attractions, we managed to stick to our shoestring budget. From free walking tours to relaxing spa days, here are some of the best activities in Berlin.
For your visit to this city, the best piece of advice we can give you is to research the Berlin Welcome Card, as well as its alternatives. This card will give you free transport around the city, as well as discounted entry to the best activities in Berlin. Before buying this card, check out all of the activities included on the website here.
Being one of Europe’s largest city, getting around Berlin can seem quite a daunting task. Fear not, however, as we are here to help! Have a look at our Basic Guide to Getting Around Berlin, and make sure you know exactly what you’re doing before you arrive!
Original Alternative Walking Tour
The best way to start a trip to any city is with a free walking tour. This helps you get an idea of the layout of the city. You can then find out where things are ask your tour guide for insider tips and tricks. With plenty of walking tours available, we decided upon the Original Alternative Walking Tour. This walking tour takes you around some of the best artwork in Berlin, both mural and graffiti.
Starting at 180 hostel (beside Alexander Platz), you will walk to the station and get an S-Bahn to S+U WarschauerStraße, where the tour properly begins. Make sure you have some cash to buy a short trip ticket if you haven’t already got a day ticket. You will then spend the next two-three hours exploring Berlin’s Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Neukölln districts. You can view all of the Original Berlin tours available for your next visit right here.
Walking tours are an especially helpful tool for any newcomer as they give you the opportunity to learn about the city from a local’s point of view. They are also the perfect way to meet fellow travellers and here the inspirational stories they have to tell. Another excellent website for walking tours throughout the world is HiHiGuide. This offers affordable walking tours that are paid per hour, not per person.
Save money on your next group trip and book your tour here.
The Fernsehturm Television Tower
The Fernsehtrum is another one of the best activities in Berlin, especially at the beginning of your visit. Sitting at a whopping 207 metres, the observation deck gives you a bird’s eye view of the city, perfect for getting your bearings of the metropolis. This tower is the second tallest structure in the European Union, with the antenna stretching to 368m tall.
When it comes to visiting the tower, it is best done in the morning before the queues get too big and the viewing platform turns into a sauna. There are information plaques all around the viewing deck, telling stories of all of the top spots across the city. Make sure you pack plenty of water to stay hydrated in the heat.
Oh, and also your camera to capture the breathtaking views!
Located close to the vibrant hub of Alexander Platz sits Berlin’s only Bier Halle, the Hofbrau House. Serving a variety of beers and food this is an ideal stop for an evening meal and drink. For beer, expect to pay €4.90 for a bottle or for 0.5l. The food is also rather pricey, with meals starting from €10.
If it is the authentic German atmosphere you are looking for, then a Bier Halle is the way to go! With long, wooden benches, beer served from wooden kegs and waiting staff dressed in traditional attire, the Hofbrauhaus is a the perfect place to lose yourself in German culture. PLUS, the Germans definitely know how to brew a beer!
Upon the end of World War II in Europe, what was once Germany was divided into four parts. It was the shared amongst the occupying Allied powers; France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union. Not long after this, France, the US and the UK all decided to combine their zones of the country, to form what would be known as West Germany. It so happened that this East and West divide ran through Berlin.
Between the splitting of the country in 1945 and 1961, movement between the East and the West became increasingly stringent. Border controls were introduced and became more and more difficult to get past. Finally in 1961 the border was closed and the Berlin Wall was constructed. In just two days, East German troops created 156km of impassable road blocks around the three western sectors, and over a 43km through Berlin.
This stretch of land through the capital city was modified and expanded over the next few years until the wall you see today was established. For the next 28 years, the residents of Berlin would be unable to cross the border between East and West, separating them from friends, family and even lovers.
This piece of history has always been one of fascination for me, as I simply could not begin to understand the scale of this structure, and the consequences it had. It is a definite highlight of our visit to Berlin. Between hearing the stories of the locals from this period of time and seeing the wall itself, it was one of the most eye-opening experiences of our trip.
Checkpoint C, also known as Checkpoint “Charlie”, is the most famous of border crossings in Berlin during the Cold War. Upon construction of the Berlin Wall, this checkpoint was one of the only methods of crossing from West to East (and vice versa) legally. It is particularly famous for being the spot where, during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, Soviet and American tanks faced each other across the border in a standoff.
Take a walk past this unique part of history and learn the stories of the area from the artwork on nearby buildings. There is also a pretty cool bar across the road from this tourist attraction, perfect for a refreshing pint (another one of the must-do activities in Berlin).
Built in the late 19th century, the Reichstag building played a major part in German politics for the first half of the 20th century. After World War II finished, the building fell into disuse, with neither side of Berlin using it as a government building. Upon the reunification of Berlin in 1990, this building underwent a full reconstruction, and eventually became the meeting point of the German parliament.
The dome of the Reichstag building is open to visitors (via preregistration here), and offers a panoramic view of the surrounding city. The engineering of the dome itself is particularly fascinating. In order to prevent the sun from dazzling any persons inside the building, a dynamic sunshield blocks sunlight from entering. This is done by electronically tracking the suns movement and moving the sunshield automatically.
During the horrors of WWII, it is estimated that approximately 3million Jewish Europeans were murdered at the hands of the Nazis. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a place of reflection and remembrance of these people. Designed by the architect Peter Eisenman, this 19,000 square metre memorial site consists of 2711 concrete slabs, arranged in lines forming a maze-like plane.
This is one of the most unique sights we saw on our European trip, largely due to the size of the memorial. A must-see part of Berlin.
This impressive landmark dates back to the 18th-century. Built on the site of the former Berlin city gate, the Brandenburg Gate marks the start of the route from Berlin to the nearby town of Brandenberg an der Havel. It was also commissioned by Frederick William II of Prussia to represent peace. Upon the demolition of the Berlin Wall, this gate also signified freedom and reunification of Berlin.
This attraction is a hugely popular tourist spot, with easy access to the nearby park named Grober Tiergarten. It is also just minutes away from the Reichstag Building and the Komische Oper Berlin, the cities opera house.
Liquidrom Thermal Baths
The Liquidrom thermal baths offers the perfect way to end a day of lots of walking. Dip into the freezing plunge pool, soak your feet in a hot bath and zen out in the silent, dark and sensory pool area. There are also saunas and a steam room, but be prepared to leave your swimsuits outside as they aren’t allowed in! An indoor and outdoor seating and bed area is the ideal end to a chilled couple of hours. If you’re feeling peckish then you can enjoy a relaxing lunch with an onsite bar serving food and drink.
At €19.95 for 2 hours, this is an experience you don’t want to miss, even when it is 35 degrees outside!
So that’s it! These are all of our favourite spots around the capital city of Berlin. If you are planning a trip here then you will need some advice on getting around this huge metropolis. Check out our basic guide to getting around Berlin and hit the ground running!
Catch up with the rest of our European Adventure and get inspired to visit more of the continents fascinating places. Also why not swing by our social medias and say HI!
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