Top Things to Do in Berlin

You could spend a year in Berlin and still not finish everything on your to-do list. For those with limited time, we've rounded up the most popular landmarks and attractions that should be on everyone's to-do list if you're in town for only a couple of days.

If you're short on cash as well as time, check out our guide, Affordable Sightseeing on the Berlin BVG, which will lead you from West to East past several city highlights, all for the cost of a one-day ticket. Looking for a more unique way to see the sights? Trabis (former East German cars), beer bikes, and Segways offer new perspectives on city classics; find out more in 3 Quirky Ways to Discover Berlin on a Tour.

For families, note that all state museums offer free admission to those under 18.

Museum Island (Museuminsel)

Built on a small island in the Spree River is a unique ensemble of five museums: the Altes Museum (1830), considered to be architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s neoclassical masterpiece; the

Tiergarten Park

Created as hunting grounds for the Electors of Brandenburg, the park we know today was designed in the early 1800s by landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné and includes a pond with boat rentals and a café at the beloved

The “Alex” TV Tower

Berlin’s most iconic building, the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz, was built by the GDR (East Germany) in the 1960s with the double purpose of transmitting television signals and demonstrating the strength and efficiency of the socialist system.

Reichstag and Foster's Glass Cupola

In the last 100 years, this massive neo-Renaissance building has been set on fire, bombed, wrapped in paper by artist Christo, and renovated by Lord Norman Foster. It is now the seat of the German Parliament.

Brandenburg Gate

The definitive Berlin icon, Carl Gotthard Langhans’ Neoclassical triumphal arch has witnessed the city’s best and worst moments, from the military parades of the Third Reich to the Wall being raised and torn down.

Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe)

As Bloomingdale's is to New York, and Harrods to London, so is the Kaufhaus des Westens to Berlin. The Continent's largest department store attracts an impressive 40,000 visitors daily, luring in both visitors and locals with its lineup of designer labels and merchandise.

Philharmonie

The seat of the world-famous Berliner Philharmoniker orchestra, currently led by Sir Simon Rattle, is one of Germany’s finest post-War architectural achievements.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Berlin’s tribute to the victims of the Holocaust is as big as a soccer field and consists of 2711 tombstone-like slabs of equal size and varying heights placed on an uneven ground to convey a sense of claustrophobia and disorientation. The underground information center provides a timeline of Jewish persecution.

Gendarmenmarkt

The harmonious square was named after the gens d’armes, a Prussian army regiment of French Huguenots.

Mauer Museum (Haus am Checkpoint Charlie)

This privately-run exhibit explores the means and tools used by East Germans to escape the GDR until 1989: Trabant cars with hidden doors, hot air balloons, tunnels, and chairlifts were just some of the crafty inventions devised by GDR residents. Mon–Sun 9am–10pm. €12.50/6.50.