There is hardly any other city in the world that has been the scene of such important historical events so often in the last century as the German capital Berlin.
From the Weimar Republic, the Second World War, the construction of the Berlin Wall to the reunification of West and East Germany: all these events are inextricably linked to what is now the most populous city in the European Union (approx. 3.6 million inhabitants).
Today Berlin is the seat of government, cultural center, a tourist magnet, and cosmopolitan city. The city shows more facets than almost any other city in the world and has incredible charisma. Berlin is a melting pot of different cultures and religions – there are more than 10,000 immigrants living in Berlin belonging to over 25 groups.
I will now take you on a tour of the ten most important places in Berlin. To explore each destination fully, you should take at least two days. I’ll also give you an example itinerary.
You’ll also find more information on admission fees, websites, and transport. Enjoy!
- Brandenburg Gate
- Holocaust Memorial
- Potsdamer square
- Checkpoint Charlie and Wall Museum
6. Bellevue Palace and Victory Column
7. Berlin Zoo
8. Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe)
9. Museum Island
10. Alexanderplatz with television tower
1. Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburg Gate is THE landmark of Berlin – you cannot visit this city without taking a photo here. The gate was built in the 18th century and is modeled on the Athens Acropolis. It is geographically in line with Bellevue Palace, the Victory Column, and Alexanderplatz.
On the top lies the quadriga – an ancient two-wheeled chariot with four draught horses.
During the Cold War, the Brandenburg Gate was not open to the public because it was located in a restricted area between the East and West. Today it stands a sign for German reunification like no other place.
More information: visitberlin.de
The Berlin Reichstag has been the seat of the German Parliament (Bundestag) since 1990 and was built in the late 19th century. The building was regularly the scene of historical events. In 1918 the Weimar Republic was proclaimed here and in 1933 the National Socialists instrumentalized the legendary Reichstag fire for their own purposes.
On top of the Reichstag, there is an 800-tonne dome made of glass and steel with a diameter of 40 meters, which can be visited by tourists just like the entire building. On the inside of the dome, two spiral paths wind their way upwards, leading visitors to a viewing platform.
Admission to the Reichstag and also to the glass dome is free of charge. However, one has to register online on the website of the Reichstag (see link below).
More information: German Bundestag
3. Holocaust Memorial
The “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, as the official name of the memorial opened in 2005, covers an area of approximately 19,000 square metres and is located in the immediate vicinity of the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. It is an installation consisting of an undulating field of 2711 stelae.
The memorial is the central Holocaust memorial in Germany and is intended to make visitors think, not least through its unusual external form. It can be entered from any side and admission is free.
Below the field is a “place of information”, where an exhibition documents the persecution and extermination of European Jews by the Nazis. Admission to the exhibition is also free.
More information: Holocaust Memorial
4. Potsdamer square
In the heart of Berlin lies the Potsdamer Platz. Formerly crossed by the Berlin Wall, the square now offers opportunities for shopping, going out, and experiencing the culture.
Some of the most important places to go are the Filmhaus in the Sony Center, where the Berlin Film Festival – the Berlinale – takes place every year, the Kulturforum on the south side of Potsdamer Platz, including the Philharmonic Hall, State Library and Museum of Musical Instruments, and the remains of the Berlin Wall.
In wintertime, Potsdamer Platz is transformed into a huge winter wonderland with Christmas markets, Europe’s largest toboggan run, curling, and après-ski huts.
More information: Potsdamer Square
5. Checkpoint Charlie and Wall Museum
At the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße, the former border crossing with the nickname “Checkpoint Charlie” is a reminder of the Cold War and divided Berlin. With its barrier, control house, US flag, and sandbags, this sight is a popular photo motif. The name comes from the fact that this was the third checkpoint used by the Allies in and around Berlin and that “Charlie” comes third in the international spelling alphabet (after “Alpha” and “Bravo”).
Since 1962, the Wall Museum has been located directly at Checkpoint Charlie. There, the experiences of GDR citizens who fled and the history of the Berlin Wall are presented. Highlights of the permanent exhibition are original Wall pieces, an escape car with a hiding place in the boot as well as fake and genuine travel documents.
Entrance fees Wall Museum:
- 14,50 EUR for adults
- 9,50 EUR for students
- 7,50 EUR for pupils (7-18 years)
- free admission for children under 6 years
More information: Wall Museum
- Facebook: @CheckpointCharlieMuseum
6. Bellevue Castle and Victory Column
Bellevue Palace has been the first and only seat of the German President (currently Frank-Walter Steinmeier) since 1994. The palace owes its name “Bellevue” to its picturesque location directly on the banks of the Spree and on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten.
The palace was built at the end of the 18th century in a transitional style between baroque and classicism. Since the palace is the actual official residence of the Federal President, it can only be visited from the inside by prior appointment. The registration period depends on the schedule of the Federal President and can last several months.
The Berlin Victory Column is located in the direct vicinity of Bellevue Palace. The monument, built in the middle of the 19th century, commemorates the German unification wars in the 19th century.
The Victory Column is 67 meters high. A spiral staircase with 285 steps leads to the viewing platform at a height of 51 meters. Before his election as president, Barack Obama already held a speech at the foot of the Victory Column in 2008.
Admission prices Victory Column:
- 3,00 EUR for adults
- 2,50 EUR for pupils and students
7. Berlin Zoo
The Zoological Garden Berlin is one of the oldest zoos in Germany and offers one of the greatest variety of species worldwide. More than 18,600 animals live on the 33-hectare area in the immediate vicinity of the railway station of the same name and the Berlin Memorial Church.
Founded in the middle of the 19th century, the zoo is home to about 1,400 animal species, including the aquarium. Apart from the animals, the entrance gates (Löwentor at Hardenbergplatz and Elefantentor at Budapester Straße) are also extremely worth seeing.
- 15,50 EUR for adults
- 10,50 EUR for pupils and students
- 8,00 EUR for children from 4 to 15 years
More information: Berlin Zoo
8. Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe)
The KaDeWE (short form for “Kaufhaus des Westens”) is a luxury department store in the heart of Berlin at Wittenbergplatz. Opened in 1907, the department store has been extended and rebuilt several times. Today it is one of the largest department stores in Europe with a sales area of 60,000 square metres.
The sixth of a total of seven floors is particularly well-known and popular, with a huge selection of international delicacies (the so-called “gourmet floor”). But the other floors also offer everything the shopping heart desires – beauty products, fashion, jewelry and much more!
More information: KaDeWe
9. Museum Island
The Berlin Museum Island is of breathtaking architectural beauty and high cultural value. Between Brandenburg Gate and Alexanderplatz, a total of five museums display important works of art from Egypt, Byzantium, and Berlin.
The Berlin Museum Island has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. In addition to the world-famous Nefertiti, the most important exhibits include the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate. The Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum‑, the New Museum, the Old National Gallery, and the Old Museum are located on the Museum Island.
Entrance fees (one ticket is valid for all museums):
- 18,00 EUR for adults
- 9,00 EUR for pupils and students
- free admission for visitors under 18 years of age.
More information: Museum Island
Extra: sometimes there are salsa nights outside the museums.
10. Alexanderplatz with television tower
Alexanderplatz is the largest square in Berlin and is located in the eastern centre of the city. Named after the Russian Tsar Alexander I, the “Alex”, as it is popularly known, first served as a parade and drill ground for the military in the 19th century. Today there are many shops, cinemas and restaurants. The Alex is also a central traffic junction.
Not only the Alex, but the entire city is dominated by the Berlin Television Tower, which is one of Berlin’s most important landmarks and, at 368 meters, the tallest publicly accessible building in Europe. From the viewing platform, you can enjoy a unique 360-degree view of the city and beyond.
Entrance fees to the television tower:
- 17,50 EUR for adults
- 14,00 EUR for students
- 9,50 EUR for children (4-17 years)
- 22,50 EUR Fast View Ticket for adults (without waiting times)
- 13,00 EUR Fast View Ticket children (without waiting time)
More information: Visit Berlin
Many roads lead to the same goal – and this is also true in Berlin. There are various ways to get from A to B, for example, by public transport or car-sharing. Below is a selection of means of transport:
Berlin’s famous subway system serves a total of 173 subway stations, distributed over a network of 146 kilometers and 10 lines. Both underground and on elevated railway lines, a trip on the U-Bahn is indispensable when visiting Berlin.
Information about tickets and timetables can be found HERE.
Where you cannot get by suburban train or subway, there is guaranteed to be a bus. From the upper deck of the characteristic double-decker buses, you’ll have a wonderful view.
Information about line networks, stops, and tickets can be found HERE.
Those who like to drive themselves can take advantage of one of the many car-sharing offers in Berlin. Within the city limits, cars can be rented and parked flexibly.
Information on the various offers and providers can be found HERE.
Those who prefer to explore the city in an environmentally friendly way sitting on a bicycle can take advantage of one of the various bike-sharing offers.
More information about providers and conditions can be found HERE.
You can find more information on places and activities in and around Berlin on the official websites of the city of Berlin and visitBerlin:
Are you interested in traveling around the world? In the Travel Section you can find detailed travel guides for different cities, touristic activities, recommendations, tips, and much more!
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