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Incredible things to do in Berlin, Germany, based off your interests

Dec 15, 2022 by Erin Arbaugh

The city of Berlin may be best known for its turbulent history, but Germany’s capital is so much more than graffiti-lined streets and war memorials. Here, cultures and interests don’t clash—they combine to create a harmonious, vibrant city that’s a little bit of everything (except boring, that is).

Sure, the city’s legendary monuments—from the Berlin Wall to the Brandenburg Gate—are among the most impressive things to see. But Berlin also boasts more parks than any other European city, a robust food scene, and plenty of opportunities for adventure. It’s a city that’s always looking toward the future while remembering and honoring the past. The best thing about Berlin is that it’s a city that encourages you to be yourself.

Here are our picks for the best things to do on our Berlin tours, based off your interests.

potsdam germany

If you’re a history buff: Discover the stories behind Berlin’s most iconic locations.

Berlin is a history lover’s dream. From the opulence of Prussian kings to the horrors of World War II to the triumph of the city’s reunification, there are reminders of the past embedded deep within the fabric of the city. “We absolutely loved the history, especially in Berlin,” said traveler Josalyn.

The city doesn’t shy away from its history, no matter how messy. You’ll be provided with plenty of opportunities to learn and reflect when you visit Berlin.

  • Visit the Holocaust Memorial. The rolling field of concrete slabs is accessible from all sides and evokes both reverence and momentary disorientation, giving visitors a chance to reflect and start a dialog about the past.
  • Travel back in time with a stop at Checkpoint Charlie. This recreated former border crossing wasn’t just the site of a standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union—it was also a popular escape point for those fleeing East Berlin. The guardhouse on-site is a replica that has been featured heavily in spy movies and period pieces. You’ll find the original guardhouse on display at the Allied Museum.
  • Take a walk through some of World War II’s most pivotal locations. Our American WWII History: London to Berlin tour will take you past sites like Hitler’s war bunker and the former headquarters of the SS and Gestapo. If you’re on one of our other Berlin tours, you can visit these sites on a walking excursion.
  • Travel to Potsdam. If you have a free day while visiting Berlin, consider an excursion to Potsdam. You’ll get to see Cecilienhof Palace, an impressive work of architecture surrounded by lush gardens. It’s the site where Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin drew up the Potsdam Agreement, restructuring postwar Europe and outlining the future of Germany. “Seeing the room for the Potsdam Conference, and the rooms for the three major leaders, was a highlight since I had recently read a book by Truman about this,” said traveler Melodee.

currywurst germany

If you’re a foodie: Sample Berlin’s local cuisine.

If you’re the type of person who prefers to schedule your sightseeing around mealtime, Berlin will not disappoint. The city is peppered with beer gardens, food trucks, food halls, and restaurants. Taste a little of everything, and make sure to leave room for a beer or two.

  • Try the currywurst. This pork sausage, slathered in a tangy-sweet mix of ketchup and curry powder, is one of the most popular street foods in Berlin. It’s surprisingly addictive and only made better by the heaping pile of french fries usually served on the side. The best part about currywurst? It’s equally appropriate as a snack after a late night out as it is as fuel for a day of walking around the city.
  • Get dinner in Savignyplatz. Known for its quaint shops and cheerily lit restaurants, this little square provides the perfect setting for an end-of-day meal. Grab a table outside, get cozy with one of Germany’s legendary beers, and watch the world go by.
  • Share an authentic meal with a local. On several of our Berlin tours, you’ll have the option to join a local in their home for a meal. Learn about their day-to-day life in Berlin and forge new friendships over dinner.
  • Pop into a beer garden for a relaxing beverage. A refreshing drink in a beer garden is the perfect way to unwind after a long day of Berlin sightseeing, and not just if you happen to be on our Oktoberfest: Grand Tour of Germany. Café am Neuen See is a restaurant and beer garden overlooking a lake in Berlin’s central Tiergarten park—conveniently located, yet surrounded by relaxing greenery. “We are happiest when we are enjoying a long, leisurely lunch or dinner,” said traveler Amanda. “So, highlights of our free time included an evening drinking glühwein (spiced mulled wine) around a fire pit at Café am Neuen See in Berlin.”

Related article: Guide to German beer: What to know about Oktoberfest & the best beer to try in Germany

kayaks spree river germany

If you’re looking for adventure: Step off the beaten path.

There are plenty of things to do in Berlin if you like your sightseeing sprinkled with a healthy dose of adventure. Berlin is one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities, and is easily explored by foot, bike, scooter, or even boat! If you’re looking for a little excitement on your Berlin tour, consider a less conventional approach to traversing the city.

  • See the city from new heights while speeding down a toboggan run. If you’re visiting Berlin on one of our Christmas market tours, be sure to check out Winterwelt (Winter World) at Potsdamer Platz. It features a 39-foot toboggan run that offers views of the Brandenburg Gate and the market below.
  • Bike along the Berliner Mauerweg (Berlin Wall Trail). The trail follows the former path of the wall, encircling what was known as West Berlin. You’ll pass by historic sites and through green spaces, and find informational plaques, memorials, and maps dotted along your route.
  • Kayak down the Spree. This river runs through the center of Berlin. If you really want to see the city from a new vantage point, take to the Spree and paddle your way past museums and cathedrals.

east side gallery berlin

If you’re an art aficionado: Find inspiration, indoors and out.

Berlin is regarded as a hub of art and culture—not just in Germany, but in all of Europe. West Berlin’s culture of freedom nurtured artistic experimentation, and locals still celebrate this ideal today. Their art and creativity can be discovered throughout the city.

  • Take a walk along the East Side Gallery. The world’s largest open-air gallery features over 100 works of art painted directly on the longest continuous section of the Berlin Wall still standing. French artist Thierry Noir is credited as the first to paint on the wall. His work inspired dozens of fellow artists to join him in adding messages of peace and political commentary to the concrete.
  • Visit one of Berlin’s many art museums. Museum Island—a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the middle of the Spree—houses five distinct museums, which in turn hold massive collections of art and artifacts. If you’re looking for Impressionist paintings, check out the Alte Nationalgalerie. If you’re more interested in sculpture, swing by the Bode Museum. If contemporary art is more your speed, the Hamburger Bahnhof holds an impressive collection—plus, it’s housed in a former train station.

Related article: Thierry Noir: Berlin’s revolutionary artist

Explore these tours to Berlin

christmas market germany

If you love shopping: Hunt for treasure in some of Berlin’s trendiest neighborhoods.

Whether you’re looking to get your hands on some casual German fashion or you’re stocking up on gifts for the holidays, shopping is one of the top things to do in Berlin. From broad avenues to tiny boutiques and vintage stores, Berlin has a lot of options for shoppers—just note that the shopping districts tend to be spread out across the city.

  • Spend an afternoon wandering down Ku’damm. Kurfürstendamm—or Ku’damm, to the locals—is Berlin’s most famous shopping avenue. You’ll find boutiques, department stores, and high-end international brands all on one street.
  • Explore KaDeWe. At the foot of Ku’Damm lies KaDeWe, Germany’s largest and most famous department store. The six-story building sells fashion, electronics, food, and everything in between.
  • Grab some souvenirs at the Christmas markets. If you visit Berlin during the holidays on our Christmas Markets of Historic Germany tour or as an extension of our Christmas Markets of Eastern Europe tour, make sure to leave extra room in your suitcase for souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones—and don’t forget to grab a mug of warm glühwein to sip while you shop!

Brandenburg Gate germany

If architecture is more your speed: Explore the beauty within the city.

If you’re an architecture aficionado on the hunt for things to see in Berlin, you won’t have to look too far. Modern architecture and historical buildings stand side-by-side throughout the city, so whether you prefer Baroque or Bauhaus, all you have to do is look up.

  • Stand beneath the Brandenburg Gate. The Brandenburg Gate is an iconic symbol of German reunification—the gate was closed to the public while the wall stood, but became a site of celebration after Germany was reunited. It’s also a stunning example of Neoclassical architecture. Although the gate commands attention, make sure you spend some time admiring the abutting Pariser Platz. (The square is one of the most beautiful in the city!)
  • Visit the Reichstag. Home of the German Parliament, the Reichstag is a gorgeous piece of architecture and a tribute to Berlin’s seamless integration of history and modernity. Our Historic Germany: Berlin to Bavaria tour will take you past the building, which features a contemporary glass dome housed behind an impressive 19th-century facade.

orchestra germany

If you’re a music lover: Immerse yourself in the local scene.

The former home of icons like David Bowie and Iggy Pop, Berlin has both influenced and been influenced by popular music. If you’re a music fan looking for fun things to do in Berlin, experiencing the local music scene should be at the top of your list.

  • Go to a free performance of the Berlin Philharmonic. Every Wednesday between September and June, the Berlin Philharmonic holds a free lunchtime concert in the foyer of their auditorium. The show begins at 1pm, and admission is offered on a first come, first served basis.
  • Dance ’til dawn at a techno club. Berlin’s techno clubs are notorious, and for good reason. These boundary-pushing spots epitomize the spirit of freedom within the city. If you choose to dance the night away, just remember to follow the rules—be safe, be respectful, and have fun.

berlin zoo

If you’re an environmentalist: Get in touch with nature.

Often considered the greenest city in Germany, Berlin contains over 2,500 parks and gardens. The city is also going green in other ways, reclaiming former airfields and other military sites as greenspace and placing restrictions on emissions allowed within city limits.

  • Take a stroll through the Tiergarten. The former hunting grounds of the royal family, the Tiergarten is one of the more incredible places to visit in Germany. It is now a 520-acre public garden bisected by a number of dirt trails. If you’re interested in the perfect setting for a quiet, leisurely afternoon, this is it.
  • Spend the day at the Berlin Zoo. A trip to the zoo is one of the best things to do in Berlin—especially if you’re visiting with children. It’s the largest in Europe and houses around 20,000 animals from over 1,000 different species, including Germany’s only family of giant pandas.

Related article: Top 4 Green Cities to Visit

Looking for things to do in Berlin, Germany, that pique your interests? Join us on one of our Berlin tours!

About the author | Erin Arbaugh
Erin grew up in New York’s winding woods, where she discovered a love for a lot of adventure, a little danger, and plenty of bug spray. Since then, she’s backpacked across Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano in a white out snowstorm, gone waterfall jumping in Costa Rica, and escaped the Patagonian wilderness just before COVID slammed the borders shut. Erin’s never met a food she won’t try once (lookin’ at you, fermented shark) or a wallet she can’t lose at least twice on any trip. Luckily, just like every trip's memories, it always comes right back.

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