Berlin, the German capital, is a fascinating city that attracts more than 11 million visitors yearly. It’s a city jam-packed with so many cool activities in Berlin that you’ll never be wondering what to do.
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The city is best known for its historical associations, lively nightlife, numerous cafés, clubs, bars, street art, and an abundance of museums, palaces, as well as other must-do Berlin attractions. However, it’s a city that takes some time to get to know.
Once you’ve covered the major sights, head straight to the back streets and learn about Berlin’s alternative culture. In this city, the locals are edgy, the drinks are affordable, the artwork is vibrant and the bars are plentiful.
It is also one of the most eco-friendly cities in Europe! It is one of few places in the world where sustainable travelers can find vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Additionally, conscious shops in surplus and where green urban and smart buildings are at the forefront of building efforts.
Best Time to Visit Berlin
Visit in Summer For The Best Weather
A day in this city can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but summer (May through September) is when the weather is ideal for roaming around the city and taking in places to see in Berlin. The temperature in the summer often hovers around 23-25°C, with a low chance of precipitation.
Spring and Fall Have Their Perks
Weather in Spring and Fall can be chilly (and sometimes very chilly). However, if you are not afraid of a little cold, this is a great time for budget travelers to see the famous places in Berlin. Low season means more deals and cheaper accommodation.
Temperatures usually stay between 12-20°C and the city sees more rain than in the summer. So bring an umbrella or rain jacket, if you want to explore famous tourist spots this time of the year.
Get Swept Up in The Holiday Season
Despite the cold, the middle of winter is a great time to explore the sights to see. Especially if your visit coincides with the famous Christmas Markets and New Year’s Eve celebrations. It is a visit that certainly won’t get spoiled by the cold weather.
Just remember to bring weather appropriate clothing. Since the temperatures drop down to 0 to – 5 and cold winds blow in from the north you’ll want to be bundled up while exploring must-see Berlin attractions.
Top Things to do in Berlin
You won’t be wondering where to go in Berlin since the city has a plethora of must-see places in Berlin. Here you’ll find everything from museums and art galleries to some of the best nightlife in all of Europe and eco-friendly markets and shops to explore.
Visit Berlin’s Main Attractions
Any first time visitor to Berlin needs to delve into the city’s rich history by exploring some of the city’s top attractions.
Brandenburg Gate: This iconic landmark is a must-do in Berlin. It has a long history with roots going back to the 1600’s. However, today it stands as an important landmark meant to embody the unity and peace of East and West Berlin.
Berlin Cathedral: This stunning cathedral is the answer to what to do in Mitte Berlin. Built in the 1800’s it contains royal tombs and is known for its rich architecture.
Friedrichs Bridge: This national monument was built in 1703 and is one of the main crossings from Museum Island to mainland Mitte.
Alexanderplatz: This historical square is another Berlin must-see. It is located next to the TV tower and is the main transportation hub.
Potsdamer Platz: Formerly part of the border zone, today Potsdamer Platz is a lively square with lots of nearby restaurants and shops. Make sure you add it to your Berlin to-do list.
Checkpoint Charlie: One of the most famous crossing points of the Berlin Wall. In Berlin, during the east and west divide this was the only entry point for diplomats and foreigners.
TV Tower: For unrivaled views of the city from above, TV Tower is one of the top things to do in Berlin. Head to the observation deck.
Berlin is quite spread out so a good way to check off of these interesting places to visit in Berlin is by taking a hop-on-hop-off bus. The live commentary makes this kind of tour a convenient and affordable way to learn more about each destination while still having the option of exploring the best places in Berlin at your own pace.
Explore Museums and Galleries
Art and history lovers will be fascinated by the vast array of galleries and museums in Berlin. Kulturforum, Mauermuseum at Checkpoint Charlie, and the Berlin Wall Memorial are perhaps the most famous of the bunch, but there are dozens of others that should be added to your list of things to do in Berlin.
The DDR Museum gives visitors a glimpse into life under the iron curtain through interactive exhibits.
Currywurst Museum is one of the most unusual things to do in Berlin. This quirky museum explores the history of the nation’s famous dish.
Travelers on a budget will be happy to learn that many of the city’s top tier places to go in Berlin are free. A visit to the German-Russian Museum is one of the best free things to do in Berlin. It offers a glimpse into the Soviet relations of yesteryear.
The Anti-War Museum exhibits work by historical pacifists and the Daimler’s Contemporary Gallery has an interesting collection which includes some works by Andy Warhol.
Domane Dahlem is an organic farm with sprawling orchards and lots of farm animals which also has a FREE open-air museum. It’s an eco-friendly activity, and free museum all in one. It’s accessible via public transportation system and a great activity if you are looking for what to do in Berlin with kids.
Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the city has developed into an artist hot spot, with galleries, art fairs, and exhibits popping up in every corner of the German capital.
The Gemäldegalerie Art Gallery has most of the most comprehensive collections of art in the world. If you like art, a visit here is one of the Berlin activities you shouldn’t miss.
For an intimate gallery experience stop by Museum Berggruen. It was started by art collector Heinz Berggruen who donated the bulk of his collection to the city in the 70’s. It contains works by Matisse and Picasso.
Check out the Outdoor Art Scene
What to see in Berlin? Street art! You don’t have to lock yourself in a museum to enjoy the city’s vibrant art scene. Street art is equally as big of an attraction and one of the best things to see in Berlin! Luckily it is one you can enjoy for free. Street art can be found pretty much everywhere, but Kreuzberg is a particularly cool area to check out.
Berlin is home to the world’s longest outdoor mural, the East Side Gallery, which is a 1.3 km long section of the Berlin Wall and definitely a must-see. It features 105 paintings by artists from all over the world.
Grab your ticket to the East Side Gallery Wall Museum to save time gaining entry to this Berlin must-do attraction.
Join one of Berlin’s Walking Tours
Walking tours are an awesome way to experience the many faces of the city. Not only are they cost-effective (most of them are free or extremely cheap!) – they’re also an eco-friendly way of seeing the city. With a walking tour, you’ll spend a few hours delving into the top stuff to do in Berlin with a local.
When anyone asks us what to do around Berlin, our first suggestion is always a walking tour. The Alternative Berlin Walking Tour was one of the best things we did in Berlin.
To experience the best places to visit in Berlin, don’t miss one of these walking tours:
- Alternative Berlin Walking Tour: This is one of our favourite tours in the city. This free 3-hour long experience dives into Berlin’s underground sights & sounds, world-famous street art, graffiti culture, haunts and hangouts of the famous and infamous, and the landmarks of rock, reggae, punk, and electronic music. It’s one that we highly recommend to travelers looking to get a better understanding of culture in Berlin.
- Berlin Street Art and Graffiti Tour and Workshop: This tour explores the history of street art in Berlin, as well as the techniques and etiquette of street artists. Afterwards, you’ll get to try your hand at creating your own street art on the walls of an old factory. It’s definitely one of the most fun things to do in Berlin.
- Third Reich and Cold War Walking Tour: History buffs will love this tour of historical Berlin sights to see. Your impassioned tour guide will spend 2 hours explaining the significance and story behind famous landmarks.
- GreenMe Tours: This eco-community and NGO in Berlin offers all sorts of sustainable living tours of their city. From vegan foodie tours to ethical designs and shopping tours to neighbour tours. Sustainable travelers, like us, will consider GreenMe tours one of the best things to do in Berlin.
Get on the Water and Experience the City from a Boat Tour
If a walking tour doesn’t interest you – or just want another way to see more of this beautiful city – try a boat tour. Alternatively, if you are wondering what is there do in Berlin for relaxing, boat tours may be right up your alley!
Like walking tours there are a number of different types of boat tours to cater to your particular taste. These are some of the best:
- 2.5 Hours Tour on a Luxury Solar Catamaran: This company takes you on an eco-friendly tour of Berlin’s government district. From aboard a solar-powered boat, you’ll learn about many of Berlin’s top sights, from Mühlendamm Lock and to the East Side Gallery.
- Spree Boat Tour to Müggelsee: On this tour, you’ll head outside the city centre, past the historical town of Köpenick and onto Berlin’s largest lake, Müggelsee. It’s one of the best things to do in Berlin to take in the natural beauty of the area.
- Berlin: 2-Hour Evening City Cruise: This is a unique way to see the city lit up at night. The tour departs and ends in Friedrichstrasse.
- Potsdam from Berlin: Hohenzollern Palaces 5-Hour Tour: For visitors with a little extra time, this tour is a great way to get outside of Berlin. What to see on this tour? The German countryside, historic castles, villas, and beautiful parks.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors in Berlin
Active travelers will enjoy checking out Berlin’s parks and outdoor activities, especially if you are wondering what can you do in Berlin in the summer. Don’t miss these Berlin places to visit:
Tiergarten: This massive park covers an astounding 520 acres inside the city centre. It contains trails galore, ponds, lovely gardens and an English tea house.
Treptower Park: Located along the Spree River in Eastern Berlin this vibrant park has a jogging track, rose garden and a 200-year-old beer garden. The design is to replicate an English garden and hosts a wealth of events.
Charlottenburg Palace Gardens: Part of Charlottenburg Palace, these stunning royal gardens date back to the 1690’s and should be marked on your Berlin tourist map. Especially if you’re wondering what is there to do in Berlin for history buffs.
Tempelhof Feld: This park is known as the abandoned airport. Berlin transformed the former military airport, in one of its most successful revitalization projects to date. The area has green spaces and community gardens, skateboarders do laps of the old runway, tours are held in the former hangers, bikes can be rented, and visitors take advantage of the 6 kilometres track.
Volkspark: What to do in Friedrichshain? Head to Volkspark. It is the oldest park in Berlin and dotted with trails, interesting monuments, and sports facilities. It has tennis courts, playgrounds, a wading pool, and even a toboggan run in the winter.
For hikers, the 66 Lakes Trail is one of the best things to do in Berlin to see the German countryside. Famed for its rolling landscapes of empty fields, and beautiful lakes, this massive trail system of 416 km is never far from Berlin. Most sections are no more than 45-60 minutes from the city center.
Explore the Best Shopping in Berlin
Shopaholics may enjoy a different kind of outdoor activity, like an afternoon strolling through the markets in Berlin. Berlin is leading the way for circular economy and sustainable shopping, so we would suggest you skip the malls and stick to smaller shops and markets.
These markets and shops are the place to go if you are looking for cool places in Berlin to shop:
Hackescher Markt: This labyrinth of shops in Mittee is known for its upscale independent clothing and jewelry labels. There are some great restaurants and cafes here to replenish your energy after a day of shopping and it is located close to the transport ABC zone, Berlin so getting there from other parts of the city is easy.
Winterfeldt Markt: This farmers market is held every Wednesday and Saturday from 8:00 am onwards. Here you can find an abundance of local, seasonal, and organic produce and food products.
Schivelbeiner Straße: This street has been dubbed the “world’s first vegan avenue”, here you can find vegan clothing, home products, cosmetics, and plant-based food products. If you are looking to stock up on snacks, you can find Veganz, Europe’s first and largest vegan grocery store chain, along this stretch.
Ökomarkt am Kollwitzplatz: This eco-market is held every Thursday from 12:00pm to 7:00pm. The produce sold here is entirely organic. That is why the market opens at 12:00 pm – so that farmers can bring fresh-picked produce with them. There is also a unique combination of sustainable clothing and homewares vendors set up here.
Kreuzberg: Not a market but this neighbourhood is known for its sustainable clothing brands. Stroll the neighbourhood and you’re bound to run into some top ethical brands like FOLKDAYS, Supermarché and LOVECO.
Berlin Christmas Markets
If you are visiting during the holiday season it’s no question that what to do in Berlin Germany includes a visit to the Christmas Markets.
Gendarmenmarkt is the biggest and perhaps most well known Christmas Market, Winterwelt am Potsdamer Platz is a local’s favourite known for its apres ski party events, and a visit to Alexanderplatz is one of the fun things to do in Berlin with kids. This pretty family favourite market has a carousel and skating rink.
However, Berlin has seen a surge in eco-friendly Christmas Markets in the past few years. The Green Market Berlin has vegan Christmas treats, sustainable crafts for sale and interactive workshops. While the Eco Christmas Sophienstrasse Market hawks sustainable goods in a holiday setting. Weddingmarkt Christmas Market sets up in front of the Nazareth Church and has bonfires, Christmas treats and arts and crafts. Check out the top ten eco-friendly Christmas Markets here.
Enjoy Berlin’s Nightlife
For those looking for what to do in Berlin at night, night life is a huge drawcard for visitors. The club scene here is one of the biggest and most progressive in Europe, with over 200 clubs concentrated in East Berlin.
Electro and techno are the biggest music styles in Berlin, but there are also many other clubs playing alternative and more mainstream music. The best clubs in Berlin are often tough to find and even tougher to get into, especially as a visitor.
One of the more unusual things to do in Berlin at night is to try your luck at getting into Berghain, Berlin’s most exclusive nightclub. The mysterious nightclub doesn’t allow taking photos, videos or any media inside and is extremely selective about who gains entry.
Otherwise, these 10 of the best clubs in Berlin may be a good place to start if you are looking for Berlin places to go at night. But nothing beats getting some tips from locals during your visit!
Read Next: How To Spend 3 Days In Berlin
Where to Stay in Berlin
Best Neighbourhoods in Berlin
Berlin is a large sprawling city. Unlike some other European destinations, you won’t see the top things to see in Berlin congregated in one area. Depending on how long you have in the city you should first choose what to visit in Berlin, based on your taste. Once you know what Berlin attraction you are most interested in, you’ll find the best neighbourhood is in the vicinity of those attractions.
Mitte is the most centrally located neighbourhood. It is located close to the city’s main attractions so we would recommend you book your accommodation in Berlin here if you are a first time visitor. Families tend to prefer the more relaxed area of Prenzlauer Berg and slightly older crowds tend to like Charlottenburg in West Berlin which is more upscale and known for its beautiful architecture.
The trendy, bohemian, and artsy area of Kreuzberg is a particularly good option for eco-friendly travelers or visitors hoping to experience the best of Berlin’s nightlife. We tend to stay here when we visit Berlin.
Eco-Friendly Accommodation in Berlin
If you’re looking to stay in a great eco-friendly hotel in Berlin, here are a couple of options we would recommend.
We had a great stay at the Scandic Hotel on our most recent trip to Berlin. We chose to stay here because of its title as the greenest hotel in Berlin and found that despite its strong sustainable practices it didn’t compromise on style or comfort.
It is located right in Potsdamer Platz, within walking distance to many of Berlin’s top attractions. There are lots of great shops and restaurants within walking distance.
There are over 550 rooms at Scandic Hotel, a lovely outdoor terrace that looks out over Potsdamer Platz, and a delicious buffet breakfast which includes a variety of local and organic produce. They also have a gym, offer bike rentals for getting around the city in an eco-friendly way and have another location in Kurfuerstendamm.
This luxury “bio-hotel” is one of the greenest options in Berlin. They are located in central Friedrichshain near Kreuzberg and have based their hotel practises on ethics meeting aesthetics.
There are 75 rooms on site. The furniture in the guest rooms is made from sustainably grown wood and only authentic natural cosmetics are provided in the en-suite bathrooms.
Lulu Guldsmeden Hotel is a “Hygge Style ” boutique hotel with superb eco friendly practises and comfortable, stylish rooms. You can expect to find organic cotton linen, sustainable bamboo beds, and natural toiletries in the bathrooms.
Each of the 81 rooms and 6 suites are uniquely decorated and the restaurant offers 100% organic meals which rotate with the seasons. The hotel offers bike rental, so it’s perfect if you want to explore Berlin’s interesting places.
Berlin is also a perfect city to swap a hotel for a trendy Airbnb apartment so you can live like a local. Prenzlauer Berg, in particular, is a popular neighbourhood for Airbnb and other rental properties for those looking to spend a bit longer in the city.
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Where to Eat in Berlin
Food is an important part of visiting Berlin. There are tons of great restaurants in seemingly at every corner. However, what surprised us most about dining out in Berlin, was the trend towards zero waste, slow food, and plant-based eating.
In 2015 Berlin was named the Vegetarian Capital of the World but it is quickly becoming one of the leading hubs for vegan food in Europe too. It is no longer a city famous for schnitzels and sausages!
Responsible Eats in Berlin
These eco-friendly restaurants serve some of the world’s most creative vegan dishes and do well with their fresh takes on German classics.
Haferkater: This cafe chain has locations all over the city and specializes in vegan Scottish porridge which challenges the concept that porridge is boring. It’s also the place to go for a coffee.
Brammibal: This shop is not only Berlin’s first vegan donut shop but also Europe’s. They are located in Kreuzburg and have an incredible selection of treats like the Pina Colada, and Strawberry Sprinkles donut.
Bistro Bardot: Part of the Almodovar Hotel, Bistro Bardot serves only organic, vegetarian and vegan food. The utmost care is put into crafting their meals, whether it be for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Even the wine is organic.
Jivamukti Canteen: Part of the Jivamukti Yoga Studio, this canteen offers 100% organic, bio, and vegan food. They serve juices, sandwiches and breakfast bites.
Luck’s: This trendy all-vegan restaurant is family run and serves home-cooked meals like quiches, sandwiches and salads.
Ataya: Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ataya is zero-waste, plastic-free, cruelty-free, 100% vegan, and serves bio-organic foods sourced from cooperatives in Germany and Italy. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Momo’s: This restaurant is named after their specialty dish. Four of the six Nepalese momo dishes they serve are vegan, all of which are organic.
Attilda Hildman Vegan Snack Bar: The man behind one of the first German language vegan cookbooks founded this snack bar. Treat yourself to a plant-based burger, ice cream or cake. They are conveniently located in Charlottenburg.
La Stellar Nera: This restaurant is both vegan and cooperatively run. Their specialty is wood-fired pizzas and delicious Italian pasta.
Rawtastic: Proving that all raw-vegan food can be just as good as the cooked stuff. They even have some organic beer to try alongside dinner. Try the pizza, it’s super filling.
Alaska: Vegan tapas are the name of the game at Alaska restaurant. Their tasty cocktails are a perfect compliment to the tapas.
Kopps: This restaurant only uses food that is locally sourced, as well as vegan. They offer a true award-winning, fine dining experience. Offering a modern take on German classics.
How Much Time do you Need in Berlin
Most people wonder what to do in Berlin in 2 days or what to do in Berlin in 3 days since the city is a perfect destination for a weekend escape from anywhere else in Europe.
If it’s your first time visiting this city, spend a day in Berlin getting to know the main attractions. Then move onto a walking tour or boat tour. You can spend the following day by exploring the city’s green spaces or outdoor activities. Additionally, do shopping or exploring the museums and art galleries.
Berlin is one of Germany’s most dynamic and vibrant cities, which we think deserves a spot on any Western Europe itinerary. There are lots of cool things to do in Berlin, which we are sure you will enjoy, no matter how long your trip to the German capital is.