Updated: Sep 4, 2021
Planning a trip to Berlin? This Berlin travel blog gives you all the information that you need for planning your trip to the German capital. We explain the best things to do, when to travel, what to pack, and what to buy.
Berlin is a place like no other. Less sophisticated than Hamburg, not as open-hearted as Munich, yet with a rough and cool vibe that attracts more and more visitors each year. In Berlin you cannot just see history, you can touch and feel it with every turn. In the suburbs, new trends are created daily, mostly accidentally, just spilling out of grubby courtyards and cellar studios in an overflow of creativity.
Berlin Travel Guide
Most famous sights of Berlin can be found in the historic centre around boulevard Unter den Linden. From Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial to the other end of Museum Island, Berlin Palace (under construction) and Alexanderplatz, there is plenty to see within a relatively small radius. If you venture further, add to that the sights of Potsdamer Platz and Breitscheidplatz (the former City West), Tiergarten, and Hackescher Markt. Explore how real Berliners live in the surrounding inner suburbs such as Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg.
Besides the world-famous museums such as Pergamon Museum and other museums on Museum Island, there are plenty more excellent art galleries and exhibitions to explore. The Story of Berlin takes you to an underground bunker, at DDR Museum,you learn about life in Communist East Germany and at Computerspielemuseum you can play retro video games.
Most bars and restaurants will open until late at night, so if you are after a quick bite or a cool drink, you will have plenty of options to choose from. Hotspots include Simon-Dach-Str. in Friedrichshain, Hackescher Markt in Mitte and Danziger Str. in Prenzlauer Berg.
Most nightclubs can be found in Mitte, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain (RAW), namely famous Haubentaucher, Chalet and Tresor. Techno music is still the soundtrack of a good night out in Berlin.
The Best Day Trips From Berlin
Berlin has enough to offer for at least a week but if you would like to explore the countryside and the smaller towns nearby, that’s not a problem either.
My top tip is the town of Potsdam which you can easily reach by public transport. Visit the maginicent royal palaces of Sanssouci and New Palais or go for a walk in the beautiful parks. Head to Oranienburg for a visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp, best organised as part of a guided tour. Or explore the many lakes and nature parks in the surroundings such as Müggelsee, Stechlinsee (read about our frequent trips in summer here), or magical Spreewald.
What I Like Most About Berlin
As a city, Berlin has just the right density to offer a variety of shops, bars and sights without feeling too crowded or too spread out. The sidewalks are so broad that most restaurants will also offer seating outside, turning streets and whole neighbourhoods into places where you can mix and mingle with the crowd until late at night.
What I Don’t Like About Berlin
Not everything is pretty about Berlin, I am fully aware of that.
Berliners can be pretty rude and abrupt, even those that work in customer service roles. The best way to deal with it is not to get upset and stand your ground.
There is also a lot graffit around (as opposed to real street art) where I feel people could really keep this pointless scribbeling to themselves.
Lastly, there are a few corners that are hotspots for pickpockets and scam artists, most notably near the bigger tourist sights – something that just makes me rather upset!
Must-do’s in Berlin
10 things that I think you need to do, or you haven’t really been to Berlin yet.
1. Eat a currywurst, for example at Konopke’s (U Eberswalder Str.)
2. Swim in a lake (weather permitting)
3. Drink a beer outside (weather permitting) or have a glühwein at a Christmas market (again, seasonally)
4. Browse the stalls at Mauerpark flea market on Sundays
5. Touch the rough surface of the Berlin Wall with your fingertips at the Wall Memorial
6. Ride a bike at Tempelhofer Feld
7. Walk through Brandenburg Gate
8. Visit the glass dome of the Reichstag
9. Take bus 100 for cheap sightseeing from East Berlin to West Berlin
10. Join a Spree and Landwehrkanal cruise and see Berlin’s sights from a different perspective!
What to Pack in Your Suitcase for Berlin
You will need good walking shoes, waterproof if visiting during a rainy time of year. Get yourself a purse that you can wear around your neck and under clothes to protect yourself from pickpockets. Other than that, leave some free space as there are plenty of shopping temptations around and prices are generally moderate.
Best Time to Travel
The summer months are particularly busy in Berlin and can mean that you will constantly have to queue for some reason or another. I am not surprised, it is indeed the nicest time of year to visit. However, if the weather gets too hot (like it did in the summer of 2018) don’t think the city will be prepared. Air-conditioning is not something you can expect – in shops, on public transport or in hotels. Shoulder seasons will be less crowded, cheaper in terms of accommodation prices. Check events for peak seasons and to plan your trip: There are plenty of street parties, light festivals, Christmas markets etc. to add to your trip but also let accommodation rates increase temporarily.