Updated: Jan 4
Berlin has more canals than Venice or Amsterdam
Table of Contents
What you should not miss in Berlin
We've done a Sandeman's tour in every city we've traveled where they are offered and can honestly say it is worth your time, especially in a city like Berlin where there is so much important history to learn. The Sandeman's tour guides do a phenomenal job teaching about the history of their city while keeping you engaged. You can tell they have true passion to share this history with others as most tour guides are students or historians.
Highlights of this tour included seeing Hitler's Bunker, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Topography of Terrors, part of the Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie. The tour began at Brandenburg Gate which is central to many of the main sites.
Tickets: Free! (with suggested gratuity)
2. Brandenburg Gate
The division of East and West Berlin, this centrally located monument is hard to miss during your travels around Berlin. Built in the 16th century, this monument is both a symbol of Germany's turbulent past, yet also a symbol of the nation's peace and unity with Europe.
J&L Recommended: Don't miss!
This is the German Parliament building with free tours daily, however, you must register ahead of time and secure your time slot. Tours will take you to the top dome of the Reichstag building where you will be at a great vantage point for views of the city. This building was burned down in 1933, blamed on Communists plotting an uprising. In retaliation against this Communist threat, the Reichstag Fire Decree was put into place, eliminating many constitutional protections and paving the way for the Nazi Regime.
Free Tours: Reserve roughly 1-2 months prior to your trip
This is a 600 acre park in the center of Berlin with beautiful pathways, beer gardens, and greenery. Home to both the Victory Tower and Berlin Zoo, your path will likely take you through the Tiergarten at least once during your travels to all of the top attractions in Berlin.
Also Read: Top Things To Do in Berlin
Built in 1999 with 2711 concrete blocks, this memorial is free to walk through and highly encouraged. Not only a place for observation, but contemplation and warning to keep from repeating history.
Admission: Free Entry
Potsdamer Platz is home to shopping, great restaurants, & entertainment. This is an amazing square to check out when you are looking for a break from learning about all of Berlin's history. Most notable about this Platz is that it is home to the very first stop light.
Fact: Potsdamer Platz is home to the very first stop light
Alongside the old Berlin wall remains, this memorial is an indoor/outdoor museum that outlines Holocaust history. The museum is very well put together with information and facts that help develop a lasting impression.
J&L Recommended: Don't Miss!
This is an open-air gallery of murals created on the remnants of the Berlin Wall. It is definitely worth walking by, admiring the art, and reading inspirational quotes that have been written on this piece of history.
9. The Gendarmenmarkt
A breathtaking square in central Berlin with magnificently architected buildings. Including the French and German churches and the Berlin concert hall, consider stopping by to admire the Gendarmenmarkt beauty.
Built in the 1960's, the TV Tower is a symbol of the reunified Germany, similar to the Brandenburg Gate. From the top, you are able to appreciate the 360 views of the city, as well as, grab a bite to eat in its revolving restaurant sphere. If going up in the TV Tower does not sound appealing, be sure to at least stop and see the hustle and bustle of Alexanderplatz. With plenty of restaurants, shops, and attractions nearby, there are many things to explore in this square.
TV Tower Tickets: €17,50/Adult (buy ahead and avoid lines)
Hours: Daily from 9:00am - 5:00pm
Not a joyful tour by any means, however, worth the time on your trip to pay respects to those who died in this camp, and learn about the evils that occurred. You can see their bunkers (built for 180 but housed 500), interrogation chambers, kitchen/gas chambers, doctors rooms, and the entrance sign to the camp reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" advertising "you work for your freedom" but really meaning "death is your freedom". With free entrance into the museum, this is something easily available for all to see, learn from, and help prevent the repetition of a tragic history.
Tickets: Free entry into the memorial & museum, however, we recommend a day trip in order to gain a deeper understanding & guided tour of the history you are witnessing.
12. Potsdam Palaces
Explore the palace grounds and view the New Palace, the palace King Frederick IV built for his son, the Chinese House, the palace the king built for his sister, and finally Sanssouci (the king's palace). Sanssouci has 12 intricately designed rooms, each with its own beauty and purpose. Plan the perfect day trip to Postdam, easily accessible from Berlin metros.
Tickets: One Day Sanssouci Pass €19 online or €21 at the door
Großer Wannsee: Not far from Potsdam, you can take the the S7 or S1 S-Bahn to Wannsee. At this stop, you can walk out to the beautiful lake beach and enjoy a day full of sun, sand, and relaxation.
Deutsches Technikmuseum: Berlin's massive technology museum. Tickets for entry are 8 € for adults (students 4 €). We found it interesting to see the vehicles, aerospace, and history behind technological advancements in Berlin.
Charlottenburg Palace: When time is limited, we recommend prioritizing Potsdam Palaces. However, Charlottenburg is another magnificent palace that is easily accessible in Berlin. As King Frederick the Great's original and oldest Prussian Palace, there are no details spared in its architecture and historical developments. Tickets are 17 € (13 € for students) for a tour of the palace, however, walking around the palace grounds and gardens is free.
Shopping: Take a stroll down Kurfürstendamm if your goal is to do some shopping. Other great places for shopping are Alexa in Alexanderplatz and KaDeWe.
What is the best food to eat in Berlin?
Not necessarily your authentic "German" food, but they sure do make some great burgers! There are several locations around Berlin, however, the one we recommend is Wrangelkiez. Be sure to try the Meisterburger and you will soon realize why we've made this our top choice.
J&L Recommended: A favorite quick-meal in Berlin
Great authentic German food, great beer, lovely atmosphere! This is a cozy, family owned restaurant with incredibly friendly staff and a rotating menu.
Try: a traditional dish of sausage, sauerkraut, & potato dumplings
A noteworthy Italian restaurant in the heart of Berlin. Trattoria Portofino offers a great value for their pizzas and pasta, always served with a smile by their friendly staff.
Also Read: Must Try Foods of Amsterdam
A lovely food stand with Döner & Veggie Kebab options. We recommend planning your meal off-peak hours to eliminate a longer wait in line. You may find yourself waiting in a line regardless of the time of day, however, with the large portions and satisfying flavors, these Kebabs are a great value and well worth the wait!
Serving California-style burritos, this is an exceptional place to stop for lunch. Revolutionizing Berlin street food with their large portions & vegan menu, you can take your pick of burrito, bowl, taco, salad, or quesadilla.
Also Read: Street Food & Cafes of Vienna Austria
Berlin's oldest chocolate shop! Be sure to stop in, not only for some delicious German chocolate, but to view their amazing chocolate sculptures throughout the store.
J&L Recommended: Must-visit for chocoholics!
J&L Budget Tip: Stock up on groceries for your stay at Aldi and Lidl, two German-based discount supermarkets. (We got beer at Lidl for $0.22!)
What beer is Berlin famous for?
1. Eschenbräu Brewery
Recommended Brew: PankeGold (Pale Ale- 5.1% ABV)
Eschenbräu brews all of your German favorites ranging from the Hefeweizen to the Dunkel. Tucked away in a courtyard, this is an excellent place to spend the afternoon or evening. The atmosphere is laid back and you can even bring your own food. We recommend the PankeGold Pale Ale. Its refreshing citrus notes will delight the taste buds.
Recommended Brew: NB 30 IPA (American IPA- 6.6% ABV)
Straßenbräu is a hip and eclectic brewery with comfortable, cozy seating. They offer tours and options to sample multiple beers. We recommend their NB 30 IPA. This is a full-bodied tropical delight, however, don't stop here as there are plenty more options to try inside.
Also Read: Best Craft Brews of Europe
Recommended Brew: Friedichshainer Weizen (Hefeweizen- 5.2% ABV)
An exceptional place to stop for a drink before dinner. It is usually a little crowded but worth it to try some fresh German beers. We recommend their Hefeweizen, a light wheat beer that goes down easy.
Recommended Brew: "Jo's Salted Stout" (Oatmeal Stout- 5.9% ABV)
Vagabund Brauerei is a cozy brewery that you somehow can always find a seat to "squeeze" into. They have quite a range of tasty IPA's, but we want to highlight their oatmeal stout. This full bodied stout has a sweet start that consists of subtle roasty and caramel notes with a slight salty finish. Don't miss out if you are a craft brew lover like us.
Also Read: Best Craft Brews of Michigan
No particular beers that we will recommend here but we mention this beer hall for their range of authentic German brews and great food. A great place to experience the Bavarian lifestyle with live music and service from waitresses in costume. The long tables (think Oktoberfest) are a great way to meet other tourists and locals.
J&L Recommended: amazing atmosphere!
Planning Your Trip
Is it better to stay in East or West Berlin?
You cannot go wrong staying anywhere between Mitte & Kreuzberg. The public transportation in Berlin is EXCELLENT, therefore, being close to a U-Bahn or S-Bahn is the most important part about picking your lodging location. For our top-pick hostels based on location and value see Best Hostels of Europe. For a great deal on hotels, you may also consider looking for lodging here!
J&L Recommended Lodging: Generator Hostel
Search your travel dates below for a great deal on hotels in Berlin:
What is the transportation in Berlin?
Berlin has the best transportation system we have ever experienced throughout all of our travels. It is easy to learn, usually punctual, and expansive. The U-Bahn (underground metro) and S-Bahn (above ground metro) run on the honors system, however, plain clothes officers randomly check these metros for tickets so be sure to have yours available (and validated) when riding.
J&L Tip: Always validate your tickets after purchasing using the red machines next to the ticket kiosks.
You can buy tickets at any metro station (including the airport) at one of their yellow/white kiosks. We bought a 7-day ticket for Zones ABC as it allowed us to ride the metro for an unlimited amount all week to all desired destinations (includes Potsdam and Schoenefeld Airport). This pass also allows you to utilize the public buses, however, you are required to show the bus driver your pass before entry. For a map of the metro system to print before your trip, click here.
J&L Tip: For a map of the metro system to print before your trip, click here.
How long do you need in Berlin?
We recommend 4-5 days to complete our recommended sights and attractions within Berlin. Less time in Berlin? You may also like: One Day in Berlin Germany.
J&L Recommended: 4-5 Days Minimum
Is Berlin better in winter or summer?
The best time to visit Berlin for pleasant temperatures and minimal crowds is spring and fall.
J&L Recommended: April - May and Sept - Nov
Month Average Temperature: High / Low
May: 67° / 49°
June: 72° / 54°
July: 76° / 58°
August: 75° / 58°
September: 67° / 51°
October: 57° / 44°
Affordable International Data
Want to avoid roaming charges and $10/day international data fees? Airalo allows you to download an e-SIM to your phone and activate while in Europe for a very affordable price. We bought 3 GB of data valid for 30 days from activation for only $7. It worked great throughout our entire Europe trip and was very easy to install. Airalo offers e-SIMs all around the world and we can validate that it works with ease in multiple European countries.