Before I left to catch my flight to Berlin, I was super prepared.
I spent hours Googling the top tourist attractions and I created a detailed itinerary for each day. (This was in complete contrast to when I visited Vienna where I just winged the whole thing.)
Anyway, I caught my flight and after checking into my hostel, I quickly realized that I had left my itinerary at home.
…in my bedroom.
…in the UK.
Luckily, I could remember most of the places that I had on my list.
The only problem was that I couldn’t remember which order I had planned to see them in. This lead to a lot of walking back and forth and retracing my steps after realizing that I had missed critical sights when I was previously in that area – which was great for my step counter and calorie burning, but not so great for my poor feet.
To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, I have compiled this handy list of the main must-see tourist attractions in Berlin.
…and to make it even more helpful, I have put them in order so that you could cover them all in one route as demonstrated by this handy Google Map.
The route is 12km, taking about 2 hours 30 minutes to walk, not including time spent at each stop.
Theoretically, you could see them all in one-day but this would depend greatly on how long you would want to spend at each stop.
If you’re pushed for time or you would just like a quick stop and a photo, then a day would be more than enough. However, if you would like to spend a few hours at each stop, then obviously you are going to need a little longer.
Either way, here are the top tourist must-sees that you should not miss on your visit to Berlin.
Related Read: My Berlin Story
I stayed at the Plus Berlin Hostel & Hotel. It was a little bit out of the city, but smack bang next to the East Side Gallery – which is our first stop on this blog walking tour.
Depending on where you are staying, you may prefer to head out to this attraction first or re-jiggle the route to start and finish in another place.
It’s completely up to you.
A) East Side Gallery – Berlin Wall
After Germany was split into two parts and a new form of currency introduced into the western zones, the erection of the Berlin Wall began on 13th August 1961.
It was built to prevent refugees from attempting to leave East Berlin and entering the democratic West Berlin.
The East Side Gallery is the longest maintained section of the Berlin Wall – 1316m. But rather than just going to see a long stretch of grey concrete, you’ll be going to see thought-provoking murals. You see, this section of the wall has been painted by 118 artists from over 21 different countries.
According to Wikipedia, it’s probably the largest and longest-lasting open-air gallery in the world.
B) TV Tower – Berliner Fernsehturm
Famous for being the tallest building in Germany, standing at 386m (including antenna). The TV Tower was completed in 1969 and was intended to be a symbol of Berlin as well as communist power.
At the top, you’ll find a bar, souvenir shop, cloakroom, observation deck, and a restaurant.
The Sphere Restaurant prepares international and seasonal dishes along with Berlin specialties. It is 207m above the city and 4m above the observation deck, and it even rotates! It takes 1 hour to do a full revolution giving you 360degree panoramic views of the city.
TIP: Happy Hour at bar 203 is every day from 2pm-4pm.
C) Berlin Cathedral
The Berlin Dom is the largest church in the city.
You can admire its grandeur from the outside, or there is an admission fee of €7 to explore this ornate building from the inside.
To keep the church open, they require a daily income of €15,000. This helps to cover the cost of personnel, heating, lighting, and maintenance. The Berlin Dom does receive a small amount from the State and Church, but the admission fee is essential to help keep this famous landmark running.
It’s located on Museum Island. For this tour, I have left off Museum Island as to truly explore this part of the city you’re probably going to need a full day. More information on Museum Island can be found at the bottom of this post.
D) Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Based in the center of Berlin, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is the Holocaust memorial for Germany.
Construction began on 1st April 2003, and it was opened to the public on 12th May 2005.
Personally, I thought that this memorial was the perfect way to honor and remember the Jews that were murdered by the Nazis.
Most memorials tend to be just one structure or statue that you can view from a distance. This memorial is vast. It contains 2,711 concrete blocks and covers an area of 19,000m2. It does a great job in reminding you of the great scale in which the innocent lost their lives.
Underneath the structure lies an Information Centre. Be warned that due to the large number of visitors that attend there can be waiting periods.
E) Brandenburg Gate
One of the best-known landmarks of Germany. The Brandenburg Gate is the only remaining city gate that was formerly used to separate East and West Berlin.
When the wall came down in 1989, The Brandenburg Gate remained as a symbol of German unity.
It’s 26 meters high and round 1,000,000 people flock to the gate every year for its famous New Year’s Eve Party.
It has been witness to some of the most significant moments in history. Including political speeches and the emotional and celebratory fall of the Berlin Wall.
Interesting Fact: The statue on the top of the gate, known as the ‘Quadriga’, was stolen by Napoleon Bonaparte and his Grand Army. He ordered it to be dismantled and shipped back to Paris where it sat in storage for about a decade. It was returned to Berlin after the Prussian military victory over France.
F) Reichstag Building
The home of the German Parliament. The building suffered heavy damage after being bombed during World War II.
Upon rebuilding, it was famously ‘wrapped’ in 1995 and drew in more than 5,000,000 visitors. Shortly after being unwrapped remodeling and modernization began.
It was officially opened on 119th April 1999.
The glass dome and roof terrace can be visited by members of the public free of charge. However, in order to gain access, you must first register.
I highly recommend booking online in advance. (Click here to book)
If booking on the day, the registration office is a small hut on the opposite side of the road, next to the souvenir shop. But please note that your booking confirmation can only be issued a minimum of two hours before your visit, depending on free availability.
G) Victory Column
This monument celebrates Germany’s victory over France. It’s 66 meters tall and is topped with a statue of the goddess Victoria.
It’s a little way out of the main city, but you can enjoy a pleasant walk or bike-taxi through the gardens.
When you arrive, you’ll see that the structure is surrounded by a traffic circle. It took me a little while to figure out how to physically get to it, as there are no obvious crossings over the road.
After wandering around perplexed for quite a while, I discovered that there are tunnels that go under the road enabling you to visit the column safely.
Please don’t try to cross the five-lane traffic circle – unless, of course, you wish to cut short your time in Berlin!
When standing at the base, the first thing you’ll notice is how HUGE it is – look how teeny-weeny the people in the photograph are! For a small fee, you can climb the 285 steps to the viewing platform at the top.
H) Typography of Terror
Previously, this site used to be the premises for the centers of national-socialist terror, complete with its own prison and torture cells.
Now it hosts an indoor museum and café with an open-air exhibition in the trench alongside a preserved section of the Berlin Wall.
The museum is free to enter and provides a clear and organized account of the events that led to the Nazi military aggression, the Holocaust, and the Berlin Wall.
I) Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known border crossing between East and West Berlin. It’s an iconic symbol of the Cold War.
There was also a Checkpoint Alpha and Bravo, but Charlie was the only gateway that allowed foreigner tourists and military personnel to pass through it.
Because of this, the United States, Britain, and France stationed military police at Checkpoint Charlie to ensure that their officials had access through the border.
A nice little tourist feature is that you can get your picture taken and your passport stamped whilst here.
I got my passport stamped as a nice little memento. They have a range of stamps available depending on whether you want to travel from East to West or West to East. But I just chose the most obvious one.
UPDATE: I was later informed that unofficial stamps in your passport may void it. At this moment in time, I have not had any problems traveling around Europe with my passport. But I thought that I would add this bit to my post to make you aware.
EXTRA TIME: Museum Island
I’ve put this stop as a bonus because Museum Island is home to five world-renowned museums and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its unique buildings and cultural artifacts. Therefore, it isn’t really suitable for a quick stop. My advice would be to do the walking route as above on one day and a museum visit on another day.
Museum Island is situated right next to the Berlin Cathedral at point C on the Google Map.
The museums include:
The most well-known and most visited museum in Berlin, it was built following the need for additional exhibition space. It is famous for its archaeological holdings.
Although it’s one building, it’s more like three museums – The Collection of Classical Antiques, the Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Museum of Islamic Art.
This was the fourth museum to be built on the island and it houses an extensive collection of sculptures, treasures of the Museum of Byzantine Art, and the Numismatic Collection (coins).
This museum was built to bring relief to the overcrowded Altes Museum.
The star attraction remains the bust of Nefertiti. But it is also the home to selected objects from the Egyptian Museum, the Papyrus Collection, the Museum of Prehistory and Early History, and the Classical Antiquities Collection.
This national gallery holds one of the most important collections of 19th-century paintings in Germany, with works in the Classicist, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist, and early Modern styles.
The oldest museum in Berlin. This building houses the city’s main collection of ancient art and sculptures, with a selection of Greek and Roman holdings, and a gold treasury.
This brings us to the end of our tour…
Thank you for keeping all your arms and legs inside the vehicle and for traveling with us today on this Berlin self-guided blog post tour.
I really hope you found it helpful and please do post a comment below letting me know of your time in Berlin.
Related Read: My Berlin Story