Believe it or not, since we got back from our world travel adventures, we have been asked for more tips and suggestions for visiting Berlin than anywhere else we went. I reckon I’ve sent my travel notes to at least ten people in the last couple of months, so I figured that I’d post a quick Berlin travel guide based on our time spent exploring the city.
With only four days to explore Berlin and absolutely shattered after travelling non stop for a year and spending the previous 3 weeks whizzing through no less than 8 European cities, it made sense to split up the places we wanted to see by location. Not only did this help to minimise travel times, it also kept our costs down as we were pretty much flat broke by this point in our journey.
Warnings in advance that this Berlin travel guide itinerary is heavy on the museums and light on the partying, as readers will know we’re kind of history geeks.
Tips for Getting Around In Berlin
Like most European cities these days, Berlin is super easy to get around on a budget. It can be a little confusing as the U Bahn, S Bahn, trams and buses all have multiple routes and stop offs throughout the city and sometimes you have no idea exactly what form of transport you need, but all in all, its pretty simple.
One thing that makes travelling in Berlin even easier is that any ticket is valid across all these different modes of transport and it’s only a couple of euros for most ticket options for single journeys. This handy website tells you pretty much anything you need to know.
20 Of Our Top Things To See in Berlin
East Side Gallery
Famous street art gallery and one of the most interesting and photogenic spots in Berlin. It’s also super crowded so worth getting here early to have a wander without all the pushing and shoving. We actually had a free tour provided by Local Guddy, which helped give a bit more context to some of the pieces.
A low key museum dedicated to showing the history of Berlin, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going out of your way to visit but if you’re nearby it’s worth a quick trip around. The staff are amazingly friendly and happy to talk you through the various exhibits, although one lady did keep telling Rob how beautiful his eyes were and how handsome he was so maybe this is why we got so much assistance on our visit! (closed on Monday €4)
A large public square and transport hub that seems to be on every list of things to do in Berlin… we were kind of underwhelmed as it mainly seems to be a transport hub and I guess we visited on a particularly grey day. You’ll probably end up at the station at some point on your travels anyway.
This is kind of a cool museum showing the social and cultural life in East Germany. Again it’s only small, but features some recreations of soviet style apartment buildings, a trabant car and plenty of information on what it was actually like to live on the Eastern side of the city before the fall of the wall. (open every day €9.50)
We didn’t visit many of the main museums on the so called Museum Island of Berlin, but we were really impressed by the Berliner Dom – the city’s cathedral.
German History Museum
Make sure to leave several hours for this one as it’s an extremely comprehensive look at pretty much the whole of German history, from early Germanic tribes right the way through to the fall of the Berlin wall and beyond. (open every day €8)
Berlin Wall Memorial
Memorial to those who lost their lives, this preserved part of the old wall is a moving monument to Berlin’s historical division (slightly further north & central than other highlights in this area
Abandoned theme park, sadly we didn’t make it here, but it does look pretty cool and is a bit of a highlight for a lot of photographers visiting Berlin according to what I read online.
Palace of Tears
The old check in hall marking the border crossing between East and West Berlin – this is now a memorial with a small set of exhibitions including old photos, tickets and information about what it was like for families and friends split along the city lines.
A pretty public square, bordered by the state opera building, St Hedwig’s cathedral and several university buildings – it was the site of Nazi book burnings prior to the second world war.
Another famous and particularly picturesque city square surrounded by some lovely old buildings including the concert hall, this is a great spot for people watching.
Unter den linden
This tree lined boulevard runs through the city near many points of interest and is a lovely area of the city to wander through, stopping off at various places along the way.
We didn’t go inside the German parliament, but if you book in advance you can visit the dome as well as enjoying a tour of the building.
Over two hundred years old, this 18th century famous monument is now known as a symbol of peace and unity in Berlin and was officially opened to the public in 1989 after the fall of the Berlin wall.
One the most famous and most important places to visit in Berlin, this memorial sculpture is a peaceful and moving place of remembrance and a must visit on your trip to the city.
Yet another public square, this one more modern than the previous two we’ve mentioned, this area was devastated in the war before becoming the point of the city where the American, British and Soviet sections met in the middle. Kind of gross – but one famous section of the Berlin Wall that still stands here is covered in chewing gum…
The most famous checkpoint between the two sides of Berlin, this area has been preserved to replicate many of the original features of the border crossing including the barrier, checkpoint booth, sandbags and flags.
This tower is so unassuming it could easily be missed but is a stark reminder of Berlin’s history and the last remaining of what was once two hundred watch towers dotted along the city borders.
Topography of Terror Museum
A topographical museum which shows the history of the city up to and post WW2 in a unique and interesting way, this is open every day and best of all, is free of charge to enter.
Jewish History Museum
Open every day except for a few days in September and Christmas holidays, this costs €8 to enter and contains temporary and permanent exhibitions on German – Jewish history.
Budget Friendly Tours in Berlin
Whilst we didn’t take up any of these tours in the end, preferring to wander around independently I thought I’d include a few of the most interesting tours we bookmarked in this quick Berlin travel guide in case you’re looking for something a little more structured.
- Underground City Tour
- Bicycle City Tour
- Street Art Tour
- Food Tour
- Alternative Berlin Tours
- Third Reich Tour
A Guide To Cheap Eats in Berlin
And finally, in our experience it’s always essential to have a list of cheap eats when trying to explore a new city! Below are some of our faves from the few days we spent in Berlin last summer.
- Pratergarden – one of the oldest, if not the oldest beer garden in Berlin this is a great spot to relax for a couple of hours on a sunny day.
- Funk You Natural Food – hipstery, healthy food if you need a break after all the burgers, currywurst and schnitzel
- East & Eden – as above, another healthy cafe with reasonably priced food
- Mustafa’s Kebab – less healthy but a good stop off for a traditional kebab
- Burgermeister – on every top list of cheap eats, this famously used to be a public toilet and is now a popular spot for cheap gourmet burgers – expect to queue!
- Kantine Deluxe – I think we actually ate here twice in the end, as it’s centrally located and serves traditional German food at really reasonable prices
- Konnopke’s Imbiss – near to the East Side Gallery, this is a good spot for traditional curry / chilli wurst and other German take out food.
So that’s our not so quick Berlin travel guide – complete with our top recommendations of things to see, do, eat and drink on your trip to Berlin. Enjoy your trip and feel free to leave your travel tips in the comments 🙂