Have you been thinking of visiting the German capital but are completely overwhelmed by all there is to do? Here are the best things to do in Berlin. These recommendations are top picks from locals, so you know it's gonna be good.
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Former Berlin mayor once notoriously declared Berlin to be "poor but sexy." Berlin has changed drastically since then, transitioning the city into a central hub for tourists and digital nomads alike. While the city has changed a lot since his statement 15 years ago, it still exudes the same vibes that make it a haven for creatives, artists, and entrepreneurs.
It's also a pretty affordable destination compared to other European capitals, making it a good home base for digital nomads. The city is also known for its strong sense of inclusivity and progressive values, exemplified by the fact that it's known as "Europe's Vegan Capital."
All in all, it's a city that truly offers something for everyone.
From the history buffs that find Berlin museums to be the best in the world to EDM lovers that cite the capital's nightlife as some of the best. There are so many unique and fun things to do in the city, the real challenge lies in finding the perfect place to stay in Berlin that'll minimize the commute and maximize the fun!
While the city has enough attractions to keep you entertained for weeks on end, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of things you can do in Berlin.
Read on to discover the top things to do in Berlin that locals themselves endorse.
1. Visit a private art collection in a converted bunker
The Boros Collection might just be the most remarkable art exhibition you'll ever visit.
This private collection of contemporary art is displayed in a World War II-era bunker that's been restored. Some of the bunker's rooms have been transformed into white cube spaces. Still, others have remnants of the building's past as a prison, storage facility, and techno club.
The art collection contains works of artists dating from 1990 to the present, and you can only visit with a guided tour, so make sure to book in advance.
2. Get to know the city with a Walking Tour
There is no shortage of walking tours in Berlin. Doing a walking tour is the best way to feel a new city and get some insider tips from your guide. We've reviewed our favorite Berlin walking tours to help you make the most of your time in the city. Seeing how big Berlin is and how much history there is, we recommend that you consider doing more than one tour!
3. Party at some of the coolest clubs in the world
While every big city has its fair share of cool clubs, Berlin is in a category of its own.
You might have heard about Berghain, the best club in the city and the techno club that regularly tops the list of best clubs in the world. While this club is most likely on many tourists' to-do lists, the notoriously strict door policy isn't a joke.
Visitors often queue for hours and then still don't get in. If you are only in Berlin for a short time, this perhaps isn't the best club to try. Fortunately, the city offers many other cool clubs to check out.
The city also has an array of pub crawls on offer, and while it doesn't take you to the hippest clubs, you are guaranteed to have a fantastic time.
Also, Berlin isn't a city where you dress up too much for a night out, so feel free to leave your heels at home!
4. Flea market shopping at Mauerpark
Mauerpark is one of Berlin's biggest and busiest flea markets. Head to the market on Sundays to hunting for unique vintage finds or clothes from local designers. One of the main attractions on Sundays is the outdoor singing session, Bearpit Karaoke.
Bearpit Karaoke has turned into one of the city's most popular events during summer. Thousands of people flock to the market to crowd around this mobile sound system to channel their inner artists. But, if listening to karaoke or thrift shopping isn't your thing, the park is still just a great place to hang out during the warmer months.
5. Catch a movie at the Freiluftkino (Open-air cinema) in the summer
During summer, Europeans try to spend as much time as possible outside to make up for those long dreary winters.
Berlin has perfected this with its many open-air cinemas during the summer months. These cinemas are spread throughout the capital in parks, historic courtyards, and old warehouses.
There's a cinema for everyone and movies from all genres (including ones in English). One Berliner favorite to visit is the Open Air Cinema Volkspark Friedrichshain. Check out the list here of well-known Berlin open-air cinemas so you can start planning your summer nights in the city!
6. Indulge in history on Museum Island
Berlin is a history lover's dream. So much of world history played out in this city, so it's no surprise that there are around 170 museums in Berlin.
It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the incredible attractions in the city. If you are short on time and want to see some of the city's top museums, head over to Museum Island!
Museum Island is a museum complex of five world-famous museums located in the northern part of Spree Island in Berlin's historic heart. With one admission ticket (19 Euro at the time of writing), you can visit all 5. However, if you are in the city on the first Sunday of the month, you are in luck because all state museums are free to visit on this day.
But we know museums can be expensive, especially if you travel a lot, so we've compiled a list of the best budget-friendly museums in the city.
7. Chill out at Flughafen Tempelhof
If you really want to see what locals get up to, head over to the former airport, Flughafen Tempelhof. It may sound like a strange attraction, but it's undoubtedly one of the most unique in the city.
The airport is now a massive outside area where locals jog, picnic, play or take their dogs. However, you can also visit the airport building on an English guided tour.
It's not just an old building! The Flughafen Tempelhof has been at the center of some of the city's defining moments in history. The tour gives you an in-depth look into these key historical events.
During its construction from 1936 to 1941, the building served as a propaganda display for the National Socialists. In 1948 and 1949, however, the airport also became a symbol of freedom because of the Berlin Airlift.
While the airport is the main attraction in the area, its streets are also worth wandering around and exploring in.
What should I avoid in Berlin?
Except for taking the same safety precautions you would in any other big city, here are a few things to avoid while in Berlin:
- Not carrying cash. Many small businesses and restaurants only accept cash, so don't be caught unprepared.
- Ignoring traffic rules. This one may seem a no-brainer, but we all sometimes cross when there's no oncoming traffic, or we can find a gap somewhere. Given how free-spirited Berlin is, you may think it's okay to do it here. But be warned, you can be fined for jaywalking, and locals will most likely reprimand you.
- Not validating your train ticket. Just buying a train ticket doesn't automatically make it valid; you first need to validate it by stamping it. Look out for the small yellow-and-white machines located on the platform.
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