Berlin is Germany’s largest city and second largest city after London in the European Union, which has always been one of the top cities for tourism in Europe. Although it doesn’t have many romantic places like Paris in France, Venice of Italy but Berlin always makes me feel a lot of mysteries inside this city. Partly because Berlin is Germany’s major political and economic capital, where many political and cultural conflicts have occurred with the famous Berlin Wall, the remnants of the world war and the cold war lasting for decades. I have always wondered why filmmakers about detectives, spies often take the background in Berlin for their films such as The Bourne Identity, Unknown by Liam Nesson, … That’s is feeling cold and full of mysteries with the secrets deep in the heart of this city. So, what to do in Berlin? Let’s check out our Berlin travel blog (Berlin blog, Berlin trip blog) with the fullest Berlin travel guide blog (Berlin city guide blog) for a wonderful trip to the capital of Germany for the first-timers from how to get to Berlin, best places to visit, top things to do in Berlin to find out the answer!
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Berlin travel guide blog: When is the best time to visit Berlin?
Like most other cities in Europe (Western Europe), the best time of year to visit Berlin is in late April or mid-September, when the weather is quite cool and pleasant, not peak tourist season in August, so you will avoid the sweltering heat and crowded scenery of tourists. However, you should pay attention to some events and festivals in Berlin to make planning for your upcoming trip.
- Karneval der Kulturen Festival: Held every year during the 4-day of Pfingsten (Pentecost) holiday in Kreuzberg district. A lot of art activities such as marches, lion dance, which vibrant and bustling on the streets.
- Berlinale (Berlin International Film Festival): Film festival held in February with many participating films, promotional activities, film screenings in the month, very bustling.
- May 1 Holiday: The festival is held on the weekend of May 1 ocasion with culinary and dance activities.
- There are also a number of other festivals such as the beer festival held in August, the Berlin music festival in September every year.
Berlin travel blog: Getting around Berlin
Fly to Berlin
Berlin has two main airports: Schoenefeld Airport (SXF) and Tegel Airport (TXL). You have plenty of options for getting from the airport to the city center, such as taking the Airport Express, S-bahn train, Shuttle bus or taxi.
Getting around the city
To get around the city you can buy the Berlin Welcome Card that can use to unlimited travel all kinds of vehicles in Berlin like Berlin S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses, trams, ferries. In addition, this card is also quite discounted when you use to buy tickets to museums and attractions. If you stay only few days and only go to a certain number of places, you can buy zone tickets.
In Berlin there is a bus route that can take you around the city, which is the bus No. 100, the first bus since the unification of Germany to connect between East and West Berlin. This route starts from Alexanderplatz square through points such as Museum Island, Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten, Victory Tower and the Kurfürstendamm shopping area to finally stop at the zoo. If traveling by train, there is also a city view tour, the S-Bahn route connecting Zoologischer Garten and Alexanderplatz station.
In addition, you can catch the Hop-on Hop-off bus, that take you to some main attractions of Berlin, including Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. Refer here: Berlin Red Buses Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus.
Tickets for public transport or Pass, Travel card in Berlin can also be used to take the Ferry (boat, ferry), usually the ferries on the Wannsee lake with beautiful scenery on both sides. Take a S-Bahn train to Wannsee station and then take a ferry to Kradow, where there are quite a lot of walking streets with great beer shops and gardens. Ferries run every 1 hour and take about 20 minutes to get to Kradow.
Berlin blog: Where to stay in Berlin?
With a 3-day to 1-week trip in Berlin there are plenty of hotel options as well as hostel-style accommodation for backpackers. Hostel room rates anywhere in the city ranging from 15 to 30 EUR/night, which means the common ground still has cheap accommodation to stay. Some hotels and hostels are highly rated by tourists:
Family-friendly hotel: Mövenpick Hotel Berlin Am Potsdamer Platz (Agoda.com or Booking.com). This hotel is located right near Anhalter Bahnhof station with modern design room, fully equipped. Available services such as restaurants and gyms.
Hostel Generator Berlin Mitte (Agoda.com or Booking.com): A famous hostel type that backpackers love because of its comfort and feel like a family living area. This hostel is just 2 km from the historic square of Alexanderplatz, Hackesche Höfe and Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate.
Berlin city guide: What to eat in Berlin?
Berlin is considered as the largest Turkish community outside of Turkey, so Doner Kebab or Pitta breads are the most popular street foods in this city, just like bread in Vietnam. Doner kebab here are also very cheap, you can easily buy one just about EUR 2 on the street. In addition, other cheap foods such as snacks, street foods you should go to Markt Halle Neun Street, every Thursday night from 17:00 – 22:00 there is a bustling street food fair, with Famous dish is Currywurst Doner, a type of fried sausage with curry sauce served with french fries.
In addition to the Markt Halle Neun streetfood, you can go to Mauerpark flea market (Address: Bernauer Str. 63-64, 13355 Berlin, Germany) on Sunday, the largest flea market in Berlin, in addition to dining, there are large supermarket chains with many items such as of Netto, Lidl,..
Another dish worth a try is Vegan Pizzeria, an Italian Pizza in the heart of Germany, the restaurant serving this dish which very delicious is Sfizy Veg (Address: 95, Treptower Str., 12059 Berlin, Germany). In addition to the delicious pizzas, the design is also very beautiful, with the white tone looks very stylish and clean.
Those who want to eat cheap but have beautiful views can not miss the student canteen areas, especially at the Skyline Cafeteria of the Technical University of Berlin on the 20th floor of the Telefunken-Hochhaus (Telefunken skyscraper). This place is open to everyone on every morning and around noon at 11.30am to 3pm, the food is cheap and also quite delicious.
The experience in Berlin is that eating street food is not cheap as you think, sometimes street food is more expensive than in cafes, especially in central districts like Mitte or Charlottenburg, and in Alexanderplatz, a little cheaper. So if you want to saving on eating and drinking, you should refer to the prices in many places before buying.
Berlin travel guide blog: Best places to visit and top things to do in Berlin
Before coming to Berlin, like Barcelona, you should have a quick look at the history of this city, but the closer you learn, the better it will be because thanks to that, your trip will be good to understand and compare with what you already know, have read and are still wondering about it. Berlin is often less noticeable than other European cities such as Paris, Prague, Rome, .. where there are roads, alleys or bridges bearing the symbol of love and romance. Berlin is more thorny than that, the old architecture here still exist but very few because of the devastation of the war, this city is both developing and rebuilding, renovating buildings and ruins that destroyed in war.
Coming to Berlin is to learn the evidences of contemporary history, of world war, of Nazi, of the Soviet Red Army, of a country that was once divided by the legendary Berlin wall, but has is united without bloodshed, which is the sweet result of true altruism. There are many monuments in Berlin so you can learn about the history of the city in particular and of the world war in general. For those who want to find a romantic place like Paris, Hallstatt or Amsterdam will probably be disappointed, but Berlin is very suitable for nostalgic people, love history and explore. Of course, once you like it, you will always find the word “romantic” on every journey or even the small corners of the city where you come.
Berlin has to say is very large, divided into many different (districts) areas. You should plan to visit each area for a specific day, each day can spend a full time for a certain area. The main areas in Berlin can be listed as Mitte, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg or Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.
Mitte central district
Located in the heart of a large Berlin, Mitte is also one of the most visited places in this city. The cost of living, traveling or eating in the Mitte area is also among the most expensive in Berlin. Coming hre, you should visit the famous Gendarmen market and the symbol of Berlin is the Gate of Brandenburg, the Reistag building and Berlin’s busiest and most expensive and bustling shopping street – Friedrich Strasse.
This can be considered a museum displaying the history development of the Nazi, where its prisons were built from 1933 to 1945. The buildings were destroyed after the war but there are still a lot of traces on the walls from and are worth a visit, especially this place is free admission.
Address: Niederkirchnerstraße 8, 10963 Berlin, Germany
It was built in 1894 but was bombed and abandoned, then it was rebuilt and is currently used as a German Parliament house (Bundestag). It’s free to enter but you will need to make a reservation online or at the counter. When you come to this building, there is an interesting place: the giant glass dome behind, if you climb up here, you will have a free audio guide and admire the panoramic view of Berlin, especially the Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral Church and Mercedes Benz building.
Address: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin, Germany
Located right next to Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate is really a symbol of Berlin. Originally built in 1791 as a border between East and West Berlin, it is now a symbol of a united Germany.
Address: Pariser Platz, 10117 Berlin, Germany
This is definitely a must-go when traveling to Berlin. The wall was built in 1961 before it collapsed in 1989, marking a united Germany. 4m high wall in the middle of Berlin where the East – West were divided into two separate countries, German Democratic Republic (East Germany) and Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany). Although it was called the “Wall of Shame” by the West Germans, it was the protective wall against Nazi for East Germany. During the cold war, more than 5,000 people tried to cross this wall to go to West Berlin. At present, the memorials still have more than 1.5km of the original wall (160km long) for tourists to learn and explore, on the wall now are artistic drawings expressing the freedom spirit of people, youth.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Also known as the Holocaust Memorial is built from 2,711 concrete columns to form a large labyrinth-like monument located at the foot of the Berlin wall.
Address: Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Hours: 10AM–7PM / Monday: Closed
Located close to the Holocaust memorial, Potsdamer Platz is one of Berlin’s bustling neighborhoods with towering buildings, skyscrapers and modern architecture, most prominent is the Sony Center. I am get lost here but I thought I was standing in Singapore or Hong Kong in the heart of ancient Berlin!
Built in the 1960s, this is the highest construction in the city (368m). You can climb to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Berlin, enjoy a drink or even a meal at this bar or restaurant. Admission is between €13-€20.
Address: Panoramastraße 1A, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)
The short name for Berlin Cathedral, this church has an architectural style that blends Gothic, Renaissance and Neoclassical art. The intricate sculpture is shown on the inside walls of the church, you can climb the stairs to climb to the top of the dome and zoom out. Admission fee is €7.
Address: Am Lustgarten, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Neue Wache and Bebelplatz
These two places are located quite close together and you absolutely can visit at once. Neue Wache is a small memorial for war victims but has a strong meaning and message. Just across the street is the Bebelplatz where you can look down through a glass door just above the ground of a large library with empty bookshelves. This place is a tribute to Nazi students who were burned with more than 20,000 “un-German” books, not suitable for the new regime.
Museums in Mitte district
In addition to these famous landmarks, the central district of Mitte has many other historical museums. The Neues Museum (Address: Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin, Germany / Hours: 10AM–8PM) is famous for its bust statue of Nefertiti, the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum (Address: Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin, Germany / Hours: 10AM–8PM) was once a train station displaying the works of contemporary art by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, etc. There also are the German Historical Museum (Address: Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin, Germany), the DDR Museum (Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, 10178 Berlin, Germany) which quite stores artifacts on the daily life of the East Berlin communists. These museums are located quite concentrated and on the edge of the Museum Island. You can come here to visit many museums at once and have just strolled relaxing on the river Spree surrounding the island.
West Side Berlin
The western part of the city including the Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf district is a modern area of the city. This area has a lot of restaurants, bars and busy shopping streets. Places to visit include:
One of the largest shopping malls in Europe with lots of luxury stores. Those who are passionate about shopping can not miss this place, located right next to U Wittenbergplatz, and at the same time, many expensive restaurants and eateries are located on the 6th floor of the department store.
Address: Tauentzienstraße 21-24, 10789 Berlin, Germany
An ecological area in the heart of Berlin with lots of trees, walkways and lakes with fresh air that is suitable for anyone who comes with family or in groups. At the end of the park there are often festivals, beer gardens and traditional food with many indigenous families as well as tourists participating.
Address: Str. des 17. Juni, 10785 Berlin, Germany
The Charlottenburg Royal Palace was built in 1699 to serve Queen Sophie Charlotte, the wife of King Frederick III. The palace is very large with tree-lined streets, in the middle of the yard is a statue of King Friedrich Wilhelm I, the flower garden in front of the castle reminds me of Vienna’s summer palace.
Address: Spandauer Damm 10-22, 14059 Berlin, Germany
Hours: 10AM–4:30PM; Monday: Closed
East Side Berlin
The eastern part of Berlin still retains the remnants of an old socialist regime, which is much cheaper of living cost than the central Mitte or the west. If you stay in the East area you can not miss the East Side Gallery (Address: Mühlenstraße 3-100, 10243 Berlin, Germany/Hours: Open 24 hours), the path with the rest of the Berlin wall and 101 large paintings directly painted on the wall. Or Alexanderplatz, named after the Russian Tsar Alexander, although It’s located close to the center of Mitte, but on the right edge of East Berlin. The square is home to many important German historical events.
In addition to the above locations, there is another place that Vietnamese people often visit in Berlin is Dong Xuan Center, Dong Xuan Market in Berlin. There are many stalls selling Vietnamese goods, including traditional dishes that are difficult to find in Hanoi, but you can find in the market. Due to being acquainted with the civilized lifestyle of Germany, the market is also very organized, from sellers to buyers who are eager to serve enthusiastically thoughtful. Although it is Vietnamese market, there are quite a lot of Germans shopping here.
This can be considered an area for young people, because it was once a place where immigrants, young people, hippy people or artists live. On the streets are graffiti drawings full of art, cafes and bars open throughout the night. Every Thursday from 17:00 to 22:00 at Markethalle 9 in this Kreuzberg area host open-air parties of the free, artistic people who like to make friends, that can be considered as a very fun party and everyone comes here with a very open and happy mood, different from the usual quiet Berlin.
Places you should visit when coming to Kreuzberg.
The building is made of striking glass, interior displays many Jewish artifacts in Germany, with many incidents happening to them in history.
Address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin, Germany
Display many collections of the history of German technology and engineering with artifacts of aircraft, ships, trains and even weapons during World War II. Admission to this museum is € 8.
Address: Trebbiner Str. 9, 10963 Berlin, Germany
Hours: 9AM–5:30PM / Monday: Closed
A place definitely not to be missed for tourists when coming to Berlin because it is one of the 7 checkpoints of the Berlin Wall that prevents the flow of people from crossing the border. This Charlie Checkpoint allows foreigners such as Britain, France and the US to move to East Germany. If you have an oppotunity to come here remember taking pictures with the guards (mostly part-time students) as a testament to a turbulent history of Berlin. Note that there is a museum on the Berlin wall nearby but there is nothing to see, you should not spend money to enter here.
Address: Friedrichstraße 43-45, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Berlin travel blog: Some other useful tips when traveling to Berlin
- Shops in Berlin are usually closed on Sundays, including shops, drug stores and supermarkets. You can still find some places that are open like in Brandenbourg Gate but seem to be only there. Except for cafes or restaurants that open all week. On weekdays, shops are open from 09:00 am to 08:00 pm depending on the location.
- Usually you speak English in Berlin they still understand and answer for you, but it is better to learn some basic German sentences because most of the street signs are in German.
- In Berlin, the central district is Mitte, if you staying and living in Mitte and Charlottenburg is of course more expensive than in the Alexanderplatz area which was formerly the center of East Berlin.
- The Berliners generally dressed quite simply, not many people dressed in a style way on the streets with clothes, bags and shoes brands. They can be very friendly, try to help you but often they rarely smile. And if you meet someone who is proactively approaching you, asks you for some information like asking directions, or asking you to answer a survey or something like that. It is best if you answer that you are not a native and do not know anything to avoid risks.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Berlin you can refer to
- Berlin Welcome Card with Optional Museum Island Pass
- Discover Berlin Half Day Walking Tour
- Potsdam Half Day Tour from Berlin
- East Berlin Half Day Walking Tour
- Berlin Friedrichstadt-Palast: Vivid Grand Show Ticket in Berlin
- LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre Ticket in Berlin
- Berlin Red Buses Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
- Berlin Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tours (Open-Top)
- 4G WiFi (SG Delivery) for Europe
- 3G/4G SIM Card for Multiple European Countries (HK Airport Pick Up)
- 4G Portable WiFi for Europe from Uroaming
How to get around Berlin? Read more: How to get around Berlin cheap? — 5 best way to get around Berlin & how to travel around Berlin. Are you looking for more top things to do in Berlin: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.