From its spectacular architectural marvels and charged political history, Berlin is a major European tourist hub. Here are the top things to do and places to visit in Berlin. A short stopover in the city never disappoints.
- Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
Located in Pariser Platz, the Brandenburg Gate is, undeniably, one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. It is the only remaining gate of the four that originally formed part of the Berlin city wall.
The majestic structure was built in the 18th century and was the main entrance to Berlin. It separated east and West Berlin both geographically and politically.
Today, it’s one of Berlin’s top tourist attractions. In fact, it is one of the most photographed sites in the city. While it may only want to take a few pictures of the gate, it might also be worth considering the tourism information desk, which contains a wealth of historical information about the monument.
- The Berlin Wall
If you began your tour of Berlin with the Brandenburg Gate, then you certainly won’t miss the Berlin wall. Barley 30 years have elapsed since the mighty wall served as a symbol of oppression and imprisonment to Germany and the rest of the world.
Initially, it was a mass of concrete fortifications that span over 150 kilometers in length, separating West and East Berlin. Today, what remains of the wall is Berlin’s main tourist attraction.
Make sure to begin your tour of the Berlin wall from the East Side gallery, a 1.3km long work of art. This section of the Berlin wall is an exhibition of artwork painted by over 118 artists from 21 different nations.
- Reichstag Building
Reichstag Building is home to the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament. Just like the rest of Berlin, the Reichstag Building has a turbulent history, but almost 3 decades later, it’s a tourist magnet today. On the roof of the building stands the Reichstag dome, a glass structure designed by architect Norman Foster, and offering a 360-degree panoramic view of Berlin.
Due to the overwhelming number of visitors frequenting the Reichstag Building on a daily basis, and for security reasons, you cannot just show up there and join the crowd of visitors. You have to make an online booking to visit the Reichtstag, on the parliament’s website. This should be at least two days prior to the visit. Print your ticket online, or save it on your phone, and remember to carry an id.
- Holocaust Memorial
Just around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate is the Holocaust Memorial, an open space occupying about 205,000 square feet (19,000 square meters). It is also a short distance from the burial site of Hitler’s bunker ruins. The Holocaust Memorial’s controversial design was the work of an American architect, Peter Eisenman. It comprises of 2,711 concrete slabs with no markings on them-neither names nor dates.
You can visit the memorial at any time of day or night. You can walk in any direction within the memorial, as the slabs assume no particular pattern. In fact, each slab is a five-sided mass with a unique shape and size. Both the slabs and paths between them undulate in a wave-like pattern.
- Hop on/Hop off Bus tour
This is one of the easiest ways of experiencing lots of Berlin in a short time frame. On the hop-on hop-off tour, you can hop on an off as often as you like aboard double decker buses. The rides make over 20 different stops around the city and departures occur every 10 minutes in summer and 15 minutes in winter. If you’re not hopping off, a continuous ride will last approximately 2.5 hours. The tour also includes a guided commentary in 13 different languages. The route will take you through most of Berlin’s main attractions-the Berliner Dom (Cathedral), Brandenburg Gate, Charlottenburg Palace, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Pergamon Museum. Tickets for the tour last for 48hours from the first use.