This once divided Capital of Germany has grown into a diverse and thriving international social center since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Berlin boasts more bridges than Venice, is nine times bigger than Paris and lays claim to the largest train station in Europe. “The greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine.” – David Bowie.
What To Do in Berlin:
This huge city of over 340 square miles will keep you busy for days. Let’s get you started with a few things you probably shouldn’t miss. Here’s what to do in Berlin!
What to do in Berlin? Admire the Landmarks of Tiergarten Park.
Bring your walking shoes and spend a day or two exploring all the sights of Berlin’s most popular park. Located west of the city center and covering 520 acres, this park is home to some of the Berlin’s most iconic landmarks.
This relatively new memorial is located just south of Brandenburg Gate. Opened to the public in 2005, a walk through this maze of 2,711 concrete slabs will tug at your heartstrings.
Climb up 285 steps to the top for amazing views of Tiergarten park and beyond.
This German Parliament building is the second most visited attraction in all of Germany. Located exactly one mile east of Victory Column, find the Reichstag near the edge of the park.
These 66-foot tall columns and arches, built on orders of Prussian King Frederick William II have become one of the most iconic landmarks in Europe.
What to do in Berlin? Check Out the East Side.
East Side Gallery
This near mile long section of the Berlin Wall is coated with 105 paintings by artists from all over the world. After 25 years, these newly restored paintings will surprise and delight your eyes.
Walking tour through Kreuzberg
We highly recommend downloading the Detour audio tour app. Their 1 hour 20-minute walking tour through ‘Ungovernable Kreuzberg’ will take you back in time. Here’s our full review.
What to do in Berlin? Head Over to the West Side.
Berlin TV Tower
This tallest structure in all of Germany comes in at 1,207 feet. Take the elevator to the top for panoramic views of the Berlin or have a dizzying bit to eat in the rotating restaurant.
Home to five of Germany’s most famous museums, this entire island was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1999.
Located on the south end of Museum Island, this mammoth church is Berlin’s largest and most iconic church.
What to do in Berlin? How About a Day Trip to Potsdam?
Take a day trip 30 minutes southwest of Berlin and visit the 1000-year-old city of Potsdam. Known for lavish castles, palaces, and gardens, this former retreat of Fredrick the Great is well worth a day’s visit. Check out our guide for the famous Sanssouci Park in Potsdam.
Getting to Berlin:
Getting to Berlin: FLY
If planned in advance you’ll find very reasonable flights into Berlin from other major cities in Europe: From London for $20, Barcelona for $29, Paris for $46, Lisbon for $41, and even Istanbul for $30 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Berlin Flight Deals
Getting to Berlin: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. This said, bus travel is generally the least expensive, especially within in Germany, as the prices can’t be beaten. A trip from Paris is only $22 but takes a whopping 15 hours.
Getting to Berlin: TRAIN
Trains throughout Europe are a great option; you’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and can be very comfortable. Recommended departure cities include the 4-hour trip from Prague for only $15 and the 5-hour trip from Warsaw for $30. Although train tickets from some neighboring countries are surprisingly expensive; The 8-hour trip from Paris for $145, 6-hour trip from Brussels is $130, and 6.5-hour ride from Amsterdam is $120. Fares & Schedules
Airport to Berlin City Center
There are currently two international airports in Berlin: Schonefeld in the southeast and Tegel in the northwest. However, in late 2017, a brand-new airport called Brandenburg is scheduled to open, which will effectively take the place of both of these airports. When the transition occurs, Tegel will close permanently, and the Schonefeld facilities will be absorbed as part of Brandenburg Airport. In the meantime, here is how you’ll get from the current airports to the city center…
From Schonefeld Airport
Regional Train (Airport Express)
Leaving from the nearby Flughafen Schonefeld Airport railway station, the R7 and R14 Airport Express trains leave every 30 minutes between 4am and 11am on weekdays and until 1:44 on the weekends. Tickets for the 30-minute ride cost 3.40euros and can be purchased from the train station vending machines.
Also departing from the Flughafen Schonefeld Airport railway station, the S-Bahn does not connect directly to the city cente but DOES run nonstop during the weekends. Tickets also cost 3.40euros, and although the S9 or S45 will get you to East or West Berlin, a transfer will be needed to get to the city center.
Find the X7, 171, or N7 night bus outside of Flughafen Schönefeld railway station or in front of Terminal A. Tickets also cost 3.40 euros and the trip takes much longer, but buses run nonstop throughout the week, and could come in handy if arriving afterhours on a weeknight.
Find taxi stands just outside of the arrivals of area and expect to play a flat fare of 45euros for the 35-40 minute ride to Berlin city centre. UBER is also available in Berlin, but seems to run slightly higher than metered taxis.
From Tegel Airport
You can purchase tickets from bus stop vending machines or onboard from the drivers for 2.40-3.40euros, depending on the distance. There are four bus options from Tegel Airport.
- TXL JetExpressBus – Stopping at the major stations of Alexanderplatz and Hauptbahnhof, the TXL is most popular bus line from Tegel to Berlin. Route: S+U Alexanderplatz – S+U Hauptbahnhof – S Beusselstraße – Flughafen Tegel
- 109 Bus – With dozens of stops, including many U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, the X9 will have you well-connected through West Berlin. Route: S+U Zoologischer Garten – S+U Jungfernheide – Flughafen Tegel
- X9 JetExpressBus – Similar route to the 109, but with fewer stops. Will get you to the western train hub of Zoologischer Garten in about 20 minutes.
- 128 Bus – Your best bet if staying in north Berlin. Route: U Osloer Straße – U Franz-Neumann-Platz – U Kurt-Schumacher-Platz – Flughafen Tegel
Find taxi stands just outside of the arrivals area and expect to play a flat fare of 25euros for the 20-30 minute ride to the Berlin city centre. UBER is also available in Berlin, but seems to run slightly higher than metered taxis.
Getting around in Berlin
The extensive metro system is clean, efficient, and is widely used by both locals and tourists visiting Berlin. The Berlin public transportation system consists of the S-Bahn(mainly overground rapid transit rail system that also includes suburban stops), the U-Bahn(mainly underground rail system with 24h-service on weekends), trams(mainly operating in the eastern boroughs), buses(151 lines, 3227 stations, 62 night lines), and ferries(6 lines connecting a number of waterways, including the Havel, Spree and Dahme rivers).
Berlin is divide into to three zones: A, B, and C. Ticket price vary slightly depending on the number of zones traveled. Tickets cost 2.80euro(about $3.14usd) for AB travel and 3.40euro(about $3.81usd) for ABC travel. Purchase single journey tickets from vending machines located within each station. To make things easy, you might consider purchasing a Berlin WelcomeCard. Starting at about $22.48 for 48 hours for AB zones(or $24.52 for ABC zones, the Berlin WelcomeCard card gives you unlimited public transportation(excluding taxis), as well as discounts of up to 50% at over 200 Berlin attractions. Tickets can be purchased online here.
Most taxis in Berlin are generally painted light yellow. If traveling a short trip(less than 2km), make sure to tell the driver. The German word is “Kurzstrecke”, and the fare should be 5 euros. Otherwise, expect to pay 3.90euros plus 2 euros for each kilometer up to 7(1.50euro thereafter). Hail taxis with their vacancy light on or find one of many taxi stands throughout the city. UBER is also available in Berlin.
Walkscore.com gives Mitte in the heart of downtown a score of 98, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true and highly recommended exploring Berlin by foot.
Where To Stay in BERLIN:
Where To Stay in Berlin: HOTELS
As one of Europe’s commercial capitals, Berlin has a vast range of hotels to choose from. Options span from high-end hotels like The Westin Grand Berlin or Hotel de Rome for $300 a night to more reasonable hotels like Lux 11 or COSMO Hotel for $75 a night. When it comes to hotels, we recommend shopping Agoda.com, far and away the most competitive resource when searching for hotels in Berlin.
Berlin Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Berlin: HOSTELS
With over 100 options for hostels in Berlin you’re sure to find one that fits all of your needs. Prices generally range from $30-$40 a night for a dorm room, while a private room will cost quite a bit more at around $70-$100 per night. Hostelworld is our recommended resource when searching for hostels in Berlin.
Berlin Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Berlin: AIRBNB
We love Airbnb! From private rooms to entire homes, there are plenty of choices when visiting Berlin. If you’re a first-timer with Airbnb, use this coupon and enjoy $35 off of your stay.
Where To Stay in Berlin: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip-planning that should not be overlooked! Here’s some neighborhoods worth considering when deciding where to stay in Berlin.
If there’s a parade or festival happening it’s likely taking place in this neighborhood. Especially known for the thriving LGBTQ community and provocative shops, this neighborhood is also where JFK gave his famous ‘I am a Berliner’ speech.
The most central neighborhood of Berlin, this touristy area is home to world heritage sites, memorials, and museums, including Checkpoint Charlie.
Arguably the most infamous area of Berlin, the neighborhood is known world-wide for it’s counterculture. Kreuzberg is where you’ll find colorful graffiti streets, bohemian vibes, and serious nightlife.
This former heart of West Berlin is where the wealthy live and play. In Charlottenburg you’ll find theatres, palaces, five-star hotels, and fine dining.
In Prenzlauer Berg you’ll find young families and university students enjoying one of the many restaurants, pubs, or cafes that dot the neighborhood.
This dynamic neighborhood is home to world-class street art, boutiques, cafes, and cinemas. Here you can find the east side gallery, the longest remaining part of the Berlin Wall.
Berlin Travel Tips:
Berlin travel tips: Tipping
You should leave a 10% tip at restaurants. It is best to leave tips in cash as opposed to credit card to ensure the server receives it.It is best to leave tips in cash as opposed to credit card to ensure the server receives it. Taxi drivers typically get 10% tips in Germany.
Berlin travel tips: Money
Germany’s national currency is the Euro, and is currently exchanging at $0.90EUR to $1USD. Credit cards are accepted at most places and ATM machines are readily available.
Berlin travel tips: Insurance
Traveling through Berlin is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.