Berlin offers mythic nightlife and trend-setting culture, but travelers are usually first captivated by its history, which involves some of the most dramatic moments of the 20th century. Historical landmarks—the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Checkpoint Charlie, and Berlin Wall Memorial—are big draws and rarely left off of sightseeing trips. Travelers who are interested in seeing the eastern, formerly Soviet-ruled part of the city often start at Museum Island on the River Spree, and move toward the TV Tower, the tallest structure in Germany, or the East Side Gallery, a former blockade covered with street art. From there, the alternative neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are nearby. Guided tours also specialize in off-the-beaten-path visits to Potsdam, East Berlin food tastings, Jewish heritage tours, and more.
The gateway to Tiergarten, Brandenburg Gate is one of Berlin’s most recognizable landmarks, and a symbol of Germany’s post-Cold War reunification. Nearly all sightseeing tours stop at the gate, but private or small-group walking tours provide more context. For clients who want a broader look at Berlin’s history, consider tours that also stop at the Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial, both nearby. Bicycle tours are a convenient way to get to the gate, and tend to continue west through Tiergarten Park.
Clients who want a deep dive into Berlin’s history should take this tour, led by a scholar who covers the last 300 years of the city’s history.
This hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour is ideal for clients who want to explore Berlin at their own pace, jumping off to visit highlights like the Brandenburg Gate.
Visitors looking for a more active experience may want to take this bike tour that visits Brandenburg Gate and other historical Berlin highlights before riding through Tiergarten Park.
Clients interested in history should book this small-group tour that starts at the Brandenburg Gate and heads east to visit the city’s key Soviet-era sites.
Read more about Brandenburg Gate tour options here.
Small portions of the Berlin Wall still stand, and can be seen at the Berlin Wall Memorial or East Side Gallery, a preserved stretch that has become an open-air mural gallery. Much of the rest of the wall’s path has been built over, but clients looking to follow the route should consider walking, biking, or Segway tours. Nearly any historical Cold War tour visits the wall along with Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate.
On this affordable, popular walking tour, clients retrace the path of the wall with stops at the Berlin Wall Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and Brandenburg Gate.
Ideal for clients interested in Berlin’s modern, “alternative” neighborhoods, this walking tour covers the lively sights of Mitte, Friedrichshain, and Kreuzberg, and also stops at the East Side Gallery and Turkish Market.
Clients can avoid large groups and get personalized attention on this private tour of the Berlin Wall. Bonus: They’ll also enjoy a ‘ghost train’ subway ride.
For a look at how real people’s lives were affected by the wall, this van tour with a private guide offers the opportunity to listen to personal stories from refugees displaced by the wall.
Read more about Berlin Wall tour options here.
Museum Island is a UNESCO-listed ensemble of five museums clustered at the northern end of Spree Island. If clients can only visit one museum, The Pergamon, which houses classical antiquities and Islamic art, is their best bet. It’s also Berlin’s most-visited museum, meaning that lines are inevitable without skip-the-line admission. Clients can also take walking or boat tours that pass by the island to orient themselves and return later.
This tour helps make visiting Museum Island a breeze with skip the line entry and guided tours of the Pergamon and New Museum, plus access to all the island’s five museums.
On this 1-hour sightseeing boat cruise, clients get excellent riverside views of the island and Berlin along the Spree. Bonus: coffee and cake.
Small-Group Hidden Berlin Walking Tour Palace of Tears Jewish Quarter Museum Island and Back Streets
One of Berlin’s best off-the-beaten-path tours takes clients to overlooked historical sites, walking through Museum Island along the way.
Read more about Museum Island tour options here.
The TV Tower is Germany’s tallest structure and one of the capital’s most visited landmarks, drawing more than 1 million annual visitors. Visitors can take in the views from the observation deck, grab a drink at Berlin’s highest bar, or book a table at the revolving Sphere restaurant. Walking, biking, and Segway tours usually stop long enough to take a photo, while sightseeing and hop-on hop-off bus tours afford longer visits. Skip-the-line tickets are often paired with dinner and other perks.
With this tour, clients will skip the line for the tower, then enjoy a window seat dinner atop the spire. It also includes a 1- or 2-day hop-on hop-off city tour pass.
Clients looking for a unique experience might be interested in this tour, which explores Berlin from inside an East-German ‘Trabant’ limousine, making a stop at the TV Tower.
Clients less interested in walking or biking might be interested in this Segway tour, which takes them to nearly all Berlin’s main historical attractions, including the TV Tower, without breaking a sweat.
Read more about TV Tower tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
Summers are warm but sometimes rainy. The best times to go are late spring and early autumn, when festivals abound and the weather is cool and mild.
Bike-sharing is the most efficient mode of public transportation in the city center, but the U-Bahn subway and S-Bahn light rail are great for getting everywhere else.
Tips should be handed directly to servers rather than left on the table.
What to Bring
In Berlin, it can rain at any time of the year, so be sure to pack rain gear and umbrellas.
What the Locals Know
The rooftop terrace of the Park Inn Hotel, located next to the TV Tower in Alexanderplatz, offers views that are comparable to the tower’s, but it costs less and has shorter lines.