Places to Travel in Berlin in 2024

From a fortified city to a sprawling metropolis, Berlin has undergone remarkable transformations over the past few decades, emerging as a prime European travel destination. Iconic landmarks like the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, and Kurfürstendamm have been complemented by modern attractions such as the Humboldt Forum, Bikini House, and the Fotografiska Museum, now housed in the once-vibrant art center Tacheles.

Where once was the desolate no-man’s-land of a divided city, now lie verdant retreats like the park at Gleisdreieck, the Spree riverbanks, and the repurposed expanse of Tempelhof Airport. These sites, along with remnants of the Berlin Wall, invite visitors on a historical journey.

1 – Reichstag: A Dome Over Berlin 

Since its 1999 renovation by renowned architect Norman Foster, the Reichstag’s glass dome has drawn millions with its awe-inspiring transparency and panoramic views. The 40-meter-diameter, 23.5-meter-high dome offers a spiral pathway to the top, where Berlin’s sky opens up, enhanced by 360 mirrors that channel daylight into the parliament below. Audio guides enrich the experience for visitors of all ages.

Access to the dome is free but requires prior registration*. For spontaneous visits, registrations can be made at the service counter near the Berlin Pavilion on Scheidemannstrasse’s southern side, where immediate access may be granted if space permits.

Address: Platz der Republik 1

2 – From Brandenburg Gate to the Holocaust Memorial

A photo with the Brandenburg Gate is a staple of a Berlin visit. Lingering at Pariser Platz is worthwhile, reflecting on the gate’s historical significance: sealed off after the 1961 Wall erection, it symbolized Germany’s division for decades until it heralded reunification.

3 – Unter den Linden: A Storied Promenade

Strolling from the Brandenburg Gate to Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island, Unter den Linden is framed by lime trees, embassies, new business centers, Humboldt University, the State Opera, and landmarks like the Adlon Hotel and Einstein Restaurant.

Noteworthy is the German Historical Museum’s “Roads not Taken” exhibit in the contemporary Pei building (with the historical armory undergoing renovation), exploring alternative outcomes at pivotal moments in German history, available until January 11, 2026. Additionally, the newly inaugurated Cold War Museum delves into the era with interactive displays and authentic pieces, including the famed “Red Telephone.”

4 – Gendarmenmarkt: Berlin’s Premier Square

Gendarmenmarkt, often hailed as the capital’s most exquisite square, warrants more than just a brief stopover from Unter den Linden. Flanked by the German and French Cathedrals, both dubbed after the French term “dôme” for their iconic domes, and the grandiose concert hall steps, visitors typically savor moments at the alfresco cafés, especially post a shopping spree on the nearby Friedrichstrasse. Currently, the square is undergoing renovations, anticipated to transform it into a construction zone until the end of 2024.

5 – Humboldt Forum: The Reimagined Berlin Palace

On the historic grounds of the erstwhile city palace and the subsequent GDR Palace of the Republic, the Humboldt Forum has risen as a new beacon of art and culture. The establishment melds baroque architectural elements with modern sections to narrate the site’s storied past through exhibits like the sculpture hall, castle cellar, and a 28-meter-wide video panorama.

The “Berlin Global” exhibition takes visitors on an interactive journey, exploring Berlin’s multifaceted connections with the globe, encompassing historical, cultural, and social threads from war history and the Wall’s construction to fashion and music scenes, alongside colonialism narratives. The Ethnological Museum and Museum of Asian Art enhance the experience with diverse artifacts, from Papua New Guinean outrigger canoes to a replica of a Silk Road Buddhist cave temple, now accessible in the building’s newly inaugurated east wing.

A tip worth noting: The 1,800-square-meter rooftop terrace unveils a spectacular vista over Berlin, enriched by a Nigerian choral music sound installation. The terrace also hosts a restaurant. Access to the terrace and certain exhibitions requires a time-slot ticket*, with some exhibits necessitating an entry fee.

Address: Schlossplatz 5

6 – Museum Island: A Journey to Nefertiti and Pergamon

Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a consortium of five major museums undergoing phased renovations. Among its treasured exhibits is the over 3,000-year-old Nefertiti bust in the New Museum.

New Museum opening hours: Daily except Monday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursdays.

A tip for visitors: Advance ticket bookings* are recommended. The James Simon Gallery serves as an alternate, less crowded entry to the New Museum, poised to become the central visitor hub for all of Museum Island.

The Museum Island ensemble also encompasses the Altes Museum, home to classical antiquities, the Alte Nationalgalerie with 19th and early 20th-century art, and the Bode Museum, renowned for its sculptures, Byzantine art, and numismatic collection. In summer, the adjacent Monbijou Park becomes a popular social hub.

The Pergamon Museum is temporarily closed for extensive renovations, set to partially reopen in 2027 with the famed Pergamon Altar.

Despite the closure, the ancient city of Pergamon remains viewable in a nearby 360-degree panorama*, with key sculptures and artifacts from the museum on display.

Family-friendly museum recommendations include the Museum of Natural History, showcasing giant dinosaur skeletons including the original Tyrannosaurus Rex named “Tristan Otto,” and the Futurium, which explores future-centric questions through interactive exhibits, both located near the main train station.

7 – Exploring Berlin: Tips for Navigating the City

The new U5 subway line provides convenient access to key attractions from the Reichstag to Alexanderplatz, with the Museumsinsel station featuring a starlit-sky illusion created by 6,600 light points on its ultramarine blue ceiling.

City tours by boat, bus, or bicycle offer unique perspectives of Berlin. For optimal urban mobility tips: Mobile in Berlin

For those preferring to explore on foot, recommendations for attractions within a 15-minute walk from various hotels are available.

8 – TV Tower: A Towering Presence at Alexanderplatz

Standing at 368 meters, the Berlin TV Tower remains Germany’s tallest structure since its erection in 1969 during the GDR era. The tower’s indoor observation deck, situated at 203 meters, boasts unparalleled views extending up to 70 kilometers in clear weather.

Address: Panoramastrasse 1A

Opening hours: March to October, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; November to February, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

To minimize waiting times, visitors can pre-book tickets or reserve seats in the tower’s revolving restaurant.

9 – Berlin Mitte: A Blend of Revue Tradition and a New Photography Museum

Directly adjacent to the vast Alexanderplatz, a landmark of former East Berlin, stands the TV tower. The area surrounding Hackesche Höfe invites leisurely exploration, with its boutiques, studios, and cafés. A spectacular showcase awaits at the Friedrichstadt-Palast, a revue theater constructed during the GDR era, boasting the world’s largest stage and featuring “Falling in Love” with extravagant costumes by Parisian fashion icon Jean Paul Gaultier.

Address: Friedrichstrasse 107

10 – Potsdamer Platz: Transformation from a Wasteland to a Modern Skyline

Before World War II, Potsdamer Platz was a bustling urban hub, home to the continent’s first traffic light. Post-war, it became a desolate no-man’s-land, only to be revitalized following the Berlin Wall’s fall. Today, the area is dominated by skyscrapers such as the Bahn Tower and Kollhoff Tower, offering panoramic views from the top. The Sony Center, recognizable by its vibrant glass dome, is undergoing modernization over two decades after its inauguration. The revamped shopping center, now called “Center am Potsdamer Platz,” promises entertainment, a rooftop bar, and a food hall. The locale also features the Museum for Film and Television and a musical theater.

Adjacent to Leipziger Platz, the German Spy Museum delves into the enigmatic world of espionage and intelligence services. Through a multimedia narrative, visitors explore intricate spy methods, decrypt codes, hack “secure” passwords, and navigate a laser maze.

Address: Leipziger Platz 9

11 – Park am Gleisdreieck: A Vibrant Urban Green Space

The Park am Gleisdreieck, developed around a former railway yard, juxtaposes the high-rise skyline of Potsdamer Platz and the overhead railway viaducts. The park’s allure is amplified by vast wooden decks, skate ramps, trampolines, beach volleyball courts, and designated graffiti areas. A nearby trendy brewery, housed in stacked shipping containers with an adjoining beer garden, seamlessly integrates into the park’s landscape.

Address: Möckernstrasse 26

12 – Berlin Wall Memorial: A Testament to the Divide

The question “Where was the Wall?” is common among visitors, particularly those who never witnessed the divided Berlin. The Wall’s path is marked by a double row of cobblestones. The Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Strasse starkly presents the absurdity of a city bisected. The open-air exhibition commemorates the numerous escape attempts and lives impacted, with the Wall once running perilously close to residential buildings. A viewing platform offers expansive views over a preserved 70-meter Wall segment, complete with a border strip and guard tower.

Address: Bernauer Straße 119

13 – East Side Gallery: Celebrating Art on the Wall

The East Side Gallery, a heritage-protected open-air gallery along a remnant of the Berlin Wall by the Spree in Friedrichshain, stretches for 1.3 kilometers. Post-reunification in 1990, over 100 artists from more than 20 countries adorned this stretch with their art, including iconic pieces like the socialist “brotherly kiss” between Brezhnev and Honecker and the image of a Trabant car breaking through the Wall.

Tip: The Berlin Street Art Map offers a guide to exploring more of Berlin’s vibrant street art.

14 – Asisi Panorama: A Glimpse into the Past

Yadegar Asisi’s expansive panorama transports visitors to an autumn day in the 1980s, depicting the stark realities of the Wall era: the alternative West Berlin scene in Kreuzberg, marked by punks and graffiti, sharply contrasted with life in East Berlin, all separated by formidable borders and no-go zones. The panoramic view from the Asisi’s observation tower mimics the perspectives once available from Wall viewing platforms.

Address: Friedrichstrasse 205

15 – On the Spree: Riverside Urban Oases

The banks of the Spree are dotted with urban retreats. The Holzmarkt in Friedrichshain, with its bars, cultural venues, and city gardens, retains the charm of the post-Wall era’s impromptu hip spots, despite the influx of new construction. On the Kreuzberg side, waterborne eateries like Frei Schwimmer, housed in a former boat rental, and the Badeschiff, a combination of a beach bar and river pool, draw crowds. Overlooking it all is the Molecule Man, a 30-meter-tall metal sculpture symbolizing reunification.

16 – Ku’damm and Bikini House: Western Revival

Kurfürstendamm remains a luxury shopping destination, housing both high-end brands and major retail chains. The historic KaDeWe, currently impacted by the Signa insolvency, lies along Tauentzienstrasse, extending from Ku’damm. The remnants of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church stand as a poignant anti-war monument.

Opposite, the West sees new developments, a contrast to the East’s post-reunification growth. The refurbished Bikini House, dating back to the 1950s and named for its distinctive architecture, features a terrace with skyline views, including the Waldorf-Astoria. Cafés, hotel rooms, and a mall offer direct views into Berlin Zoo’s enclosures.

17 – Tempelhofer Feld: Outdoor Leisure for All Ages

The expansive Tempelhofer Feld, once an airport and now one of the world’s largest urban open spaces, serves as a vast park. Its wide runways cater to skaters and kite boarders, while green spaces are perfect for picnics, sports, and creative pursuits like urban gardening and artful mini-golf. It’s an ideal spot for children’s outdoor activities, best explored by bike, pedal scooter, or go-kart, with rental stations available.

Opening times vary by season, generally from at least 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. After hours, the main entrances close, but revolving gates remain accessible.

Tip: The renovated THF Tower, with its extensive sixth-floor wood-paneled roof terrace, offers breathtaking views. The tower also hosts exhibitions on Tempelhof Airport’s history, poised to become a hub for creative industries and events (reopening after winter break on March 28).


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