Top 10 Things to do in Berlin
Check out the remaining fragments of the Wall scattered around the city, dropping by Checkpoint Charlie to see where the main gate between East and West Berlin used to stand. Or visit the Brandenburg Gate, the iconic Reichstag building or the powerful Holocaust Memorial. There also is some great street art in Berlin, especially around the neighborhoods of Mitte, Kreuzberg, and Friedrichshain. Berlin’s best art is to be found on the streets, not museums or galleries. There is graffiti, paste-ups, stamps, and some amazing pieces by street-art masters such as Dscreet, Stik, and Space Invader. (In)Famously described as ‘poor but sexy’ by its mayor Klaus Wowereit, the place is exactly that. It is not the cleanest or the prettiest European capital, but it is definitely the quirkiest and the most eclectic. It is easy to fall in love with Berlin because it is full of character. Therefore what to do in Berlin can be really confusing when in the city. The place is young, dynamic, and volatile and hence, here is a list of top 10 things to do in Berlin.
What to do in Berlin is not a question you ask if you are a music lover or at the very least appreciate it. Music is everywhere in Berlin. The best part? There are free open-air micro-concerts happening everywhere you look. Walk around Alexanderplatz on a sunny morning and you will see what we mean- there are musicians at every street corner, people pausing to hear them, fans cheering them – an infectious atmosphere for sure. This is the first one of the things to do in Berlin.
With Alexanderplatz as your starting point, start walking towards Rosenthaler Strasse – the walls of this area are covered fully with graffiti, paste-ups, and stencils. The famous street artist El Bocho makes his presence felt frequently through his Little Lucy figures. Mr.6, another famous street artist, loves this particular area. Apparently, he goes around painting the digit 6 on the walls, old furniture, and pavements in Berlin. A major part of his 650,000 6’s is found in Mitte – which is exciting as well as eccentric. This definitely the next best things to experience among other things to do in Berlin.
Situated on the Museum Island, the Pergamon Museum is arguably Berlin’s most popular and frequently visited museums and remains at the heart of Berlin’s museum culture. And therefore most of the time the first place to come to mind if you ask What to do in Berlin. The Pergamon Museum is an absolute must-see when visiting Berlin and top the list of things to do in Berlin for many tourists. The museum is home to an extensive collection of treasures including sculptures, reconstructions of archaeological buildings and classical antiquities. The Antiquity Collection features sculpture from archaic to Hellenistic ages as well as artwork from Greek and Roman ages, including pottery, mosaics, jewels, and bronzes. One of the main attractions, the Pergamon Altar (180-160 BCE), is one of the key highlights of Hellenistic Art and depicts the Olympian gods locked in combat with the Giants. The Antikensammlung (Collection of Classical Antiquities) is classed as one of the world’s most important collections of Greek and Roman Art. The Pergamon Museum runs unique and ever-changing exhibitions throughout the year.
The Berliner Dom, also known locally as the Berlin Cathedral, is a magnificent building that dominates the Berlin skyline. What to do in Berlin can be a little confusing when in the city. Popular with visitors to Berlin, the iconic Berliner Dom is the largest church in the city and serves as a vital center for the Protestant church of Germany. This most definitely the next in line for things to do in Berlin. The Berliner Dom is a neo-Baroque building built in 1905 and restored after large parts were destroyed during World War II. The iconic dome is a key feature of the Cathedral and offers great views of Berlin. The Cathedral is situated on Museum Island in the Mitte borough.
In the north-eastern corner of what was formerly West Berlin and what is now officially part of the Kreuzberg neighborhood, lies Schlesisches Tor. Gentrification is visible all over Berlin, but Schleseisches Tor somehow seems to have escaped it. As well as being a popular choice for a fun night out, Schlesisches Tor is also renowned for its striking street art. The place is a street art lover’s dream come true. One of Berlin’s more chic and laid-back areas, it’s home to an increasing number of bars, cafes, restaurants, and clubs, including the legendary Watergate Club. This makes up for one of the many things to do in Berlin. When you exit the Schlesisches Tor U Bahn station towards the Oberbaum Bridge, it is not hard to spot the graffiti-laden walls of warehouses and large unused industrial spaces packed full of artwork. You can also get a good view of the artwork by twin brothers, Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, from Schlesisches Tor station over at Oppelner Strasse. Originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil, the brothers, who call themselves OSGEMEOS, are best-known for their huge murals, with the piece at Oppelner Strasse titled ‘Yellow Man’. The brothers have made their stamp in several cities across the world, including in Vancouver, where they transformed Granville Island’s concrete silos into works of art. What is particularly great about Schlesisches Tor is the passion its residents have for the street art here. A passion that is representative of the city. And a passion that you will adopt when you visit Germany’s capital for yourself.
Checkpoint Charlie Museum
If you are thinking what other things to do in Berlin next, then the Checkpoint Charlie Museum should be your choice. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum or the Mauer Museum is a key landmark both for geographical and historical reasons. Situated at the Checkpoint Charlie border crossing, the museum was founded in 1962 and details the history of the Berlin Wall and incidents surrounding it. Excellent exhibitions which detail dramatic stories of escape attempts, including those by hot air balloons, chairlifts, and even a small submarine. Immerse yourself in the lives and stories of those who tried to escape. A permanent exhibition dates back to the first days of the museum, just after the Berlin Wall was built and charts the lifespan of world’s supposedly most secure border crossing. Examine the original artifacts used during the infamous escape attempts.
Rosenthaler Strasse (Street)
What to do in Berlin can get confusing if you don’t know what to look for and where. Part of Berlin’s Mitte district, Rosenthaler Strasse is an extremely cultural part of the city. Rosenthaler Strasse, as well as being a landmark for striking architecture, it is home to a range of museums, including the Anne Frank Zentrum which has a permanent exhibition focusing on the life of Anne Frank. Also popular is the B-Flat Jazz Club, which hosts weekly free-to-watch jam sessions. Of course, Rosenthaler Strasse is best known for being covered head to toe in all forms of street art, from graffiti and paste-ups to stencils and murals. This makes up for one of the many things to do in Berlin. Illustrious street artist El Bocho has lined the walls of this area with his Little Lucy figures.The works of artists like DScreet and Jimmy C can also be found around the famous Otto Weidt Museum. The courtyard where the museum is built reminds one of a bygone era. As well as being home to an independent cinema and bookshop, the courtyard outside the Museum is filled with the artist’s own creations. You will even find work by world-famous street artists, Banksy and The London Police group here. Follow the courtyard down some steps and you will come to an alleyway, coined ‘Dead Chicken Alley,’ after artists, ’The Dead Chickens Society,’ who filled it with their art. The Dead Chickens society, an independent organization, has succeeded in maintaining its post-war state in order to oppose the gentrification which is visible all over Berlin. The alleyway is also home to the mysterious MonsterKabinett, a basement filled with ‘monsters’ crafted out of old bits of machinery. Visit to see whimsical machine creatures dance and sing for your pleasure in one of the unique showcases of street art in the city.
Berlin’s bohemian hub Kreuzberg is a treasure trove, full of street art gems, and most definitely dominate the chart for things to do in Berlin After getting off at the Kottbusser Tor U-Bahn station start walking towards Marienplatz. Since Kreuzberg is at the center of Berlin’s alternative scene, there is a lot of politically motivated street art here. The highlights of this particular area are the firewalls with huge murals on them. Kreuzberg is full of unusual and quirky places to eat. But Burgermeister takes the cake. It is situated under a busy metro station and has beer crates for seats. There is a reason it is so popular with the locals as it serves the most mind-numbingly delicious burgers. Munch on this bundle of goodness as you watch the world go by. If you want to throw calorie-counting to the wind, order their special cheese-fries to go with your burger.
AquaDom & Sea Life Berlin
At this point what to do in Berlin shouldn’t be a problem anymore. So here is another we recommend. AquaDom & Sea Life Berlin is an impressive underwater world home to over 5,000 fascinating sea creatures. With 35 lifelike natural salt and freshwater pools and habitats, including touch pools, you can journey through the waters of the River Spree to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean – learning about everything that lives below the surface. The highlight is the breathtaking journey through the AquaDom – the largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium in the world.
The East Side Gallery
The East Side Gallery, which is located between the banks of the River Spree in Friedrichshain and Mühlenstrasse, can be accessed by walking from Schlesisches Tor station, or across the bridge Oberbaumbrücke if you’re looking for a more scenic route. It is the longest remaining stretch of the Wall, standing at 1316 meters long and showcases the largest selection of street art the city has to offer.This gallery may not be the best example of street art per se but it indeed is politically and socially relevant. One of the most famous paintings, ‘The Kiss’, recreates a picture taken in 1979, on the anniversary of the founding of the Communist German Democratic Republic in East Germany. When the Soviet leader, Leonid Brezhnev finished his speech, the East German President, Erich Honecker congratulated him with a kiss. After the Wall came down in 1989, Soviet artist, Dmitri Vrubel, painted this iconic image on the East Side that remained. The East Side Gallery is also home to Thierry Noir’s famous cartoon faces. Noir, an artist originally from France, was one of the forerunners of street art and began painting before a large part of the wall was destroyed. He painted the wall illegally for five years, protesting for its demolition, and was once held up by soldiers with guns after attempting to drill a metal door onto the wall. In order to avoid arrest, Noir simplified his paintings, bringing them to life with a few bright colors, something he called the ‘Fast Form Manifest’. One cannot leave Berlin without examining the famed murals of the East Side Gallery.