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Things to do in Berlin

Must see sights and experiences abound in Germany's capital city, Berlin.

Berlin is Germany’s biggest city and, as such, is filled with sightseeing opportunities. The city has World Heritage Sites, powerhouse museums, stellar shops and an always-on nightlife.

In one day you can come into contact with everything from ancient Egyptian artefacts to 21st century techno music.

Top suggestions for things to do in Berlin

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Museum hop

You can go on a museum crawl in Berlin. The city even has an island called Museum Island that’s home to five museums:

  • The Pergamon Museum is dedicated to showcasing the wonders of the ancient world.
  • The Bode Museum puts sculpture and Byzantine art under the microscope.
  • The New Museum is where a large chunk of the collection is given over to Egyptian and early history.
  • The Old Museum focuses on ancient Greece and Rome.
  • The Old National Gallery is where you can explore Neoclassical, Romantic, Biedermeier, Impressionist and early Modernist artwork.

Party through Berlin’s nightlife

Berlin isn’t a city of early nights. The are no official closing times in the German capital so bars and clubs can stay open as long as you can stay awake. Berlin’s nightlife scene is diverse.

There are classy cocktail bars, live music venues and clubs that focus on techno – the music that the city is most famous for.

Head to Auguststraße and Torstraße for rooftop bars or beeline to Hackescher Markt. Oranienburger Straße is well-known for its beer gardens and open-air terraces, as well as multi-storey clubs and karaoke bars.

If you don’t know where to start, book onto one of the city’s organised bar crawls.


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Hit the shops

You can wear away the soles of more than one pair of shoes while shopping in Berlin. At one end of the scale there are designer shops and expensive boutiques. At the other there are vintage, second-hand and upcycling stores.

Somewhere in the middle, you’ll find KaDeWe on Kurfürstendamm. This department store is spread over six floors and sells everything from perfume to kitchenware.

The city is also home to a clutch of markets, including the Christmas markets that spring up in the city between the end of November and the end of December.


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Set sail on a Berlin river cruise

The rivers Havel and Spree wind their way through Berlin and you can get a different perspective on the city by taking a cruise along one or both of them.

Sail along the Havel to Potsdam and you’ll tick off some UNESCO World Heritage Sites as you float along, including palaces and parks.

Another cruise option takes you along Müggelsee Lake to the old town of Köpenick where you’ll see the castle and learn about the stories associated with the old town hall.


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East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is actually a 1.3 kilometre portion of the Berlin Wall that’s been turned into one of the longest open-air art galleries in the world. 118 artists from 21 countries contributed to the artwork on the wall and it was officially opened on 28 September 1990.

It’s possible to take a tour through the gallery to learn more about the works of art. Guides will offer insights and perspectives on paintings, from the iconic Fraternal Kiss to Birgit Kinders’s Trabant car that’s pictured bursting through the wall.


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Sachsenhausen

The Nazi concentration camp Sachsenhausen was established in 1936 and more than 30,000 prisoners died there before it was shut down in 1945.

Today, visitors can take guided tours of the site to embrace the “lest we forget” spirit and remember those who lost their lives there.

Tours are led by historians and offer an insight into the creation of the camp and the heartbreaking atrocities that were committed there by Germany’s Third Reich.

Visitors will see locations such as the command headquarters, the chilling execution trench, the gas chambers and the punishment cells, as they are taken round and hear tales of prisoner bravery in addition to facts about guard cruelty.


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Stephanie Yip

Stephanie is the travel editor at finder.com.au. On top of being an avid traveller, she's an all-round bargain hunter. If there's a deal on hotels or a sale on flights, she'll know about it. And she'll let you know about it, too. Though probably not before she buys her own ticket.

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