The first thing you should do before traveling to Berlin is to learn the history of Germany. Well, at least just read the main facts, because it is THE city where history is so visible. If you do not understand what Berlin went through the past 100 years then you won’t be able to understand why the things are as they are. Those are my top 6 alternative things to do in Berlin, Germany what to do if you don’t want just to follow tourist’s path.
6 Things to do in Berlin
1. Dome of Reichstag, Berlin
This government building’s dome is one of the most impressive domes in the world and it is open to the public. You can get inside and admire this incredible building from the inside. Make sure to book your tickets in advance, because preregistration usually fills up very fast. Also, you will get like three letters where you have to confirm your information, so do not miss these emails, because I did it once and couldn’t get in. Also, you can make it easier and take a tour in German: Reichstag Dome & Government District.
However, if this happens that you can’t register online, then go to Reichstag and on the other side of the street, there will be a small building where you can book your visit for the same day. Although, if it is possible to go earlier because a lot of people tries to get in the dome.
2. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Berlin is dotted with memorials which remind of its troubled 20th century’s history. It documents the evil of Nazi power which changed so many people live.
I was deeply touched and overwhelmed with emotions when I visited the Holocaust Memorial and museum, I couldn’t keep my tears while reading all those personal letters and hearing tragical stories. My whole body was shivering from this inhumanity.
The museum is under the memorial, so you spend for about an hour in a basement without any windows filled with all those memories of Holocaust tragedy and the feeling of death. I can’t forget one Jewish women’s story how she begged the Nazi officer to take her son and mother with him, because she believed that they will bring her family to work and they will be safe there. At that time she didn’t know that she just sent her only son and mother to death, to the gas chamber.
Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is on a 19,000 square meters site in which there are placed 2711 concrete slabs of different heights. The meaning of this installation is free for interpretation and it usually gives visitors a feeling of uncertainty.
Apr-Sep: Tue-Sun 10:00am – 8:00pm,
Oct – Marc: Tue-Sun 10:00am – 7:00pm
Try Kreuzberg: Culinary Food Tour, because you will be surprised by German cuisine.
3. Brandenburg Gates
It is Germany’s best-known landmark which is impossible to miss because it is so close near Reichstag and Holocaust Memorial. It was a symbol of German division and Berlin during the Cold War, now it became a national symbol of unity and peace.
4. Abandoned Teufelsberg
It is hard to explain in words how excited I am about this place! Teufelsberg (Translation is Devil’s hill) is an abandoned US and Great Britain listening station which was built on a man-made hill which hides Nazi’s military/technical college. Crazy, right?
It can be a bit confusing so let’s start from the beginning. When Nazis were in power the Allies tried to destroy that military-technical college many times using explosives, although the buildings were impossible to destroy. Although, it was hidden by tons and tons of rubble, creating this huge 80 meters high mountain. When Berlin Wall fell, in 1961 the British and US realized the big advantage of being this high on Germany’s capital. They installed those structures of the listening station that still stand in Teufelsberg today.
After Cold War and Pact of Warsaw collapsed, the Teufelsberg station wasn’t useful anymore for Western spies that’s why it was abandoned. An interesting, empty building in the middle of Berlin was noticed by many graffiti artists and now it is one of the largest graffiti galleries in Europe.
Now, visitors can legally tour Teufelsberg, although this summer I have been two times to Berlin and I couldn’t enter Teufelsberg. I hope you will be luckier.
The opening hours:
Thu – Mon 12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
5. East Side Gallery
Rediscover art and the history of the Berlin Wall while taking a walk by 1316 meters East Side Gallery. It is the longest section of the Berlin Wall which is still in existence. In 1990, 118 artists from 21 countries began painting the East Side Gallery and the next year it officially got a protected memorial status. Keep in mind that you will have to wait in line in front of the most popular paintings like “Fraternal Kiss”.
6. Berlin TV tower
Berlin TV tower you can notice from any part of the city. It is 368 meters and it is the highest building which is open to the public. A 360-degree panoramic view of the entire city is just astonishing!
Book your time in TV tower online to skip all those lines and if you are hungry there is also a restaurant where you can enjoy a cold beer and currywurst.
March to October: Daily from 9 a.m. to midnight
November to February: Daily from 10 a.m. to midnight.
Plan your trip to Berlin, Germany
Don’t know what to pack? Check my packing list