Brandenburg Gate Berlin victory Germany

Berlin Travel + 16 Best Things To Do In Berlin

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The article takes inspiration from my Berlin trip to find out which are the 16 best things to do in the German capital.

Before going to Berlin

Before going to Berlin, a German friend repeatedly emphasized to me that I must take a cruise on the Spree River, because he thought the cruise ride was very interesting. In his opinion, it would be a great regret if I did not take a cruise in Berlin. So, after this “brainwashing”, I felt as if it was not to see the city of Berlin, but to go to Berlin to take a cruise.

berlin cruise river spree building

Arrive in Berlin

Berlin is younger than I thought. Because the whole city was severely damaged in the wars, the rebuilt Berlin after the war looks very new. Because of the architecture, Berlin looks like a new city, full of young and energetic feeling. Especially under the sunshine of the sun, the glass on various buildings reflects the sunlight, and it feels radiant everywhere.

berlin main train station entrance

I went to Berlin by train. The train platform I arrived at was underground, so when I arrived in Berlin, it felt as if I had entered a tunnel instead of entering the city. Berlin Railway Station has five floors and is one of the largest railway stations in Europe. There are various facilities in the railway station.

berlin main train station germany

After leaving the train station, I felt that Berlin is simple and easy going. The buildings are very modern, and there are green trees and grass everywhere. People and the surrounding environment are very orderly. Unlike some cities that are very complicated, it takes a long time to experience it before one understand it. Berlin is like a simple person who can know a thing or two from the moment he gets along.

Taking a cruise in the Spree River

The friendly greeting

Because I had been thinking about the cruise ride recommended by the German friend, I wanted to get on the cruise as soon as possible. After boarding the cruise, I found that the most interesting thing was that every time a cruise passed by, people on the shore waved their arms to greet, and people on the cruise also waved their arms to greet back, a tacit understanding of friendship directly conveyed by strangers. This beautiful atmosphere lasted until disembarkation. This kind of friendly strangers directly responded to one another, becoming a beautiful scenery in the city.

berlin cruise river spree people

The real reason to take the cruise

However, this is not the reason why the German friend mentioned to me that I must take a cruise. The real reason is that there is a water level difference in the river. So, when the cruise travels here, the cruise has to stop because of the water surface drop. After the gates in front and behind of the cruise close, water will be injected inside the gates. As the water level rises, the cruise rises.  

After the cruise slowly rises with water level rises until the cruise reach the higher water level, the gate opens and the cruise continues to move forward. The whole process not only has the beauty of human wisdom, but also the fun of experiencing the continuous rise of the ship, and the extraordinary tranquility when people wait quietly after the cruise stopped. The integration of technology, nature and people make this process a very unique experience.

Other reason to take the cruise

Another advantage of taking a cruise is that you can see many famous scenic spots and beautiful scenery along the Spree River. It’s a bit like taking a tourist bus in other cities, and it’s fun to look up at this scenery from the water.

There are services on the cruise, for example, some people order German beers to enjoy during the entire journey. Finally, I agreed with the German friend that it’s a pity not to take a cruise in Berlin.

Climbing the Parliament Building

The Parliament Building is very worth visiting, especially the transparent glass dome above it is not to be missed. Climbing up to the dome of the Parliament Building feels like in a transparent world because there is glass everywhere, and the crystal-clear transparency brings joy and peace.

berlin reichstag dome parliament germany

After reaching the top of the Parliament Building, many people lie down on their upper bodies to rest on the wooden circle, forming a small circle composed of people. After leaving the Parliament Building, if you are tired from sightseeing, you can take a walk on the grass or lie on the grass to gaze at the sky. It feels very comfortable.

The feeling about Berlin

The simplicity, order, and rigor of the Germans can be reflected in Berlin. The architecture is not complicated, instead, it is modern and crisp. Even the capital with many tourists can maintain the cleanliness and order of the city to a certain extent. Various tourist attractions are with certain arrangements and planning, it will not feel too crowded.

berlin modern architecture building germany

In some cities, it can be crowded and messy during the tourist season. Especially, after queuing up at the scenic spots for long time, it feels tired and frustrated. At least I have not experienced that in Berlin.

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Berlin also embodies the free and creative side of the Germans. Behind the rigorous public order is the free space for individuals. After people abide by an order together, many things will become easier to advance, and individuals will have more freedom.

west berlin modern architecture germany

Many people think that behind the rigor there will be conformity to the rules. But in fact, rigor will prevent people from consuming unnecessary bureaucratic inefficiencies. The combination of higher social efficiency and personal efficiency creates a significant space for social freedom. Creativity gallop here in a free space.

16 Best things to do in Berlin

Except for taking a cruise, there are many interesting things to do in Berlin, I recommend other best things to do below.

Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)

The Brandenburg Gate is a symbol of Berlin. Many people can recognize Berlin in photos by the sculpture of the four horses pulling a chariot on the top of the gate. The gate represents reunification, peace and freedom. Brandenburg Gate is in the very center of Berlin, many tourist attractions are nearby and many gatherings, concerts, festivals and celebrations are hosted here.

brandenburg gate berlin horses

Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer)

The Berlin Wall was built in 1961 by East Germany and demolished in 1990. Germany was officially and physically separated into two parts by the wall. The wall is a symbol of Cold War and Iron Curtain. After many years separation, the fall of the Berlin Wall started a new chapter of unification, freedom and democracy of Modern Germany.

berlin wall ruins cold war

Checkpoint Charlie

The Checkpoint Charlie is one of the most important crossing points between East and West German. The checkpoint is one of the symbols of the Cold War as many famous political events and outstanding escape attempts happed here.

The museum is open from 10:00 am to 08:00 pm every day of the year. There will be notice if the museum closes, tourist can check “hours of operation” here. The ticket for adults cost 17.50 euros per person, one can spend 5 euro more to have an audio guide. Tickets can be purchased on-line on Checkpoint Charlie official website.

East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is collective artwork of 118 artists from 21 countries. After the demolition of the Berlin Wall, international artists came to paint murals on 1.3-kilometer-long of remaining Berlin Wall to express their ideas about the unification of Germany.  The unique gallery is considered the longest open-air Gallery in the world.

Reichstag Building (Reichstagsgebäude)

The Reichstag Building is the German Parliament building. The building is a symbol of the reunification of East and West Germany because German president was elected here since 1990s. The Architecture style of the building is special because of the unique modern glass dome on the top of the neo-Renaissance building. Climbing the glass dome is a very interesting experience for tourists.

berlin parliament reichstag germany

Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg)

The name of the Charlottenburg Palace was given by Frederick I to commemorate his second wife queen Charlotte. The Palace was built in the 17th century and expanded in the 18th century. The Baroque architecture, magnificent Interior and stunning gardens make this biggest remaining Palace in Germany super attractive to tourists.

Berlin Cathedral (Deutscher Dom)

The Berlin Cathedral mixed different architecture styles. The cathedral was built from 1895 to 1905 but it was damaged during the World War Two. Later, the cathedral was renovated to open to public. Many tourists climb the fascinating dome of the cathedral in order to enjoy the panoramic view.

berlin dom cathedral museum island

Gendarmenmarkt (Men-at-arms market)

The Gendarmenmarkt is a historical square where German Cathedral (Deutscher Dom), the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom), and the Concert Hall (Konzerthaus) located. The square has rich history and many important political events happened here. Except gatherings and concerts, Christmas Market is also hosted on the square. The beauty of the square attracts many tourists from the world every year.

Potsdamer Platz

The Potsdamer Platz was not only suffered from the damage during the World War Two but also divided by the Berlin Wall. But the reunification makes the square come back to life again. Now there are many places such as theaters, cinemas, art galleries, boutiques, malls and restaurants that tourists can enjoy nearby. 

berlin potsdmer platz skyscraper germany

Holocaust Memorial

The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial/Holocaust-Mahnmal) is dedicated to Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The designers Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold used 2,711 concrete slabs on the 19,000-square-metre space. The purpose of the Memorial is to let people think deeply about the tragedy and history in order to let history never repeat itself.

Museum Island (Museumsinsel)

The Museum Island is a museum complex built from 1830 to 1930. The museum complex is formed by five different museums:

  1. Altes Museum (Old Museum), an archaeological museum that mainly contains Greek classical antiquities;
  2. Neues Museum (New Museum) that hosts the Egyptian museum and Papyrus collection;
  3. Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), which is a gallery that hosts paintings from many modern movements such as Impressionism, Romanticism, Neoclassicism and Early Modernism;
  4. Bode-Museum that has a collection of Byzantine art, coins and medals;
  5. Pergamon Museum that has a collection of art from the Middle East, especially Islamic art and antiquities. Among the antiquities there is the world-famous Pergamon altar. The Pergamon Museum is considered the most outstanding museum among these five.
berlin museum island cruise tower

The museums are closed on Mondays and they are open all other days of the week from 10:00 am to 06:00 pm. In the holidays, the museums are usually open. Due to the entrance of each museum costing at least 10 euros, It can be worth buying a day ticket for the whole Museum Island that costs only 19 euros.

Tiergarten park  (Großer Tiergarten that means Greater Animal Garden)

The Tiergarten park is one of the biggest parks in Germany. Before The Tiergarten became a public forest park, it was originally a hunting ground in the 16th century.  The park has many famous monuments such as statue to Queen Louise, Statues of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Beethoven–Haydn–Mozart Memorial. Here, you can also find the victory column that is a 66 meters tall column with a golden sculpture of the god of victory on the top. The column is one of the symbols of the city.

berlin bismarck monument tiergarten park

Unter den Linden

The Unter den Linden is a boulevard named after the linden trees. There are many iconic architectural landmarks and historical monuments along both sides of the boulevard. The Unter den Linden is 1,500meters long and 60 meters wide and it is a home to serval famous cultural Institutions, museums, and galleries. The boulevard is also a wonderful place for shopping in various shops and having meals in restaurants.

berlin unter linden avenue germany


The Alexanderplatz was the main shopping area in East Berlin during the Cold War. Now it’s a major shopping area in Berlin. One of the tallest TV towers (Fernsehturm Berlin) in Europe is located here and tourists can climb the tower to have a panoramic view of whole city. To climb the tower, the ticket can be booked in advance here. The ticket to the observation deck costs 26 euro (in case you may change the visiting time) or 22.50 euro (in case you are sure on the visiting time while you book the ticket).

berlin tv tower alexanderplatz germany


Kurfürstendamm was the main shopping street in West Berlin during the Cold War. Now it is one of the most famous shopping streets in Berlin and the renowned department store KaDeWe is also located here. Theaters, museums and foundations are nearby. It is worth mentioning that premieres of Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale) are near the boulevard, too.

berlin kaiser wilhelm memorial church

How to visit Berlin for one to three days?

If you stay in Berlin for only one day, you can visit the center of Berlin to get a general impression of Berlin. If you stay for two days in Berlin, you can further visit the East Berlin on the second day. If you can stay for three days in Berlin, you can also visit the West Berlin to have a better understanding of Berlin. You can click the link of “1 to 3 Days Itineraries In Berlin + Food And Drink” for detailed information on how to visit Berlin.

Author: Hua

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