A first-time visit to Berlin is bound to be an absolutely incredible experience, filled with an eclectic mix of history, culture and gorgeous sights, it’s a city that intrigues yet embraces us visitors with open arms.
Whether you’re going for a long weekend, a week or even months, it’s likely you’ll be scrambling for time to catch all the places in this vibrant city… especially if you keep stopping for a cheeky currywurst (and a tipple or two)! 😉
Just like other German cities like Hamburg and Cologne, Berlin has a pretty diverse mix of sights that you must see on your first visit with a hefty proportion being included in Germany’s Top 100 sights to see.
With that in mind, take a look at some of the very best sights you’ll want to include on your first visit to Berlin.
1.) Stroll through Brandenburg Gate
Brandenburg Gate is one of Germany’s best-known landmarks that you’ll no doubt want to see. Historically, an old city gate, Brandenburg Gate was rebuilt around 250 years ago and still stands proudly today.
Famous as a point for major historical events, it’s a great spot to see when visiting the Reichstag that’s close by.
Also, for a leisurely sightseeing tour, book this ticket for a sightseeing cruise around Berlin.
These particular tickets offer guaranteed seating, which means you won’t be waiting around or standing for long periods of time. It’s such a great tour.
2.) Visit the glass dome of The Reichstag
The Reichstag is not only home to the German Government but also home to one of the most impressive glass domes in all the world!
Open to the public, you can head inside the dome and enjoy the incredible building (and views) from the top. Make sure to book these tickets well in advance for a tour around the whole Government District, Chancellery, and Reichstag.
3.) Experience the glorious Berlin Cathedral
Perched on Museum Island, Berlin Cathedral is one awe-inspiring place to visit.
The grand history and incredible architecture is jaw-droppingly beautiful and well worth a gander at.
Make sure to spend some time in the main Cathedral before heading downstairs to learn more about the crypts and history of this incredible building.
4.) Learn about reintroduction programs at Berlin Zoo
More than just a zoo, Berlin Zoo helps educate, collaborate and maintains reintroduction programs for some of the most endangered species across the world.
Head here to learn more about the valuable work they do and the breeding programs that help in supporting endangered animals.
Also, be sure to book some of these epic Berlin tours, below; especially before you arrive in the city. This way, you won’t be scrambling for tickets and can maximise your time exploring the epicness that is Berlin.
5.) Discover art at the East Side Gallery
Premised as an international memorial for freedom, this massive stretch of the Berlin Wall has been commissioned, featuring over 100 different paintings from artists all across the world, including the colourful Some heads by Thierry Noir.
Stroll the length of the 1.3km section to admire artists’ works, just take a good pair of walking shoes with you.
That being said, you can also book this epic bike tour around Berlin’s best places to visit. It’s an incredible tour around the Mitte district, Checkpoint Charlie, Museum Island and so many more spots. It’s amazing.
Just make sure to book tickets in advance, they are small group tours and they do fill up fast!
6.) Explore Berlin’s Museum Island
No visit to Berlin is complete without a visit to this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hop over to the island that sits in the middle of the River Spree to see some of the best museums in the world.
Make sure to visit the Atles Museum and the Bode Museum for some incredible artefacts.
If all that walking works up an appetite, check out our complete list of amazing burger joints that are close by, right here.
7.) Remember at the Holocaust Memorial
Head to the Holocaust Memorial to reflect upon the horrendous mistakes of history.
The creator, Eisenman created this space for visitors to feel uneasy and confusing space where no order cannot be found.
Opened over 10 years ago, it’s a place to ponder and remember the terrible acts of the Holocaust.
Read more: our visit to the Holocaust Memorial
8.) Wander around Charlottenburg Palace
Officially, the largest palace in Berlin, Charlottenburg Palace was originally built over 300 years ago.
Around 15-20 minutes from the bustling centre of Berlin, the palace is a great place to wander, especially through the gardens.
Make sure to visit the Tea House and the Orangery in the palace gardens, they really are spectacular.
9.) See the president’s home, Bellevue Palace
Whether you get to visit the inside or not, Bellevue Palace is a grand sight to see whilst in Berlin.
Based on the edges of Großer Tiergarten (Berlin’s oldest and largest park), it’s well worth a little gander.
10.) Take a look at Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous crossing point between East and West Germany during the time of the Berlin Wall. Nowadays, the checkpoint has been redeveloped to show how it once stood.
If you want to see the original building head to The Allied Museum for a more intimate look.
11.) Grab some bubbles and Currywurst at the Berlin TV Tower
Book these tickets and scale to the top of the Berlin TV Tower for some impressive 360-degree views of the city or even for a little brunch.
If you’re planning a visit in the late afternoon or early evening, you can also enjoy bubbles and Currywurst whilst overlooking the city.
Just be sure to book these queue jump tickets to the top of the TV tower before arriving. You’ll get straight to the top and miss those long queues that happen at peak times.
12.) Gorge on the diverse foods of the city
One of the best things about Berlin is the varied and diverse mix of foody delights that are around every corner, you can literally have any type of food that your heart (or tummy) desires.
Make sure to try something you haven’t tried before. For me, this was Israeli Food when we ate at the delicious, Djimalaya.
Make sure to try their Hummus plates and falafel balls. Yum!
Oh, and if you’ve got time, book this guided boat tour of Potsdam to see the beauty of the palaces just outside Berlin itself. We totally loved Potsdam and it’s an essential place to include when visiting the best places in Berlin.
13.) Head inside the French Cathedral
The French Cathedral is, arguably, one of the prettiest buildings in Berlin.
Head inside for a wander around the building, whilst stopping for a bite to eat in the basement halls. Most people don’t realise that the Cathedral also houses The Huguenot Museum in the tower itself.
14.) Climb to the top of the Victory Column
If you’re feeling pretty fit, or just want to burn off all those currywurst calories, then take the almost 300 steps to the top of the Victory Column.
Nearly 200 years old, the column offers some pretty epic views across the city.
15.) See inside the New Church
The New Church sits directly opposite the French Cathedral on the opposite side of the square.
Head inside for a closer look at the gorgeous architecture and plan a trip to coincide with one of the many events and markets that operate within the Gendarmenmarkt beside the church.
16.) Watch a show at Konzert Haus
If you’re looking to find some of the city’s world-renowned culture and art, then make sure you pop into Konzert Haus, where some of the world’s best ballet, opera and German music and theatre is held.
Tickets can be booked online and I’d definitely advise this if you’re wanting to visit.
17.) See the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
Built well over 100 years ago, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was heavily destroyed during World War II.
Fondly known as ‘the hollow tooth’ the spire and tower of the church still stand in its destroyed state; a testament and memory to the awful tragedies of war.
Make sure to visit the old and new church that now occupy the site.