Berlin, the capital of Germany, has a long and often difficult history. The city survived two world wars as well as the Cold War, and has time and time again rebuilt and pushed itself forward. Now a center for high tech and entrepreneurial work, Berlin has a rich history to explore and a modern flare to enjoy.
When arriving to either airport to Berlin, the best way to get the city is via train. Depending on where you are staying in the city, you can get off at many different stations across Berlin. After dropping off your bags, the city is yours to enjoy.
Explore all that Berlin has to offer in our 15km walking travel guide, where we hit all the best things to do, both historic and modern.
Walking Map of Berlin:
Top Attractions in Berlin
Our first stop in Berlin was Gendarmenmarkt square. At the top of the square sits the beautiful Konzerthaus flanked by the nearly identical French and German Churches. In the center of the square is a statue of Germany’s renowned poet Friedrich Schiller.
St. Hedwig’s Cathedral
We then walked to St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, which is a big round church, with a grand facade and massive green dome.
Just across the square from the cathedral is Bebelplatz, at the steps of Humbolt University. It was the location of one of the largest Nazi book burnings to take place on May 10, 1933 with upwards of 20,000 books lost that day. There is now a memorial, with a window into an empty underground library.
Just two blocks down the street is the Neue Wache building. It houses the Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship, with a poignant sculpture at its center.
Next door is Zeughaus, the old armory and oldest building in its district of Berlin. It now serves as the home to the German Historical Museum.
Across the river is the beautiful Berlin Cathedral. This three domed church has a nice park and fountain in front. You can also get tickets to walk the up the 267 steps to the top to the dome. Spectacular 360 panorama view of the city.
Tickets cost €7/adults and €5/children. It is open Monday to Saturday from 9AM to 8PM and Sundays from 12PM to 8PM.
Just to the left of the Cathedral is the start of the world renowned and UNESCO site Museum Island. The island includes five unique museums, including the Pergamon Museum, Bode Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Altes Museum.
An important note: many of the museums are closed on Mondays, so make sure to check the individual museum’s hours.
Walking across the river Spree brings you to the historic Nicholas’ Quarter and Saint Nicholas Church, the oldest church in Berlin. Besides for its old fashioned atmosphere, the neighborhood has many good German pubs and restaurants.
Our next stop was the Berlin TV Tower, imagine the Seattle Space Needle. To access the observation deck at 203 meters, tickets start at €13, with higher priced tickets to skip the line, or eat at the restaurant at the top. The tower is open daily from 10AM to midnight.
At the base of the tower is a beautiful Neptune fountain, the St Mary’s Church and the Rotes Rathaus.
Rosenthaler Straße Alley
A short walk away is the Rosenthaler Straße Alley, which is full of murals and art. It is an ever changing display of street art, so each time you visit Berlin, it is worth seeing again!
We then headed to the New Synagogue with its beautiful gold domes and ornate facade.
While much of the building was destroyed in WWII, most of it has been restored, besides the main sanctuary. It now houses a Jewish history museum and a viewpoint from its main dome.
Walking back across the Spree river, our next stop was the German government building. The building Faced arson in 1933 and sat unused until restored in 1990s.
There is a glass panoramic dome on top with views of the city and the ability to look down on the German Parliament below. It is free entry but requires an online booking and you to bring a government ID.
Soviet War Memorial
We then walked west into the Großer Tiergarten, a large public park to the west of the city centre. We stopped at the Soviet War Memorial. The memorial was built immediately after WWII in commemoration of the 20,000 Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin.
Walking back east towards the city centre, we walked under the Brandenburg Gate. It is a big entry gate to the square and main part of city. It is also the only standing part of old city wall.
Right through the gate is Pariser Platz many big embassy’s. This square serves as a center of protests and celebrations today and as a site for major historical events.
At the square is also the Hotel Adlon, most notable as the location of Michael Jackson dangling his baby over the balcony!
A block south of Pariser Platz is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews. The memorial is a complete city block field of stelae. Underneath the memorial is also a free museum which documents the persecution and extermination of European Jewry.
While the memorial is accessible 24/7/365, the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10AM to 7PM (8PM April to September.)
Memorial to the Homosexual
Right across the street is the Memorial to the Homosexuals Persecuted under the National Socialist Regime. The small, yet important memorial stands as a symbol against exclusion, intolerance and animosity towards gays and lesbians.
The Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism
Heading several minutes south is the Topography of Terror. It is situated on the site of the former Gestapo and SS building from Nazi Germany. There is now both an indoor and outdoor museum on this site, including a section of Berlin Wall.
The free museum is open daily from 10AM to 8PM.
Just a block further down the street is the Trabi car museum. It is dedicated to the famous Trabant Soviet era cars from East Germany. This unique museum is an interactive view into the past.
The museum costs €5/person and is open from 10AM to 6PM.
A minute walk from the museum is Checkpoint Charlie. This intersection served as a US checkpoint during the Cold War. This intersection has many replica objects from the time of the Berlin Wall and Cold War. At the center of the square is a big sign with a US soldier looking east and Soviet soldier looking west.
We then walked to the Jewish Museum Berlin, the largest Jewish museum in Europe. The museum tells the history of the Jewish people in Germany though the Shoah and into its revival today. The unique architecture and displays pay tribute to the millions of lives lost under Nazi power.
Tickets are €8/adults and €3/reduced. The museum is open daily; on Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 8PM and on Monday until 10PM.
A 2km walk from the checkpoint is one of the most important spots in Berlin, the East Side Gallery. This outdoor gallery consists of graphic arts along 1,316 meters of the original Berlin Wall. At the further end of the gallery is a beautiful brick bridge, Uberbaumbruke.
The Spandau Citadel is a new addition to our guide, from a recent trip to Berlin, so is not included in the 15km of walking. This 16th century citadel is built atop an even older fortress, which was built atop a medieval Jewish cemetery. The beautifully preserved Renaissance fort is an amazing day trip from downtown Berlin.
You can easily reach the citadel by a short ride on the bus or underground to the “Zitadelle” stop. The museums are open everyday from 10AM to 5PM and tickets are €4.50 per person.