Berlin is one of the biggest capitals in Europe. Do you know that it’s 9x bigger than Paris? Well you know it now. Big city means many places to check out and more time to get from one place to another. My recent visit to Berlin, in the middle of winter, not gonna lie, was stress me out a bit. I had 1 km long bucket list and they’re all scattered all over the city. With the weather slowing me down, it really was impossible to check them all out. What I did to make it easier to decide where to go, was to put them in groups categorized by area and then explored the area one by one. So on this post, I want to share my Berlin bucket list in groups so it’s easier for you to plan your trip!
Also, I need to mention that public transport is the best way to get around in Berlin because they are very good, punctual, with all kind of transportations a city could have. They have buses, U-Bahn (underground train), S-Bahn (train), and trams with every of them have so many lines. Basically, you can get everywhere pretty easily. I also had my Berlin Welcome Card with unlimited usage of all public transports for whole 5 days I stayed there. It is very handy and efficient. I used the combination of buses, U-Bahn, and S-Bahn, (didn’t get a chance to figure out the tram’s lines though) to get around. So let’s jump right into it!
1. REICHSTAG BUILDING – BRANDENBURG GATE – HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL
Nearest station: Brandenburger Tor
Reichstag was the German parliament building before and during the World War 2. The main attraction of this place is the dome on top of it. It’s free to enter but you need to book in advance to visit this place. You can book a tour to the building but I recommend just book a ticket to visit the dome because the tour is hella boring in my opinion. The dome in the other hand is so cool!
Brandenburg Gate is obviously a must when you’re in Berlin. It’s the icon of the city so you NEED to see that when you’re there. No other explanation.
Memorial of the Murdered Jews or Holocaust Memorial is pretty self-explanatory, a memorial to remember the Jewish victims who were killed in concentration camp by Nazi.
2. BERLIN CATHEDRAL – MUSEUM ISLAND
Nearest station: Hackescher Markt
Berlin Cathedral/Berliner Dom is the most famous church in Berlin. It has a green dome on top of it, which I found very beautiful. It’s actually located at the Museum Island in the Mitte. Don’t forget to check out the statues of the girls and a boy across the river.
Museum Island (Museuminsel) is a complex of museums in the northern half of an island located in River Spree. There are 5 international-class museums, which are Altes Museum (Old Museum), Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Bode Museum, and Pergamon Museum. Pergamon Museum was the only one I put in my bucket list but I ended up not going there either. Just wasn’t in the mood for museums. But if you like museums, well you know where to go.
3. VICTORY COLUMN – TIERGARTEN
Nearest station: Hansaplatz
Victory Column or Siegessäule is a monument in Berlin with a golden angel statue on top of it. It’s located in the middle of a very large intersection, pretty much like the location of Arc de Triomphe in Paris. You need to use the underpass to get there (there are four of them). I saw some pictures of the view from the top of it, overlooking the Tiergarten. It’s amazing but it’s so foggy when I was there so I just didn’t bother to climb up. I would recommend to climb up if you go there in autumn.
Tiergarten (Animal Garden) is the 3rd largest garden in Germany. There’s a zoo located in there, called Berlin Zoological Garden. As you can imagine, it’s huge! Suitable for picnics, barbeques, jogging, cycling, or ice-skating on some of the park’s ponds during winter. Or just go there to walk around, chill, and take pictures just like me.
4. ALEXANDERPLATZ – FERSEHTURM
Nearest station: Alexanderplatz
Alexanderplatz is the large square in central Berlin. There are a lot of shops, cafés, restaurants, and several shopping malls. Basically, the place is always busy. Should I mention that there’s a Primark there? Feels like everybody went there and carried the Primark bag (Unfortunately, I’m no exception!)
Fernsehturm (TV Tower) is another landmark of the city. Being the tallest tower in Germany, it’s located in Alexanderplatz, and can be seen throughout central and some suburban districts in Berlin. I almost dropped my jaw when I saw this beauty just outside my window!
5. BURGERMEISTER – OBERBAUMBRUCKE – EAST SIDE GALLERY
Nearest station: Schlesisches Tor
Burgermeister is probably the most ridiculous place to eat in Berlin. It’s located in ex-public toilet under the railway, literally outside the U-Bahn station Schlesisches Tor. You won’t miss it! The place is shaking a lil’ bit every time a train pass by above. But don’t underestimate the place because the burger is actually really good! No wonder it’s always packed with people. It also has a ridiculous opening time though, 12 PM – 3 AM!
Oberbaumbrucke is a beautiful red-colored bridge with 2 decks. The bottom deck is for cars and pedestrian, the top deck is for the trains. Fancy!
East Side Gallery is basically a part of Berlin Wall, which consist paintings by artist from all around the globe. The most famous one is probably the painting of 2 men kissing.
6. CLÄRCHENS BALLHAUS – NEW SYNAGOGUE – HOUSE OF SMALL WONDER
Nearest station: Oranienburger Straße
Clärchens Ballhaus is popular because of its appearance in “Inglorious Basterds” movie. This place is multi-purpose nowadays, from ballroom to restaurant, nightclub, concert place, dancing class, etc.
New Synagogue has very pretty domes on top of it, which you can also visit. The place is still used for Jewish services. Just look at those colors though!
House of Small Wonder is a very nice place to have breakfast, brunch, or lunch. I need to thank my friend, Monica from Not A Nomad Blog, who recommended this place. Not just beautifully designed, the food here, which has Japanese influence, is actually really good as well. Try the Okinawan Taco Rice! It’s super delicious!
7. KURFÜRSTENDAMM (for shopping)
Nearest station: Kurfürstendamm
If you want a proper shopping, this is the one you need to visit. This is basically the Champs-Élysées of Berlin, lined with shops and restaurants. There’s also a KaDeWe (a big department store in Berlin) at this avenue.
8. MAUERPARK FLEA MARKET (only on Sundays)
Nearest station: Bernauer Straße
If you happen to be in Berlin on a Sunday, go to the flea market at Mauerpark. Not gonna lie, it was so wet, dirty, muddy, and crowded when I was there in winter. There are rows and rows of stalls selling antique. I heard that there’s usually public karaoke or something like that, but didn’t find it when I was there. Got my first mulled wine there, and dear God it’s soooo good! Where have I been all this time?!
If you want more daunting, adventurous experience, extraordinary experience, these are my recommendations:
Nearest station: Grunewald
Abandoned NSA Spy Station at West Berlin. Hiking included. You can get in with 8 Euro. Read my adventure at Teufelsberg here.
Nearest station: Plänterwald
Abandoned theme park at East Berlin that has been closed since 2002. I heard that the place is guarded by guards and dogs. You’re not allowed to get in, but there’s a jogging track literally outside the fence and you can take a look inside. The ferris wheel’s still turning by itself sometimes making an eerie sound. Creepiness level would be 5/5.
Nearest station: Tempelhof
Abandoned airport at South Berlin. It’s not creepy as the others because it’s more like a recreation place nowadays. People playing skateboard, flying kites, and cycling there, place that once were runways.
If you have a very little time in this big city or want to have a little sight seeing trip, my only tip is to take the Bus No. 100. It will take you to most landmarks in Berlin, pretty much like the Hop On Hop Off bus but definitely cheaper. The route is Alexanderplatz-Zoologischer Garten and vice versa. The bus will take you to these places: Alexanderplatz, Fernsehturm, Museum Island, Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Tiergarten, Victory Column, Kurfürstendamm, Zoologischer Garten. Voilà!