8 Most Important Must-Do’s in Berlin with Little Time

Berlin is Germany’s vibrant, diverse and buzzing capital and with about 3.5 million residents besides Hamburg and Munich the biggest German city with over one million inhabitants.

8 Things To Do in Berlin

In order to get my research for my MA thesis done – and that was two and a half months ago – I had to go to Berlin. It could have been worse, trust me. Nevertheless, I only had a good four days in the metropolis and besides working on my thesis I needed a few breaks in-between and wanted to squeeze in as much as possible.

The buses and underground trains run frequently and so at least transportation did not cause any problems and allowed me to quickly get from one famous place to the next.

Now, what to do in Germany’s capital when you have a tight schedule? These are the 8 important things I managed to squeeze into those 4 days I had and in retrospective, I think I was able to cover some solid ground there.

1.  Enjoy the panoramic view from the German parliament

The glass-cupola was built in 1995 and is open to the public. From there, the plenary room is visible. Once on top of the roof, one also has a stunning view over Berlin – especially when the sun sets. On the roof terrace, there also is a restaurant. This is one of the famous attractions and so the queue in front of the parliament is always long. So make sure you’ve got some time. To secure entrance, you need to book in advance. Bonus point: there is no entrance fee. If you wish to get some additional information on your ascent, audio guides are available at the entrance.

Psssssst, highly important: You should get the ticket beforehand as a registration is required. You can register yourself for the German Bundestag here.

Bundestag Backpacking Berlin

2. Discover Berlin’s (classic) art scene

The best way to do this is to visit the Kulturforum, a museum complex close to the Tiergarten, where there are renowned galleries you can spend hours wandering around and gazing at the art work. Worth a visit is definitely the New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie) where you can find 20th-century paintings. If you are more into street art, check out Kreuzberg and nearby Friedrichshain, the “hip” and more edgy parts of Berlin.

Gomio offers you amazing Hostels all over Berlin. Just have a look at Hostels in Berlin to get an overview.

3. Pose at Checkpoint Charlie

The former military check point – Checkpoint Charlie – is definitely one of the very touristic areas. However, it did enjoy posing with the fake American soldiers. They charge you 2€ per photo (but they will keep clicking until you like one of the pictures). This check point was one of the three that was controlled by the US-Americans during the time of the German separation. If you have time, you should check out the nearby museum for more information about the history.

Checkpoint Charlie - Must Visit for Backpackers

4. Walk along the Berlin wall

Not far from Checkpoint Charlie begins the historic part of the German wall. Its remains come with a detailed description and many interesting historical facts. Also, the differences between the East and West side of the wall become apparent, for many younger West Berliner sprayed it.   Berlin Wall History for the Backpacker

5. Eat the classic Currywurst

It’s one of those Berlin classics: the Currywurst. Like it mild, like it spicy? You can get it all. There are stalls selling this traditional dish all around the city and certainly there are some of them that have been there since the ice-age. Obviously, this is an exaggeration but some stalls are more famous than others. I had my obligatory Currywurst (mild, super mild, for my stomach can’t handle spicy!) at the remaining historic part of the Berlin Wall. If you want the “real” experience, then you should pay Curry 36 in Kreuzberg, Konnopke’s Imbiss at Prenzlauer Berg or Curry Pilz in Spandau a visit, inter alia.

6. Walk under the Brandenburg Gate

It’s probably the first thing you should do in Berlin: make your way over to the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin’s main landmark, which was built in the 18th century. It symbolizes unity and peace especially with regard to the fall of the wall on 9 November 1989. There is even a very interesting story behind the statue on the top of Brandenburg Gate. Don’t miss this 😉

brandenburg gate

7. Go to Charlottenburg Palace

This place, built in the 17th century, is the biggest palace in Germany and the only remaining royal residence in Berlin. The Gardens of the palace are beautiful and if you’re lucky, the sun is shining as you stroll through the lush green space gazing at the stunning baroque architecture. It costs 12 Euros – or 8 Euros with concession – to enter the palace and you’ll get an audio guide on top.

8. Shopping at KaDeWe – Kaufhaus Des Westens

The KaDeWe is the biggest department store in continental Europe and heaven on earth for shopaholics. KaDeWe means”Department Store of the West” and opened its doors in 1907. You will find many luxury items and although you might not be able to afford them – I wasn’t either – you should take some time and wander through the store. You’ll dive into a pool of products and gourmets will most likely love the area where all the delicacies are.

KaDeWe - Kaufhaus Des Westens - an iconic landmark in Berlin

Summary Berlin with Little Time

I know that Berlin offers almost endless possibilities to experience the city with all senses. If you only want to get a feel for Germany’s capital, a short trip is perfect. However, you definitely need to stay a little longer if you want to thoroughly immerse yourself in Berlin life including experience the edgy and also posh parts of the city – and to be able to maybe even leave the mainstream tourist path for a little while.

Don’t forget to check out our hostels in the centre of Berlin!


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