Berlin has immensely improved in the years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, 1989. Before this year Berlin was split in two parts, one was free, one was not. When these two parts came together something beautiful began to grow what now is called Berlin. A lively city what is different from the rest of Germany. A city what has a historical touch. Way to many people want to visit Berlin and yes, you need to visit Berlin. Here is a quick guideline for your visit to Berlin, or maybe even for your second. There is just way to much to see for one or two days. I have been in Berlin for more than 2 months in total and haven’t seen everything yet! I’ve made a top 20 Sights for your visit to Berlin!
Top 20 sights in Berlin
1. Brandenburger Tor
When you type in google ‘Berlin’ you probably would find this old gate. It was used as gate in the city wall that was build in 1788. After the World War the gate came between 1961 and 1989 on East Berlin territory and was surrounded by the Berlin Wall. After the Berlin Wall fell, the Gate became the symbol of reunification within Germany.
U55 or Bus 100: Brandenburger Tor
2. Holocaust Memorial
This ‘Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe’ is probably the most impressive sight of Berlin. This monument consists out of 2711 concrete slabs what stands for all the fallen Jews in the war. You can walk trough the blocks and experiance how many there ware. There’s an free exposition located under the blocks (entrance on the east side), what tells the story about the war. Watch out, waiting rows can be long and you will be screened for metals. Sitting/walking on the blocks is strictly forbidden! They are marked as ‘graves’ and the area as a graveyard.
Short walk from Brandenburger Tor (S1/S2/U55) or PotsdamerPlatz (S1/S2/U2)
This (in 1895 build) old building seats the German parliament since 1999 till now. The modern architecture comes together with this old monument. You can visit this monument and climb towards the dome for a great view. Make sure you visit the dome with ‘cold’ weather since it can be just too hot under the dome and tours could be canceled. Entrance is free, but online reservation is recommended.
Short walk from Hauptbahnhof or U55 Bundestag
The television tower was build in 1969 in East Berlin territory to show towards others how modern the DDR was in this time. You can visit the tower and have a great view over the city. There is as well an rotating restaurant on top. Watch out: Prices are high for a quick visit, and advised is to book them online if you are sure you want to see it. On weekends or holidays waiting times can be multiple hours, so buy your ticket, visit something else and come back when you are allowed to the top.
All S+U-bahnen: Alexanderplatz
Berlin Hauptbahnhof is the central station of Berlin, which is huge, modern and a nice place to visit. There are a lot of shops and cafés which are 24/7/365 open. It just looks like a airport but is one of the biggest stations. In 2002 this station was build over the in the war destroyed Lehrter Bahnhof what served the connections with Hamburg and Hanover. Nowadays it is a modern glass hall what would result in daylight on all levels. Visiting the station is a must, go to the highest platform (S-bahn) and have a look down towards the lowest levels.
Almost all trains coming towards Berlin will stop here. Daily more than 1200 trains stop here including the 225 long distance trains. When leaving the train here you can take the S+U-Bahn trains towards the city. The U55 is the only U-bahn that stops here but is also the shortest U-bahn in Berlin with only 2 stops in 3 minutes. It connects Hauptbahnhof with the Brandenburger Tor. For other U-Bahn connections you need to take a S-Bahn first. There are 3 levels of trains, first the most long distances on the lowest floor, than there’s an small platform for the U55 in the middle floor (can not be seen) and the S-bahn including regional trains on the highest floor.
For more information check as well the blog Intercity Amsterdam – Berlin, the rail.cc page and down below.
6. Checkpoint Charlie
Checkpoint Charlie is a former border crossing station at Friedrichstrasse in the Berlin Wall. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Checkpoint Charlie was destroyed in 1990. The hated border posts along with the left over walls ware all removed. The combination with the reconstructed checkpoint, actors in military uniform who ask you an euro for pictures with them and the Starbuck/Mc Donalds in the background, it has nothing to do with the history of Berlin. There’s nothing, beside some information screens, what gives an realistic impression of the function of this place since it is all just fake. What is left to say is that you may want to visit this place, if you have time or are nearby, but I will give you a way better alternative down below.
Altough all of this negativ advise I do show this place when I’m in Berlin. This is just such a big tourist hotspot, where you have need to be once.
Tip: The Allied Museum (Bus stop Alliiertenmuseum) houses the original checkpoint.
7. Berlin Wall: Gedenkstätte Bernauer Straße
Although there are several places in Berlin where you can still see pieces of the Berlin Wall, Gedenkstätte Bernauer Straße is one of the places where you get the most realistic view on how the Wall looked like. At Bernauer Straße you will find a stretch of Wall which has remained largely in original condition. From a viewpoint you look directly Wall and a watch tower which is still in tact. In 1998 the monument was opened by the German government and is now for free. Only a fraction of all tourists that visit Berlin or Checkpoint Charlie visit the wall here on the Bernauer Straße.
S-Bahn Nordbahnhof or U8 Bernauer Straße
8. Berlin Wall: East Side Gallery is another part of remaining wall. This part is the longest stretch remaining wall and has been painted by artists about several subjects.
Mühlenstraße S-bahn Ostbahnhof or S+U-Bahnen: Warschauer Straße
9. Berliner Unterwelten
This small ‘museum’ gives tours trough the ‘dark worlds’ of Berlin like bunkers and metro tunnels. These tours are just impressive and you get a great view on what happened in the War. There are more than 10 tours but the first 5 are the most common and available in English. I’ve made all tours (mostly in German) and I just can’t get enough. The guides are just perfect and inform you in the best way possible.
First you need to buy your tickets by the office what is located on the road just next to S-Bahn Gesundbrunnen. Just next to one of the exits of the U-Bahn or south of exit of the S-Bahn. The most common four tours are given all day long in Englisch and German. On some times tours are given in Danish, Dutch, French, Spanish and Portuguese and most tour guides are native speakers. Check there site for more information. Keep in mind that taking pictures is not allowed in the bunkers. Prices are 9 or 11 euro (different tours) and are directly for maintenance.
I myself did tour 1 in Dutch and was given by a Dutch student who did know just about everything about these bunkers. You will come in very special places what overall is very impressive to see. Most tours take about 90 minutes and start in front of the office, but this is written on your ticket. Make sure you are on time on the starting point. If you have no idea which tour you should choose, just pick the most common tour 1 or 3.
I recommend everybody who wants to learn something about the war within there visit in Berlin to take a tour!
This strange hill in the middle of the city is not made by nature. But a FLAK bunker is hidden inside this hill. Just after the war everything that was related to war needed to be destroyed. Berlin had 4 of these bunkers and this one was located in the French section. The French tried to destroy the bunker with explosives but they used way too few. One half remained and the other half is now covered by waste and debris from other war related objects destroyed in Berlin like the wall. Nowadays it is a park and you can climb towards the top and have a great view around. Tour 3 of the Berliner Unterwelten (9.) goes inside what is remaining of this bunker. Wearing something warm is recommended since it is always cold inside (about 10 degrees C.).
S+U-Bahnen Gesundbrunnen (opposite of Berliner Unterwelten, south), S-Bahnen Humboldthain (follow the track towards Gesundbrunnen, and cross via the bridge).
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, called Gedächtniskirche stands at the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin. The Breitscheidplatz lies at the end of the Kurfürstendamm in the Charlottenburg district of western Berlin. The church consists of several buildings and is a protected monument. Less than 50 years after the opening (1943) was this church is one of the victims of heavy bombing in Berlin. A large part of the church was destroyed and there remained is only a small shadow over what was once the magnificent church.The remaining 68 meter tower was after the war the remainder for what was more like a cave than a church. Between 1945 and 1956 the ruins remained untouched. 11 Years after the war, there as been build a new church. The design was completely new, and may look strange and modern around the remaining part. Everything from the remaining was restored. Nowadays you can take a trip to the old top, from the money they maintenance the church.
U+S-Bahnen Zoologischer Garten, U-Bahn Kurfürstendamm
This may be a little insiders tip and not known by to many people. Klunkerkranich is a very special terrace on the top of a parking garage and shopping mall. There are party’s organised every week but the Garten is as well open for free.
U Rathaus Neuköln, go inside Arcaden mall and take the elevator towards the 5th floor. Walk over this parking space and wind up skywards to the upper floor and: you’re there!
13. Bus 100
For people who want to see Berlin fast, for people that want to explore Berlin inexpensive and for people who want to give their feet some rest, there is bus 100. This normal city bus is the ideal way to quickly see many of the main sights of Berlin! With your normal day ticket you can catch this bus. The difference between Sightseeing Tours are: The prices, since this bus is included in your day ticket it is ‘free’. Flexibility, since this bus goes almost every 5 minutes (excluding bus 200 what as well comes every 10 minutes). The only disadvantage is that you miss the tour guide what tells something about what you will be seeing, but is that the your extra 15 euro’s worth?
The route of bus 100 is from Alexanderplatz via Lustgarten (Berliner Dom), Unter den Linden (luxe shops, 1. Brandenburger Tor), Reichstag, ‘Haus der Kulturen der Welt‘ (Tiergarten), Breitscheidplatz (9. Gedächtniskirche) towards Zoologischer Garten. With bus 200 you will see Potsdamer Platz and the Holocaust Memorial as well.
Free with your daycard. Take for example first bus 100 and back bus 200.
14. Park Tempelhof
It has been a while since you could hear the noise of planes over Tempelhof, the former airport. Since October 2008 it was closed down. For a long time this piece of land in the center of Berlin was empty. Later on they changed it towards a park and now you are free to walk over the landing strips.
One of the biggest buildings of the world, the terminal, can be visited as well with a guided tour. Most of the tours are in German, but once a day there is a English tour as well. All tours are for a limited amount as well, so reservation is recommended. The tour takes about 2 hours and costs 15 euro. They can be booked online here.
Main Building: U6 Platz der Luftbrücke, Park: U6 Paradestraße, S+U-Bahnen Tempelhof.
15. Berliner Dom
The dome of the Berliner Dom is 70 meters high and can be climbed! From up there you have a great view on the city and the Lust Karten (picture). The Berlin Cathedral is the largest church of the city. Besides the great view, you can see the beautiful organs, mosaics and graves from the 18th century. Entry costs you 7 euro, meant for the restoration.
S-Bahn Hackescher Markt or S+U-Bahnen AlexanderPlatz
16. Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is one of the most famous, largest and busiest squares in Berlin. It is a very impressive place to be. Not only because of the great modern buildings surrounding the intersection, but also because of the history of this square. This square was split in two by the Berlin wall in 1961.
The fastest elevator in Europe in Panoramapunkt takes you in 20 seconds to 100 meters. From here you have stunning views over Potsdamer Platz, as well as the Brandenburg Gate, Tiergarten and the Reichstag. The price is € 6.50.
The Sony Center is really worth to have a look inside. This huge building, sponsored by Sony, is the place where the public space and commerce meet. Sony’s headquarters is located here as well. It is recommended to visit this at night since the well-lit roof shows different colors.
In the Sony Center you can find (a small) Legoland as well! A large exhibition of all things built with Legos. For example, a small factory has been built to see how Lego is made, there are also many celebrities built in the Gallery of Stars and the best part is Miniland Berlin where all the main attractions of Berlin are reconstructed! Buy your tickets online to avoid the waiting lines.
S+U-Bahnen Potsdamer Platz
17. Monument Gleis 17
I find this one of the smallest but most impressive monuments of Berlin. Although it is so small the story behind is is just to big to describe. From this station were deported during the Second World War thousands of Jews to concentration camps – here they knew this was probably the trip to their final resting place. Platform 17 is dedicated to this as a monument. This monument holds a sort of silence. On the entire platform length are details engraved about the transported Jews.
S-Bahn Grunewald, follow the signs Gleis 17 in the station.
18. Curry 36 and Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebab
Explore Berlin’s best street food at these two stands. Curry 36 offers you the best currywurst of Germany! Did you know that döner kebab was invented in Berlin? You probably have to wait in line to get the best kebab you will ever eat. They are almost next to each other on:
Mehringdamm (U6+7 Mehringdamm).
19. Potsdam: Schloss Sanssouci, Neues Palais
This park is named after the palace in the park, Sanssouci. It all began in 1745, when Frederik de Grote Sanssouci Palace (Schloß Sanssouci) had built as his summer house. This palace is the oldest of the palaces and parks of Potsdam and Berlin and is really worth a visit. Besides Schloß Sanssouci there is the Neues Palais. This was newly build after Sanssouci for the king in 1763 but was completed in 1969. It was meant for his guests and had about 200 chambers. What’s left is the Orangerie, the Dutch Windmill, the University and some more beautiful buildings in this park. That’s worth a trip to Potsdam! The park is free to visit. To visit the palaces inside is paid.
1st: S-Bahn S7 Potsdam Hbf (Buy Zone C ticket)
2nd: Take bus 695, which is included in C ticket, to Schloß Sanssouci, Orangerie or Neues Palais every 20 minutes.
or Take bus X15, which is included in your C ticket but drives only in weekend and holiday, to Schloß Sanssouci every 10 minutes and drives a faster route.
20. Jewish Museum
The Jewish Museum is a very complete museum about Jewish people, the history and culture in Berlin. It shows you about 2000 years of Jewish history. It begins with the creation of the culture and a huge part of the museum is dedicated to the war. Here are as well two other places that are dedicated to the holocaust as well. The Garden of Exile and Memory Void are places that need to be seen as well since they stand alone of the museum and are free.
U-Bahn Hallesches Tor or U-Bahn Kochstraße
Berlin ticket information and Travel Guide
Berlin has 3 zones called A/B/C. Zone A contains everything within the circle line S41 (clockwise) and S42 (anti-clockwise). Zone B contains most of the suburbs of Berlin and the Airport. Zone C contains the closest cities nearby that are included in the S-Bahn like Potsdam.
Where to buy your Berliner transport system tickets? On all station platforms. On the bigger stations you will find customer services, otherwise you can buy your tickets at the machines with coins and bank cards. All machines can be set to English. When your ticket is bought from the machines DO NOT FORGET TO VALIDATE your ticket with a time stamp! The boxes can be find mostly next to the machines! The most common tickets are:
Einzelfahrausweis – One ride ticket what is 2 hours valid. Zone A/B €2.80, Zone A/B/C €3.40.
Tageskarte – Day ticket is your best choice! Zone A/B €7.00, Zone A/B/C €7.70.
Wochekarte – Week ticket, 7 days. Zone A/B €30.00, Zone A/B/C €37.50.
Kleingruppenkarte – 1 ticket for max 5 persons, for 1 day, is cheaper from 3 persons! Watch out, travel together with 1 ticket. Zone A/B €19.90, Zone A/B/C €20.80
For other tickets visit the BVG site. Only zone tickets available: AB + ABC + BC.
The Berliner transport system contains out of the S-Bahn (overground), U-Bahn (underground) and Buses/Trams/Trains.
The S-Bahn is the abbreviation for Schnellbahn (fast transportation) and that is true. If you want to cross Berlin fast the S-Bahn is probably the fastest way. Most S-Bahn lines have a frequency of maximal 20 minutes on the far ends (Potsdam), most lines have 10 minutes and on the busiest line around Hauptbahnhof you will have one in less than 5 minutes. Best of all is that your ticket for the S-Bahn can also be used for the U-Bahn, bus, tram and Regionalbahn.
The U-Bahn is the abbreviation for Untergrundbahn (underground) and is owned by the BVG (where the S-Bahn is owned by DB). Therefore is your Interrail or national ticket valid on the S-Bahn but NOT on the U-Bahn! Most U-Bahn lines have a frequency of maximal 10 minutes with in rush hour about 4 to 5 minutes. Best of all is that your ticket for the U-Bahn can also be used for the S-Bahn, bus, tram and Regionalbahn. The U-Bahn has many special station since every station is different!
Regionalbahn trains what are mostly known by RE or RB are as well included in the tickets. Look at the map for the routes that are included. The trains (DB) run way less but if you can catch one, you are mostly way faster. Intercity trains are not included in the transport system!
What is left is the Tram, Bus (have a look at bus 100 (13.)). These three methods are as well included in your ticket!
Download here the latest ROUTEMAP (Liniennetz)
My experiences with the transportation system are just great. Just buy your day ticket at the machine and you are free to travel. Just walk around the city, when you find a station, walk inside, wait about 4 minutes and hop on the train, and get off somewhere else in the city! On all stations you will hear “Zurückbleiben bitte!”, something like “Mind the gap” where London proud of is, has Berlin “Stay back!”. Not really needed in most cases in my opinion since you have a light and sound warning you as well. Later on it was irritating me more than informing me.
Watch out for the vagrants/homeless begging you for some money. On ALL stations you will find one of more. First of you will find some musicians in the underground. Sometime they can play, most times not and are only begging you for money. Some hop on the train, play for a minute, and ask the surrounding people for money. There are as well people that are trying to sell the paper to you. And probably the most notable is people searching the bins all the time (all drinks are in returnable bottles).
There are many more places to visit of course. I have been visiting 2 months long every day places and highlights and my to-do-list is still nearly empty! I have been guiding friends trough the city but these are my top 20 of places that I’ve showed my friends, and you need to visit as well in Berlin.
When you have (better) photo’s about one of these places, have tips for a top 25, or other comments: Please send me a message on my rail.cc profile! Have a great time!
Updated: October 2017