Your Trip to Berlin: The Complete Guide

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Berlin is the most visited city and capital of Germany, as well as the third most visited place in Europe. A fast growing tourist destination, it fascinates young and old, history buffs and art lovers, architecture aficionados and underground clubbers alike. Wherever you go, you experience the pulsating life of Berlin in its over 170 museums and art galleries, 300 clubs and 7,000 bars and restaurants — many of which are open around the clock.

With over 3.5 million inhabitants in the twelve distinct Bezirke (districts), visitors are struck by the size and variety of the city. Architectural styles range from palaces to the remnants of socialist buildings to modern skyscrapers and its citizens are wildly diverse with its ever-changing populace encompassing over 600,000 foreigners.

Plan your trip to the fascinating city of Berlin.

Planning Your Trip to Berlin

  • Best Time to Visit: There is never a bad time to visit Berlin as there are festivals and events throughout the year. May is packed full of events and warming weather, with a sprawling summer of swimming and biergartens to look forward to. In December, visit the city's many Christmas markets.
  • Language: German is the language of Berlin, but as an international city it is easy to get by in English.
  • Currency: The euro is the currency of Germany, as well as the rest of the European Union.
  • Getting Around: Public transportation in Berlin is excellent and consists of subway (U-Bahn), city train (S-Bahn), trams, buses, rideshare, and even ferries. Transport runs at all hours and there are tickets to cover every situation with the basic fare starting at 2.80 euros. Take the double-decker bus #100 for a cheap tour of top sights in the city.
  • Travel Tip: Despite its many attractions, Berlin can be a hard city to get a feel for. Read our top 10 things not to do Berlin and take the time to get out of the city center.

Things to Do in Berlin

Berlin has some of the country's top attractions from historic sites like Brandenburger Tor and its historic surroundings, East Side Gallery, to its world-class clubbing scene.

  • The Reichstag is the seat of German Parliament and symbolic of the rich history of the city. Visit the iconic dome — open to the public — and continue past Brandenburger Tor and the memorial to murdered Jews of Europe to the UNESCO site of Museuminsel (museum island).
  • Berlin's East Side Gallery is the longest remaining section of the Berlin Wall between the former West (Kreuzberg) and East (Friedrichshain) sections of the city. The wall has become a canvas for some of the city's most respected street art. Also check out sections of the wall in Mauerpark and the memorial museum near Bernauer Strasse.
  • You shouldn't leave Berlin without sampling some of its famed nightlife. Some of the world's most legendary night clubs are in this city, like the one-of-a-kind Berghain. There are also plenty of places to grab a casual drink like the best bars with a view, beach bars, and many biergartens.

Explore more of the best of Berlin with our full-length articles on the best things to do in Berlin, free things to do in Berlin, and Berlin with kids.

What to Eat and Drink in Berlin

The German food favorites of bratwurst, schnitzel, and spätzle can all be found here, but don't miss out on Berlin specific dishes. Berlin street foods like döner kebab and currywurst are elevated to another level and the best international and vegetarian food in the country is available in the capital.

Berlin is not only a typical German beer city, it is also the birthplace of German craft beer. Visit the city's best individual brewers, as well as sampling the many fine German wines and specialty mixed drinks at unique bars across the city.

Where to Stay in Berlin

As a top destination in Germany, there are a wide array of accommodation options in Berlin from 5-star hotels to funky hostels. While many people choose to stay in the center in Mitte, the city's superb public transport means everywhere is easily accessible and staying in trendy neighborhoods like Kreuzberg, Neukölln, and Prenzlauer Berg offer a local's view of the city. Also take note that there has been a crackdown on Airbnbs in Berlin and these are less available as they once were.

Explore the different Berlin neighborhoods where you might stay and our recommendations on the best hotels in the city as well as Berlin's most unique accommodations.

Getting to Berlin

  • Tegel: The main international airport located in the northwest corner of the city within the AB zone. It is connected to the rest of the city by bus.
  • Schönefeld: This busy airport also caters to international travelers and shares a runway with what will (hopefully) be the new airport. It is in the southeast of the city in the C zone (requires an extension ticket) and is accessible by S-Bahn, train, bus, or roadway.

Their small size does make them easy to navigate and can be reached by public transport to the rest of the city, with plenty of options for taxis or car rental for the auto obsessed. The city is also well-connected by train to the rest of Germany as well as greater Europe. Deutsche-Bahn, the national railway, offers fast and easy service as well as occasional discounts, or you can travel by bus on a number of providers for bargain-basements prices and decent comfort levels.

Culture and Customs in Berlin

Berlin has a well-earned reputation as a tough city, but the people – perhaps unfairly — are also known as being rude. Gritty and industrial like the city itself, visitors should know the people's bark is worse than its bite. Berlin is very safe for such a major city with the main concern being petty crime and theft.

When eating out or engaging in any kind of customer service, prepare for a lower standard than that of North America. That said, you should also tip at lower levels (around 10 percent). Also know that dining out is usually a leisurely experience where there really is no rush. When you are ready to pay, ask for "Die Rechnung, bitte" (the check, please).

Money Saving Tips in Berlin

There is no reason to break the bank when visiting Berlin. The city is famously inexpensive and some of its top attractions and experiences come free of charge.

  • Many of the city's historical sites in Mitte are available free of charge from the Memorial to Murdered Jews of Europe (as well as the various Holocaust memorials along the Tiergarten) to Potsdamer Platz.
  • The city's many green spaces also offer a low-cost reprieve from city life. Visit Tempelhof Park, the former airport and site of the Berlin Airlift that is now one of the city's largest parks.
  • Follow the route of the Berlin Wall from the memorial center at Bernauer Strasse throughout Prenzlauer Berg down to the East Side Gallery.
  • Berlin's many churches tell the history of the city. Most notably, the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche in Charlottenburg was kept in a semi-ruined state after WWII and visitors can enter what is left for free.

Learn more about the cheapest ways to have fun by reading up on the best free things to do in Berlin.