Germany’s capital is ever so intriguing, which isn’t hard to understand once you take into consideration the fact that it is the major center of politics, culture, media and science. Berlin has a unique cultural flair and a diverse art scene, so much so that it boasts the famous Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The infamous Berlin Wall is but one show of the country’s cultural and economic importance in the world, which is why you’ll find an astounding array of attractions in the mother city.
Top Attractions in Berlin
Berlin Cathedral Church
Best known for its imposing75 meter high dome and old bell from 1532, the Berlin Cathedral Church was completed in 1905. The New Baroque building style is impressive to say the least, and it just so happens to be Berlin’s largest church. You’ll see that the church is cut into 3 sections, the Memorial Church, the Baptismal and Nuptial Church and the Parish Church. The Imperial Staircase and the Imperial Gallery are definitely the highlights of the building, but the Hohenzollern Crypt with its over 100 sarcophagi, coffins and monuments dating back to the 16th century is also well worth seeing.
Museum Island is located between the River Spree and the Kupfergraben, and it’s a 400-meter canal well worth exploring. Some of the city’s oldest and most important museums are housed here including the Old Museum, the New Museum, the National Gallery, the Bode Museum, the Pergamon and the Old National Gallery to name but a few.
The Brandenburg Gate
The Brandenburger Tor is as Berlin as they come. It’s the city’s most defining monument and was loosely modeled on the Acropolis of Athens when it was built back in 1791. Its measures in at an impressive 26 meters high, so you’re bound to be captivated by the sandstone monument of Pariser Platz, in the Mitte district of Berlin. Its most notable features include the four-horse chariot, the 6 large columns that form 5 passages that are used by traffic and its 2 buildings used by the toll-collectors and the guards.
The Berlin Wall Memorial
While we won’t delve into the history of the Berlin Wall, because you’ll only see small stretches of the old wall today, and its covered mainly in graffiti, but there’s a 1.4km stretch that has been preserved as a part of the Berlin Wall Memorial. The Mariendfelde Refugee Center Museum, Visitor Centre and the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie are some of the area’s main attractions.
Unter den Linden
Unter den Linden is Berlin’s most famous street, and it’s not hard to understand why. The avenue that runs Under the Lime Trees stretches some 1,400 meters and connects Pariser Platz at the Brandenburg Gate to the Lustgarten. The best place to catch your breath rom the city’s buzz is on the wide central pedestrian area that extends through much of the street, but you’ll be thrilled by sites like the Arsenal, the Gendarmenmarkt, the Opera House and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral that all lie lined on the street.
Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden
The Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Garden dates back to 1679 and used to be the kitchen and herb garden of the Royal Palace, but after its transfer to Dahlem at the end of the 19th century, it became one of the world’s largest and most important botanical gardens. It’s not hard to see why once you explore the 104 acres of land that it covers. The area houses over 22,000 different plant species that are found in a series of open beds, an arboretum, a medicinal plant area, 16 hothouses for tropical plants and a picturesque pond as the centerpiece of the area.
The 17th century Charlottenburg Palace is Berlin’s oldest and largest Prussian estate, and it’s the site that served as the German Royal Family’s most important residence for decades. The restored palace boasts some remarkable features like the 50m high central done and the Orangery, which dates back to 1712. Make sure you see the New Wing while you’re here to check out the State Apartments and Banqueting Halls. The State Dining Room and the Golden Gallery are among its highlights. The Old Palace houses the Porcelain Cabinet where you’ll see the Crown Jewels among the many other pieces in the collection. Outside lays the Palace Park that dates back to 1697. The park is where you can see the New Pavilion, a 1788 Neapolitan villa, but there’s also the Belvedere Teahouse and the Grand Courtyard that are well worth seeing.
The Nikolai Quarter
Considered Old Berlin’s heart, the Nikolai Quarter is home to some of Berlin’s oldest and most popular attractions like St. Nicholas’ Church, the quaint history trail, and several museums. You will also find plenty of great cafés, restaurants, shops, and craft-workshop lined around the streets of the pedestrian friendly quarter. Make sure you see all the old fountains before heading towards buildings like the Ephraim Palace, and the Knoblauch House.
Set in an area roughly 32 acres in size, the buzz of Berlin balances out with the tranquility of the Grunewald Forest. The tree-filled area is a bird watcher’s paradise, but you will also spot deer and perhaps a few wild pigs. The Pechsee Barssee and Teufelssee are three little lakes inside of the Greenwood that form part of a nature reserve. There is also Hundekeklesee, Grunwaldsee, Schlachtensee and Krumme Lanke, which are larger lakes located on the eastern side. Aside from the natural beauty, some of the top sights to see include the artificial 80-meter Teufelsberg hill, and the Grunewald Tower.
One of Berlin’s largest squares is the Gendarmenmarkt, and it’s dominated by 3 impressive historic buildings, the Konzerthaus, the French Cathedral and the Berlin Cathedral. Together these buildings form one of Berlin’s most awe-inspiring corners. Its undeniably one of the city’s most visited spots, which is why you need to see it for yourself. You’ll also find Schiller Monument in the corner, and if you’re here during the winter months, you’d be missing out if you didn’t experience the Christmas Market. If the square experience is up your alley, then you might consider seeing Berlin’s other great square, Alexanderplatz, best known for its World Time Clock and the nearby Television Tower that boasts some of the best views over the city.
Berlin’s animal garden, Grosser Tiergarten, used to be an Electoral hunting reserve that now covers roughly 520 acres of land, making it a modern day destination for relaxing. Some of the most important monuments and statues you will find here include the Statue of Queen Luise and the Monument to Frederick Wilhelm II. If you were heading to Grosser Tiergarten, then missing the sight of the Victory Column would mean you have missed the best part of the area. Measuring in at 70 meters tall, the column is crowned by an 8-meter high gold statue of Victoria. The 285 steps to the top of the monument lead you to one of the best panoramic views you will ever have over Tiergarten.
Berlin Zoological Gardens
As the oldest zoo in Germany, the Berlin Zoological Gardens is one of the city’s most popular attractions that sees over 3 million visitors annually. The zoo dates back to 1844, and since it was totally rebuilt after WWII, it boasts some of the most modern facilities and is well known for its successful breeding programs. The zoo is home to over 1,600 species of animals that include panda bears and primates in large open-air enclosures. You’ll also see the predators and the nocturnal animals in their houses, plus there’s the fact that it houses Europe’s biggest aviary, a perfect reason why you should plan to spend the whole day here. Don’t miss the Aquarium Berlin, one of the zoo’s top attractions and also the largest in Europe, housing more than 9,000 fish species over a collection of 250 tanks. If you’re keen for some more zoo fare, try popping by the Tierpark Berlin, another great Berlin zoo.