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Berlin Starter Guide

Planning to visit Berlin and surrounding region? Start your trip planning here!

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Berlin, what a city! One of the top travel destinations in Europe, Berlin offers a wide range of sights, food and drink, and activities to keep you busy and happy.

Berlin is in north eastern Germany in what used to be East Germany (the GDR or DDR). It’s a city-state, meaning Berlin is both a city and a German Bundesland (state). I used to live near Berlin and have visited many times over the years. I never get tired of exploring Berlin.

The capital of Germany, Berlin is a must-see for many visitors. Home of the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, and the Berlin Wall, you’ll never run out of things to do in and around Berlin. Even if you’ve been to Berlin before, I recommend visiting again – the city has changed so much over the years!

Berlin is a big city but it doesn’t feel big and overwhelming. If you stay downtown you can walk to many of the popular sights. And it’s easy to get to take public transportation all over the city.

If you’re only in Berlin for a day or two, maximize your time by taking the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour! In just a couple hours you can see a lot of the city, which then leaves you time to zero in on one or two sights you want to explore in more depth.


What to Do and See in Berlin

READ our guide on what to do in Berlin!

Whether you’re into history, art, architecture, food and drink, nature, or spontaneous adventures, you’ll find plenty to see, see, and experience in and around Berlin! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Brandenburg Gate
  • Museum Island
  • Take a river cruise
  • Berlin Wall Memorial
  • Mauerpark
  • Pariser Platz
  • TV Tower
  • Pergamonmuseum
  • Tiergarten Park
  • Swimming in local lakes
  • Charlottenburg Palace
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Unter den Linden
  • Jewish Museum
  • Checkpoint Charlie
  • Topography of Terror
  • German Spy Museum Berlin
  • Reichstag
  • Tempehofer Feld Airport
  • DDR Museum

Where to Stay in Berlin

If you’re just visiting for a few days, a hotel is likely the best choice for lodging. Fortunately, Berlin has a hotel to suit every traveler’s wants and needs. Here are some options to explore in ideal city locations:


Berlin Tours & Tickets

READ our guide on the best things to do in Berlin!

Berlin has so many tour options that you will be spoiled for choice! Here are a few highlights.


Berlin Day Trips

One of the best things about making Berlin your home base is that you have countless day trip options! Here are a few ideas:


Best Berlin Travel Guides

These are our two favorite travel guides. We typically buy a Rick Steves guide whenever there’s one available. And I highly recommend the Culture Smart books – I always read one before visiting a new country because they have so much useful cultural information (I usually read it on the plane). You can get a hard copy or Kindle version.

Getting To Berlin

Berlin is easy to reach via train, bus, car or plane. If arriving from the US, consider flying directly into Berlin’s new Brandenburg Airport. On a recent trip to Germany, we found flying right into Berlin (instead of Frankfurt) super easy and stress free. You can take an express train from the airport into the city or arrange an easy airport transfer here.

If you want to visit several cities in Germany, consider flying into Berlin and out of another city like Hamburg, Stuttgart, Cologne/Düsseldorf or Munich (we do this all the time now). To travel between cities, consider the train or renting a car. Taking a bus or flying are also options, although we personally prefer the ease and comfort of German trains (even if they’re not as punctual as they used to be)!

Getting Around Berlin

You can easily walk all over Berlin and many tourist sites are in the city center. For the sites that are further away you can hop on a tram, bus, U-bahn or S-bahn. Or take a small group tour of Berlin in an historic Trabi do the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour!

Berlin Basics

Population
3.7 million

Airport
Berlin Brandenburg (new!)

Bundesland
Berlin

Train Travel Times to Berlin
Munich > Berlin = 4-4.5 hours
Frankfurt > Berlin = 4 hours
Hamburg > Berlin = 1.5 hours
Salzburg > Berlin = 6-6.5 hours
Paris > Berlin = 8.5-10 hours
Rome > Berlin = 14-20 hours
Prague > Berlin = 4-5 hours

Fun Facts
Berlin is full of greenery! More than 44% of the city consists of forests, rivers, and other green areas.