This guide is for tourists who want to visit Berlin. If you want to move to Berlin, read my moving to Berlin guide.

Berlin is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. For more information, see the coronavirus information page.

Visa requirements

You might need a visa to visit Germany. It depends on your citizenship:

    Useful link: Visa requirements by country - Federal Foreign Office

    How to travel to Berlin

    By plane

    Use Kayak, Omio or Google Flights to find a flight to Berlin. You will arrive at the Berlin Brandenburg airport (BER). It's 30-60 minutes from Berlin by train.

    There are 3 ways to get from the airport to the city:

    • Use public transport
      The airport is connected to Berlin's public transport network. There are trains to the city every few minutes. You can take a train directly to the city centre. It takes around 45 minutes. You must buy an ABC ticket at the ticket machines. It costs 3.80€1. Many people buy the wrong ticket and get a fine. For more information, read the Berlin public transit guide.
    • Take a taxi
      There are taxis waiting outside the airport. A taxi from the airport to the city centre costs around 50€1, 2. It's a bit faster than public transport, but it's very expensive. Uber and FreeNow also give rides from the airport to the city. German taxis must accept cash and credit cards1.
    • Rent a car
      You can rent a car at the airport. This is not a good idea. You don't need a car in Berlin. There is a lot of traffic, and it's hard to find a parking space. You can also use car sharing services like Miles.

    By bus

    Intercity buses are often the cheapest way to travel to Berlin. They are not very comfortable, but they are cheap. Most buses have free Wi-Fi and power outlets under the seats.

    Most buses arrive at BER airport, Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (ZOB) or Alexanderplatz. BER airport is around 45 minutes from the centre. ZOB is 25 minutes from the centre. Alexanderplatz is in the city centre. If you arrive at BER airport, you need an ABC train ticket to get to Berlin.

    Use Omio to find a bus to Berlin. If you buy your tickets in advance, they will be cheaper.

    By train

    Intercity trains are a little more expensive than buses, but they are faster and more comfortable. They often have free Wi-Fi and power outlets under the seats.

    Most trains stop at the central train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof. This is in the middle of Berlin.

    Use Omio, Bahn.de or Google Maps to find a train to Berlin. If you buy your tickets in advance, they will be cheaper.

    By car or motorcycle

    The area inside the Ringbahn is an environmental zone. You need a green environmental sticker to drive in this area. You can get a green sticker at most gas stations around Berlin. Motorcycles don't need a green sticker to enter this zone. More information here.

    Parking in the centre is hard. Parking spaces are hard to find. Most parking spaces in the centre cost money1. They cost 1€ to 4€ per hour1, 2. Most parking spaces outside of the central neighbourhoods are free. Motorcycles can park on the sidewalk for free. It's always easy to park a motorcycle.

    There are free Park and Ride (P+R) car parks. You can park your car there for free, and take the train to Berlin. You can find them on this map (in Multi-mobility), or with this list.

    Use Parkopedia to find a free or paid parking space.

    By car sharing

    BlaBlaCar lets you ride with drivers who travel to Berlin. You meet them in one place, and drive together to another city. It's usually cheaper and faster than intercity buses.

    How to get around in Berlin

    How to find your way around Berlin

    Google Maps works well in Berlin. It also works offline. The BVG app and the Jelbi app let you see train schedules and buy train tickets, but it does not work offline. OsmAnd has offline maps and directions.

    How to use public transit in Berlin

    Berlin has a good public transit network. It's the best way to get around, even when you have a car. Just make sure you buy the right ticket. Many visitors buy the wrong ticket, and get a 60€ fine.

    You can buy a 24 hour, 7 day or 1 month ticket. It's cheaper than buying a ticket every time. There's also the WelcomeCard, a ticket that gives you rebates on museums and attractions.

    Related guide: How to use public transit in Berlin

    How to rent a bicycle or a scooter

    This is the best way to see Berlin. Berlin is very flat and has a lot of bike paths, so it's easy to ride a bicycle or a scooter. You can rent them for around 10€ per day.

    When I have visitors, this is my favourite way to show Berlin. I take my visitors along the river Spree and the Landwehrkanal.

    Related guides:

    How to rent a car

    You don't need to rent a car in Berlin. It's easier to use public transit. If you have an International Driving Permit or a EU driver's licence, you can drive in Germany.

    Related guide: Vehicle rental options

    What to see and do in Berlin

    There are many lists of things to see in Berlin. See visitBerlin.de, WikiVoyage and Lonely Planet.

    Main attractions

    • Berlin Wall (Berliner Mauer)
      Some parts of the Berlin wall were preserved. There is preserved part of the wall and a free museum on Bernauer Straße. The East Side Gallery is another part of the wall that was turned into a gallery.
    • Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom)
      The most famous church in Berlin. You can visit it, or relax on the grass in front of it. It's on the museum island, close to many old museums.
    • Berliner Unterwelten
      Bunker, tunnel and air raid shelter tours. The tours are in German, English, French, Spanish and more. I have done 3 of their tours. They are very interesting.
    • Brandenburg Gate (Brandenburger Tor)
      The iconic gate on Berlin's East-West axis.
    • Christmas markets
      In November and December, you can visit Berlin's Christmas markets. There are dozens of them. Many are in scenic locations. There are dozens of kiosks that sell hot drinks, food, sweets and artisanal goods. The Christmas markets are open from the middle of November to the end of December.
    • East Side Gallery
      A long mural painted directly on the Berlin wall.
    • Mauerpark
      Every Sunday, this park hosts a big flea market and an open air karaoke. Many musicians also play music there.
    • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
      Next to the Brandenburg gate is a large holocaust memorial and museum. You can walk through the memorial.
    • Museum island (Museuminsel)
      Museum island is home to the Berliner Dom, and many of the biggest, oldest museums. If you like beautiful old buildings, it's worth a visit.
    • Oberbaum Bridge (Oberbaumbrücke)
      A beautiful bridge that goes across the river Spree. It's right next to the East Side Gallery. You can also go kayaking on the Spree and get a really good view on the bridge.
    • Reichstag building (Reichstagsgebäude)
      An iconic building. You can visit the cupola and the rooftop, and learn about the history of Berlin. It's free, but you must make an appointment.
    • Soviet war memorials
      There are many memorials to the Red Army, who liberated Berlin in 1945. There are big memorials in Tiergarten, Treptower Park, and in Schönholzer Heide. The biggest one is in Treptower Park.
    • Tempelhof airfield (Tempelhofer Feld)
      This giant former airfield is where many Berliners go to relax, drink beer, skate, kite surf and cycle. It's a great place to visit on a sunny day.
    • Teufelsberg
      Teufelsberg is an artificial hill. There is a cold war listening station at the top. It's now an open air gallery with a really good view of Berlin. If you don't want to pay to visit Teufelsberg, you can visit Drachenberg, the other hill next to it.
    • TV tower (Fernsehturm)
      The TV tower in Alexanderplatz is visible from almost anywhere in Berlin. You can take an elevator to the top of the tower, and get a panoramic view of Berlin.
    • Victory Column (Siegessäule)
      The Victory Column in Tiergarten sits on Berlin's East-West axis. You can go up the tower and see Tiergarten, the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag building from above.

    Useful link: visitBerlin.de - Official website with really good information

    Events

    • Berlinale film festival - February
      This is the third largest film festival in the world, after Cannes and Venice. You can meet movie stars, and see all kinds of films.
    • Fête de la Musique - June
      A music festival in the entire city. There are musicians and concerts in every part of the city.
    • Zug der Liebe - End of August
      The Zug der Liebe is a big parade with techno, dance and a lot of happy people.
    • Christopher Street Day - August 29
      A big LGBTQ+ demonstration and parade. It's similar to Gay Pride in other countries.
    • Christmas markets - Middle of November until end of December
      Germany is famous for its Christmas markets. Berlin has dozens of different markets, including alternative markets like the Japanese Christmas market and the Naughty Xmas Market.

    You can find events on visitBerlin.de, Facebook and Resident Advisor. You can find live music on Resident Advisor, Bandsintown, Songkick and Echtzeitmusik.

    Walking tours

    Guided tours are a great way to discover Berlin. Use GetYourGuide to find walking tours, or look at this list. My favourite are the Berliner Unterwelten tours.

    Outside of Berlin

    If you have a bit more time, Potsdam and Wannsee are worth a visit. You can get there by train. Potsdam is in zone C, so you need an ABC ticket.

    Clubs in Berlin

    Berlin is famous for its club scene. It can be hard to get into certain clubs. Clubs don't let everyone in. For example, they often reject tourists, big groups, drunk people, and people under 21 years old1, 2. In Berlin, people don't wear fancy clothes to go clubbing. If you dress too nice, you won't get in1. Most clubs have a cover charge. You must pay 5€ to 15€ to get in. Clubs in Berlin stay open until the morning. The party starts late, and the busiest time is around 2AM.

    You can buy presale tickets for club events on Resident Advisor. When you have tickets, it's easier to get in1.

    You can find club events on Resident Advisor, or follow clubs on Facebook. WikiTravel also has a short guide to Berlin clubs.

    What to eat in Berlin

    Typical Berlin street food

    • Currywurst - Currywurst is street food. It's a pork sausage with a curry and ketchup sauce. It's usually served with fries (mit Pommes) in a cardboard plate. Curry 36 is a good place to try a Currywurst mit Pommes. Konnopke's Imbiss is another famous place.
    • Döner kebab - The standard street food in Berlin. The best kebab places are a secret, but the worst kebabs always come from tourist areas.
    • Gemüse döner (also called a chicken döner) - A döner kebab with chicken and fried vegetables. Famous chicken döners include Mustafa's, K'Ups and Rüyam.

    Typical Berlin dishes

    Useful link: Cuisine of Berlin - Wikipedia

    Fleischerei Domke and Englers Unikat have cheap, traditional working class dishes. For something fancier, try Max und Moritz.

    Where to stay in Berlin

    There is no "downtown Berlin". There are many popular neighbourhoods, and each one has a different personality. If you stay in the red area, you will be close to all of them.

    Central Berlin area
    This is central Berlin

    If you are more patient, you can also use CouchSurfing. People host visitors for free, and spend time with them during their visit. You can meet very interesting people like this.

    Shopping in Berlin

    In Germany, shops and supermarkets close on Sundays. Most restaurants, tourist attractions, Spätis and gas stations stay open on Sundays.

    Always have cash with you. Many restaurants only accept cash. Street food kiosks and Spätis only accept cash. Cards are rarely accepted for small transactions.

    Stay connected

    Free Wi-Fi in Berlin

    If you don't have mobile data, you can find free Wi-Fi everywhere:

    • All U-Bahn stations have free Wi-Fi. Look for the "BVG Free WiFi" network.
    • Some S-Bahn stations also have free Wi-Fi. Look for the "WIFI@DB" network.
    • REWE supermarkets often have free Wi-Fi.
    • Hotels and hostels have free Wi-Fi for their guests.

    Prepaid SIM cards for tourists

    If you visit from another EU country, your SIM card will also work in Germany. You make calls, send SMS and use mobile data without any extra costs.

    You can buy a SIM card at the airport, and at Vodafone, Telekom and O2 stores. Saturn and MediaMarkt also sell and activate SIM cards. You must show your passport and a registration certificate to activate the SIM card1, 2, but store employees will just use your passport and the address of your hotel1, 2, 3.

    Useful link: More information about SIM cards in Germany

    Maps

    Use OsmAnd or Maps.me for offline navigation. Google Maps also works offline.

    You should also download the BVG app or the Jelbi app to buy train tickets. It's easier than the ticket machines, and it's in English. The Jelbi app also lets you book cars, scooters, bicycles and taxis.

    Be a good tourist

    Language

    You don't need to speak German. People in the tourism industry often speak English. If you are not sure, ask first. Museum exhibitions are in German and English. Signs in tourist areas are also in English. If you want to live in Berlin, you should learn German. If you are just visiting, English is fine.

    Related guide: Do I need to speak German in Berlin?

    Things you should not do

    • Do not walk on the bike paths
      Look down, and make sure you're not blocking a bicycle path. If you walk on the bike path, cyclists will ring their bell, scream at you or even bump into you.
    • Do not put your glass bottles in the trash
      People collect empty bottles and return them for money. Don't make people search for bottles in the trash. Put your empty bottles next to the bin. In some parks, bottle collectors (Flaschensammler) will walk around and ask for your empty bottles.
    • Do not make fun about Nazis and the war
      You probably shouldn't joke about this. It's not funny, and it's not original.

    Stay safe

    Crime

    Berlin is a safe city even at night, but crimes still happen. Pickpockets steal phones and bags in trains and restaurants.

    Drugs

    Cannabis is illegal in Germany. You can still buy it from dealers in parks, but it's a really bad idea. You will get bad weed, and it's often contaminated with chemicals.

    Other drugs like magic mushrooms, cocaine and MDMA are also illegal.

    Related guide: How to buy weed in Berlin

    Police

    The police emergency number is 112. Many police officers speak English. The police does not accept bribes. If you try to bribe the police, it will make your situation worse.

    Related guide: Emergency numbers in Berlin

    Lost things

    Related guide: Where to find lost things in Berlin