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Brilliant things to do in Berlin

Whilst fans of 20th century history will be overwhelmed by the number of excellent monuments and museums in Berlin, you don’t need to dig out a textbook to take the city in your stride.

Cycle, stroll or hop on a bus through the streets to travel sight to sight with ease. Check off two great Berlin sights at once: the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate – both totally free. Ascend into the Norman Foster-designed dome of the Reichstag, and look out over the Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of the city. Berlin is no longer divided, but you can still see the Berlin Wall – or the largest remaining portion of it, anyway, at the East Side Gallery, where it has been transformed by street art. Discover what to do in Berlin, below.

Berlin - Television Tower and ferris wheel.

Must-see city sights

Start your trip on a high by ascending the Soviet-era television tower at Alexanderplatz – from here you can see Berlin’s urban sprawl from the sky and plan where to go next. Wherever you choose, you shouldn’t miss the city’s 20th century history. Checkpoint Charlie marks the old divide between the east and west of the city, whilst the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is one of the most poigant and dramatic memorials of its kind.

Gendarmenmarkt is public square in Mitte District of Berlin.

Berlin’s Christmas markets

Like presents under the Christmas tree, Christmas markets appear magically all over Berlin come winter. From late November, there are over a dozen great markets to visit – at iconic venues like Charlottenburg Palace and Alexanderplatz. They sell authentic German handicrafts and conjure a magical Christmassy atmosphere all through town. Stock up on Stollen and listen out for carollers.

High dynamic range HDR Modern architecture in Berlin in Germany (Deutschland).

Berlin’s important museums

Berlin has 170 museums – the city’s UNESCO-listed Museum Island has five of them (including the Alte Nationalgalerie, where you can see works by Caspar David Friedrich) but the rest are close at hand. Squeeze into a Trabi at the interactive DDR Museum, binge on Bauhaus at the Museum of Design, or see the best modern art at the Berlinische Galerie.

Traditional German currywurst, served with chips on disposable paper tray.

Great Berlin food

Berliners love their brunch and restaurants serve wonderful buffet spreads on Sundays that last until way past lunch. For dinner, try Turkish – Berlin has the largest diaspora of Turkish residents outside of Istanbul. Still hungry? For a late-night snack you can’t beat a currywurst – a Berlin invention. The city even has a museum dedicated to its love of this spiced sausage.

Dj playing the track in the nightclub at a party.

Wild Berlin nightlife

Techno still rules Berlin’s club scene, with legendry venues like Berghain (in a converted power station) and Watergate (on the River Spree) still ruling the roost. The LGBT+ options get better every year, whilst Berlin’s canal, which runs through its east towards the wall, is lined with cool bars – these are great open-air venues in summer. For a rootop bar, try Weekend Club, right on Alexanderplatz.

Berlin Tempelhof, former airport in Berlin city, Germany.

The great Berlin outdoors

Berlin can get very hot in summer – thank goodness it’s got plenty of parks. Tempelhof Feld is one of the most unusual – it’s set on an old airfield, so you might find yourself cycling down a runway. For outdoor sightseeing, look out for polar bears at Tierpark Berlin. This world-famous zoo is Europe’s largest. If you’re visiting Berlin on a Sunday you might prefer a stroll in Mauerpark – to sift through vinyl at its enormous vintage market.

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