Berlin is one of the most fascinating and culture-packed cities in Europe, and the sheer amount of things to see and do can seem overwhelming on a short vacation. A great way to get an overview, or explore a niche subject in more detail, is to defer to an expert and let them show you the things that they find fascinating, unmissable or unique. For interesting accommodation to complement your new insight, take a look at Wimdu’s apartments for rent.
A quick Google search will bring up hundreds of different tours, so don’t feel that this list is exhaustive – but it will point you in the direction of some of our favorites.
Getting to grips with Berlin’s dark and complex history can be a daunting task, but a decent tour guide can throw light on events, bringing the past to life.
- There can be no better insight into the brutality of the DDR regime than a tour of Hohenschönhausen, the infamous Stasi Prison. English language tours happen twice a day at 11:30 and 2:30 and some of the tour guides are actually ex-prisoners, telling their personal stories of the horrors of the prison
- A site so fascinating that David Lynch has purchased a property on it, Teufelsberg is a man-made mountain to the west of Berlin that has served as the location of a Nazi training camp, a US spy station during the Cold War, an infamous rave scene in the 90s and is now the largest legal graffiti site in Europe. Tours take place on the hour at €7 a time.
- Sandemans offer a “Red Berlin” tour, giving insights into life behind the Iron Curtain, including a view of the massive former Soviet Embassy. The tour is €12 with a discount for students
- Mosaic Tours is a 100% non-profit charity that conducts public tours of the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp and Memorial. Between 1936 and 1945, over 200,000 people were imprisoned at this site, and 50,000 people were killed through mistreatment, starvation and extermination
- In north Berlin, Gesundbrunnen’s underground tours offer a unique perspective on the city’s history. Guides will take you through Cold War escape tunnels, WW2 air raid shelters and really make history come to life
Eating and Drinking Tours
They might be the cornerstones of a great Berlin night out, but there is more to the city than currywurst, kebab and Pilsner. Join one of these tours to discover some of the city’s most interesting foodie experiences
- Split by neighbourhood, or “kiez”, the Eat the World walking tours are a great way to explore the areas of the city that tourists don’t necessarily see. Their aim is to “support small, high quality, fine food and gastronomy businesses” and they are always searching out new tasty corners for visitors to enjoy
- From absinthe tasting and brewery visits to Kaffee und Kuchen and Chocoholic tours, the Original Berlin Food Tours are a great way to get to know the city through your stomach. Bastian the founder is passionate about Berlin’s vibrant and diverse food scene
As you would expect for a city famed for its nightlife, there are loads of pub and bar tours available, but be careful which you book onto. As Alternative Berlin point out with admirable honesty in the introduction to their pub crawl tour:
“Berliners generally loathe pub crawls. No one wants hundreds of drunken rowdy tourists taking over their favorite bars”
To make sure that you are not going to accidentally become a tourist from hell (unless you want to, of course!) be sure to check the website for exactly what will be involved. If they happily take stag-dos, hen parties and very large groups then you can probably guess the sort of tour to which you are going to be attached. Original Berlin Tours offer a good live music tour of the city’s jam sessions and dive bars if you get bored of techno.
Buses, Bikes, Boats and Trabis
For visitors with mobility issues, or for people who would just rather travel in comfort or appreciate the view from a different perspective, there are a variety of great options available.
- For a little insight into life in the DDR, join one of the Trabi tours and try your hand at driving a Trabant – the iconic East German car. Trabi Safari are one of the main operators and driving in a convoy of their Trabis is certainly an unforgettable introduction to Berlin
- Berolina’s City-Circle Bus Tour offers a hop-on, hop-off circuit around the city, so you can spend as much or as little time as you like at various points. If you are travelling as a group they also offer a bespoke bus hire option. Bear Tours Berlin also offer a similar bespoke service
- Relax on the Spree with a Berlin boat tour and see the city from the water. You can get an overview of what is available at the VisitBerlin website
- Get onto two wheels with Fat Tire Bike Tours – they offer a wide variety of tours whatever your interest, including an “all in one” day tour that encompasses everything
- Original Berlin Tours offer tours covering a huge range of subjects, from Alternative Berlin to a New Years Eve Pub Crawl but their “Original Free Berlin Walking Tour” gives a great overview of the city’s history, including the Berlin Wall, WW2 battlefields and many stories of the city’s past. It’s also free of charge
- One of our favourite walking tours, Bear Tours Berlin have tours from a speedy two hour tour round the major sights to a four and a half hour walk for a more in-depth look at the city
- Berlin Walks also have a good list of tours to see the city, including some interesting ones such as the “Jewish Life in Berlin” and “Queer Berlin” tours, as well as a Christmas Markets tour in the winter