Berlin as a tourist destination has so much to offer: nature, architecture, history, culture, food, and nightlife. In a city with so much rich history, it’s no wonder that it’s full of museums. Between the big, well-known ones, and the small, niche ones, it seems like there’s a museum on every corner. History, art, technology, science, nature, pop-culture: there are museums for everything here.
And while it is great to have a lot of choice, it can also be overwhelming. Building an itinerary when you have over 50 museums to pick from can be a daunting task, even for experiences travelers. Museum Island is a great place to start, but it is worth venturing out as well. Especially if you’re interested in modern art or more niche history and culture.
I’ve lived here for two years now and am nowhere near checking out every museum. But I’ve seen enough to have a few favorites. So to help you decide what to do and see during your visit to the German capital, I have listed my favorite museums in Berlin.
Tip: a lot of museums in Berlin offer free entry on the first Sunday of every month. Booking of time-slots opens a week in advance and full up quick!
Museuminsel (Museum Island) in Berlin is an island in the river Spree in the center of the city. As the name suggest, the island is filled with museums, as well as historical buildings and palaces. It was heavily damaged in the war and rebuilt in the original style, making it one of the few areas of Berlin that looks old-world European. The whole island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can find some of the most famous museums in Berlin here, but the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) is my favorite. It is a beautiful classical and neo-renaissance building dating back to 1876. It kind of looks like a Greek or Roman temple rather than a museum.
Inside, the Alte Nationalgalerie houses an impressive collection of 19th century paintings and sculptures. Which just happens to be my favorite era of art. As you walk through the floors of the museum, you can enjoy art from both local and famous international painters. The museum has Impressionist pieces by Monet, Degas, and Renoir, as well as a Romantic wing with works from Casper David Friedrich.
The museum itself is gorgeously decorated and has a nice flow. To see the whole collection would take about 2 hours, but that’s two hours well spent.
Location: on Museuminsel
Cost: €12 adults, €6 children and students Buy tickets
Opening hours: Tu – So 10:00 – 18:00
I don’t know about you, but I personally love an interactive museum. As beautiful as art is, sometimes you want to have a really immersive experience.
The DDR Museum in Berlin offers just that. If you’ve always wondered what life in Berlin was like during the time of the Wall, you can get a glimpse here. The museum showcases items from that era and even whole apartments! You can also read information about life in the DDR and play interactive games.
Much of the exhibition is geared towards children, but it’s just as fun for adults!
Location: along the canal behind the Cathedral
Cost: €9,80 adults, €6 children and students Buy tickets
Opening hours: 09:00 – 21:00 daily
Museum für Naturkunde
If you’re a fan of natural history, the Museum für Naturkunde is a must-visit in Berlin. It is quite similar to the Museum of Natural History in London, and it also reminded me of the ones in Glasgow and Prague.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth going!
It’s a fun museum for all ages with lots of fossils, taxidermy animals, and lots of information about geology and evolution. This is one of the best museums in Berlin for kids, but even as an adult, I learned something new here!
The biggest draw, however, are the giant dinosaur skeletons!
Location: U-bahn Naturkundemuseum
Cost: €8 adults, €5 children and students Buy tickets
Opening hours: Tu – Fri 09:30 – 18:00, Sa – So 10:00 – 18:00
Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas
In a city where the scars of a dark past are still visible throughout, the famous Holocaust Memorial might just be the most depressing and powerful of all. There are several museums in Berlin on the history of WWII and the Holocaust, but this one is particularly moving.
The information center below the monument has a permanent exhibition about the persecution and genocide of Jews in Europe, with a special focus on the terrors of the Nazi regime.
While the memorial itself is meant to invoke a feeling of dread and anonymity, the museum has a very personal approach. Their goal is to humanize the victims of the holocaust and give them a face and a name.
By telling stories of individuals and families, and portraying their personal items and pictures, they make the abstract number of 6 million feel tangible and real.
Fair warning: both the memorial and museum are very powerful. It might take a while for your tears to dry and the eerie feeling to leave your bones. Plan your itinerary accordingly.
Location: near Brandenburger Tor
Opening hours: Tu – So 10:00 – 18:00
The Deutsches Technikmuseum is another great museum for families in Berlin. This massive museums filled with boats, trains, and airplanes that will blow both children and adults away.
As the name suggests, the museum focuses on German engineering. You know, the thing they’re known for. From printing press to hot air balloons, everything is covered here.
The size and amount of information can be a bit overwhelming, so I recommend picking a few topics you’re most interesting in and skipping the rest. The layout with multiple floors and buildings makes this pretty easy.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this museum. I’m not super into tech, but all the old machines were so cool to see up close, especially the boats, airplanes and trains. You get to see how technology advanced through the ages, and they even host live demonstrations throughout the day.
Tip: the museum is super close to my favorite brewery and beer garden BRLO!
Location: near U bahn Gleisdreieck
Cost: €8 adults, €4 children and students Buy tickets
Opening hours: Tu – Fr 09:00 – 17:30, Sa – So 10:00 – 18:00
These are what I consider some of the best museums in Berlin, but obviously the list is far from exhaustive. I’ll be sure to add to it as I visit more museums and galleries around the city. I tried to include a mix of history, art and culture museums in Berlin, so there’s something for everyone.
Ultimately, the best museum in Berlin is the city itself! There are monuments and sites of historical significance everywhere you look. I recommend joining a walking tour to learn more about Berlin.
Have you visited any museum in Berlin? Which ones did you like? Feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.
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