On Berlin's Tourism website you will find a wide range of information about culture in Berlin.
Berlin is Germany’s theater capital. 53 theaters offer an astonishing diversity, from solid stage esthetics to experimental theater. Berlin’s annual theater festival (Berliner Theatertreffen) takes place every May and presents the ten most remarkable German productions selected each year by an independent jury of critics.
Throughout its history, Berlin was a musical center in North Germany. Its influential music culture remains vital until today. Berlin’s three opera houses offer a variety of classical and modern operas as well as ballet performances.
There are several symphony orchestras in Berlin. The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra (Berliner Philharmoniker) is one of the preeminent orchestras in the world. Its current principal conductor is Sir Simon Rattle, who took over in 2002.
Here you can find an overview on the current program of all Berlin cinemas, search for cinemas in your neighbourhood as well as get a preview of the program to come.
Germany’s first non-commercial cinema Arsenal at Potsdamer Platz presents unique cinematic culture.Since 1963 Arsenal features regular screenings of important German film classics, European and American films, New German short films, and experimental genres as well as new films from East European countries and countries of the Third World.
The Berlin International Film Festival – also known as Berlinale – has become one of the film industry’s most prestigious annual events taking place every February. Established by the Americans after the Second World War, it was started in 1951 as an attempt to bring back some of the culture and romance that had been synonymous with the city during the Golden Twenties. With around 230,000 tickets sold every year it is considered the largest publicly-attended film festival worldwide. The Berlinale is divided into different sections, each with its own unique profile: big international movies, independent and art-house productions, movies especially for a young audience, etc.
Almost every large town in Germany now celebrates CSD (in other countries known as Gay Pride). CSDs are considered political parades, but on the other hand, they are often compared to carnival processions or techno parades. A typical Christopher Street Day Parade includes floats as well as walking groups. Berlin’s CSD takes place on (or around) June 27. It is held in memory of the first big uprising of homosexuals against police assaults that took place in New York’s Christopher Street in Greenwich Village on June 27, 1969.
Increasing popularity and commercialization have led to an alternative CSD in Berlin, the so-called “Kreuzberger CSD” or “Transgenial CSD.”
The Fête de la Musique, also known as World Music Day, is a music festival taking place on the summer solstice (June 21). It began in France and has since spread to over one hundred cities. The purpose is to promote music in two ways: Amateur and professional musicians are encouraged to perform in the streets. Many free concerts are organized, making all genres of music accessible to the public. In Berlin, the Fête de la Musique has been taking place since 1995 with life bands and music groups performing all over the city on open stages during the day and in cafés and concert halls during the night.
The Carnival of Cultures takes place every year over the Whitsun weekend in Berlin’s district Kreuzberg. It presents the cultural and ethnic diversity of Berlin with a four-day celebration, including a parade on Whit Sunday. The Carnival of Cultures is regarded as a platform for a proud expression of hybrid cultural identities, containing traditional and contemporary elements. In 2008, over 1.5 million visitors celebrated the street festival and the parade in which 4.500 professionals and non-professionals performers took part.
More than 150 museums in Berlin are devoted to history, art, and knowledge. The National Museums of Berlin are located within the ensemble Museumsinsel, an island in the Spree river in the center of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It houses various collections belonging to the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. As early as 1841 it was designated a “district dedicated to art and antiquities” by a royal decree. Subsequently, Altes Museum (Old Museum) displaying the bust of Queen Nefretiti, Neues Museum (New Museum), Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), Pergamon Museum, housing multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, and Bode Museum were built here.
The district of Berlin-Dahlem is home to several excellent museums. The Ethnological Museum and the Museum of Asian Art house the city's collections of non-European art and culture. This group of collections is internationally the most significant of its kind in terms of scope, quality and symmetry.The Museum of European Cultures has been housed in the same building since May 2005.
The Filmmuseum offers a journey through film history: from the pioneering years to contemporary cinema. The Hamburger Bahnhof exhibits a major collection of modern and contemporary art. The Neue Nationalgalerie (built by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe) specializes in 20th century European painting. For a period of two years, the Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin “White Cube” (opening in 2009) will present contemporary international art at a historically charged location, the Schlossplatz.
Berlin is a political and cultural capital with a turbulent history which can be experienced in visiting some of Germany's best historical musuems. In 2006 the German Historical Museum (Deutsches Historisches Museum) re-opened in the Zeughaus Unter den Linden with an overview of German history up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The Jewish Museum (Jüdisches Museum Berlin) has a standing exhibition on two millennia of German-Jewish history.
Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften at Freie Universität(Long Night of Science) takes place once a year usually in June on a Saturday from 05:00 p.m. to 01:00 a.m. Various universities and research institutes in Berlin and Potsdam offer special events to make the public familiar with their research.
Enjoy the regional specialties and discover the variety of typical foods such as Bouletten mit Kartoffelsalat (meatballs with potato salad), Currywurst (curried sausage), Döner Kebab and Berliner Weiße (beer with juice).
Berliner Weiße is a type of wheat beer brewed exclusively in the area of Berlin. It contains only around 2.8% vol of alcohol, making it one of the weakest German beers. It is top-fermented, slightly barm-clouded and relatively sour, so the taste of Berliner Weiße differs significantly from other German wheat beers. It is served in a large goblet with a straw. Due to the sour taste, it is commonly mixed with raspberry or woodruff syrup, creating Berliner Weiße rot or grün respectively. This mixed-drink is very refreshing in the hot summer months and is served throughout Berlin.
One thing that is typical and must not be missed in Berlin is the Currywurst, a spicy sausage cut into slices and seasoned with curry flavoured tomato sauce. Currywurst is sold at fast food stations throughout the city. According to the Berlin legend, currywurst sauce was invented by Herta Heuwer when, while waiting for customers at her sausage stall started to experiment with the ingredients out of sheer boredom.
Even though it is originally a Turkish national dish, since the mid 1970s döner kebab (usually just called döner) can be found in many Turkish fast food restaurants throughout Berlin. It is made of roasted meat (= kebab) on a vertical rotating spit (= döner) sliced off to order. The modern version of this fast food was invented by Mahmut Aygün. On opening his Turkish restaurant Hasir in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin, Aygün had the idea of serving traditional sliced lamb meals in warm pita bread instead of on a plate. As on that first night, döner kebab is typically served within a small pide (Turkish pita bread) often with added salad.
In every region in Germany, you will find some words, mainly regarding eating and drinking that differ. What otherwise might be called Brötchen (bread roll) is called Schrippe in Berlin. The same applies to a sweet bakery treat filled with jam or plum butter. Whereas throughout Germany this donut-like treat is most often known as Berliner, in Berlin itself it is called Pfannkuchen. If you notice someone ordering a Radler in a restaurant, don’t be confused. He/she is not looking for a bike rider but rather asks for a refreshing drink that is a mixture of beer and soda (it is also called Alster).
Characteristic for Berlin are the old-fashioned markets and market halls. All around the city a wide variety of colorful outdoor markets take place several times weekly. During the Christmas season there are over 50 Christmas markets open seven days a week.
On weekends, at the outdoor flea-markets you can experience the diverse atmosphere of Berlin's cultural life. The most popular one is the Kunst- und Trödelmarkt on Straße des 17. Juni.
Twice a week on many squares throughout the city there are markets that sell mostly fruit and vegetables. One of the best is the turkish market on Maybachufer. For ecological products the market at Kollwitzplatz (Prenzlauer Berg) is a good one.
The big market halls, where you can buy everything from fruit and vegetables, dairy products to clothing are typical for Berlin.
For information on different markets, have a look here.
Address: Str. des 17. Juni, 10557 Berlin (Tiergarten)
Opening hours: Sat and Sun 11:00 a.m. – 05:00 p.m.
Address: Maybachufer, 12047 Berlin (Neukölln)
Opening hours: Tue and Fri noon – 06:30 p.m.
Address: Winterfeldtplatz, 10781 Berlin (Schöneberg)
Opening hours: Wed 08:00 a.m. – 02:00 p.m. and Sat 08:00 a.m. – 04:00 p.m.
Address: Marheinekeplatz 15, 10961 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Opening hours: Mon – Fri 08:00 a.m. – 08:00 p.m.and Sat 08:00 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.
Berlin is Germany's shopping capital. Here you can find lots of good ideas.
Usually shops open between 08:00 and 09:00 a.m., though department stores and smaller shops might not open until 10:00 a.m. On weekdays (including Saturdays), supermarkets and department stores are usually open until 08:00 p.m. On Sundays and public holidays most stores are closed, however there are some exceptions (e.g. shops in train stations and some food stores that open 24h/7d).
In Germany, there are two types of supermarkets: regular ones and the so-called “Discounter”. Both provide a wide range of products from fresh fruit and vegetables to bread, meat, and cosmetics. Discounters are usually cheaper and have a smaller variety of fresh products. The biggest chains are ALDI, LIDL, PLUS, and PENNY. Organic food is increasingly popular and is found at stores called Bioladen, Bio-Supermarkets or at health food stores (Reformhaus).
Be aware that there is a deposit on beverage bottles and beverage cans called Pfand, which is not calculated in the price shown. You can return the bottles at almost every shop, but it is safest to take them back where you bought them.
Berlin's many bookstores offer a huge selection of travel guides and maps as well as all kinds of literature.
You can buy international press in a bookstore in the Central Train Station, on 1st floor, open daily 05:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
In Germany it is not unusual to buy clothes from a second hand shop, because the clothes are usually in good condition and at the same time worth the money. Most of Berlin’s second hand stores can be found in Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg.
IKEA offers a huge selection of furniture (not always cheap) and home textiles.
Berlin is a city of social and architectural experimentation. Starting with Prussia's famous master builders, such as Schinkel, Langhans and Knobelsdorff, to the architects who worked here after the Wall came down. Their names, from Alvar Aalto to Peter Zumthor, read like a "who's who" of contemporary architecture.Read more about architectural sights and tours here.
Germany’s capital city is not only one of Europe’s lushest big cities, but also one of the richest in water. 25 natural lakes and three major rivers cover about 7% of the urban area, making Berlin a perfect location for water fans. The most famous lakes are probably Großer Wannsee and Großer Müggelsee. More information about nature in Berlin can be found here.
Berlin’s world of parks and gardens lets hearts beat faster even without leaving the center of the city. Above all, the streams and large meadows in the central city park Tiergarten provide a great place to relax. On the outskirts of Berlin, Potsdam and the surrounding region of Brandenburg, with its nature reserves, water landscapes, castles and palaces, is worth a visit. The most famous park grounds can be found in Brandenburg’s capital, Potsdam: Schloss Sanssouci (Sanssouci Castle), which is protected by the UN as a Cultural Heritage of the World.
Berlin from below offers tours of subterranean architecture exploring Berlin's political history from an unusual perspective by visiting underground bunkers and subterranean escapes from East to West Berlin.
Berlin-hidden-places is a unique internet city guide. It describes hidden places of art, architecture and natural beauty. It names special culinary delights, places to stay overnight, and introduces unusual places to shop, public events and upbeat meeting places.
Located near Freie Universität Berlin’s Botanic Garden sprawled on a territory of 43 hectares with 22,000 different species of plants has become one of the largest and most diverse botanic gardens in the world. Sixteen greenhouses with an area of more than 6,000 m² house many delicate and precious plants of the tropics and sub-tropics. In the Botanical Museum, which is unique in Central Europe, you will be able to see more by enlargements or models of, for example, microscopically small organisms.