Berlin is home to more than 170 museums and galleries… Yes, 170!… and many of them contain some of the most important art collections known to the world.

To see the finest collections in the best museums in Berlin, with exhibitions that range from contemporary art to historical artifacts, here are ten museums that should be on your list when looking to spend a few cultural days in the German capital.

Museums in Museum Island (Museumsinsel)

Museum Island is home to five world-class museums. These are in a unique ensemble of historic buildings, all built under different Prussian kings. Today is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here you’ll find:

Altes Museum Berlin

Old Museum (Altes Museum)

The Altes Museum, built between 1823 and 1830 after the design by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, is one of the most important works in the architecture of Classicism. 

Its classical architecture is the perfect setting for its ancient Etruscan pottery, as well as Greco-Roman statues, bronze tools, jewelry, and wood and stone sarcophagi.

Address: Am Lustgarten 10178 Berlin

Pergamon Museum Berlin

Pergamon Museum (Pergamonmuseum)

This museum was built during the 19th century to house the archeological treasures discovered by archaeologists like Heinrich Schliemann.

The Pergamon Museum is named after the Turkish city from which the 2300-year-old Altar of Zeus was taken. Here you’ll find artifacts that date back more than 3000 years.

This museum is world famous for its monumental reconstruction of archaeological building ensembles such as the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of Miletus, and the Ishtar Gate.

The Processional Way of Babylon and the Mshatta Façade are also ensembles to be blown away.

Address: Am Kupfergraben 510117 Berlin

Neues Museum Berlin

New Museum (Neues Museum)

This museum has historical artifacts housed in a historical building per se.

It was built between 1843 and 1855, then closed at the beginning of World War II in 1939, when it was heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin. The museum officially reopened in October 2009.

Exhibits include the Egyptian, Greek, and Roman history, as well as Early History collections, as it did before the war. The artifacts it houses include the iconic bust of the Egyptian queen Nefertiti.

The partly destroyed interior of the Neues Museum ranks among the last remaining examples of interior museum layout of this period in Germany.

Address: Bodestraße 1-310178 Berlin

It is recommended to buy the Berlin WelcomeCard as it allows you to explore Berlin’s most popular and central museums, including free travel on public transport services and up to 200 discounts on Berlin’s major attractions (25% to 50%).

You can also check out these tours in and around Museum Island to experience the best of Berlin’s past and present.

Museums at the Culture Forum  (Tiergarten-Kulturforum)

Located close to the Potsdamer Platz at the eastern end of the Tiergarten, this art museum complex has museums like:

Gemäldegalerie Berlin

Old Masters Paintings (Gemäldegalerie)

When it comes to art, the Gemaeldegalerie can be considered one of Germany’s finest museums.

It holds one of the world’s finest collections of European art from the 13th to the 18th century. Among the almost 3000 paintings you’ll find masterpieces by Dürer, Bruegel, Raffael, Tizian, Caravaggio, Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Rubens.

Address: Stauffenbergstraße 4010785 Berlin

New National Gallery Berlin

New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie)

Berlin’s New National Gallery at Potsdamer Platz is dedicated to international art from the 20th century.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the unique glass-and-steel structure that houses this fascinating museum, which is nicknamed “the temple of light and glass.”

Its work spectrum ranges from Classical Modern down to Art of the 1960s and 70s. Among those included are artists like Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, Max Beckmann, Otto Dix, and Yves Klein, among others.

Address: Potsdamer Straße 5010785 Berlin

Museums Throughout the City

Many great museums are not State Museums or not part of the museum complex. Among the best are:

Topographie Des Terrors Berlin

Topography of Terror (Topographie Des Terrors)

Topography of Terror is an outdoor museum located on the site where once stood buildings where, during the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945, were the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era.

Honestly, this museum is not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of the few places in Berlin where you get a crude appreciation of Berlin’s history during WWII.

The museum explores both the rise of the Nazi party and its war atrocities. Right at the edge of the museum is a 200 m (656 foot) section of the Berlin Wall.

Address: Niederkirchnerstraße 810963 Berlin

Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer Berlin

Berlin Wall Documentation Center (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer)

The Berlin Wall Memorial is the central memorial site of the German division, located in the middle of the capital.

The memorial contains the last piece of the Berlin Wall with the preserved grounds behind it. It is thus able to convey an impression of how the border fortifications developed until the end of the 1980s.

This museum makes the history of Germany’s division easy to comprehend through its audiovisuals, interactive information, and preservation of the wall.

There’s also a viewing platform that gives you a peek at what people faced when attempting to escape by crossing the wall.

You can learn more about the Berlin Wall and its history on one of these highly recommended tours.

Address: Bernauer Strasse 119, 13355 Berlin-Mitte

Jüdisches Museum Berlin

Jewish Museum Berlin (Jüdisches Museum Berlin)

This museum chronicles the Jewish history and culture in Germany from the Middle Ages to the present-day.

While the extensive exhibition is great, the biggest impression and strongest poetic message are delivered through its building – designed by Daniel Libeskind.

It leaves a lasting impression on its visitors, making them feel completely disoriented, an expression of what Jewish people experienced throughout history and the war.

The architecture is defined by a zig-zag design –made of a broken Star of David– underground tunnels, irregularly shaped windows, and voids that stretch the full height of the building.

Address: Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin

Bauhaus Archiv Berlin

Bauhaus Archives – Museum of Design (Bauhaus Archiv)

This is the home to the world’s largest Bauhaus collection, offering an in-depth introduction to the German avant-garde school and its impact on design, art, and architecture worldwide.

The museum is housed in a building designed by the founder of the Bauhaus School, Walter Gropius.

It displays an incredible collection crafted by Bauhaus teachers and students, from ceramics, furniture, and sculpture, to weaving, printing, and bookbinding.

Address: Klingelhöferstraße 14D – 10785 Berlin

Hamburger Bahnhof Berlin

Museum for Contemporary Art (Hamburger Bahnhof)

Set in a former train station from 1874 (Located in “no man’s land” between East and West Berlin), this museum is dedicated to contemporary art from the second half of the 20th century onwards.

Painting, sculptures, graphics, photography, video, and installations by international artists like Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph Beuys, Jeff Koons, and Pipilotti Rist are on display.

Address: Invalidenstraße 50-5110557 Berlin

Essential Info: Logistical Tips and Tricks to Book your Trip

BOOK YOUR FLIGHT
When it comes to cheap airfare, I highly recommend using Skyscanner, Expedia, and CheapAir. These are three of the sites I use the most due to their exhaustive search on several websites and airlines around the world. They usually bring the cheapest fares.

In fact, CheapAir has a handy tool that tells you the best time to book your flight depending on your route. Check it out here.

BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION
For hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and other types of accommodation, I highly recommend Booking.com. They are my go-to booking site because they usually have the cheapest fares.

If you’re a registered Booking.com user (“Genius”), you can take advantage of their “Genius discount” to save even more money. I almost always book my accommodation with Booking, and I’ve saved thousands of dollars with their Genius discount.

And of course, as one of the largest travel booking sites in the world, Expedia is another excellent accommodation booking site with a free reward program and discounted member prices.

If you’re looking to save money by staying at a hostel, HostelWorld has the largest inventory of hostels with shared dorms and private rooms. On the other hand, Vrbo offers a wide variety of rooms and apartments at affordable prices.

DON’T FORGET YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE
Travel insurance with comprehensive coverage will protect you against unexpected events like theft, cancellations, injury, and illness. I use World Nomads to insure my trips.

If you’re a nomad and travel often or long-term, then SafetyWing could help you save a lot of money on long-term travel insurance.

FIND THE BEST TOURS AT THE BEST PRICES
If you’re looking for the best day tours and cheapest ticket entrances to local attractions, I recommend checking Viator, as they have the largest selection of attractions, passes, and activities all around the world.

BOOK YOUR LOCAL TRANSPORTATION AHEAD OF TIME
Bookaway
 offers the easiest and most accessible way to book overland transportation with local operators, be it by bus, train, ferry, plane, mini-van, or even private transfers.

If renting a car, then I highly recommend DiscoverCars to get the largest car selection at the best price.

OTHER TRAVEL AND MONEY-SAVING TIPS?
Lastly, check out my resources page for some of the best products and companies to use for your trip. If you like saving money (like I do!), then this page will help.

10 Museums in Berlin Not To Miss
Images 5,6,7,9,10, and 11 from Flickr’s Creative Commons.

 

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21 Comments

  1. Great post, Norbert! Museums in Berlin are indeed plentiful and one could spent half a year visiting all of them.

    Having said that, it was only last night that I visited Topography of Terror – it’s not an outdoor museum anymore, they now have a building right next to what your picture portrays and the entire exhibition is now inside – providing great comfort to the visitors and the guides. Free, too.

    1. Thanks for the update Irina. I went there last year right before the building was about to be finished. Even under construction, this museum had a powerful installation full of crude images and a in dept history of the war. I’m looking forward now to see the exhibition inside. 🙂

  2. Berlin must be one of the best cities for museums. I’ve only been to the Topography of Terror but plan to make the time to see some of the other museums next time I’m in Berlin.

    1. Hey Andrea, thanks for stopping by! Of course, going to the Museums in Museum Island and at the Culture Forum feel like a must, but I can’t recommend enough going to the Jewish Museum in Berlin. It is one of my favorite museums in the whole world! Not only for its exhibitions but also for its great architecture.

  3. Great story, Norbert! I’m dying to visit the Pergamon Museum someday. I’ve seen in on several travel shows…. I can’t believe that it was basically stolen! I’m pretty sure Turkey wants it back.

  4. I haven’t been to Berlin yet, but I’ve heard the museums are outstanding. It’s amazing there are so many fantastic museums in one city!

  5. I’m not a huge museum person but a lot of these sound pretty cool. I’d love to see the topography of terror.

    1. Topography of Terror is so good and interesting, but it is also very crude and straight forward with it’s historic information. Probably one of the few places in Berlin that shows the Nazi history so openly, as Berlin has tried to hide that past. Still, a place I’d recommend everyone to go!

  6. Sadly I’ve not been there. I reckon you’ve picked all these buldings just for their architectural features – never seen such a fantastic variety of buildings, In another post you can tell us architecturally your favourite building here!!! You’re the expert!!

    1. John, Berlin is heaven for an architect! This city is so full of good and interesting architecture! I will definitely write a post about my favorite building there. And as a sneak peak, it is the Jewish Museum. 🙂

    1. Actually yes, the Deutsche Guggenheim is really famous (thanks to the whole Salomon R. Guggenheim Foundation). Not sure if I would say it is the most famous, but it can be considered as one of the top 10 museums in Berlin. Why is not listed? With all honesty it was just a lack of spots on the list. I wanted to show a variety of museums that include cultural and historical aspects, ancient art, contemporary art, architecture and design, and deep social influences in the development of Berlin.

      I could easily pick 10 more museums since there are so many good museums that didn’t make the cut here. 🙂

  7. These are such interesting museums! So much history to discover in them. It’s surprising to me that the New Museum only reopened in 2009 after so many years.

    Really wonderful list — I’d love to visit them all.

  8. Fantastic experience after reading your amazing blog article. Museums are the resources of the history of one country. Thanks dear for sharing the great list.

  9. The American Sector museum on Clayallee should at least be mentioned. The history of the Allied commitment to the city is substantial, and should be seen to be believed.

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