There’s a light that never goes out in Germany’s vibrant capital: Berlin’s cultural life is definitely something not to be missed. With a cultural landscape that is defined by both venerable cultural institutions and an exciting experimental scene, Berlin culture provides a daily dose of inspiration and entertainment.
Want to experience a weekend full of cultural adventures? Here’s how we’d spend a day:
08:00 am: Museum Island
Visit some of Berlin’s 175 museums and 220 galleries offering a wide range of different art institutions and art fields, from classical paintings to more contemporary art. Conveniently for every art fiend, the most important museums are located on an island right in the middle of town (no joke), which also happens to be a UNESCo World Heritage site, allowing you to basically fall out from museum straight into another.
Berlin Partner provides a useful interactive map to help you keep on top of it all.
Check the Berlin museum guide for current exhibitions. If anything, you should check out…
Pergamon inhibits three different museums: The ancient collection, Near Eastern Museum and the Museum for Islamic Art. Advice: Book your tickets online and go early to avoid queueing.
Pergamonmuseum, Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin
Deutsches Historisches Museum
Get some insights into Germany’s 2000 year old history, or just marvel at the fascinating architecture of the building; conceived by American architect I.M. Pei.
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Unter den Linden 2, 10117
BerlinJewish Museum Berlin
Known for its provocative and creative exhibitions, sometimes including live exhibits, the Jewish Museum Berlin exhibits the social, political and cultural history of the Jews in Germany from the fourth century to the present.
Jüdisches Museum, Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
01:00 pm: Lunch in the Park
For a capital city, Berlin offers an exciting dimension of natural sites. Berlin is home to more than 2500 parks to give you some time to unwind, watch passers-by and even enjoy some live music. Mauerpark for instance is home to a flea market, an open air Karaoke station…
…and a huge green space for holding barbeques.
03:00 pm: World Heritage Sites
If you’re not already impressed by Berlin Museum Island’s architectural beauty, there are another two World Heritage Sites to feast your eyes on. You really don’t have to be much of a history or architecture buff to love these sights:
Frederick the Great was a simple man: He wanted to be without a care- sans souci. And so he built Sanssouci Palace between 1745 and 1747, overlooking the famous vineyard terraces.
Sanssouci, Maulbeerallee, 14469 Potsdam
Built as a space for relaxation, and love nest for himself and his lover Wilhelmine Encke, Friedrich Wilhelm II’s Pfaueninsel palace is characterised by its two circular towers which are linked by a bridge at the top, making it look like a Disney dream castle.
Schloss Pfaueninsel, Nikolskoer Weg, 14109 Berlin
The Neues Palais (New Palace) is just at the back of Sanssouci Palace and the last Potsdam palace that Frederick the Great built in his park grounds.
Neues Palais, Am Neuen Palais, 14469 Potsdam
06:00 pm: Movie or Theatre Night
What’s more, Berlin provides a vital music scene, spanning a range as one of the most recognized cities for techno and electronic music, to harbouring star conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim.
The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra - Berlin’s very own orchestra - consistently ranked as one of the best orchestras in the world. BPO supports several chamber music ensembles, and offers music enthusiasts worldwide the possibility to listen to its concerts through their Digital Concert Hall created in 2008.
For 16 years, the British conductor Sir Simon Rattle shaped the concerts and the profile of the Berliner Philharmoniker as chief conductor and artistic director from 2002 to 2018. After a transitional season in 2018/19, Kirill Petrenko, born in Omsk/Russia, will take over this position in August 2019.
Eight symphony orchestras complement the variety on offer in Berlin. The Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra is housed in the Konzerthaus am Gendarmenmarkt in what was previously East Berlin and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra was established in 1963 near the Potsdamer Platz in former West Berlin. The latter has 2,250 seats and provides an exceptional auditory experience due to Hans Scharoun’s architectural design. The Berlin Philharmonic– one of the world’s finest orchestras – is at home here. Illustrious names such as Wilhelm Furtwängler, Herbert von Karajan and Claudio Abbado have been responsible for its development.
Pierre Boulez Saal
The very new Pierre Boulez Saal is an exquisite and architecturally distinct international concert hall, designed by Frank Gehry. It is also the public face of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. The new audience enriches the musical life of Berlin with up to 100 outstanding chamber music concerts each year.
Pierre Boulez Saal / Barenboim-Said Akademie gGmbH,
Französische Straße 33 D, 10117 Berlin, Germany, www.boulezsaal.de
Universität der Künste
If you’re looking to watch your pennies, check out the Berlin University of the Arts calendar. International students from different fields of music continually give free concerts on the University premises for the public to enjoy.
Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Take in some history: The German Staatsoper looks back on a 250 year long history. It is one of the most important opera stages in the world and hosted several world-famous personalities including Giacomo Meyerbeer, Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy and Richard Strauss.
Music Director is Daniel Barenboim, born in Buenos Aires and one of the central artistic personalities of the present day.
After a general renovation, the State Opera returned to its historic building in a new splendour in 2018.
Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Unter den Linden 7, 10117 Berlin
DEUTSCHE OPER BERLIN
Deutsche Oper is Berlin’s largest opera house, offering 1859 seats to music enthusiasts. It’s primarily renowned for its Wagner plays and versatility.
Deutsche Oper Berlin, Bismarckstraße 35, 10627 Berlin
Komische Oper Berlin
Looking rather plain from the outside, the Komische Oper Berlin inhabits an awe-inspiring classicistic interior. It’s repertoire contains mostly contemporary and lively music theatre.
Komische Oper, Behrenstraße 55-57, 10117 Berlin
03:00 am: Berghain
Only this year the Berlin-Brandenburg fiscal court ruled that techno music can now officially be considered high culture when they classified Berghain – a world-renowned Berlin nightclub famous for its industrial techno, dark rooms and strict door policy – as a provider of cultural events as opposed to mere lowbrow entertainment.
Besides its long-weekend clubs that run from Friday night till Monday morning, Berghain offers midweek events from classical concerts and fashion showcases to exhibitions; confronting visitors with an alternative side of the city’s culture.
When Berghain celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2014, they held an exhibition including the infamous “Hero’s Journey (Lamp)”, a tank in which artist Sarah Schönfeld collected the urine and sweat of Berghain partygoers over a period of ten weeks.
…if that’s not to your taste, you might as well get yourself an early currywurst and head to bed. There’s a new event to get to tomorrow, for sure.