Photo: Neptune Fountain

Schoolchildren frolic in the bronze lap of the River Elbe, one of the four female figures representing Prussian rivers that adorn the 19th-century Neptune Fountain in front of Berlin’s City Hall.

Photograph by Stefano Amantini/Atlantide Phototravel/Corbis

Berlin Zoo

Germany’s oldest zoo; gained worldwide fame in 2007 with birth of polar bear cub Knut. He joined some 14,000 other animals, including endangered rhinoceroses and ultra rare panda bears. Hardenbergplatz 8, Charlottenburg; tel. 49 30 254 010; fee. www.zoo-berlin.de

East Side Gallery

“An absolute must because there aren’t many original Berlin Wall remnants left.”—Andrea Steichele-Biskup. Longest section (0.75 mile or 1.3 kilometers) of the Berlin Wall still standing; open-air gallery since 1990 with 106 murals by artists from 21 countries. Mühlenstrasse between Oberbaumbrücke (Oberbaum bridge) and Ostbahnhof (eastern train station). www.eastsidegallery.com

Gemäldegalerie

Outstanding collection of European masters; more Rembrandts in one place than anywhere else in the world; in modernist Kulturforum culture complex near Potsdamer Platz. Tip: Use your ticket for free same-day admission to the other three Kulturforum museums. Matthäikirchplatz 8, Tiergarten; tel. 49 30 266 2951; fee.

Haus am Checkpoint Charlie

Engaging private museum brings alive political tensions of the Cold War with Berlin as its focal point; includes tales of spectacular escapes from East to West; adjacent to the famous border crossing itself. Friedrichstrasse 43-45, Kreuzberg; tel. 49 30 253 7250; fee. www.mauermuseum.de

Jewish Museum

“A moving, incisive exploration of Berlin’s Jewish history.”—Damien Simonis, author National Geographic Traveler: Berlin. Chronicles Jewish history in Germany going back to Roman days; spectacular star-shaped building by Daniel Libeskind. Lindenstrasse 9-14, Kreuzberg; tel. 49 30 2599 3300; fee. www.juedisches-museum-berlin.de

Pergamon Museum

“Massive chunks of antiquity moved holus-bolus (all at once) to a burgeoning imperial capital.”—Damien Simonis. Pirate’s chest worth of treasure from ancient civilizations; highlights are Pergamon Altar, Ishtar Gate from Babylon, and Mshatta Facade, the caliph’s palace from Jordan; Unesco World Heritage site. Am Kupfergraben, Mitte; tel. tel. 49 30 266 3660; fee. www.smb.spk-berlin.de/smb/standorte/index.php?lang=en&p=2&objID=27&n=1&r=4

Potsdamer Platz

“A smorgasbord of international architectural creativity on the site of Berlin’s Cold War ground zero.”—Damien Simonis. New urban district where Berlin Wall once stood; theaters, hotels, bars, shops, and museums. Tip: Ride Europe’s fastest elevator to Panorama Punkt for bird’s-eye views. Panorama Punkt: Potsdamer Platz 1; tel. 49 30 2529 4372. www.panoramapunkt.de

Reichstag

Breathtaking views of both cityscape and elected officials from Norman Foster–designed dome atop 1894 German parliament building. “A perfect metaphor for how democracy should function.”—Chris Sandeman. Tip: Lines are shortest early in the morning and at night. Platz der Republik, Tiergarten; tel. 49 30 2273 2152. www.bundestag.de

Schloss Charlottenburg

Baroque Prussian royal palace with furnished rooms dripping with precious art and artifacts. Backed by a huge, romantically landscaped park with carp pond, various smaller palaces, and a mausoleum. Tip: Beat the crowds and come early, especially on weekends. Spandauer Damm 10-22, Charlottenburg; tel. 49 331 9694 200. www.spsg.de

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About Berlin and Germany

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    Berlin

    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Berlin.

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