Art lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to creating an itinerary in Berlin. Deemed the cultural capital of Europe, the city hosts some of the most significant works of art from across the continent, spread over its museums and galleries. If you’re wondering how to make the most of your short time in the capital, here are our recommendations of where to start and end your art tour in Berlin.
The Pergamon Museum
Considered one of the most beautiful museums in Berlin and a favourite with visitors, The Pergamon houses an incredible collection of ancient Greek and Roman art. There is also a fascinating collection of Babylonian and Persian antiquities and other treasures from the ancient world displayed over two floors. The Museum of Islamic Art upstairs is also full of beautiful pieces of art hailing from the eastern world. This museum forms part of Berlin’s famed Museum Island, and the building, designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann, was built over a period of 20 years, from 1910 to 1930.
Tip: This is Berlin’s most frequented museums, so to avoid long waits we recommend buying a time slot ticket online. The museum has also been undergoing staggered renovations since 2013, and the hall where the Pergamon Altar stands will be closed to the public until 2019. However, the south wing containing the Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon is unaffected.
Bodestrasse 1-3, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 20905577
Art lovers will be delighted to step into Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie (Picture Gallery), which is home to some of Europe’s 18th century masterpieces and remains an important artistic and cultural institution. The building itself is modern, while the pieces inside date from between the 13th-18th-century and include great names of classic works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Christus and Caravaggio.
Tip: Works by Rembrandt can be viewed in gallery ten along with Raphael’s Madonnas. If you’re planning a long weekend trip, be aware that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Matthäikirchplatz, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 266424242
The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery) opened in 1876, making it one of the oldest collections in Europe. It houses pieces through the eras of Romantic, Impressionist and early Modernist art, including works by the great German painter, Menzel. Set in an elegant building, the museum was the first in the world to purchase Impressionist art when it acquired Manet’s In the Conservatory and Monet’s View of Vétheuil in 1896. Also make sure to look out for Caspar David Friedrich’s dreamy masterpiece, The Monk by the Sea.
Tip: The museum is rather large and you will need some time to see it through, with art from the 19th century only beginning on the third floor. Again, if you’re planning a long weekend, be mindful that the museum is closed on Mondays.
Bodestrasse 1-3, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 266424242
After taking in the visual feast of the art museums, you will need to refuel and refresh with some delicious lunch before heading out to uncover more art. Try the Asian fusion restaurant, Art Café Jadore in Mitte and a short walking distance from Museum Island. This artsy bistro serves high quality lunch and there are paintings hanging on the walls, along with an interesting light feature on the ceiling. Blocks and Ham is another great coffee shop to try out and also has its own little gallery. The cannelloni makes mouths water, and you can finish your meal with a yummy dessert and a strong black coffee set in a cosy and cute environment, or enjoyed on the terrace on warm days.
Blocks and Ham, Bürknerstraße 12, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 26323349
KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Different from most international contemporary art institutions, KW doesn’t keep a permanent collection of art, but rather identifies itself as a space that produces and presents relevant modern art as it appears. Art lovers can enjoy this gallery in Mitte for its large exhibition rooms, its avantgarde showcases and the forward-thinking policies it presents when dealing with the art world and which, ultimately, sets it apart.
Tip: Stop by on Thursday evenings between 6-9pm for free admission. The gallery is closed on Tuesdays.
Auguststrasse 69, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 2434590
The Berlinische Galerie
Located in Kreuzberg, the Berlinische Galerie is a tribute to modern art, photography and architecture in Berlin. The museum is renowned for its thoughtful curation and strong focus on local artists. The permanent exhibitions of Berlin’s art revolutions are found upstairs, while rotating collections can be viewed downstairs.
Tip: Look out for the wonderful outdoor installation of carved astronauts hiding in a bush on the pavement outside the museum. Stop by the little café for a slice of yummy cake after your visit.
Alte Jakobstrasse 124-128, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 78902600
Take a street art tour
Street art forms a large part of the Berlin aesthetic and has deep roots in the culture counter and political movements of the city. To better understand this, as well as to be shown some of the most famous murals of the city and the stories behind them, opt for a guided street art tour given by a graffiti artist.
Tip: You could head to the East Side Gallery to see the famous murals that now form an open-air gallery where a part of the Wall use to stand, but it’s still best to learn the secrets from those in the know – the walls are constantly changing and you might even catch an artist writing in the act.
Where to unwind
Located in Görlitzer Park, Das Edelweiss is an all-day café serving mostly German cuisine, and has a large garden and terrace to sit and enjoy the long summer nights. After taking Berlin’s art scene for the last two days, enjoy a nice meal sit back and relax while enjoying the jazz jam sessions and DJs spinning in the garden.
Görlitzer Strasse 1-3, Berlin, Germany, +49 30 69508443