A cultural hub full of groundbreaking art, historic architecture, and a fascinating history, Berlin is one of the world’s favorite travel destinations. Germany’s capital exudes an enchanting and diverse cultural identity, evident in the wide spectrum of tours available. We reveal Berlin’s top tour experiences that highlight the city’s breathtaking landscape of art, literature, design, and music.
Slow Travel Berlin is an organization that cares about quality over quantity, evident in their travel approach; their tours encourage travelers to ‘slacken their pace, re-consider their motivations (and itineraries) and embrace a ‘less is more’ instead of a ‘fast is better’ ethos. The company has designed a range of cultural tours, and their Literary Stroll Through West Berlin stands out as a unique prism through which to view Germany’s capital. Guided by literature from the past 100 years, the tour begins at Savignyplatz and journeys through West Berlin’s backstreets. It’s led by Fabian Saul, a true expert on the city’s history and the editor-in-chief of the cultural magazine Flaneur Magazine.
Slow Travel Berlin, + 49-(0)17-11225973
Berlin’s street art tours are internationally renowned as fascinating ways of exploring the city and have become extremely popular for travelers of all ages. One of the leaders in Berlin’s ‘alternative tourism’ movement, Alternative Berlin is a unique organization that has built an esteemed reputation. Street Art Workshop & Tour has been praised as one of their best tours. These tours offer an unrivaled insight into the motivation behind the artists. The four hour experience also includes a practical element, allowing travelers to learn street art and graffiti techniques from practicing street artists in an abandoned margarine factory.
Alternative Berlin, +49-(0)16-28198264
An apt name for such an organization, Niche differs from other tour companies that attempt to create a tour to cover every aspect of Berlin. Instead, the company specializes solely in art and architecture experiences. Niche consists of a team of art historians, architects, heritage conservators, and artists who hold a deep love for the city. Offering a range of tour packages, Niche promotes their bookings in three categories: ‘academic and corporate tours,’ ‘private tours,’ and ‘expertise and consulting.’ Each package covers the city’s unconventional art spaces and inventive architecture. They can also include meetings with the professionals working behind Berlin’s art scene.
Niche, +49-(0)17- 666800232
Sandemans New Europe describes itself as a young, dynamic, international company, and are widely known by avid travelers for their free city tours that ask those involved to pay only what they believe the tour was worth rather than charging a fixed price. The company also offers a wide spectrum of set experiences that focus on specific aspects of Berlin’s cultural identity. Their Red Berlin tour has been commended for its engaging subject matter and knowledgeable guides. The tour explores Berlin’s former Soviet sector, investigating what life was like behind the Iron Curtain and the chilling methods the DDR and the Stasi used to keep control of East Germany. The tour visits key sites throughout the city, including Husemannstraße (the famous propaganda street), Stalinallee (Karl Marx Allee), Berlin Wall Crossing Points (the Palace of Tears), and much more.
Sandemans New Europe, +49-(0)30-51050030
Context is a tour organization that hires working scholars and professional specialists to lead enlightening tours and in-depth walking seminars. Employing experts in archaeology, art history, cuisine, urban planning, history, environmental science and classics, Context’s tours are committed to the character of the city. Their hope is to ‘bring together the traveler and the city in a manner beneficial to both.’ Their Berlin Art Scene tour is perfect for any art enthusiast as it takes participants to a number of Berlin’s esteemed organizations, such as the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Eigen + Art, and Neugerriemschneider. The tours reveal the contemporary history and creative landscape that defines Berlin’s art industry.
Insider Tour Berlin prides itself on providing ‘engaging non scripted tours’ through a ‘dynamic historical narrative.’ Academic research and professional insight informs their list of tours, ensuring that travelers are given the best guided experiences. One of the more unique itineraries is the Berlin Today tour, which investigates the contemporary history of the city and how Berlin became ‘the capital of cool.’ The tour traverses four distinct Berlin neighborhoods, revealing the present cultural identity that is constantly transforming through gentrification, alternative cultural movements, immigration and assimilation, and the increasing presence of corporate culture. Guests will see some of Berlin’s cultural hotspots, including areas of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, East Side Gallery, and much more. This tour is perfect for any traveler more interested in Berlin’s present than its past.
Insider Tour Berlin, +49-(0)30-6923149
Bus tours have become a popular activity for travelers as easy ways to see a whole city and learn about the key sites and interesting facts. Taking this formula to new places, Videobustour’s buses present historic film footage, photographic images and audio material as they drive around the city, allowing passengers to discover both past and present. Berlin is described as ‘one of Europe’s fastest-evolving cities,’ and this tour format allows guests to witness firsthand this remarkable transformation. An award winning service, this Berlin tour visits both iconic and lesser-known historic landmarks as well as highlighting contemporary architectural and cultural attractions. In addition to the video footage, expert guides are also present and ready to answer any questions.
Original Berlin Walks is proud of its status as ‘the city’s longest-operating English language walking tour company.’ The company has designed a number of experiences that cover a range of interests, ensuring that travelers can choose the right tour for them. Their Third Reich tour was the first of its kind offered in English, and it gives travelers fascinating insight into this dark time in Germany’s history. The itinerary reveals architectural remnants from the Nazi period that are otherwise difficult to find. Their academically trained guides provide captivating and eye opening tales of Nazism, the Second World War, and the Holocaust.
Original Berlin Walks, +49-(0)30-3019194
While Berlin’s artistic identity and turbulent history are widely covered in tours, the city’s music scene is often left in the shadow and rarely discussed by travelers. Berlin Music Tours was founded with the aim of rectifying this, creating three distinct tour experiences that celebrate the city’s modern music scene. A ‘tour for people from the age of 16 and up,’ the company describes the topics covered as ‘Music and Berlin – Then and Now.’ Their Hansa Studios tour takes visitors inside the esteemed recording venue where figures such as David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Nick Cave have stayed while they worked on albums. The tour also offers professional insight into Germany’s music industry and the guides can provide great advice on where the city’s best venues are. Music bus, walking tours, special tours and big events are also available.
Berlin Music Tours +49-(0)30–30875633
Berlin Jewish is the tour company of Yoav Sapir, a professional tour guide, journalist, lecturer, and translator. Passionate about his heritage, his tours focus on Berlin’s Jewish history, further investigation of German history, and the architecture and art around the city. Sapir’s Berlin Jewish Heritage Tours have received widespread praise, and are admired for not only focusing on the Jewish experience during 20th century but also the history of Judaism in Germany from the Middle Ages to contemporary times. The private tours offered can be tailor-made and allow guests to select which sites they would like to visit.
Berlin Jewish, +49-(0)17-8196-2147