The Best Berlin Tours for First-Time Visitors

Date: 17 January, 2020
The Best Berlin Tours for First-Time Visitors
There's so much to see & do, experience and learn about in Berlin that you could still be figuring it all out on your twentieth trip here, never mind your first visit. Of course, as free tour operators in Berlin, we absolutely know the value of a great quality tour to help you make the most of your time and to get the best introduction, insight and overview to Berlin's history, culture, and life lived here; but we're just one tour provider in Berlin, there are many hundreds of different tours in the city- so, what are the best tours to do in Berlin for first timers?

Well, we wanted to help answer this question for you. Our own expert local knowledge of Berlin means we know what other tours are top quality and which are, well, let's just say "less than great", but we also wanted to hear from a non-Berliner who's been out there too, testing a boat-load of Berlin tours on their own personal quest to get the low-down on this buzzing metropolis on the river Spree.

So, Hannah McNulty, who recently made the move from Dublin to live in Berlin and has been throwing herself into the thick of it, has kindly allowed us to share with you her insights to the best Berlin tours a first-time visitor should do; those tours that serve to give a perfect introduction to the different facets of Berlin, be it history, local social-cultures, art, and everything in between!

The best tours & activities a first-timer in Berlin should do

Berlin, the city that parties, the capital that is laden with history, the land of curry-wurst! Your plane has landed, your bags are dropped, and your heart is full of excitement; now where to start?

First time to Berlin visitors at the Brandenburg Gate

The best way to really see Berlin, get under it's skin, experience it and learn what makes it tick is to visit someone living there, a proper local. Though, we don't all have the luxury of knowing someone that lives in Berlin; despair not, fellow explorer, for there is a way!

Going on a city tour, or tours, is certainly the best way to see Berlin in a short time. It's your access to a proper local who has real local knowledge, expertise, and has mastered filtering out the uninteresting stuff to leave you with truly valuable insights and information - as well as recommending places to go, where to eat, how to avoid tourist traps and make the most of your precious time in Berlin.

I hear you asking, "what tours should I book for Berlin?" No worries, I've been there, and I’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you ! Here's my list of the Best city tours in Berlin for your first time here. Now all you have to do now is choose some and enjoy!


Free Walking Tour of Berlin

Berlin walking tours are plentiful here, and ideal for those that don’t really know where to start. The Berlin free walking tour by Generation Tours is the best overview of Berlin you'll get in a walking tour, and I highly recommend doing it on your first full day in Berlin. It will cover all the must-see sights and attractions, but more than that, it delves into the stories, the secrets, and the curious oddities of the city, giving you fascinating insight to Berlin society, culture and even psychology - you'll really understand the place around you much better after three hours or so with these guys!

A Berlin city tour guide showing her group of tourists a point of interest during their first-time in Berlin on a free walking tour in BerlinThey’ll also give you tips on how to avoid tourist traps and enjoy Berlin like a local, so you’ll be able to continue the rest of your trip with confidence. It’s every day, starting at 11:00 A.M. from Lustgarten in front of the Berliner Dom and you are free to simply pay the guide what you think their tour was worth at the end. Win win!


Fat Tire's Berlin Highlights Tour

While I am a huge advocate for free walking tours when travelling as the unrivaled best way to ensure top quality touring and guides, the advantage of a bicycle tour is being able to cover more area in the same amount of time - something definitely worth considering if you only have a day or so in Berlin, and you're fit enough for it of course.

two young female tourists on a bicycle tour in Berlin with bikes

Fat tire's 'Berlin highlights' tour is brilliant for first-timers who want to get a quick summary of the history around the war, Prussian Berlin and everything about the wall. It’s a three-hour tour and the cost for an adult is €28.00, including an optional helmet. The knowledgeable tour guides will show you Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the site where Hitler’s Bunker was and much more.

Cycling around Berlin is such a good way to get a feel for the city too, you’ll cover lots of ground and get to grips with orientating yourself. They also give you the option to keep the bike after the tour for a discounted price, so you can continue exploring on two wheels.


Alternative Berlin Street-Art Workshop

If you didn't already know, you'll soon figure out that Berlin is renowned for its urban and street art scene. Germany spends about 10 million euros every year getting rid of graffiti, but there is absolutely no shortage of it here in the capital. Some of the work is amazing, and everywhere you go you’ll see graffiti on the outside of buildings.

Alternative Berlin offers a street art workshop where you can be shown around particular districts, learning about different street artists. All the guides are street artists themselves so you are really being shown around by those in the know. You will get to spray- paint your own canvas too for keeps, which can make for a pretty cool Berlin souvenir. This tour costs €25 and runs every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 12 p.m., lasts about 4.5 hours and participants must be aged 14 years & over.

Street art in Berlin

Free Alternative Berlin tour

The urban art scene is very much a part of Berlin's unapologetic alternative culture - that unique Berlin attitude that injects colour, grit and a certain charm into the atmosphere here. So, to dive further into this side of things you’ll want to go on an 'Alternative tour' to get off the typical tourist trail and explore Berlin's subcultures, art, underground, and squat cultures.

Having a local Berliner guide you through the 'less-typical' parts of the city, areas like Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg for example, giving you tips on the best ways to experience the authentic underground scene is an absolute blessing. I really think this Alternative Berlin free tour is one of the best things for newcomers to do as it gives you a real insight into how a lot of people in Berlin live their lives and the different aspects of the city they interact with, be it every day or on occasion.

This tour starts at 11:00 A.M. every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday and, again, you're free to pay what you feel it's worth!

a Berlin tour guide explaining about Berlin street art on an urban art and alternative Berlin free tour in Berlin

The Puppet Theater Museum Tour Berlin

A trip to a museum should definitely be part of your first trip to Berlin. There are so many to choose from, whether it be art, history, science, or indeed, even puppets, there will be something for everything. Now, I've included The Puppen Theater on my list for a few reasons; it is a great activity if you're travelling with kids, or are a big kid yourself. And, in a city where much of the historical sites and topics are very much remnants of a bleak, turbulent, haunting and indeed horrific recent past, there is certainly room for a space that reflects the creativity, imagination, fun and happiness of the city too.

a Puppet of a man smoking a cigar from the Berlin puppet theatre museum

Most days there are guided tours and they begin at 10:00 A.M. They also offer workshops and performances and it’s an experience you won’t forget from your first time in Berlin! For adults, it’s €5 in, a bargain for puppets I say! They also have “flashlight tours”, these are for the braver puppet lovers. Please note, you have to register by telephone before you go. I hope you don’t have any strange dreams afterwards!


Berlin Craft Beer Experience

You can’t think of Germany without thinking of beer. A classic German cliché would include lederhosen and a stein, so it would be rude not to try out some of the beers in the country of Oktoberfest. Berlin offers wonderful beer tasting tours and you get to taste them too! Most tours last about 3 hours, and you’ll definitely find one to suit your budget. If craft beer is to your taste, Berlin craft beer experience is a great 3.5-hour tour which gives you a minimum of 5 beer tastings and also a rundown of the history of German beer.

Berliner beer from berlin

It’s really a great option for those of you who may be new to German beer, or beer in general and want to get a deeper knowledge. It’s also a great tour for Berlin first-timers as you’ll meet like-minded people and get to spend a nice evening sipping new beers. The tour is on Mondays and Wednesday to Saturday, begins at 19:00 and costs €37.00 which includes hot food. The German for “cheers” is “prost”, hopefully you’ll get great mileage with this word!

And if sipping on delicious German beers whets your appetite for a Berlin party, Generation pub crawl Berlin is a fun night guaranteed! You get 3 shots, free beer and free entry into Matrix, one of Berlin's best nightclubs. For someone brand-spanking new to Berlin, it’s the ideal way to experience authentic Berlin nightlife. Meet the group from 21:30 at Brother’s bar.

Pub crawl in Berlin for first time visitors

Of course, I'm not recommending all these tours for one trip, but any one or combination of these will go a long way to helping you get a thorough understanding of Berlin, especially if you do them early in your trip, and set you up to really engage with the city, the culture, the locals and the fun while you're here.
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