10 places around Berlin Hauptbahnhof

Berlin’s main railway station, the Hauptbahnhof, lies at the heart of Europe with trains departing for Amsterdam and Prague, Moscow and Bern, Vienna and Warsaw. The station is a monument to modernity, a palace of glass – but there’s much more to see than the station itself. So if you’re in the neighbourhood or a passenger passing through, get out and start exploring.

1. Hamburger Bahnhof

The collection of contemporary art housed in the Hamburger Bahnhof – a former terminal station on the Berlin to Hamburg line and one of the oldest railway buildings in Germany – is one of the largest and most important in the world. With exhibitions dedicated to art from 1960 to today, the collection boasts works by Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly and Joseph Beuys to name but a few. You can also sample some traditional German cuisine at the Restaurant im Hamburger Bahnhof, a great restaurant with an outdoor terrace along the River Spree.

Location: Invalidenstraße 50-51, 10557 Berlin

2. Zollpackhof

One of Berlin’s oldest restaurants with roots dating back to 1700, Zollpackhof is the perfect place to while away an hour two with a cold Augustiner from Munich’s oldest independent brewery and some authentic German and Austrian fare. The rustic 360° fireplace and tasteful interior design add the finishing touches to this quintessentially German setting. In the summer months, the adjoining beer garden – one of Berlin’s most beautiful – sits in the shade of a giant horse-chestnut tree across the River Spree from the Chancellery. Grab a beer and enjoy a traditional German experience.

Location: Elisabeth-Abegg-Straße 1, 10557 Berlin

3. Futurium

Take a look at the world of tomorrow at Berlin’s new museum of future technologies and trends. This ‘house of futures’ focuses on the question: how do we want to live? Artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing – all things future-oriented are under the spotlight here, and visitors are encouraged to get involved. Visit the test kitchen to learn about how insects may be the future of food or swing by the Futurium Lab to get hands-on experience using a laser cutter. There’s also a fantastic skywalk that offers panoramic views of the centre of Berlin.

Location: Alexanderufer 2, 10557 Berlin

4. Restaurant Paris-Moskau

This charming half-timbered establishment is a pocket of old Berlin amid the concrete and glass of Germany’s modern government district. The building dates back to 1898 and miraculously survived WWII, becoming an important meeting point between East and West. Today, the restaurant boasts exquisite food, a great selection of wines, and a classic design – and with government buildings nearby, you may well find yourself rubbing shoulders with Angela Merkel. Who knows, you might even feel inspired to board the weekly train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof to Moscow.

Location: Alt-Moabit 141, 10557 Berlin

5. Berlin Museum of Medical History

As an institution of Berlin’s renowned Charité hospital, this fascinating museum details the history of medicine over the last 300 years, with extensive collections that focus on pathology and human anatomy. Alongside a former operating theatre, a pathologist’s dissection room, a laboratory and a patients ward, there are objects on display that are not for the faint-hearted – preserved body parts and organs, skeletons and deformities. Well worth a visit for those with curious minds seeking out a more alternative activity.

Location: Charitéplatz 1, D 10117 Berlin

6. Boese Buben Bar

This gem of a café/bar tucked away on a side street beneath an awning of ivy serves fresh and healthy meals at reasonable prices, including great vegetarian food. The atmosphere inside is warm and inviting, with cosy lighting, teeming bookshelves and fresh flowers and candlesticks on each table. The style is eclectic, the clientele too. With no Wi-Fi to distract you, the café forces you to switch off and enjoy the simple things in life – good coffee, good food and a pleasant environment.

Location: Marienstraße 18, 10117 Berlin

7. Moabit Prison Historical Park

Every corner of Berlin has a story to tell. In this peaceful memorial park close to the bustling railway station, a jail once stood that played host to some grisly chapters in German history, including the beheading of an attempted assassin of Kaiser Wilhelm I, a Gestapo detention centre for resistance fighters and the only site of execution in the Western sectors. Today, however, it’s a tranquil green space away from the hustle and bustle of the station and a welcome place to relax in or go for a stroll.

Location: Lehrter Str. 5B, 10557 Berlin

The memorial park, an oasis of green right next to Berlin’s busy main station

8. Maxway Coffee

If you’re just after a cup of coffee or a quick bite to eat, forget the busy coffee chains in the station and head to Maxway Coffee. Here you’ll find great coffee, tasty pastries and warm soups – all in a modern and comfortable setting with the Bundestag in view and the river a stone’s throw away.

Location: Katharina-Paulus-Straße 2, 10557 Berlin

9. Hotel Restaurant Rossi

This charming hotel restaurant only a short walk from the railway station is a great place to grab a bite to eat, with seasonal and regional lunch specials, vegetarian dishes and a variety of homemade cakes. People with disabilities make up around half of the restaurant’s staff, so by dining here you are helping provide them with opportunities to participate in the workplace and integrate into society.

Location: Lehrter Straße 66, 10557 Berlin

10. Capital Beach (in summer)

While away an hour or two at this lively summer beach bar located right by Berlin Hauptbahnhof on the banks of the River Spree. Grab a deck chair and a cocktail and watch the world pass you by. The perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.

Location: Ludwig-Erhard-Ufer 1, 10557 Berlin

William Simpson
Written by William Simpson
William has spent the last few years living in China, travelling around Asia by rail and promoting sustainable tourism at every opportunity. After recently relocating to Germany, he is now taking advantage of Europe’s rail network to satisfy his passion for slow tourism, from Lisbon to Lviv. William is currently based in Berlin.