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When in Berlin, it’s a must to visit the Reichstag. This historic building has been around since 1894 and its story is closely tied to that of Germany. Visiting the Reichstag dome will not only give you incredible views of the city, but it’ll also give you a peek inside the workings of the German Bundestag.
Back when I used to live in Berlin, you could come to the Parliament anytime and the only challenge would be the long lines. I was lucky and visited it a couple of times, especially when friends would come over.
But times have changed and it’s not so easy today to get into the building. You can’t just walk up to it and expect to be let in. Nowadays’ practice is very similar to e.g. the Statue of Liberty in New York.
No time to read the whole article? This is the tour I highly recommend you take if you want to visit Reichstag Berlin.
What is the Reichstag?
The building itself was built for the purpose of housing the Parliament (called the Imperial Diet in the old times) in 1894. It was badly damaged during the World War II and fell into disuse for several decades. But the German reunification gave a reason to fully restore the building, to become the seat of the new German Parliament.
Norman Foster, a famous British architect, was invited to design the top adjacent part of it, the Dome. He managed to beautifully conjoin the rather outdated appearance of the stone structure with the modern look of glass. You need to see it for yourself!
Is Reichstag the Same as Bundestag?
Parliament, Reichstag, Bundestag.. Are you puzzled from all the names this building has? No need to be confused, let me explain:
Bundestag basically means parliament. Reichstag is an older term referring to the Diet, but the overall meaning is the same. As Bundes means Federal, today you can differentiate the terms by calling the building Reichstag and the institution in it, Bundestag. And Parliament in English, surprise surprise! :)
Is the Reichstag Worth Visiting?
Well, if you are after one of Berlin’s top sights, then absolutely. This structure is where historical events took place. Plus, it’s architecturally priceless and carries the name of the world-known architect Norman Foster.
Many people think it’s sufficient just to stroll by. But, if you have the time, I encourage you to properly visit the parliament building. It has so many layers that everyone can find something interesting and noteworthy.
Is It Free to Tour the Reichstag in Berlin?
The good news is that the entrance is free! You just have to register. The further in advance, the better. So when you have the dates for your Berlin trip set, reserve an admission into the Reichstag. The whole process is fairly easy.
How Do I Tour the Reichstag?
As I mentioned, you now must make a reservation to visit the Reichstag (or at least the inside of it.)
There are a few ways you can do this:
Visiting With a Guide
You can have it all arranged for you. It’s not even expensive. You can get an experienced guide for as little as $16. I took a tour like this before and loved it.
Why do I recommend this guided tour?
First of all, even if you’re booking just a day in advance, you can still get into the Reichstag. And second, GetYourGuide is reliable and offers lowest price guarantee. This is the best-rated Reichstag tour in English.
Advanced Direct Reservation
The reservation can be made online here.
Just select the type of visit you want, and follow the instructions. You can even see the plenary and also have a guided tour of the Dome. During the registration process, you’ll be asked about the names of all the people in your group, so make sure not to leave anyone out.
Visiting the Service Centre
Many people ask, can you get Reichstag tickets on the day? And the answer is… it depends but typically only if you’re lucky.
In case you find yourself in Berlin without much advance planning, you might still get lucky and secure a spot by visiting the service centre, which is located next to the Berlin Pavilion on the south side of Scheidemannstrasse. If there are still free spots, they’ll get you on the list. But be aware that you can only do this min. 2 hours and max. 2 days in advance.
Things To See & Do During Your Visit to the Reichstag
You’ve got your tickets – now what to do during your visit to the Berlin Bundestag?
- Take an audioguide tour. Grab an autoguide from the roof terrace to learn about the history of Reichstag, the German Bundestag, the Parliament, and the surrounding area.
- See the Soviet graffiti. The graffiti left by Soviet soldiers in 1945 has been preserved and can be seen today.
- Appreciate the architecture. Even if you don’t typically have much of an interest in architecture, it’s hard not to appreciate this building and its natural lighting.
- Check the views. The main reason for visiting the Reichstag is, of course, the views it offers.
- Listen to a plenary session. If you’re lucky enough to speak German, you can easily listen in on the Bundestag’s plenary sessions if one is happening during your visit.
- See the artwork. There’s a surprising amount of artwork found within the Parliament building, both rotating collections and permanent exhibitions.
- Eat at the rooftop restaurant. On the rooftop, you’ll find the Käfer Dachgarten Restaurant where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch, aperitif or dinner with some incredible views. Reservations required (here)!
Berlin’s Bundestag: Opening Hours, Closures & More
Here’s some important information you should know when planning to visit the Reichstag.
- Opening hours are daily from 8am until midnight, though the last entry is at 10pm.
- The Reichstag is closed on December 24th all day and will close early on New Year’s Eve.
- The Reichstag glass dome will be closed for cleaning and maintenance on these dates in 2024: April 15 – 19, July 8 – 19, July 22 – 26, October 21 – 25, October 28 – November 1. Note that you can still visit the roof terrace during these times.
Best Time of Day for Visiting the Reichstag Dome
People often have a dilemma deciding whether to come during the day or evening, considering there might be a beautiful view with the city lights and all that. From my experience, the day visit is much better. The reflection of the glass is not good when it’s dark, you don’t see as much and the photos come out rather bad.
I definitely recommend visiting Reichstag on a sunny day. You can spend hours in the neighborhood before and/or after your experience. Green areas are plentiful, and you can even take a boat ride on the Spree River.
How Long Does a Visit to the Reichstag Take?
I recommend planning to spend about an hour at the Berlin Reichstag, though you may want to dedicate more or less time depending on how interested you are in the art, the architecture, and the government functions.
How to Get There
The closest subway station is called simply Bundestag. The Brandenburger Tor U-Bahn stop is very close too. It’s easily walkable even from Unter den Linden stop. All these stops are on the U5 line, and the Under den Linden also on U6.
You can get to the Parliament by bus too. The bus no. 100, which is excellent also as a sightseeing ride, stops right by there. The stop is called Reichstag/Bundestag.
If you need to find a public transport connection, check out Berlin’s official transport company BVG.
Plus, even the Berlin main train station is nearby! I often walked the distance between the Hauptbahnhof and the Bundestag. It takes about 10-15 minutes.
Please note that parking is not easy by the Reichstag. You’d have to leave your car further than the public transportation gets you. If you still prefer coming by car, find a spot using Parkopedia.
More Things to Do Nearby the German Parliament
The Reichstag is located just a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate and within reach from all possible government buildings.
There are these other things to see nearby the Reichstag building:
- German Chancellery (Bundeskanzleramt)
- Brandenburger Tor
- Holocaust Memorial
- Sinti and Roma Memorial
- Potsdamer Platz
- Unter den Linden
I especially enjoyed relaxing by the river with a book. Many Berliners do too.
Have you ever been to Berlin and the Reichstag? If not, is it high on your list?
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