Visiting the Reichstag in Berlin

The only thing we had planned for our time in Berlin was a visit to Reichstag, the building which houses the German Parliament (Bundestag). We don’t make it a point to visit the centers of government in each country we travel to, but the Reichstag is a bit unique. It draws thousands of visitors, not for Parliamentary proceedings, but for the glass dome that sits atop the building. The cupola, designed by British architect Lord Norman Foster, has helped to make the German Bundestag the most-visited parliament in the world.

I knew nothing of the building’s history or the parliamentary history prior to our visit. All I knew was that I wanted to get to the top of that dome. I’d read in more than one place that a visit to the dome is a must in Berlin, that it offers the best views of the city. I’m a sucker for scenic overlooks so the Reichstag made it on my very fluid list of must-dos in Berlin.

Bundestag dome

Admission to the Reichstag and dome is free; however, you MUST register online ahead of time if you’d like to go inside. Telephone registration is not possible, and neither is just showing up and hoping to get in. When you register online, you will be shown available entrance dates and times in week-long increments based on the type of visit you select (independent vs. guided). So, if it’s last minute, there may not be any availability during your time in Berlin. My suggestion is to register well in advance and to be flexible.

We opted for the independent tour and I took advantage of the free English audioguide. The walkway to the top is a ramp (no stairs, thankfully) and there must be sensors or some other technological feature that’s way above my head embedded in the hand railings. As I walked, slowly or quickly, the audioguide was completely in sync with my location. I didn’t need to worry about pausing the narration if I slowed down or stopped to look at something. It also provides explanations of the prominent buildings and landmarks around the city. Since we were at the Reichstag on the first full day of our Berlin visit, I appreciated the introduction to the city.

We were lucky to visit on a bright and sunny Sunday morning when the crowd was manageable. There was no rush to get to the top and get out so we took our time and enjoyed the warm sunshine. I snapped dozens of pictures as the views from the dome and the surrounding terrace are spectacular. Equally as impressive are the swirls of glass and metal inside the dome, the design of which makes for interesting photographs. Enjoy the photos I’ve included below and, if in Berlin, definitely consider a visit to the Reichstag.

Inside the dome

Inside the dome

Bundestag Terrace

Bundestag Terrace

Terrace architecture

Terrace architecture

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13 Responses to Visiting the Reichstag in Berlin

  1. Jenna April 29, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    I love architecture, so I’m so glad I saw this post today! I have pinned this to my Europe list :). Thanks for the tip about signing up online.

    • Francesca May 1, 2014 at 11:46 am #

      I’m glad you saw it, too, Jenna! Thanks for adding it to your Pinterest board!

  2. Agness May 1, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

    I would really enjoy visiting this place as it seems so historical and interesting to me.

    • Francesca May 21, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

      It’s quite interesting, Agness!

  3. Aggy May 2, 2014 at 12:30 am #

    That looks amazing! I didn’t go here last time I was in Berlin, will definitely register online first. Thanks for the useful tip!

    • Francesca May 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      You’re welcome, Aggy. I hope you do make it to the Reichstag on your next visit to Berlin!

  4. Traveling Ted May 3, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    Looks like a beautiful building. I love it that the tour is free. Great tip about going online to secure entrance. I am sure the audio tour mentioned the history of the previous Reichstag, which burned down in 1933. Interesting history surrounds that event.

  5. Cathy Sweeney May 6, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

    I wish we had known before we went to Berlin about this tour and the fact that you need to reserve ahead of time. We just “showed up” — hah! Definitely will do this on the next visit. Berlin is such a fascinating city.

  6. Lucy May 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    I’ve still to visit Berlin and this will be high on my ‘to do’ list when I finally get there – thanks for the tips!

  7. Pola (Jetting Around) May 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    I’m generally not one to tour government buildings (I’m happy just looking at them from a cafe across the street, if the is one), but this building I’d see in a heartbeat! The dome is way cool and I’d love to see it from the inside. Good to know there was no rush and you guys got to take your time enjoying it.

  8. Will Castillo May 10, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    If there’s one thing that competes with the culinary delights of the Old World is its architecture. Simply outstanding and breath-taking. You took some really nice photographs!

  9. Romy Mlinzk May 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Hey Francesca,

    glad you liked it being in Berlin. You need to register online because it’s our parliament and everyone is scared because of terrorism. 🙂

    Kinds, Romy

  10. Lance | Trips By Lance May 20, 2014 at 3:53 pm #

    Good tip about registering. People miss so many wonderful opportunities when traveling by not knowing to book a tour. This is a beautiful dome, but it seems those who are afraid of heights might not like it? Something tells me my wife wouldn’t.

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