Visiting Berlin’s Reichstag: The new rules

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You must now register in advance to visit Berlin's Reichstag.
You must now register in advance to visit Berlin's Reichstag.

Things have changed a bit since our last post on visiting Berlin’s Reichstag. Here’s an update:

What hasn’t changed: The building is as historically and culturally significant as ever. It still affords some of the best free views of the city. You will have to queue and go through security to get inside. The dome is closed four times per year for window cleaning and the plenary chamber is closed during parliamentary sessions.

Big change: Register in advance before your visit

Due to security reasons, you must now register in advance online prior to your visit. Individuals and groups are admitted entrance every 15 minutes between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m. In order to complete registration, you must provide first and last name and date of birth for every person in your group.  

* Don’t forget your passport: You must show ID proving your identity when you arrive at the main entrance.

Free audio guides

If you don’t have your own personal Berliner, there are now free audio guides available on the terrace level in 10 different languages; there are also special versions for children and people with disabilities.

Free lectures

If you’d like to learn more about the functions of the Parliament as well as the history of the building, you can register for a 45-minute lecture, which includes a visit to the plenary chamber as well as the opportunity to visit the dome. These are offered in German daily between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in English Tuesdays at noon only, only during periods when the Bundestag is not in session, and must be booked in advance.

Free group tours

If you have a group of at least six people, you can request a free, 90-minute tour of the complex. Tours are available of the Reichstag building generally (for adults and for groups with children), the art and architecture of the Reichstag building, and the art and architecture of the neighboring Paul Löbe, Marie-Elisabeth Lüders, or Jakob Kaiser buildings. If your German is up to snuff, these tours take place regularly on weekdays and weekends; check this page for further details. Again, requests must be made in advance.

Both the lecture and the tour, if available, can be booked or requested via the online registration service.

Last-minute reservations

If you forget to plan ahead or find nothing available online, you can check at the Visitors’ Service Centre (across from Tiergarten, next to the bus stop) to register for any free spots within the next three days. You must provide the same information as above for each member of your group and provide identification when required.

And if all that fails, it may still be possible to snag a table for lunch or dinner at the Käfer restaurant, located on the terrace level. Reservations can be made by emailing kaeferreservierung.berlin@feinkost-kaefer.de. Restaurant guests enter the Reichstag via the West C portal.

Special bonus for visitors through October 2012

An installation of film, light, and sound, representing historical events which have played an essential role in the Reichstag building and in the development of democracy in Germany, is projected nightly onto the Marie-Elisabeth Lüders building. The projection starts at sunset each day and lasts approximately 30 minutes.

Best views are from the area between the Reichstag and the Paul Löbe building; grab a seat on the stairs along the Spree. And in case you’re a little late and miss the beginning, the film is repeated once. This installation will be shown until German Reunification Day, October 3, 2012.

About the author

Hilary Bown

An academic by training, a writer by day, and a Cheapo by heritage, Hilary Bown's meagre means and insatiable travel appetite have helped her sharpen her "no-budget travel" skills across the European continent over the past decade. At home in Berlin or on an adventure abroad, you'll find her in sandals, riding the bus, reading novels while walking, drinking the local wine, writing out postcards with a felt-tip pen, and browsing the shelves of the supermarket and hardware store. Find her unique blend of travel adventure and tested advice at Less Than a Shoestring.

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