Online Reservations for the Reichstag Dome in Berlin

Free advance online reservations are the best way to see the Reichstag parliament building and visit the cupola dome in Berlin, or book a guided tour. Time-slot tickets and official identification are essential for all visitors.

Reichstag in Berlin in the Early Evening

The cupola on the Reichstag building in Berlin is the second most popular sight in Germany. It is no longer necessary, or indeed possible, to queue up outside the building for free admission tickets to the spiral walkway in the dome at the top of the German parliament (Bundestag). Advance online reservations for the Reichstag are free and the best way to get tickets. Alternatively, some Berlin sightseeing tours also include a visit to the roof of the Reichstag. On dates that are no longer available through the direct official channel, reservations at the exclusive Käfer restaurant on the Reichstag roof get visitors into the cupola through a special elevator — breakfast and apero (late afternoon drink and snack) are cheaper than lunch or dinner.

Reichstag German Parliamentary Building

Reichstag Panorama View
 Reichstag Panorama View © Eric Schockmel

The Reichstag building in Berlin is considered the second most popular site in Germany (only the Cologne cathedral may claim more visitors).

The Reichstag building is not particularly old – it was constructed at the end of the nineteenth century but hugely remodeled a century later with the popular Kuppel walkway designed by Sir Norman Foster added. The views from the roof and the dome are the main attractions of visiting the Reichstag.

The building originally housed the Reichstag, or lower house of the German imperial parliament — Kaiserreich (1871-1918). Reichstag means imperial diet – Reich = empire, Tag = diet / meeting. The name stuck – with the German Reich long gone, it now houses the Bundestag or Federal Parliament of Germany.

Free Online Reservations to Visit the Reichstag in Berlin

Queue outside the Reichstag Building in Berlin

For about a decade after the opening of the cupola on the Reichstag building, queuing outside the building to enter for free was the norm. Clever visitors judged the line from bus 100 – if it was more than halfway down the staircase, it was more sensible to stay on the bus and try later.

However, currently, advance reservations are not only possible but also needed. The process is not surprisingly bureaucratic but surprisingly not fully automated. In addition, for a nation fairly obsessed with internet security and data protection, the German Bundestag requires quite a bit of personal information even before confirming whether tickets are available.

At the Bundestag website go to Visit the Bundestag (first find the English button if necessary and it might be necessary to click Overview Visit again). Find the online registration to select the type of visit – a visit to the dome is the more common but free guided tours of the building or attending a plenary session followed by a visit to the roof cupola are also available (mostly in German and fairly long).

The website of the Bundestag is not particularly user-friendly and be careful not to use any browser buttons or keyboard shortcuts for navigation. Available dates are listed for the first available day and usually only a few weeks in advance. Up to three dates or times may be specified. Then enter details, and wait for a “noreply@” email. Click the appropriate link in this email and provide the personal details of all people in the group — don’t make a typo here as you will never receive a confirmation of the details entered. This must be completed within about 20 hours after the request was made and nothing happens before this step is completed

Then wait for another email confirming that your request has been forwarded to the relevant authorities — this email is not the actual confirmation email that place is available.

The final email with a pdf document confirms the date and time but reverts to personal data paranoia by not actually listing any of the names of the members of the group but be sure that names and birthdates correspond when turning up at the Reichstag — names and IDs will be checked.

The Reichstag ticket is not transferable and may be canceled at short notice if the Dome is closed for whatever official reason — sometimes you get an email, often not. The whole reservation process may take a few hours or even days.

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Reichstag Visitors’ Information

Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, Brandenburg Gate

The cupola and roof of the Reichstag are open daily from 8 am to 24:00 (last admissions at 21:45) but often the hours are much more restricted.

Visitors enter in groups every 15 minutes – turn up 15 minutes earlier than the stated time at the rather scruffy temporary-looking security check buildings at the far end of the lawn from the Reichtag’s stairs.

Proof of identity is required at the Bundestag and expect airport-style security, although generally a lot friendlier.

The Reichstag dome is closed on December 24, close late afternoon on December 31, and may be closed on a few other days, mostly for maintenance (usually a few days in March, July, and October).

Once inside, visitors may stay as long as they please. A free audio guide (available in 10 languages) gives a tour of the history and sights that can be seen on the walk up to the top of the dome.

Alternative Options for Visiting the Reichstag

Make free online reservation to tour the Inside of the Dome of the Reichstag

Online reservations are the preferred method of visiting the cupola of the Reichstag and the only method that will ensure admission. Telephone reservations are not taken.

A sure way to access the cupola is a reservation at the exclusive Käfer restaurant on the Reichstag roof — breakfast and mid-afternoon aperitifs are cheaper than lunch or dinner. A special entrance is available for visitors with Käfer reservations but it is still necessary to pass through the regular security checkpoint.

Visitors without advance reservation for the dome could enquire from the Visitors Service kiosk across the road from the Reichstag in Scheidemannstraße next to the Berlin Pavilion if tickets are available. If any tickets are available, entry will be two hours later at the earliest.

A further alternative is to take a guided tour of Berlin sights with a visit to the Reichstag cupola included. This is usually just an add-on to another tour with the tour arranging the admission to the cupola and leaving travelers at the security checkpoint — pick up the free audio guide inside the building. Note that tours must specify access to the roof / dome / cupola, as many tours mention the Reichstag but are just a walk by.

The Bundestag offers official tours — mostly in German but occasionally in English too — but note that these are long, may include a visit to a parliamentary debate, and usually won’t reach the dome where tour members are released for around two hours. Great for students of politics but no quick way to the cupola — book from the same Bundestag visit page as for individual tickets.

Transportation to Visit the Reichstag in Berlin

Getting to the Reichstag is easiest using public transportation. Bus 100 stops right in front of the side of the building in Scheidemannstraße at bus stop Reichstag / Bundestag. From the Hauptbahnhof, it is also possible to use U-Bahn U5 to the Bundestag, or from the reverse direction from e.g. Alexander Platz, Museum Island, Unter den Linden. S & U Bahn station Brandenburger Tor is also just a short walk from the Bundestag building.

Berlin Guidebook Recommendation:

The Rick Steves Berlin Guide is a great choice for a first or short visit to Berlin. He does a good job of narrowing the huge city and wealth of attractions down to those generally of most interest to foreign travelers. The guide is easy to read, well organized, and full of time and money-saving tips with useful walking routes and self-guided tours to some of the top museums and best attractions.

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