Visiting Berlin’s Reichstag Dome at Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

The way we plan our trips goes a little something like this – five or six weeks before we want to go somewhere, we start talking about where we want to go. After we choose a destination, we spend a weekend researching flights, trains, and hotels and book them. After that, we completely forget about the trip until around one to two weeks before we’re set to go – that’s when we start the actual researching/planning phase. Because of our late-stage planning tendencies, we almost, almost missed getting to do something really cool on this trip – visit the Reichstag dome in Berlin at night.

It was two weeks before we were scheduled to go, and we were planning our Berlin itinerary for our first day. I’d had ‘visit the Reichstag dome’ pinned on my Pinterest board for months, so I clicked on the website to check closing times only to discover that, although the visit is free, it must be booked in advance. Like, well in advance if you have a very specific date and time you’d like to visit. My heart sank. I really wanted to be there to see the sunset, and the only day where it fit in our schedule was our first day. I went ahead and sent our request anyway, but without a lot of hope that we’d actually get in. Then two days later, what appears in our inbox, but our tickets to the Reichstag dome! We were actually going to make it!

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting the Reichstag Dome

So what is the Reichstag dome in Berlin? Technically, the building itself is called the Bundestag since Germany now has a federal government, versus the imperial government that was in power when the building was first named, but old habits die hard and most people still refer to this building as the Reichstag. Names aside, the purpose of this building is as a meeting place for Parliament. Since this is a secure government building, when you enter, you’ll need to bring with you your tickets, plus identification. (Not being residents of Germany, we had to bring our passports.) You’ll also have to go through a security check, just like at an airport, so the less you bring with you, the quicker you’ll get through. When Parliament is not sitting, free guided tours are available in the building, but on our visit, we were there for one purpose – to see Berlin from the dome on top of the building!

Since daylight savings time was set to kick in the morning we planned to visit, moving sunset up a whole hour, we had scheduled our time at the Reichstag for 4:30pm and, on the day, arrived a half hour early. (Very glad we did this. Sunset is a popular time, so there was a line stretching out of the building to go through security.) It had been a very cloudy, almost entirely overcast day. As we got closer and closer to our scheduled time, I began to realize it would be very unlikely we’d get to see that sunset I was hoping for. Nevertheless, I knew it would still be a cool experience to get to be inside the dome, regardless of the weather.

We made it to the top about fifteen minutes before sunset, but just as I’d expected, there was no sun to be seen. We walked around the platforms surrounding the dome where usually you can get a decent view of the Spree River and some of Berlin’s most famous landmarks, but it was so hard to see much of anything through the clouds that we gave up and went inside.

Being inside the Reichstag dome on an overcast day, surrounded by clouds, was like being inside a real-life version of the Jetson’s house, sans the robot maid. (If you’re too young to remember that cartoon, don’t tell me.) The dome is all windows and futuristic-looking architecture, and if it doesn’t make you feel like you’re in a spaceship, then you probably watch less sci-fi movies than I do. It really is a cool place, but I was still feeling a little bummed that my photos were lacking the wow factor that comes with good lighting. And then I thought, what if we just wait awhile? Maybe just until it gets dark and see if the light gets any more interesting. And oh, it did.

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

The Reichstag Dome at Night

When they turned the lights on in the dome, we definitely felt like stowaways on an alien spacecraft! And even better, the combination of the early evening blue skies and the lights reflecting off the metal inside the dome created much more colorful photos. I highly recommend scheduling your visit for sunset, but also sticking around just a bit longer for that deep blue, just-after-sunset light that always looks so great in photos. (At night, when there isn’t as much light reflecting onto the bottom of the dome, it’s also much easier to see down into the actual room where Parliament meets!)

With it now being the new year and the logical time to make resolutions, I’ve resolved to start our travel planning much, much earlier than we have been. We got lucky making it into the Reichstag dome – I know that – and I never want to risk missing something like that again just because I’m a travel procrastinator. Cory rolled his eyes at me when I told him I was going to be more organized (because I say it after every single trip), but this time I’m serious. Like, already have our entire Sweden trip planned out five weeks in advance serious. How’s that for New Year’s resolution follow-through?!

Reichstag Dome: Website
Address: Platz der Republik 1, 11011 Berlin

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Visiting Berlin's Reichstag Dome At Night

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  • Stephanie
    January 30, 2015 at 12:35 PM

    Super cool architecture. I hear great things about Berlin. I hope to go there one day!

  • rorybore
    January 28, 2015 at 4:59 AM

    that is so cool and the very thing I thought of was spaceship and the Jetsons! bummer on the lack of sunset wow — but you still captured something sci fi magical.

  • Ashley
    January 26, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    Wow, such a cool structure and great, crisp photos. I wish I had more time while I was in Germany to make it to Berlin, but this just encourages me to return! :)

  • Emma @ AdventuresofaLondonKiwi
    January 24, 2015 at 6:54 AM

    When I visited years ago, these are the photos I wished I could have taken – they are absolutely stunning!

  • Emmymom
    January 23, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    That last shot is awesome! Oh and totally know the Jettsons ;)

  • Sara
    January 23, 2015 at 10:55 AM

    Glad you made it to the Reichstag! I went last year July at sunset and it was one of my favorite things we did in Berlin. And even though it was cloudy when you went, those shades of blue you captured are beautiful!

    • Sarah Shumate
      January 23, 2015 at 3:12 PM

      Thanks, Sara! It definitely wasn’t a complete bust. Still, I’d have loved to get those lovely golden hues reflecting on the metal. Next time, I suppose! I’m glad mother nature was on your side when you visited!!

  • topchelseagirl
    January 22, 2015 at 3:08 PM

    Inside it’s like the Guggenheim meets the tardis!

    • Sarah Shumate
      January 23, 2015 at 3:11 PM

      Haha! You are spot on! How clever!

  • Amanda @ Rhyme & Ribbons
    January 22, 2015 at 1:51 PM

    Lovely photos! It does look like something straight out of a sci-fi movie, doesn’t it! x

  • Dannielle @ Chicadeedee
    January 22, 2015 at 12:29 PM

    it kind of looks like a tornado, so cool!

  • Margo @ The Overseas Escape
    January 22, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Beautiful! By the way, this new template – wow! Great job, love!

    • Sarah Shumate
      January 23, 2015 at 3:07 PM

      Oh, thank you! But I can’t really take any of the credit. I bought a template from a very talented designer and then asked her to make a few changes for me. It never would have turned out this nice if I’d tried to do it! :)

  • Stacey @ One Trip at a Time
    January 22, 2015 at 2:10 AM

    Another place to add to my Berlin list if I get to go in the summer. Great tips too because your photos are fantastic! And I remember the Jetsons…and loved that cartoon. ;-)

  • Andrea
    January 21, 2015 at 9:22 PM

    Love the Reichstag! Toured it at sunset on my first night in Berlin and fell in love!

  • Stacie Stamper
    January 21, 2015 at 2:15 PM

    These are super cool pictures! And we sound like similar planners!

  • Diana Bockus
    January 21, 2015 at 4:58 PM

    That’s beautiful! As I was going thru the pictures I was thinking, this would be incredible at night and there it was! Good luck on your new year resolution! I pretty much plan the same way, it’s kind of terrible. Perhaps that should be on my list as well!

  • Robert
    January 21, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    It’s a little unfortunate there wasn’t a beautiful sunset for you that day. But even so, I still think your pictures look amazing, particularly the ones from earlier in the day. It’s such a cool building & you’ve captured it really well. I’d love to visit myself when I got to Berlin, so thanks for the info about booking in advance! And for the rest of your posts on Berlin too, they’ve been super useful! :)

  • Katrin
    January 21, 2015 at 1:58 PM

    I am a late planner as well. If I plan much at all. :) But glad everything turned out great! The pictures are fantastic. I remember when we went to visit one of my friends forgot a pepper spray in his bag (and I think a knife) so we had to bring that back to the hotel first before we were allowed to enter.

    • Sarah Shumate
      January 23, 2015 at 3:02 PM

      Ha! Your friend likes to travel prepared, huh? I once arrived at an airport with a knife in my purse and it caused a big scene. So embarrassing. Luckily, they believed me that I wasn’t trying to sneak a weapon onto the plane and still let me through. I have never made that mistake again!

      • Katrin
        January 23, 2015 at 3:05 PM

        Haha yeah, I can imagine. That happened to a friend of mine as well. My other friend saw on the news that a woman in Berlin got her fingers cut off because some guys wanted to steal her rings but did not get them off. So that is why he wanted to be prepared. :)

        • Sarah Shumate
          January 23, 2015 at 3:08 PM

          Oh my gosh! That’s horrible! And so grotesque! My goodness.

  • Tina @ Girl-Meets-Globe
    January 21, 2015 at 12:47 PM

    Our planning is about the same! I think you’re actually more organized than I am!! I remember seeing this and thought it looked so cool inside. If I ever make it back, we’ll have to add this.

  • Inge Rouwmaat
    January 21, 2015 at 8:38 AM

    Great pictures!! Mine didn’t come out as great when I visited in 2013 haha! I agree that it looks really science fictional, I thinks that has to do with the mirrors maybe? The view from there was also stunning! I would like to go another time.