The Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building are also obligatory stop offs for any tour of Berlin. The Brandenburg Gate is a former city gate, built in the late 18th Century. Nowadays it looks onto a plaza of cafes and souvenir shops, but don’t have lunch here – head to the Tiergarten nearby, and stroll round the inner city forest with a picnic. The Reichstag Building is within walking distance of both of these destinations, so finish off your day watching the sun go down through the dome on top of their government building (if you’re a real architecture nerd, you might like to know Sir Norman Foster rebuilt this building in the 90s!).
Prefer shopping? Head to Alexanderplatz for a spot of high street shopping and flea market bargain hunting. Berlin is home to the biggest department store in Europe, but you’ll be able to go market mad in Mauer Park if that’s more your thing.
You might want to squeeze in Berlin’s UNESCO World Heritage site too. Museum Island is on the Spree River, and although you have the choice of paying to visit one of the 5 museums inside, we think it looks pretty great from the riverbank. The Neues Museum and Pergamonmuseum are both brilliant if you’d like a break from the hustle and bustle of Berlin, whereas the Bauhaus Archiv offers a brilliant insight into Weimar Germany.
When you’re finally tired out from all the museums, markets and shops, you have to try a currywurst – pork sausage, mixed with red sauce and curry powder, then stuffed into a soft little bread bun and layered over fries. There is an argument to say that these are even tastier after you’ve sampled some of Berlin’s hectic nightlife, you genuinely can dance until dawn in one of their electro clubs.
What you need to know
There are 2 main airports in Berlin, but they are in the process of building a new one.
Berlin Tegel Airport (Flughafen, in German) is closest to the city centre, and it costs €2.60 to get the bus into town. The bus departs every 10 minutes.
Berlin Schoenefeld Airport is 18km away from the city center, and you can easily get to the city on the Airport Express regional train service.
Laws & Customs
Germans don’t really do “fashionably late”, they like to be punctual. They also take bicycles seriously, and if you’re found under the influence whilst on your bike you can have your driving license confiscated, and be forced to take a medical psychological assessment. Sunday is also a strict day of rest here, and any noise – drilling in particular – is illegal.
Best time to visit
Berlin is great year round– the temperature is perfect in Spring and Autumn, the city comes alive in Summer and it turns into a Winter Wonderland once the Christmas Markets arrive. However, it can get chilly from November to January, and summer can be very overcrowded.