Berlin is a city that wears its history on its sleeve. Cool, hip and vibrant, Berlin has made a name for itself as an artistic capital and one of the most fashionable destinations in Europe; however despite this, it is a city that has not forgotten its past.
Everywhere you go in Berlin its darkest period of history is remembered. From the unforgettable Holocaust Memorial to the Topography of Terror – Berlin encourages visitors to learn and to remember. Visit the Soviet Memorial in lush green Treptower Park, iconic crossing point of the Berlin wall Check-point Charlie on Friedrichstraße and the heavily graffitied East Side Gallery in Kreuzberg, the last remaining piece of the Berlin wall.
Berlin lives for art and culture; from Museum Island, with its incredible museum the Pergamon, the Bauhaus Archives in the Museum of Design and the Jewish Museum to the moving Berlin Wall Memorial on famous Bernauer Strasse. The DDR and the Currywurst Museums add a light-hearted touch.
The glorious Brandenburger Tor harks back to Prussia’s golden age while the Reichstag symbolises a political and cutting-edge Berlin with its imposing, Norman Foster-designed dome. For spectacular 360 degree views of the city from the revolving restaurant, take a lift up to the top of TV Tower or the Fernsehturm – a giant ball on a spike that is visible from most areas of the city.
Berlin is a great city to walk around, through the old-world elegance of Charlottenburg, past the busy cafes and shops and cobbled streets of Freidrichshain to super-cool Kreuzberg on the banks of the beautiful Spree canal; through sprawling Alexanderplatz in Mitte, tackling KaDeWe, Europe’s largest department store the on to Europe’s busiest plaza in Potsdamer Platz and finally to the stunning 630 acre Tiergarten Park with its beautiful meadows and meandering paths.
While in Berlin, don’t miss the chance to take a trip out to nearby Potsdam with its 18th century Baroque architecture, working windmill and the absolutely breath-taking summer palace of Frederick the Great, Sanssoucci. Wannsee Lake’s man made beach is the perfect place to swim and relax on a hot summers day.
Berlin’s trendy bars and clubs like the infamous Berghain where you can dance from Saturday night to Monday morning; canal boats, late night cafes curiously decked out in DDR-style furniture and eclectic restaurants ranging from up-scale German cuisine to local Vietnamese and Turkish delights, mean that evenings in Berlin are as memorable as the days.
The following information is correct as of August 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Berlin Shonefeld International Airport is the largest in Berlin and the entry point for low-cost carriers Easyjet and Ryanair. Just 10 miles from the centre of Berlin, there are plenty of very punctual buses to ferry visitors to and from the city in under an hour. Berlin Tegel International Airport is another well used connection although much much smaller. Just 5 miles from the city centre, BA Air France and KLM are its primary users. Tegel also has a very efficient bus service running to the city centre. Brandenburg Airport is currently under construction but will eventually replace both Schonefeld and Tegel.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (EUR) €
Visas: British passport holders and EU nationals do not require a visa to enter Berlin. Other nationalities might. For more information contact a local embassy or the Foreign Office website.
Laws: A smoking ban was introduced in Germany but it has been loosely adhered to. Some public bars and restaurants still allow smoking while others do not. The legal age for drinking is 16 to drink beer but 18 to buy or drink spirits.
If you are meeting anyone in Berlin, make sure to turn up on time. Punctuality is important to Germans and there is no such thing as ‘fashionably late’. Also note that many lakes and swimming pools cater for the nudist community so don’t be too surprised if you see more of people than you anticipated! In some cases it is obligatory so check before entering!
Best Time to Visit
With so much history Berlin makes a fascinating trip any time of year. Summer is probably the city’s busiest season as temperatures climb into the 30s, beer gardens overflow with revellers and lakes and outdoor pools open for swimming. The famous Love Parade in July is a particular draw for many visitors. November to December sees the arrival of the wonderfully festive German Christmas markets selling their traditional food, gifts and decorations. The aroma of waffles and mulled wine fills the air.
March, May and October are quieter months in Berlin, allowing for space and time to explore its fabulous museums and galleries, historic monuments and memorials throughout the city. Festivals are another draw for visitors to Berlin, particularly the International Film Festival in February, Green Week in January, June’s Carnival of Cultures in trendy Kreuzberg and the amazing August Beer Festival.
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