The German capital experienced some of the most tumultuous years of the 20th century. Scars can still be seen as you wander its streets, but Berlin and its 4 million residents are optimists, looking forward in a modern Europe.
Since the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 the city has become a haven for artists, musicians and other creative individuals. While the playground-like atmosphere of Berlin-in-the-’90s has subsided, in its place is a diverse community of international residents, major international arts organisations and a nightlife that never sleeps. Literally.
On either side of the River Spree, Berlin is a picturesque city characterised by its expansive green spaces. You can stroll along the network of canals that traverse the city, visiting an unused airport that has been converted into a public park or spend a day exploring the lakes and forest of Grunewald, on the city’s edge. Among the largest of Berlin’s green spaces is Tiergarten, a sprawling park that combines manicured gardens, unkempt forest and the city zoo. The garden dominates the city centre and is accessible from all sides of the city.
Explore Berlin’s major attractions as you crisscross your way over the former border between East and West Berlin, taking in the city’s monuments, parks and historic sites. Sign up for a walking tour from the outskirts of Tiergarten to visit the Berlin Zoo, stop by the colossal Reichstag building and the Brandenburg Gate before arriving at the stylish city centre, Mitte.
Drop into a café or discover local designers as you navigate your way through the district’s shopping precinct. On Museum Island you’ll find many of the city’s largest cultural institutions, including the Pergamon Museum and the New National Gallery.
Board a train from below the iconic TV Tower at Alexanderplatz to explore the suburbs surrounding the city. Berlin’s underground network is an excellent example of German efficiency, operating around the clock including weekends. In no time you’ll reach the austere architecture of Wedding, the stylish cafés and enormous Mauerpark flea market of Prenzlauer Berg or the elegant streets of Charlottenburg, once the hub of West Berlin.
Berlin is a large city so if you’re there for a short amount of time, take hop on/hop off bus tour. It’ll help you identify areas you want to explore more. It’s a great way to see the city and rest your weary travelling legs.
Make sure you explore the diverse streets of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain by night to stumble across the bars, restaurants and nightclubs that Berlin has become famous for. Kreuzberg is more up market than it used to be but there is still an air of revolution about it. Long brunches are very popular in Berlin and you will have plenty of options to choose from in the area.
Berlin’s two international airports receive flights from all major cities in Europe along with many overseas locations. The central railway station is a major hub for Europe’s rail network. High-speed and regional trains depart regularly for German and European destinations.
Once you’re in the city, there is no shortage of accommodation. Whether you choose to stay in the heart of Mitte or in one of Berlin’s culturally diverse neighbourhoods, you’ll be well connected by the U-Bahn and Berlin’s bus system.