Reunified since 1990, the German capital is making good use of the blank pages left by history to sketch out a dynamic city. Its many architectural renovations and innovations reflect the projects unfolding on its bubbling creative scene; they lend themselves to be built on this hotbed for growth. As we can see from the Reichstag dome designed by Norman Foster or the Potsdamer Platz, Berlin is a playground for architects seeking to experiment. Glass and steel UFOs contrast with the massive communist buildings, the baroque Charlottenburg Palace or the imposing Brandenburg Gate, the symbol of the city that was once part of the Berlin Wall.
The East Side Gallery and its street art works, Checkpoint Charlie and its passport stamping, Mauerpark and its lively flea market... the shadow of the Wall is ever-present in the city, between reappropriation and memory. Forward-looking, Berlin does not, however, erase its past which it takes the time to highlight and document through poignant museums and memorials such as the Jewish Museum. With its poetic garden of exile, the museum is located in the bustling Kreuzberg district, famous for its Turkish market and its pleasant walks along the banks of the Spree.
Also located on the river, next to the Hohenzollern castle, is Berlin’s Museum Island which brings together the Cathedral (Dome) and five major museums. Be captivated by the Pergamon Museum and its fabulous collection of Islamic, Middle Eastern and Hellenistic art, as well as the Neues Museum, which is home to the famous Nefertiti bust.
Take to the skies by heading to Alexanderplatz and the TV Tower, an undisputable landmark, visible from all areas of the city. From this perfectly panoramic observation point, you can spot the vast expanse of the Tiergarten. The park is home to the Berlin Victory Column made famous by the film Wings of Desire, and one of the world’s largest zoos. You can also climb to the top of the Bikini Berlin to take a look at the wild animals before strolling down the aisles of this new shopping centre for a spot of window shopping, with more of the same at the KaDeWe. Europe's largest department store, the Kaufhaus des Westens was inaugurated in 1907 and offers 60 000m2 of shopping options, topped by an immense food court which showcases the flavours of Germany and elsewhere.
While the winter months are devoted to enchanting Christmas markets, in summer the ephemeral beaches are popular hangouts and the "biergartens" are jam-packed until late into the night. In this city which constantly reinvents partying, clubs such as the Berghain, the Treasure or the Club der Visionäre serve as precursors and references for electro lovers also take over urban wastelands and spotlight the latest underground sensations every weekend. The International Film Festival (Berlinale), German-American folk festival, Berlin Fashion week, German Open and the Love Parade: all of these major events unveil their diversity within the city of the bear. Music, fashion, sport or gastronomy - all year round Berlin finds new opportunities to celebrate audacity and creativity.
Where to Eat
A hub of coffee connoisseurship in the heart of Berlin’s gallery district, The Barn is a pioneer of Berlin’s Third Wave coffee scene. Locals flock to enjoy cutting-edge brewing methods, from AeroPress and V60 to Syphon, coupled with a seasonal brew-bar menu and freshly baked treats. With an emphasis upon excellent coffee and conversation, the cafe offers the perfect place to unwind amidst minimalist interiors designed with rustic woods and polished concrete.
Credited with bringing Third Wave coffee to Berlin, the team behind Bonanza Coffee is a mainstay of the city’s flourishing coffee scene. Bonanza’s rough concrete walls and bare lightbulbs set a trendy scene, where expert baristas craft smooth flat whites made from beans roasted at the nearby Bonanza Roastery. Join a local creative crowd for Bonanza’s signature slow coffee and expect a bustling crowd at weekends.
Enjoy French cuisine with a creative twist at Le Faubourg Restaurant in the Sofitel Berlin Kurfürstendamm. With stylish Bauhaus interiors and an intimate atmosphere, this sophisticated restaurant features crisp white linens offset by plush red velvet seating. Chef Felix Mielke has created an inventive French menu split into two influences: classic ‘Tradition’ dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes; while the contemporary ‘Nouveau’ dishes offer more experimental flavour combinations. Allow yourself to be guided by sommelier Marcel Saavedra when browsing the excellent wine list featuring rare French and German varietals. A gastronomic feast awaits to entice all of your senses.
Berlin has a mild continental climate with warm summers, potentially humid, with average temperatures of 20°C from June to August and cool winters with temperatures that can drop to 0°C. Snowfall mainly occurs during the winter months, from December to February. Spring and autumn are generally mild with average temperatures between 10 and 15°C. Rainfall is moderate throughout the year, with its peak generally occuring during the summer months which is still the best period to visit Berlin (June to September).
Berlin annual calendar
Berlin Fashion Week, 18 - 22 January 2016
Berlinale, International Film Festival, 11 - 21 February 2016
ITB Berlin, International Travel Trade Show, 9 - 13 March 2016
Gallery Weekend Berlin, Contemporary Art event, 20 April - 1 May 2016
Carnival of Cultures, 13 - 16 May 2016
Berlin Biennale, Contemporary Art event, 5 June - 18 September 2016
Love Parade/Love Train, techno party, mid-July 2016
Spandau Citadel Music Festival, pop & rock music concerts, June to August 2016
Berlin Marathon, 24 & 25 September 2016
European Month of Photography, 1 - 31 October 2016
European Month of Photography, 1 - 31 October 2016
Christmas Markets and New Year's Eve Party, December
Transportation is very convenient and easy to organise in Berlin, including: local cabs, private car services, rental car, metro, trains, trams, ferries, buses and bikes.
The yellow-colored trains of the U-Bahn subway system are very convenient to travel around Berlin. The network includes 10 lines and 143 stations. Buses are slower but very convenient to visit the city. The subway and buses operate on a daily basis from 4:30 am to 12:30am.
Trams only operates in the Eastern districts of Berlin.
One type of ticket is valid on all forms of transportation in Berlin (S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses, trams and ferries). The fare depends on the tariff zone and the ticket's period of validity.
A single fare ticket is valid for a two hour journey through the city and will cost €2.70.
Tickets can be purchased at metro stations, and directly on buses and trams.
Keep in mind that when driving in Berlin, you must drive on the right side of the road.
There are 7,500 licensed taxis in Berlin which usually are yellow and have a “taxi” sign at the top. Taxis can be hailed on the street, found at taxi ranks or booked in advance through one of the several Berlin taxi companies.
The initial charge is 3.40€ and then add 1.79€ for each kilometer. Some additional charges may apply. Credit cards can be accepted and an additional charge fee may apply (1.50€).
getting to & from the airport
here are 2 main airports in Berlin:
- Tegel Airport, 8 km north-west of Berlin, is the main international airport. A taxi to the centre of Berlin will take 20-30 minutes and will cost €30 to 40€. Otherwise you can take the TXL express bus to Alexanderplatz (expect 40 minutes) for a cost of €2.60.
- Schönefeld Airport, 20 km south-east of Berlin, mainly hosts low-cost airlines.
It can easily be reached due to the S-Bahn trains and the Airport Express, as well as by bus. The Airport Express trains to central Berlin operate every 25 minute and the S9 train every 20 minutes. Expect a fare of €3.20 and €40 for the taxi.
Metered taxis are available and private transfers can be arranged at the airport.
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