The Vrnts's definitive city guide to Berlin helps you plan the perfect trip with information on travel, hotels, restaurants, activities and clubs across the city. Read these tips and become Ein Berliner. In this first chapter we'll have a look at main turistic attractions, in the next one we'll focus instead on suggestions about clubs, restaurants and where to sleep.
When to go: July and August are busiest and warm, May, June, September and October offer plenty of festivals, a more authentic experience and cooler, though often more stable, weather.
How to get there: most of travellers fly to Berlin, so you can land at Tegel or Schönefeld airports. Major European airlines and low-cost carriers operate direct flights to Berlin from throughout Europe. There are a few direct flights from US gateway cities such as Miami and New York, but normally travel from outside Europe involves a change of planes in another European city such as Frankfurt or Amsterdam. European return flights costs are approximately around 150/200€ including checked baggage, but it depends on the period of the year. If you hate airplanes, travel to Berlin by train or bus is a viable alternative. Coming from London, for instance, you could be in Berlin in as little as nine hours by taking a combination of the Eurostar and German high-speed trains.
Prices: Average daily cost for tourists is about 40/50€ but it obviously depends on your lifestyle and habits. Here some example: Museums - Around 10€
- Food - 5/10€ for lunch, 10/20€ for dinner
- Transportation - Single One Way Ticket for Bus/Subway/Tram 2,60€, Daily Ticket 6,70€, Bike Rental 10€/day, Taxi between Schonefeld and City Center 40€
- Sleep - Bed in shared dorm 12/30€, hostels 30/50€, apartment 60/100€
- Clubs entrance - Around 10€
What to do in Berlin by The New York Times
Getting around Berlin:
- U-Bahn: Most efficient way to travel, operates from 4am to 12.30am and all night Friday, Saturday and public holidays. From Sunday to Thursday, half-hourly night buses take over in the interim.
- S-Bahn: Not as frequent as U-Bahn trains but fewer stops and thus useful for longer distances. Same operating hours as the U-Bahn.
- Bus: Slow but useful for sightseeing on the cheap. Run frequently 4.30am to 12.30am; half-hourly night buses in the interim; MetroBuses (M1, M19) operate 24/7.
- Cycling: Designated bike lanes and rental stations abound; bikes are fine in designated U-Bahn and S-Bahn carriages.
- Taxi: Can be hailed and are fairly inexpensive; avoid during daytime rush hour.
Brandenburger Tor (Gate):It’s an 18th-century neoclassical triumphal arch in Berlin, and one of the best-known landmarks of Germany. It is built on the site of a former city gate that marked the start of the road from Berlin to the town of Brandenburg an der Havel. Carl Gotthard Langhans found inspiration in Athens' Acropolis for the elegant triumphal arch, completed in 1791 as the royal city gate. A gate of the Berlin wall then, now it is a symbol of peace and reunion.
Reichstag: It's been bombed, burned, rebuilt, buttressed by the Wall, wrapped in fabric and finally turned into the modern home of the German parliament by Norman Foster: the 1894 Reichstag is indeed one of Berlin's most iconic buildings. The glittering glass dome is serviced by lift and gives fabulous 360-degree city views. For guaranteed access, make free reservations online, otherwise try scoring tickets at the Visitors' Service for the same or next day.
East Side Gallery: In the ’89, after 28 years, the Berlin Wall, that grim and grey divider of humanity, finally met its maker. Most of it was quickly dismantled, but along Mühlenstrasse, paralleling the Spree, you can find a 1.3km stretch, the East Side Gallery, the world’s largest open-air mural collection. In more than 100 paintings, dozens of international artists translated the era’s global euphoria and optimism into a mix of political statements, drug-induced musings and truly artistic visions.
Museum Island: near Spree river, in the central Mitte district, is it possible to found out this magic place, so called for the complex of five internationally significant museums. The Altes Museum (Old Museum), The Neues Museum (New Museum) that shows incredible pieces of Egyptian art and culture, The Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery), The Bode Museum, that exhibits the sculpture collections and late Antique and Byzantine art, dinally and The Pergamon Museum. It contains multiple reconstructed immense and historically significant buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate of Babylon.
Potsdamer Platz: Europe's biggest building project in the 1990s, it’s a showcase of urban renewal masterminded by such top international architects as Renzo Piano and Helmut Jahn. An entire city quarter sprouted on terrain once bifurcated by the Berlin Wall and today houses offices, theatres and cinemas, hotels, apartments and museums. Highlights include the glass-tented Sony Center and the Panoramapunkt observation deck.
Holocaust Memorial: Located between the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz, it honours the up to six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The Memorial consists of 2711 Stelaes designed by Peter Eisenman and the subterranean Information Centre.
Zoo: The Zoologischer Garten Berlin is the oldest and best known zoo in Germany. With about 1,500 different species and almost 20,500 animals the zoo presents the most comprehensive collection of species in the world. If you have time, take a tour of the Aquarium too.
Checkpoint Charlie: Checkpoint Charlie (or "Checkpoint C") was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War (1947-1991).Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of East and West. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced each other at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
Alexanderplatz: Alexanderplatz is a central square and traffic junction in Berlin's Mitte district. One of city's the most visited squares, Alexanderplatz is the site of many attractions and sights in Berlin. Its attractions include the TV Tower with a rotating viewing platform and the landmark World Time Clock erected in 1969 which serve as popular meeting places.
Art in Berlin by Monocle Magazine
So, are you going to plan your trip to Berlin? Let us know in the comments below and don't forget about next chapter of this guide about clubs, restaurants and where to sleep!