Introduction to Berlin
Berlin is an astonishing city where events have taken place that have had a colossal effect around the rest of Europe. It has been scarred by war, split in two and reunited, but the Berlin of today is a vibrant 24-hour city crammed full of museums, art galleries, quirky hotels and other cultural delights. It has shaken off its years of oppression with such vigour that it has taken on a trendiness which has been compared with 80s New York, making it the perfect city break destination for those in search of both culture and fun.
For a fascinating insight into Berlin’s turbulent 20th
century history, head to Checkpoint Charlie, the only crossing point between East and West Berlin while The Wall divided the city. For a wider historical overview, try the Story of Berlin, which charts the fortunes of the city from when it was first founded right up to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and includes a 1970s nuclear bunker from the Cold War Era.
Don’t miss the Gendarmenmarkt, famed as one of Europe’s most impressive squares and home to the Konzerthaus, the primary venue of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra. During the festive season, this is where you’ll find Berlin’s most charming Christmas markets, and it’s the ideal place to stop for a coffee at any time of year. Hotels in Berlin are hip, trendy and range from the super cheap to the extravagant.
For stunning views of Berlin, get the lift to the top of Germany’s tallest building, the TV Tower, where you can even enjoy a meal in a revolving restaurant which offers incomparable views while you dine.
Eating and drinking in Berlin
In Germany the simple yet satisfying sausage has traditionally been the most popular item on the menu for inexpensive eating. In Berlin it has been transformed into the local speciality Currywurst – a thick, smoked sausage smothered in curried tomato sauce. Whether you’re after sausages or a choice of international cuisine, eating out in Berlin is cheap by European standards, and Oranienburger Street is a good place to start. Beer is Berlin’s most traditional drink (the country boasts about 40% of the world’s breweries), so wherever you go you can be sure you are getting a locally made product, often with a distinctive style. The "Berliner Weiße" (beer with juice) is a well-known variant.
Berlin’s climate is continental; the winters are cold and the summers are hot. If you’re waiting for sunny weather, you should go between April and the end of September. Temperatures can reach 32°C in July.
Berlin has cultural festivals running all year round, the most notable of which is the Berlin International Film Festival, the world’s third largest film festival, which takes place in February each year with around twelve days of old, new, art house and mainstream cinema. Visit in the summer for the best weather, or December for the famous Christmas markets.
Direct flights to Berlin
are available from London, Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester and the East Midlands. Prices with budget airlines start from as low as £50. Berlin has three small international airports, all supported by an excellent public transport system with buses, trains and taxis available to take you towards the centre.