Founded in the 13th century and famed for its historical sites, Berlin is one of Europe’s most cultural destinations and home to thousands of writers, musicians and artists making it a modern day creative hub. Every building or street has a story to tell with the city itself divided into a handful of main areas. The Mitte district is the most visited area in Berlin, followed by Charlottenburg, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg – the latter perhaps best known for its vibrant nightlife. Either way, the charm of Berlin means there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Berlin is well connected to Europe and the rest of the world with two main airports and one currently in construction. The closest and main airport is Tegel (TXL) located just three miles (5km) from the city and well connected via the underground system. Alternatively, there’s Schönefeld Airport (SXF), situated in the south-east around 11 miles (18km) from the Ost district. Both offer easy access to the city via public transport.
The Berlin public transport system is one of the best in Europe (www.bvg.de) and consists of buses, trams, U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (elevated) trains. It operates from about 4:30am to 1:30am daily so there’s no excuse not to get out and about exploring. A standard ticket (BVG Einzelfahrschein) costs around €2.80 and is valid for two hours in all directions and on all forms of public transport. A 24-hour ticket costs around €6.50, or for those staying for longer you can purchase a Berlin-Potsdam Welcome Card (€26), which entitles holders to 72-hours use on public transport.
Where to stay
Berlin has accommodation in all categories, shapes and sizes. From low budget hostels to stylish luxury hotels, places can be found throughout the city. One of the most popular and oldest areas of the city is Mitte or there’s the Friedrichshain district which offers more in the way of nightlife. Meanwhile, the most upmarket hotels tend to centre in the Charlottenburg district. There’s also plenty of eco-friendly hotels to choose from such as the Steigenberger, Andel’s and Ritz Carlton Hotels.
What to do
Tours & attractions – One of the best places to start your exploration of the city is with a trip to the top of the Kollhoff-Building for a fantastic panoramic view of Berlin. Of course, there are similar great views from the top of the Berlin Television Tower and the Berlin Cathedral. Then it’s time to visit one of the city’s many highlights such as the Opera House Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the Skyline Cafeteria, the Olympic Stadium or the Berlin Zoo. Don’t forget Gendarmenmarkt Square, Bebelplatz Square or the Potsdamer Platz Quarter too where you’ll find a wide range of great attractions.
History & museums – Any visit to Berlin has to include a trip to the iconic Brandenburg Gate which used to represent the separation of East and West Berlin. Other top destinations include the New Synagogue Berlin Centrum Judaicum Fundation, the German Chancellery, Schönhausen Palace, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Cultures) and the Neue Wache Memorial. Other cultural hot spots include the Museum Island and the National Museum of Berlin.
Shopping – If it’s shopping you’re after then head to the Kurfürstendamm and Tauentzien areas. There’s everything you need from high range boutiques to discounted designer stores, and from specialist bookshops to electronic outlets. Alternatively you can hang out in the pedestrian precinct on Wilmersdorfer Strasse or head to the Charlottenburg district for those who prefer their designer labels.
Art & culture – With around 170 museums and galleries, it’s difficult to know where to start in Berlin. One of the best places to start though are the many museums and collections located around Charlottenburg Palace. After that you can check out some of Berlin’s famous art galleries followed by visits to the Berggruen Museum, the Scharf-Gerstenberg Collection, and the Bröhan Museum.
Landscape – When it’s time to relax, Berlin also has plenty of beautiful open spaces to explore such as the city’s Botanical Gardens which are ranked among the best in the world. There’s also Friedrichshain Park, the Zoological Garden and, if you have time, we recommend you take a ferry tour on one of Berlin’s picturesque lakes.
Eating out / Night life
With Berlin regarded as one of Europe’s most culturally vibrant cities, it’s no wonder there’s plenty to do when it comes to evening entertainment and dinning. The most popular areas tend to be Mitte, Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, or you can head to the KulturBrauerei which is a huge complex boasting many bars, restaurants and clubs.
Meanwhile, the western part of Berlin is where you’ll find many of the more upmarket restaurants with a wide range of fantastic food that simply has to be sampled. You’ll also find many trendy night spots here or for something a little more relaxed then head to the northern area such as Prenzlauer Berg where you’ll be spoilt for choice for great bars and restaurants.
Berlin has a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and temperatures ranging from 12°C – 25°C (54-77°F), whereas winters can struggle to climb above 3°C (37°F). The best time to visit is during the summer months of May to September.
Destination Guide courtesy of FIA Formula E website.