Founded in the 13th century, Berlin has had an eventful history. Almost no other metropolis has experienced such frequent, radical changes, and the city has risen to the urban and environmental challenges of rebuilding itself. Spreading across two rivers, its buildings and monuments represent layers of history stretching back to the early years of the Middle Ages. In addition to popular destinations such as the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate, the remaining stretches of the Berlin Wall, and the Wall Victims Memorial, visitors can take in the city's contemporary skyscrapers, the numerous urban "green spaces", a large zoo and aquarium, and many art and history museums, as well as Berlin's modern and vibrant cultural scene.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Who should go?
Corporate and leisure mix
Berlin is a city full of history with its focus on the future.
What's the climate like?
Spring to early autumn are the most popular times to visit.
How do I get around town?
Transfers between the airport and hotel are not included with your vacation package. You can travel to central Berlin via the commuter train and selected suburban trains.
An efficient public transportation system, made up of subways, suburban train lines, buses, and trams, makes this large city easy to navigate. A variety of tickets are available, including a 7-day tourist pass. Figure out how much traveling within the city you’ll be doing and buy the ticket that fits your plans best. Tickets can be purchased at station vending machines, including a Berlin Welcome Card that includes discounts on sightseeing and admissions, as well.
Driving in Berlin is easier than in most big cities, but there’s still plenty of construction going on, resulting in gridlock. We offer rental cars.
Taxis can be hailed in the street or you can go to a taxi stand or order a cab by calling.
What kinds of dining and nightlife are available?
Dining options in Berlin are as varied as you would expect from a large city. Dishes ranging from local specialties in inexpensive pubs to sophisticated nouvelle cuisine in chic restaurants are available to delight any palate. Typical Berlin food includes Eisbein mit Sauerkraut (knuckle of pork with pickled cabbage), Rouladen (rolled stuffed beef), Spanferkel (suckling pig), Berliner Schüsselsülze (potted meat in aspic), Hackepeter (ground beef), and Kartoffelpuffer (fried potato cakes). Some good restaurant choices might include:
- Alt Luxemburg
Located near the Deutsche Opera, Alt Luxemburg serves European cuisine enhanced by Asian and Indian spices.
- Altes Zollhaus
An old customs house serving up delcious German food, including the house specialty, duck.
Highly fashionable meeting place for celebrities and travelers in the know, and exquisite French-Mediterranean cuisine keep them coming back.
- Café im Literaturhaus
Lovely sandwiches in a charmingly overgrown garden. Kurfürstendamm area.
- German Grossbeerenkeller
Traditional and substantial county fare and superb iron skillets of fried potatoes. Jewish Quarter.
- Restaurant Margaux
The ultimate in power dining with glazed rock lobster, pigeon breast, red mullet, and a phone-book-thick wine list.
- Trattoria Paparazzi
Excellent cooking at reasonable prices with a nice atmosphere. Located in Pernzlauer Berg.
Late night action can go on to the early morning in Berlin, and if you’re not careful, it may not stop at all! There are no official closing hours for the more than 6,000 pubs, music and dance clubs, cabarets, and theaters. One of the newest hot spots is the neighborhood of Mitte, in what was once East Berlin. To find out the latest information on Berlin’s hip-hop club culture, pick up a free copy of (030). The Berlin Programm is a monthly tourist guide to Berlin arts, museums, and theaters.
Where should I go shopping?
Berlin is a city of alluring stores and boutiques. Most stores offer tax-free shopping for non-European Union citizens, so be sure to ask about it before making your purchase.
The main shopping streets are Friedrichstrasse and the Kurfürstendamn. Larger than Harrods, Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe) has a grand selection of goods, fashion, food, restaurants, and champagne and beer bars. On the sixth floor, you can pick up the perfect lunch or picnic — more than 33,000 delicious foods are offered, plus more than 30 counters sell prepared dishes. The other main department store is Galeries Lafayette, a branch of the popular Paris store.
For hip designer fashions (and just-as-happening restaurants), head to the Mitte and Pernzlauer Berg neighborhoods. Further out on the edge of art and fashion is the Friedrichshain neighborhood, just east of Mitte.
When are the local events?
Throughout the year, many festivals and events take place. June hosts the Lanshut Wedding, an elaborate event with feasting, drama, jousting, and medieval pageantry; the festival takes place every four years, the next being in 2013. Each October is the world-famous Berlin Jazz Festival.
January. The fair for nutrition economy, agriculture, and horticulture attracts more than 400,000 visitors yearly.
Karneval der Kulturen
Late May – early June. A special summer carnival is a reflection of the city’s cultural diversity.
July. Over a hundred thousand young techno fans congregate at the largest techno party in the world to celebrate the Love Parade in Berlin.
Since the mid-19th century, on an island between two arms of the river Spree, a group of five museums has arisen, including the Pergamon Museum. What makes the Pergamon Museum especially unique is that it incorporates such monumental and ancient structures as the Pergamon Altar, the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, and the Market Gate of Milet into the architecture of the museum itself. All of the museums are free on the first Sunday of the month.
Also on Museum Island is this 1905 cathedral which several years ago completed a 20-year renovation. Make sure to check the bulletin board for a schedule of free concerts on the church’s enormous organ.
Free tours are offered of the Parliament, with the highlight being the cupola, an enormous glass dome completed in 1999, replacing the one that mysteriously burned in 1933.
Check out the Flohmarkt Strasse des 17 Juni for an antiques and flea market that has a bit of everything. Another interesting market is the Turkish market in the Kreuzberg neighborhood.
Most of the infamous Berlin Wall has all but vanished from the face of the city. Two grafitti-covered sections are outside of the Tränenpalast, and another stretch of the Wall is near Checkpoint Charlie.
Berlin has the fastest growing population of Jews in the world. This new museum, located in Kreuzberg, is astonishing.
With 34,000 kinds of global food products — 1,200 varieties of wursts and smoked meats, 1,300 types of cheese, and 2,400 wines — the vast food hall in Berlin's glitziest department store awes with sheer statistics and variety. Go to gawk, but be prepared to pick up something, especially in the incredible selection of German Rieslings in the wine department.
Good to Know:
|May – August
|July – August
|Berlin is 7 hours ahead of Central Standard Time.
|Government legislation requires all people traveling via air to and from the United States and Canada to have a valid passport. For details on passports, visas, and health requirements, see Entry Requirements.
|The service charge is always included in restaurant bills and tipping isn’t an obligation, though it is appreciated. Germans are used to rounding up prices as tips, but rounding up in euros can be too generous. Taxi drivers expect a small tip of around 10%.
|Unless you’re attending a traditional festival, the day of the Lederhosen may be long gone. Expect smart casual dress during the day and ultra-chic at the nightclubs.