Berlin Tourism Information
Berlin has been one of Europe's most influential economic, cultural and political cities, for better or worse since the 13th century. It was the capital of both the Prussian and the German Empire until World War I. Berlin became the centre of one of the most infamous regimes in history, Nazi Regime and remained so until 1945 when it was liberated by the Red Army. The Russians, exacted a heavy revenge on the citizens of Berlin. Men were killed or transported to slave labour camps, and women were systematically raped. Eventually in 1949 the famous division between West and East Berlin was formed. This division was made physical when the GDR put up the famous Berlin Wall, allegedly to protect its citizens from 'the fascists', but in fact to prevent them from escaping into the more liberal and prosperous West.
After the fall of the Wall in 1989, Berlin became the capital of unified Germany and a building boom began in the 1990s. Berlin was considered by many as the cultural capital of Central and Eastern Europe, excelling in every field but in particular those of dance/electronic music, contemporary art and dance, and classical and orchestral music. Berlin is a city of much artistic expression, it has three opera houses, over 150 theatres and playhouses, over 170 museums and collections and over 200 private galleries.
Now a days, Berlin also occupies a special place in Europe as an extremely liberal, socially progressive and tolerant city, placed in the heart of the continent, where East meets West.
Despite the dark history and sadness associated to Berlin's past, today the city offers a much more colourful scene to the visitors. Berlin is a large city, where everybody is accepted and lives peacefully together, showcasing the evolution which it has made from only a few decades ago! The city has everything you want to enjoy a city holiday, from good restaurants, bars, cafes, cinemas, theatres and fun-parks to one of the best night club scenes and concerts in Europe!
During the summer, between May and August, the city of Berlin can get pleasantly warm with many hours of sunshine and it is very unusual for a day to have no sunshine at all. Despite being the hottest months, with temperatures reaching in excess of 30°C, July and August can also be unpredictable months and it is not unusual for a sunny day to quickly cloud over and turn into a rainy day.
Winters can be cold and damp although rarely extreme, so a warm coat, together with scarf and gloves is recommended. Snow is fairly commonplace (but each year its less and less with global warming). If you are planning to travel to outdoor locations, it may be advisable to wear thick footwear and carry an umbrella.
The best time to visit, is ideally either side of the Summer, April and May or September and October preferably with temperatures averaging around 15-20°C which allow for better walking around and tourism. Also this time provides less waiting to get into popular tourist attractions and cheaper accommodation.
When arriving to Berlin by plane you have to make sure which airport you arrive to, as the transportation options are very different from one airport to another. There are 3 airports in Berlin, Tegel (TXL), Schönefeld (SXF) and soon to be opened Brandenburg (BER).
- Tegel Airport is the closest of all, with a very quick trip by bus into the city centre. Take bus X9 which leaves outside Terminal A and will take about 20 minutes to reach the centre at Zoologischer Garten where you can connect to U/S-Bahn. If you want to connect to the Main train station (Hauptbahnhof) or Alexanderplatz then the TXL bus will take you and also connects to other services.
- Schönefeld Airport is located south-east of Berlin and is reachable by S-Bahn only. The S9 or S42 are two lines which will take you into Berlin. If you are in a hurry then there is also an express line, (RE7 or RB14) which takes you directly into the city centre at Hauptbahnhof or Alexanderplatz every 30 minutes.
- Brandenburg Airport is the newest serving Berlin, it's actually located out of the State of Berlin but will be connected to express lines once it opens soon. (yet to be announced).
Getting around in Berlin is extremely easy thanks to a very extensive network of public transport which includes U-Bahn, (metro), S-Bahn (regional trains) trams, busses and regional commuter trains (DB-Regional). The public transport system runs 24 hours on most lines.
To make the most out of a visit to Berlin we recommend you buy the Welcome Card when visiting the city for a short period of time. The card gives you discounts up to 50% on the many attractions and sights in the city and it helps skip the queues as well. Transport is also included for free, with unlimited rides for the duration of your pass. It can be bought at the Berlin Tourist Infos, public transport sales points, like the airports and train station and in more than 200 Berlin hotels. It starts from only €20 for 48 hours and up to 6 days for €42.
You can also buy single, a day, 7 days or up to 30 days tickets if you are only using the public transport and not visiting museums or attractions.
There are numerous fares:
- One Way Ticket: A single fare ticket (Einzelfahrschein) is valid for one person and a two hour journey through the city. Note: It is not allowed to travel towards the direction of the starting point. Fares: 2.80; reduced: 1.70.
- Short Distance Ticket: A short distance ticket (Kurzstrecke) costs 1.70 Euros, reduced 1.30 Euros, is valid for three stops with S- and U-Bahn. Changing trains is allowed. The ticket is also valid for six stops in buses and trams, but only if not changing vehicles.
For more information and to see the maps and stations please refer to the map below ready to download or go onto the Berlin Transport Information site.
✔️Tip: If you travel often on a day, the day ticket will compensate much more for only €7.
When you visit Berlin for the first time, it's a must do to see the city's famous landmarks, like the Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower, the Wall remains, Checkpoint Charlie or the Reichstag amongst others. Whether you coming to party, shop, relax or even just visiting friends it's nearly impossible to pass by some of these attractions on your way and not feel somewhat intrigued to know more about the history and facts associated to the city.
Berlin has a strong connection with every tourist who discovers the city and relives the history written down in Museums, Memorials and galleries There is so much to see and understand, many of the attractions will leave you in a reflexive mood, somewhat sad. Deep feelings can be experienced as the past is read and showed by the graphic illustrations and references by people who lived in Berlin of the Nazi Regime. You might even meet and learn first hand by military personnel who comes to honour the victims and pay their respects to the sites and the many memorials. It's a true emotional roller-coaster of feelings which can transform many people's impressions or thoughts about debatable topics and make them understand and see things in a different light.
Naturally the history of Berlin and what happened will always cast a shadow over the city but after having gone through all the information and seeing the evolution, visitors will also understand how the city now a days is in full splendour and colour. Berlin has a strong progressive attitude towards society, cultures and arts. Therefore it's not a surprise that in Berlin the artistic scene is so large, with hundred of galleries, museums, exhibitions and places where the people can express themselves. It also has a large LGBT community and it's centre to one of the biggest party cities in Europe where the biggest clubs are located.
Berlin will certainly not disappoint you, because it's a city for everyone, full of freedom and whatever you wear and look like it will be accepted.
There are hundred of entertainment venues and places to visit after you have seen the more serious attractions. Berlin has a large multi-cultural population so you can except to find restaurants of all ethnics and for all budgets. As well the city has many green open spaces, to enjoy pleasant walks in parks and practice sport. Below you will find the highlights to see and do:
- Brandenburg Gate, without a doubt, the Brandenburg Gate is Berlin's signature attraction. Built in 1791, it was just one of many old city gates around the city of Berlin which, at that time, was still a manageable size. The decorative Pariser Platz was laid at the foot of the gate and is now home to many of the city's important buildings. It has served as a symbol of both the division of Germany and the country’s reunification.
- Reichstag, constructed to house the Imperial Diet, of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after it was set on fire. It was made the main building of the Federal Government of Berlin, when it was moved in 1999. The building has since been completely modernised, and today's visitors to the Reichstag can look out from the building's glass dome to get a bird's eye view of the city.
- The Berlin Television Tower, which is known to locals as the Fernsehturm. Is instantly recognisable from the distance, stand outs of the skyline at 368m, making it the tallest building in Berlin. Built in the 1960s, visitors to the tower can enjoy a unique 360° panorama of the city.
- Gendarmenmarkt: is one of the most stunning squares in the city, located close to Friedrichstraße, Berlin's exclusive shopping street in the central Mitte district. Three of the most impressive examples of architecture in the capital city are to be found here: the Concert House and the German and French Cathedrals (the Deutscher Dom and the Französischer Dom).
- Berlin's Museum Island, is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites and home to the city's most important exhibition centres: the Altes Museum (Old Museum), the Neues Museum (New Museum) the Bode Museum, the Pergamon Museum and the Alte Nationalgalerie (Old National Gallery). The collections in these buildings encompass over 6,000 years of art and cultural history.
- The Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer (Berlin Wall Memorial) is located between the districts of Wedding and Mitte on Bernauer Straße, consisting of the Memorial to the Victims of the Wall, a Documentation Centre and the Chapel of Reconciliation. The surviving section of the wall and watchtower enable visitors to get a real feel for the reality of the border facilities. Nearby is Checkpoint Charlie. See below.
- Checkpoint Charlie, it was the main entry point for visitors wanting to cross the infamous Iron Curtain to East Berlin during the division of the city. It was also the spot where, in 1961, US and Russian tanks literally lined up to face each other in what the world believed could be the start of another war. Built with its original “look” in mind, the attraction comes with border guards outside and a museum featuring tales of escapees plus a range of memorabilia and interesting exhibits.
- The German Cathedral (Berliner Dom) with its magnificent dome is a remarkable example the of late 19th century architecture. Near the Cathedral are also the German Historical Museum and the Museum’s Island. On the side of Berlin’s boulevard “Unter den Linden” stands the Catholic St.Hedwigs-Cathedral.
- Berlin wall mural East Side Gallery: along the Spree River, the real border between East and West Germany, a section of the Berlin Wall on the eastern bank was left intact and became an international memorial of freedom. In 1990, artists from more than 20 countries expressed the world’s jubilation of Germany’s reunification by painting more than 100 murals on this wall that became known as the East Side Gallery. Stretching 1.3 km (0.8 mi) long and 3.6-meter (11 ft) high, the East Side Gallery is the largest open-air mural collection in the world. It is also the longest lasting. These visual odes to freedom are expressed in various artistic modes – playful, bizarre, spiritual, political, philosophical, etc.But more sadly, a lot of visitors choose to leave their own marks on the wall. Aside from vandalism, the wall and murals also suffer from decay caused by weather and traffic fumes. They may not be masterpieces but they should be appreciated and valued for their important historical significance so we'd like to ask you not to paint over them for others to see them as they are.
- Potsdamer Platz, once the bustling heart of the city before the Second World War, then a no man's land from 1945 until the fall of the wall. It changed completely after the fall of the wall in 1989 and is now dominated by the presence of the Sony Center, skyscrapers and endless shops. What's more, Potsdamer Platz is the main place to be for stars and celebrities.
- Topographie des Terrors, the site known since 1987 as the "Topography of Terror" was the central location from which the Nazis planned and managed most of their crimes. Here, between 1933 and 1945, the most important institutions of the Nazi terror apparatus of the SS and police operated from the Secret State Police Office, the Reich SS Leadership, and the Reich Security Main Office. Partially destroyed during the war, this historic site was rediscovered in the early 1980s and gradually re-established in the historical memory of Berlin and the Federal Republic of Germany. What had been a partial wasteland in the shadow of the Berlin Wall was ultimately transformed into a centre for documentation of Nazi crimes, and now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, located close to the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin opened in 2005. It is a memorial consisting of 2,700 concrete slabs (steles) which are arranged in a neat grid spread across 19.000 square metres. It can be approached and walked through from all sides, serving as a central place for remembering and reminding people of the Holocaust. The so-called steles of varying heights create a grid-like structure. The terrain is smooth yet unevenly inclined.The extraordinary design, which is also complemented by a well-designed underground information centre, which was also designed by Eisenmann, possessing an unique form of architecture which is 800 square metres, where visitors can learn about the victims of the Holocaust and the various places of horror.
- Berlin Zoo, Germany's oldest zoo, opened in 1844, occupies a generous corner of the Tiergarten park. It is home to more than 15,000 animals, giant pandas included, many (but not all) in large, open natural areas. The zoo also features Europe's most modern birdhouse, with more than 550 species, and the adjacent aquarium, added in 1913, has 9,000 species of fish, amphibians, creepy crawlies and other fascinating creatures. The best thing is that it's free to enter except the aquarium which has a entrance fee.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport was one of the first airports in Berlin. Tempelhof was designated as an airport by the Reich Ministry of Transport on 8 October 1923. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927.
It acquired a further iconic status as the centre of the Berlin Airlift of 1948–49. One of the airport's most distinctive features is its massive, canopy-style roof extending over the apron, able to accommodate most contemporary airliners in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s, protecting passengers from the elements.
Tempelhof Airport closed all operations on 30 October 2008, despite the efforts of some protesters. The former airfield has subsequently been used as a recreational space known as Tempelhofer Feld, used as a public park. Today, the area has a six-kilometre cycling, skating and jogging trail, a 2.5-hectare BBQ area, a dog-walking field covering around four hectares and an enormous picnic area for all visitors.
The three entrances (Columbiadamm, Tempelhofer Damm and Oderstraße) are open from sunrise to sunset.
Berlin is very close to Amsterdam's popularity of Europe's most liberal city. The city offers everything from new takes on music, art and literature, trendy bars to seriously sexy (and sexual) underground clubs, artistic local hangouts, and world-class performing arts. Berlin's club scene expanded incredibly fast after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with locals excited to take advantage of their new freedom. The clubbing scene in Berlin is now one of the most competitive and stimulating in the world. Foreigners may find it hard to get into some of the top clubs, as bouncers have a reputation for being strict and highly selective. Having some local knowledge or a local guide is a big advantage.
The Mitte district is a hip and happening spot and boasts some of Berlin's top clubs and bars, but it can be quite touristy. New clubs regularly spring up in Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, while Kreuzberg is fast becoming a popular hangout with locals and is distinguished by its edgy atmosphere. Schoneburg offers some superb cafes, clubs and saunas and is quite popular with Berlin's gay community, as is Nollendorfplatz and its 'pink village'. 🌈
Berlin offers plenty of Kneipes (neighbourhood pubs) where local brews and old favourites can be sampled. Cabaret is still a popular pastime in Berlin and there are many cabaret clubs dotted around this vibrant city offering satirical shows that make fun of the political and social scene. Live music venues dominate much of the city showcasing both well-known and amateur acts in just about every type of atmosphere, from small and intimate clubs to grungy music halls.
Check the transport options at night from the below map, available to download:
✔️Tip: Public transport is easily accessible at night, and all areas in Berlin are served by multiple transportation modes. Therefore, don't get ripped off by expensive taxis and find out which route goes closer to your accommodation before you go out. Making a night out on the town a pleasure to navigate.
Berlin may not be known as a shopper's paradise, but don't be fooled; the German capital can give even the most seasoned of power-shoppers a run for their money. There are plenty of opportunities for shopping sprees, with goods ranging from expensive designer merchandise to humble flea market wares and everything in between. There are also some good antique markets.
Luxury designer boutiques can be found lining the streets at the west end of Kurfürstendamm and in Friedrichstraße. All the different shopping precincts have their own distinctive style and the best boutiques are often tucked away in backstreets or quiet courtyards.
The main shopping districts are the Kurfürstendamm, Breitscheidplatz, and for some bargains, a quick stroll in the Budapest Strasse and Tauentzienstrasse could prove worthwhile. One of the trendiest shopping streets is the Schönhauser Allee, which boasts countless independent shops offering the latest fashion and young independent designer labels which can be snatched up for a song.
Berlin is one of the best cities to find accommodation at any budget. The nearest you stay to the city centre the more expensive it will be naturally. But thanks to a very economical transport and services throughout day and night it's practically possible to stay anywhere in Berlin and remain connected. However there are multiple hostels and low cost accommodation options even in the city centre offering shared rooms with very economical prices. If you are looking for more privacy then it's recommended you get a Hotel away from the city centre at a radius of 3km or more and prices will be at average at €25 per night which is very good value. Most establishments speak English, however with the increasing number of foreigners in Berlin now there is a lot of Turkish and Arabic. Therefore some basic knowledge of German is advised if you are going to stay at these properties.
Staying in Berlin depends largely in what is your main reason for the trip as the city can be seen easily within a couple of days, just walking around and chilling.
However taking in all the history, culture and visiting the attractions which Berlin is so famous for will take time. Berlin is a inspiring and jaw-dropping destination ,where time seems to vanish away! As previously mentioned, there is so much to see and understand about the city, many of the attractions will leave you in a reflexive mood, deep feelings can be experienced as the history is read and relieved by the graphic illustrations and references by people who lived in Berlin of the Nazi Regime.
Time is needed to walk around and take everything in, including resting and some more fun activities during the evening. Therefore a week in Berlin is suggested when coming to this city for the first time.
Berlin Photo Slide 📷