Berlin holidays

Germany’s once-divided capital city is now a multicultural melting pot of vibrant music, international cuisine, and progressive attitudes. Home to a vast collection of art and antiquities from across the world, Berlin boasts a rich fusion of creativity and culture. When the sun begins to set, the city welcomes visitors from across the globe with its offering of live music, bustling bars and lively dance clubs.

Fascinating and solemn reminders of Nazi rule remain scattered across the landscape. From Checkpoint Charlie to the Holocaust Museum, Berlin’s historical notes are sobering evidence of the city’s tumultuous past. Today, the capital boasts a distinctly urban feel and plenty to discover.

 

Things to do

Berlin city breaks boast things to do for one and all: the art-lover, the foodie, and the party animal. Explore the past on a guided tour of its historical architecture and diverse neighbourhoods before sampling the exquisite cuisine on offer. To avoid getting lost in the sprawling metropolis, be sure to have a game plan before you head out.

The city is home to several exciting landmarks. From the iconic Brandenburg Gate, a symbol of hope and unity, to the Reichstag, the home of Germany’s parliament, Berlin boasts historical points of interest that are sure to captivate you. Remember to take your camera when you go up the Berlin Television Tower, which offers stunning views across the city, or when you go for a relaxing stroll in the Tiergarten Park.

 

History and culture

Berlin’s history is, of course, intertwined with the two world wars, and there are poignant reminders of this across the city. A visit to the Berlin War Memorial is a must while you’re in town as it’s the last part of the infamous wall still standing. The Holocaust Memorial, located in Mitte, is a touching tribute to Jewish victims of the Nazi regime.

Not all of Berlin’s museums are sombre. The city is also home to various iconic galleries that deserve a visit. Museum Island offers many options. The Gemäldegalerie that celebrates art from the 13th century to the 18th century is a must-visit. For fans of modern art, head to Neue Nationalgalerie, where you can witness exquisite pieces from the 20th century. After your dose of culture, sample local delicacies, sip some of Berlin’s famous beer and party the night away at an all-night techno club.

 

Food and drink

A city break to Berlin is a real treat for food-lovers. Home to Michelin­starred restaurants and a renowned sustainable eating scene, Germany’s capital boasts varied cuisine to satisfy all tastes. While the city offers a rich plant-based dining experience popular among vegan gourmets, tourists are always delighted by the many options for meat-eaters too.

Considered nothing less than a national pride by locals across the city, ‘Currywurst’ is one of the most popular foods to try. This humble grilled-sausage dish is so well-loved that it even has a museum dedicated to it – the Deutsches Currywurst Museum. Made up of a traditional German sausage topped with tomato sauce and curry powder, ‘Currywurst’ is warming, hearty, and delicious. Other traditional foods include ‘Spätzle’, a vegetarian dish consisting of egg-based pasta, and ‘Apfelstrudel’, a mouthwatering Austrian dessert dish.

Those looking to enjoy traditional German beer should head to Berlin during Oktoberfest. Set over two weeks in October, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival and an essential aspect of Bavarian culture. During this unique event, a significant quantity of Oktoberfest beer is consumed. Visitors come dressed in traditional Bavarian attire to enjoy colourful parades, exciting funfair rides and a cheerful atmosphere.

 

Nightlife

Home to countless bars, lively events, and one of the best club scenes in the world, Berlin’s nightlife is hard to beat. Nestled in the city’s nooks and crannies, the bars are bursting with creativity and offer the perfect place for a drink or two. Look closely, and you’ll discover funky beach bars with strategically designed interiors made to imitate a beach­like atmosphere. From Capital Beach to YAAM, these venues will make you feel like you’re enjoying a relaxing tipple at the seaside.

Berlin’s club scene can be described as avant-garde and progressive, with indie and rock-pop venues open to partygoers every day of the week. In this unique city that never seems to sleep, clubs don’t get busy until around 2am. Head to the neighbourhood of Mitte in the city centre to sample the best of Berlin’s nightlife.

For stunning panoramic views of the city and a bustling rooftop terrace, check out The House of Weekend in the centre of Berlin. Sisyphos Nightclub is another popular haunt, boasting a lively festival atmosphere and large outdoor area. For fans of live music, wander over to Hangar 49 club, where you can enjoy everything from heavy metal to indie rock while taking in breathtaking views of the Spree River.

 

East and West

The city of Berlin has a long history of being divided into two parts: East and West. A few years after the Second World War, large numbers of skilled workers began heading away from Soviet-ruled East Berlin to West Germany in search of better job opportunities. In response to this, the Berlin Wall was constructed in 1961 to prohibit entry into West Berlin. The Berlin Wall stood until 1989 when it was torn down by ecstatic crowds responding to the news that citizens of the GDR (German Demographic Republic) could once again cross the border freely.

Since the Berlin Wall fell over 30 years ago, the city has slowly come back together. However, some evidence that Berlin was once divided still remains today. If you happen to spot a tram, you’ll know that you’re standing in the former Eastern part of the capital. However, while the streetcar system almost wholly vanished in West Berlin at one stage, tram lines have extended into that part of the city in recent years.

And if you come across an ‘Ampelmännchen’ figure (meaning little traffic light man), you’ll know that you’re in former East Berlin. This famous green icon was historically used to instruct citizens on when to cross the street and has since become a tourist-favourite character. Over in West Berlin, a more sombre-looking counterpart was traditionally incorporated into the traffic light system.

Map of Berlin

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3-24 ℃

Berlin experiences four distinct seasons, with weeks of snow in winter and warm summers. 

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1 hour 45 minutes

Tegel International Airport (TXL), 8 km northwest of the city centre. Schönefeld (SXF) is situated 20 km southeast of Berlin. The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is scheduled to open in 2016.

Berlin is best for...

Couples: Take an evening dinner boat cruise on the River Spree.

History buffs: Experience daily life under communist rule in East Germany at the DDR Museum.

Festive shoppers: Explore Berlin’s winter wonderland at the Christmas markets starting in November.

Fast facts for Berlin

Language: The language spoken in Berlin is German.

Currency: The currency used in Berlin is the Euro (€).

Local time: Berlin is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time.

Fly to: Tegel International Airport (TXL), 8 km northwest of the city centre. Schönefeld (SXF) is situated 20 km southeast of Berlin. The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport is scheduled to open in 2016.

Flight time from UK: Approximately 1 hour 45 minutes.

Tourist information: Further Berlin tourist information can be found at https://www.visitberlin.de/en.

Getting around Berlin

By public transport: Berlin has an extensive network of underground metro, rail, buses and trams that is very affordable. 

By bicycle: The city is flat and has many bicycle paths, making cycling a popular option.

By taxi: Taxis are cheap and easy to find. Rounding up to the nearest Euro is customary.

Events in Berlin

Cinema spectacular: The film industry’s elite gather every February for the Berlinale International Film Festival, the world’s largest, which shows more than 400 films and sells 300,000 tickets.

World-class music: For three weeks in September, Musikfest Berlin and the capital’s famous philharmonic host the international music scene, with performances by the world’s best orchestras, soloists and instrumental and vocal ensembles.

Christmas markets: There are over 60 Christmas markets across Berlin, offering everything from local crafts to international food. Several markets entertain with light installations, live music, an ice rink and even a mobile toboggan run.

Berlin weather

Temperature: 3-24 (°C) 

Berlin awakes from the winter at the start of spring, with cool and crisp days providing the perfect conditions for people-watching in the cafes. Take a sweater for the more overcast days, or come in the summer when temperatures climb to up to 25 (°C). Temperatures start to drop in autumn, but it is the best time to experience some of city’s most vibrant events and cultural festivals. Or book your holiday during the winter to enjoy Berlin’s famous Christmas markets.

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