GERMANY  |  Berlin, Germany Travel Guide
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Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany (cc)
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Berlin Travel Guide

Introduction

Berlin is singularly the most happening place in continental Europe, at once edgy, cultured, hip, anarchical, hedonistic, gritty and irreverent. It has been at the center of much that has occurred over the past century, and remains today at the forefront of global shifts and evolving lifestyles. In fact, from the cabarets and heady nightlife of the 1920s, to the madness of Hitler's Third Reich and the eyeball-to-eyeball face-offs of the Cold War, to the all-night parties of the New Millennium, there has hardly been a dull moment in the life of Berlin. It is a city with the verve of a party animal, with ritzy nightclubs and pulsating discothèques and techno bars, and, too, a city of culture and refinement, with venerable old universities, world-class philharmonics, and superb museums and galleries heaped with relics of the ages and monumental collections of art. Berlin also, one might add, is a city where Eastern and Western Europe and the past, present and future have collided and fused, a city that lives in the moment. Berlin, ultimately, as Germans would say, is "Die Stadt der unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten!" – "The city of unlimited possibilities!"

Location

Berlin, a city-state and the capital and largest city of Germany, is situated on the river Spree in the northeastern part of the country.

How to Get There

Berlin can be reached directly by air, rail or road from most European capitals and major cities. When arriving from overseas, routing through Frankfurt, which is just to the southeast, is a good idea.

Sightseeing

Berlin's principal draws – since one must be selective in a city so richly endowed with visitor lures – are the historic Brandenburg Gate, relics from the Cold War such as Checkpoint Charlie and remnants of the Berlin Wall, Gemäldegalerie (Paintings Gallery), Museuminsel (Museum Island) where you can search out the Pergamon as well as other world-class museums, the fabulous, Baroque Schloss Charlottenburg, and the Jewish Museum which has exhibits depicting two millennia of German-Jewish history. The majestic, glass-dome-topped Reichstag, seat of the Bundestag (German Parliament), is worth seeing too. Berlin is also noted for its festivals and international events, chief among them the Berlinale, the largest public film festival in the world, and the Love Parade, the world's largest technotronic music festival, which rocked the city until its demise in 2006.

Main Neighborhoods

  • Mitte - The most historic and principal district of Berlin, sliced by the city's main boulevard, Unter den Linden. It has in it a majority of the city's top attractions, such as the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag, Nikolaiviertal, remnants of the Berlin Wall, Tiergarten, the 19th-century Jewish quarter of Spandauer Vorstadt, Museuminsel with its medley of state museums, Potsdamer Platz with its highrises, and scores of restaurants, cafés, clubs and shopping venues.

  • City West - Berlin's commercial hub, which lies to the southwest of the Mitte.

  • Schöneberg - Located adjacent to City West and close to Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, this is the home of Berlin's gay community.

  • Charlottenburg - West of the Mitte. Charlottenburg's centerpiece is the fabulous Schloss Charlottenburg, Berlin's claim to Baroque fame.

  • Friedrichshain - A hip, former East Berlin enclave to the east of the Mitte, with trendy clubs and bars, and a hub of Berlin's edgy nightlife.

  • Prenzlauer Berg - Northeast of the Mitte, also a former East Berlin enclave, which has emerged as one of the city's hippest and edgiest pockets, loaded with nightclubs and bars. with the added bonus of cobblestone streets and an authentic prewar Berlin atmosphere.

  • Kreuzberg - Spirited quarter to the southwest of the Mitte, rife with ultra-hip bars, kebab stands and Turkish eateries.

  • Lichtenberg - One of the Berlin suburbs that fan out westward from the city center, bordered by the Grunewald thickets. It has in it the old Stasi headquarters.

How to Get Around

Where to Party

Berlin's Mitte district is where you'll find a majority of the city's nightclubs and bars, most visited among them the techno music clubs Berghain and Tresor, and the monstrously popular and sexually uninhibited KitKatClub on Brückenstraße that draws a clientele from all across Europe. Other clubs with growing notoriety include the Weekend Club and KingKongKlub, also in the Mitte district. The Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg neighborhoods, east and northeast of the Mitte respectively, offer great all-night party venues as well, with several hip, up-and-coming clubs and bars located there.

Where to Eat

Where to Stay

Trivia

Berlin is the largest city by area in continental Europe – more than eight times the size of Paris – and the second largest in the European Union, after London. It also has a claim to food fame: It is the home of the ubiquitous currywurst, a grilled pork sausage dripping with curry-powder-spiked sauce that is blended from tomato ketchup and Worcestershire sauce, originally created in Berlin in 1949 by Herta Heuwer and now available at food stands, cafés and restaurants throughout the city. As a rite of passage, every Berlin mayor has been photographed at a currywurst stand since the invention of the snack.

Know Before You Go

  • Best Time to Visit: May-September
  • Cost Per Day: €80-€300 (US$100-US$390)
  • Currency: Euro EUR (€1 ~ US$1.30)
  • Electrical Outlets: 230V - 50HZ | Schuko Socket or Europlug with 2 round pins
  • Phone Code: +49 30
  • Population: 3.5 million (largest city in Germany)

Nearby Destinations

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Last updated December 9, 2013
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