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Travel guide – Berlin

Germany’s capital, Berlin is a vibrant metropolis that was divided into East and West by the Berlin Wall until 1989, when the wall was demolished and the city became one again. Modern Berlin combines the old and the new, with shopping, dining and entertainment mixed with plenty of historical sights. Berlin is also Germany’s most cosmopolitan city, with people from all over the world calling it home, attracted by the city’s bohemian and liberal atmosphere. The city is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, a rural region with plenty of green spaces and crossed by two rivers. Despite the busy metropolitan way of life, a calm retreat is never far away.

Classic attractions can be found in the Mitte district in the heart of Berlin. Here you’ll find Branderburger Tor (the Brandenburg Gate) at one end of the famous Unter den Linden boulevard, and the Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral) and Alexanderplatz – a well-known square and a public transport hub – at the other end. In Mitte you can also check out the Reichstag (parliament building) with its large glass dome, which is itself a famous landmark.

You can also take in some beautiful views of Berlin from the city's famous Fernsehturm (TV Tower) with its revolving restaurant, and from the huge Siegessäule victory monument.

On the Museumsinsel (Museum Island) in the River Spree you’ll find several museums – the most famous being the Pergamon Museum. The Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum) with its spectacular architecture is also well worth a visit.

Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche (Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) – ruins of the church that was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II. A rebuilt church with a new tower incorporates parts of the original church ruins.

Holocaust memorial – a monument built in memory of the Holocaust victims, with thousands of large stone blocks laid out as a maze in the middle of the city.

East Side Gallery – 1.3km long part of the Berlin Wall decorated with artworks.

Haus am Checkpoint Charlie – a museum at the old border crossing between East and West Berlin.

Tiergarten – Berlin's largest park is close to the Berliner Zoo (Zoologischer Garten Berlin), one of the largest zoos in the world.

Tropical Island – a tropical paradise built in a former airship hangar just outside Berlin, it boasts sandy beaches, a water park, a miniature rain forest, a hotel and a sea made entirely of giant pools.

Potsdam – a magnificent historical city about 36km from Berlin, with lots of impressive castles and beautiful parks. Famous also for its Dutch quarter, which offers a lively atmosphere and plenty of small cafés, bars and galleries to explore.

Spreewald – 100km south of Berlin you’ll find this district mostly consisting of blue lakes and green forests. Take a canoe ride down a lake and stop at one of the many restaurants on the lakeside serving fresh fish dishes.

Kurfürstendamm – a long shopping street home to many famous brands. KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens) – one of the world's largest department stores – is also close by.

Exclusive shops are located in Charlottenburg and at Friedrichstrasse, which also offers a variety of shopping malls, including Galeries Lafayette.

Prenzlauer Berg – an area filled with fun shopping and outdoor cafés in picturesque settings.

Hackesche Höfe – the beautiful old district of Mitte houses several courtyards with quaint shops, cafés and restaurants.

Kreuzberg – Turkish community and artists' neighbourhood where you can buy fresh food at the Türkischer Markt market on Saturdays. Schlossstrasse in the Steglitz district offers a wide variety of stores.

Tauentzienstrasse and its surrounding streets are full of fashion shopping and affordable clothing. At the bottom of the street, towards the Kurfürstendamm, lies the huge Europa Center shopping mall.

The Sunday market at Mauerpark is a market fair with second-hand items, colourful clothing and handmade jewellery. Other popular market places and flea markets are Flohmarkt Arkonaplatz and Winterfeldtmarkt in Kreuzberg.

Bratwurst – sausage, Germany is famous for its many varieties of sausages

Currywurst – the most popular sausage in Berlin even has its own museum. Served in a curry-tomato sauce with bread or french fries

Bockwurst – sausage made from several different kinds of meat

Buletten – meatballs the Berliner way

Kartoffelsuppe – potato soup

Königsberger Klopse – meatballs with potatoes or rice, served with a lemon and caper sauce

Hoppelpoppel – soup with meat, onions, potatoes and eggs

Kartoffelpuffer – potato pancakes

Pfannkuchen (aka Berliner) – fried sweet dough (donuts) with jam filling and rolled in sugar

Schnitzel – matured beef breaded and then fried or deep-fried

Rote Grütze – dessert made with red fruits, berries, sugar, thickeners and often liquor. Typically served with whipped cream or ice cream.

Berliner Weisse – light wheat beer mixed with a dash of sweet juice.

Public transportation – reliable, fast and widespread. The same ticket is valid on all public transport types. 

S-bahn – commuter, U-Bahn – subway, tram and bus.

Taxi – all cars have meters.

Cycling – there are plenty of bike lanes in the centre of Berlin, and renting is easy.

Currency – euro (€)

Electricity – 220 volts, 50Hz

Payment – there are plenty of ATMs, and credit cards are becoming more common, but cash is still largely preferred

Tips – not necessary, but appreciated (up to 10% is fair)

Time zone – Berlin (Germany) UTC/GMT +1 hour

Water – tap water is safe to drink 

Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER)

The airport is located 18km south of Berlin.

  • Finnair flights: Terminal 1
  • Check-in opens 2 hours before departure
  • Check-in closes 45 minutes before departure

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