Destination guide: Berlin, Germany
Berlin is the capital of Germany and one of the most important cities in Europe. It's a city full of history and culture and a very popular destination for both Germans and foreigners.
In Berlin, you can visit the Brandenburg Gate, the Telecommunications Tower (for a bird’s eye view of the city), the Reichstag building, the old bunkers that offered the Germans protection during the Second World War, the remains of the Berlin Wall (which divided the country for 28 years) and Germanic breweries, representative of one of the country's most deep-rooted traditions.
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Berlin - Things to do
A symbol of division during the Cold War, this landmark now epitomises German reunification. The 1791 structure by Carl Gotthard Langhans is the only surviving one of 18 city gates and is crowned by the Quadriga sculpture, a horse-drawn chariot piloted by the winged goddess of victory.
Latitude: 52.5161866100000 / Longitude: 13.3777346400000
Checkpoint Charlie was the principal gateway for Allies, other non-Germans and diplomats between the two Berlins from 1961 to 1990. Unfortunately, this potent symbol of the Cold War has become a tacky tourist trap where uniformed actors pose for tips in front of a replica guardhouse. The one redeeming aspect is the free temporary open-air exhibit chronicling Cold War history along Friedrichstrasse, Zimmerstrasse and Schützenstrasse.
Latitude: 52.5076050000000 / Longitude: 13.3904750000000
South of Tiergarten park, the Diplomatic Quarter is home to several striking embassy buildings. Standouts include the temple-like Egyptian Embassy.
Latitude: 52.5086472895003 / Longitude: 13.3632026161309
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art
The Hamburger Bahnhof displays career- spanning bodies of work by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Beuys and other 20th-century heavyweights.
Latitude: 52.5279773500000 / Longitude: 13.3726289200000
For an eye-opening, emotional and interactive exploration of 2000 years of Jewish history in Germany visit the impressive Jüdisches Museum. You'll learn about Jewish cultural contributions, holiday traditions, the difficult road to Emancipation, and outstanding individuals, such as jeans inventor Levi Strauss and philosopher Moses Mendelssohn.
Only one section deals directly with the Holocaust, but its horrors are poignantly reflected by Daniel Libeskind's powerful museum building. Essentially a 3-D metaphor for Jewish suffering, its silvery zinc walls are sharply angled, and instead of windows there are only small gashes piercing the building's gleaming skin. The visual allegory continues on the inside where a steep staircase descends to three intersecting walkways - called 'axes' - representing the fates of Jews during the Nazi years: death, exile and continuity. Only the last leads to the actual exhibit.
Latitude: 52.5023026800000 / Longitude: 13.3954586100000
The Spanish tapas tradition translates well to the easygoing Berlin lifestyle but oddly there aren’t many good bars around. Atame is the genuine item with a colourfully tiled bar, smiling Spanish staff and delicious nibbles served in satisfying portions.
Opening Hours: from 10am Mon-Fri, from 11am Sat & Sun.
Latitude: 52.5236354800000 / Longitude: 13.4055925600000
Follow a jog in Tiergarten with breakfast at this classic beer garden, sitting pretty next to a lock on the Landwehrkanal. Later in the day the place starts jumping with people from all walks of life chatting, hoisting mugs of foamy beer and feasting on grilled organic sausages and other hearty fare.
Latitude: 52.5111660200000 / Longitude: 13.3363482500000
If you thought Turkish cuisine stopped at the doner kebab, Defne will teach you otherwise, and quick. The appetiser platter alone is a divine mix of hummus, garlicky carrot, walnut-chilli paste and other treats. The canalside location is idyllic, the decor warmly exotic and the service top notch.
Latitude: 52.4954653100000 / Longitude: 13.4181670200000
Old-fashioned Berlin pubs have their own tradition of hospitality - beer, schnapps and the Berliner humour all served up in rustic, smoke-filled surroundings. This ancient example of the species (first lager poured in 1877) bottles its own flavoured schnapps and fruit wines on the premises.
Latitude: 52.4926419772884 / Longitude: 13.3666276931763
A former brothel, this lurid bat cave is sensuous, kooky and kitschy enough to feature in a 1940s Shanghai noir thriller. A true classic, famous for its wild, debauched all-nighters, it attracts a hugely varied public, Watch out for pickpockets.
Latitude: 52.5033067700000 / Longitude: 13.3664871400000
Check in your attitude at the door of scruffy 'Esso' where the Dead Kennedys and the Toten Hosen were playing gigs when many of today's patrons were still in diapers. Overall, though, who goes when depends on what's on that night: anything goes at SO36.
Berlin Fashion Week
Premium, Ideal, Spirit of Fashion and Bread & Butter fashion fairs present progressive streetwear, clubwear and avant-garde designs to buyers and the public. [tel] 6290 0850
Internationale Grüne Woche
The week-long International Green Week, which is a consumer fair for food, agriculture and gardening, is a great excuse for gorging on exotic morsels from around the world. [tel] 303 80
Lange Nacht der Museen
Culture meets entertainment on the last Saturday of January when up to 100 museums keep their doors open until at least midnight. Shuttle buses ferry people between venues. It’s a truly sociable affair and fun for the entire family. [tel] 283 973
Digital media art gets full bandwidth at this progressive festival that also investigates how digital technologies shape today’s society and artistic endeavours. [tel] 2474 9761
Berlin’s international film festival draws stars, starlets, directors, critics and the world’s A-to-Z-list celebrities for two weeks of screenings and glamour parties around town. Screenings often sell out, so book early. [tel] 259 200
Internationale Tourismus Börse
Take a virtual trip around the globe at the world’s largest international travel expo (more than 10,000 exhibitors); it’s trade only during the week but open to the public at the weekend. [tel] 303 80.
‘Music’ or ‘soundscapes’? You decide after a day at March Music, a contemporary festival celebrating a boundary-pushing palette of sounds, from full orchestral symphonies to experimental recitals, many of them new or commissioned. [tel] 2548 9100
Philharmonie/Staatsoper Unter den Linden
Staatsoper boss Daniel Barenboim brings the world’s finest conductors, soloists and orchestras to Berlin for this 10-day, highbrow hoe-down of gala concerts and operas, with an emphasis on that brilliant ‘bad boy’ composer Richard Wagner. [tel] 2035 4555.
Berlin’s international student film festival, now based in Potsdam, provides five days of the most random, experimental, alternative and occasionally pretentious cinematic efforts around. [tel] 0331-620 2780
It’s hard to imagine the Brits returning the compliment, but this small festival of Brit flicks that never made it into the multiplexes is a huge hit with Berlin art-house buffs. Check listings magazines for participating venues.
Karneval der Kulturen
The streets of Kreuzberg erupt in raucous revelry for the long Pentecost weekend during this colourful festival of tolerance. People from over 100 nations party together with music, exotic nosh and ethnic crafts, culminating in an exuberant parade of costumed dancers, singers, DJs and musicians on Sunday. [tel] 6097 7022
The Berlin Theatre Gathering is a three-week showcase of new productions by emerging and established German- language ensembles from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. [tel] 2548 9269
All Nations Festival
Take a trip around the world on a single day when a dozen or so Berlin-based foreign embassies open their doors to promote their respective countries with food, drink, music and talks. [tel] 250 025
Berlin Air Show
Zeppelins to fighter planes, gliders to balloons and jet liners – if it flies, it’ll probably be at this huge international aerospace exhibition and air show held every two years, on even-numbered years. [tel] 3038 6006
Fête de la Musique
Summer starts with good vibrations thanks to hundreds of free concerts during this global music festival, which began in Paris in 1982 and has since conquered the world. [tel] 4171 5289
A fantasy world built from sand takes shape for eight summer weeks starting in early June. At more than 6m high, these ain’t your little brother’s sandcastles! Music, cocktails, a palm garden and children’s events keep things dynamic. [tel] 0176-9688 6279
Berlin Fashion Week
International designers present next year’s spring fashions during the summer edition of Berlin’s new fashion fair. [tel] 6290 0850
Classic Open Air Gendarmenmarkt
Five days, five alfresco concerts – from opera to pop – delight an adoring crowd hunkered on bleachers before the regal backdrop of the Konzerthaus. No ticket? No problem. Just bring a beer and eavesdrop with the penniless masses outside the flimsy canvas enclosure. [tel] 3157 5413
Comedians, magicians, puppeteers, artistes, clowns, dancers, jugglers and other Gaukler (cabaret-type artists) take over the area around the State Opera House for 10 merry days in early August. [tel] 206 2673
Putting art photography firmly in the public domain, this inspired event calls on keen snappers to take 24 pictures in 12 hours on 24 separate themes. Online registration required.
Relax! It’s not what you think but simply your average anti-fascist, anti-capitalist, anti-anti demonstration. Make sure to wear black and dark mascara or you won’t fit in. [tel] 069-9435 9090
Find out what gadgets everyone will want for Christmas at this huge international consumer electronics fair. [tel] 3069 6924
Lange Nacht der Museen
The summer edition of the January event. [tel] 283 973
Europe’s latest pop acts come to the Spree River for three weekends of energetic partying at Arena and chilling to unplugged encores at the Badeschiff before the party moves to the Hoppetosse boat. [tel] 533 2030
Tanz im August
Step out gracefully to this international dance festival that attracts loose-limbed talent and highly experimental choreography from around the globe. [tel] 2474 9777
September & October
Art forum Berlin
Find out what’s hot in art at this well-established international contemporary art fair that brings together leading galleries, collectors and the merely curious [tel] 303 80. Held around the same time as the Art Forum, the Berliner Liste brings together young galleries and emerging artists with the hot shots of the international scene.
Festival of Lights
For two weeks during October, Berlin isn’t only about sightseeing but also about ‘lightseeing’. Historical landmarks such as the TV Tower, the Berliner Dom and the Brandenburg Gate sparkle with illuminations, projections and fireworks. [tel] 3267 9887
Dozens of authors from all corners of the world celebrate the power of the pen with the literary public through readings, workshops and events. [tel] 2787 8620
Jazz in den Ministergärten
Once a year, in late September, the permanent representations (offices) of five German Länder (states) in the Ministerial Gardens area near Potsdamer Platz open their doors to the public for a night of jazz.
Catch tomorrow’s headliners during this edgy three-day festival capping Europe’s biggest indie music trade fair. Bring serious stamina for Clubnacht (Club Night) when a few euros buys entry to 32 dance clubs. [tel] 3038 3009
Tag der deutschen Einheit
Raise a toast to German reunification on this national holiday celebrated with street parties across town – the Brandenburg Gate to the Rotes Rathaus (town hall).
Stay ahead of the fashion, sports, beauty and lifestyle curves at Europe’s largest youth fair, complete with concerts, live TV tapings and roving casting agents. [tel] 303 80
November & December
Presenting new art in unusual sites around town, this biennial exhibition of contemporary art was launched in 1997 by the nonprofit Kunst-Werke Berlin. [tel] 2434 5970
Pick up shimmering ornaments or get smashed on mulled wine at dozens of Yuletide markets held throughout December in such locales as Breitscheidplatz and Alexanderplatz.
This top-rated jazz festival has doo-wopped in Berlin since 1964 and presents fresh and big-time talent in dozens of performances all over town. [tel] 2548 9100
On St Nicholas’ Day children leave their shoes outside their door to receive sweets if they’ve been nice, and a stone if they’ve been naughty. Eventually this custom developed into Father Christmas’ more international yearly rounds, but in Germany they seem pretty attached to the original – all kinds of clubs hold Nikolaus parties, complete with costumed St Nicks.