Berlin city break essentials
Berlin has risen from the ashes of post-war division to become one of the world’s greatest, exciting and innovative cities.
For the past decade its mixture of grand architecture and crumbling warehouses has acted as a beacon to artists, musicians and all manner of creatives, attracted by cheap rents, unusual housing, and a relaxed pace of living.
Short breaks to Berlin will reveal a cultural melting pot that includes influences from all over the globe, held together by a strong thread of German individualism that has seen Berlin resist the rise of corporate culture to retain a unique atmosphere. Quirky boutiques and furniture shops are a far more common than corporate logos.
Getting to this jewel in the centre of Europe could not be simpler. There are plentiful flights to Schoenberg Airport, while the best way to enter the city is on the train, taking in the beautiful scenery and travelling through the suburbs of a city that is four times the size of Paris before arriving in Hauptbanhof station.
Berlin is a brilliant stop for anyone touring Europe by car or train, but with such a sprawling city to discover, we’ve narrowed down your itinerary with 3 must-visit destinations.
Where to visit
Kreuzberg has a long history of alternative culture dating back to the days of Communist East Berlin.
A large Turkish community mixes with artists, hippies and anarchists ensuring excellent food, weird and wonderful boutique shopping, and plenty of unusual nightlife.
May Day anarchy is infamous and as the alternative culture rears its head to shake a fist at capitalism with a night of stone throwing and burning cars, but don’t let this put you off. Kreuzberg is the creative heart of the capital and offers endless unique avenues of exploration.
Berlin is not totally immune to the larger world, and though much of its fashion and style is home-grown those hankering for designer opulence will be well served by a visit to Charlottenburg.
This is Berlin’s most gentrified district with a range of 5 star hotels and designer boutiques.
Mitte is the pre-unification city centre and holds the title as the most visited area in Berlin. It’s awash with baroque architecture and classical monuments.
When to visit
Berlin is an exciting city to visit at any time of the year, but timing your visit with a major cultural event will reveal a city in full bloom. Here are the best times to visit:
- If cinema is your passion then the Berlinale festival in February is a rare treat. This year honors experimental filmmaker Chris Maker alongside a host of entries for the world famous Golden Bear.
- The Carnival of cultures in May and June represents Berlin’s cultural and ethnic diversity and is one of Europe’s biggest parties for people of all ages.
- If electronic club culture catches your interest then the infamous Berlin Love Parade returns to strut its stuff in 2012. A million people dancing a stones throw from the Brandenburg Gate must be onto something…
- Finally, NYE in Berlin is unlike anywhere else. The temperatures may be subzero but the city’s famous party spirit sets it on fire. The festivities will last as long as you can endure.