Germany's capital is a popular choice for holidaymakers looking to discover the history and culture of a country which has many a story to tell. Once divided by the infamous wall, Berlin is the largest city in Germany with a population of around 3.5 million. It is not just a city though as it is also designated as one of sixteen different states, along with other well-known areas such as Bavaria, Saxony and Brandenburg.
With attractions and sights that appeal to people of all ages, a Berlin city break can provide a great trip for the whole family. Here is everything you need to know if you are planning on visiting this fascinating city…
Berlin is served by two major airports and depending on who you fly with you may end up at either one. Airlines such as British Airways and Lufthansa will fly into Tegel International in the north-west of the city, whilst low-cost companies such as EasyJet and Ryanair will land you in Schonefeld Airport in the south-west. There is a third airport, Berlin Brandenburg, currently being built which will eventually be home to all air traffic into the city following plans to close the other two once it is complete.
Whilst Schonefeld Airport has a railway station which offers regular Regional Trains into the city centre (RE7 and RB14), Tegel International can be slightly more difficult to navigate from. There is no railway station located in the airport but there are buses that can take you to nearby metro stops. The best thing to do is pick up a metro map to see which station will allow you to then travel on to your hotel in the quickest time.
Alternatively, you can make the entire trip by train. This involves first taking the Eurostar to Brussels and then hopping on a high-speed ICE train to Berlin, via Cologne. This may provide a more leisurely journey but it does extend the travel time to almost 10 hours.
Where To Stay
Staying right in the city centre has its obvious benefits but you often pay a premium just for being right in the heart of the action. With such a great metro network, it is so easy to get around the different parts of the city and so it may be worth staying less central and taking full advantage of the trains.
We have some excellent hotel recommendations for all budgets on our Berlin city break page.
As mentioned above, Berlin's metro system is one of the best in Europe and is therefore very easy to navigate. There are zones labelled with different letters but the majority of the main attractions are within zones A and B. Tickets can be bought for varying lengths of time and travel, from short journeys of 3 stops or less (Kurzstrecke) up to seven-day travel cards. If you are exploring the city for the whole day, it is often cheaper to buy a day ticket rather than paying for each separate journey. The metro system includes underground trains, overground trams and buses.
Taxis are also in abundance and are available to either flag down or pick up from a taxi rank.
Where To Eat
Just like most of Germany, Berliners are passionate about their sausages. Wursts of all different kinds and flavours are available, so whether you choose to enjoy yours from a street stall or a posh restaurant, it's definitely something worth trying. Perhaps the most popular is the currywurst which is sure to be on offer wherever you turn.
If you prefer your food a little more up-market though, Grill Royal may be the place for you. This stylish restaurant specialises in fish and steak dishes and is one of Berlin's trendiest places to be seen. The riverside location is perfect on those warm summer evenings and the prices are very reasonable for the standard of food on offer.
Another German favourite is Schnitzel and if you are a fan of this dish then you cannot leave Berlin without dining at Schnitzelei. Another place with a great riverside spot, there are so many different varieties of this German food staple to consider.
There are some more great restaurants worth checking out on our Berlin city break page.
Top 3 Things To Do
There are so many great things to do in Berlin that mean you will be kept busy for the duration of your trip and beyond. One thing you cannot get away from is the story of Berlin's past. Striking monuments and thought-provoking museums help to tell a story that needs to be told, whilst some restored remnants of the Berlin wall help to paint a picture of what life would have been like pre-1990.
Aside from learning about its history, one of the best things to do in Berlin is immerse yourself in its modern culture. The Kulturforum offers a plethora of excellent galleries, all in one area, which showcase works from infamous artists like Rembrandt and paintings from movements such as Cubism and Expressionism. Afterwards, if you haven't yet reached your fill of culture, why not spend the evening in the company of the fantastic Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra.
Finally, for such a bustling city Berlin clearly has nature at its heart. Not only are there two zoos that are amongst the best in Europe, there are plenty of leafy areas which provide a great way to escape the city centre for a short while. On the outskirts of the city is Grunewald forest where you can explore freshwater lakes, nature trails and pleasant picnic spots.
Back in the city centre, the picturesque banks of the river Spree provide the perfect place to relax. Take a seat in one of the many bars and enjoy the improvised entertainment on offer.
If you would like to plan a Berlin city break then the team at Fred.\ Holidays can help you get the most from your trip. Contact us today so that we can help plan a holiday that is perfectly suited to you.