Visit Berlin

Berlin is one of the most vital, culturally vibrant cities in Europe. From Berlin’s complex, often tragic history, the city has emerged from the reunification of Germany as a cultural powerhouse and one of the top tourist destinations of Europe. Travellers are attracted here by the city’s intoxicating mix of history, culture and nightlife, arguably the best in Europe.

One consequence of reunification is that attention has focused from the West to the East, which was formerly under Communist control. However, you can still find a taste of the old Berlin that attracted adventurers from Christopher Isherwood to David Bowie to the city, in Charlottenburg. The main drag, the Kurfürstendamm, still contains some of Berlin’s best shopping destinations, though for a real taste of old Berlin, go to the Paris Bar, a legendary bar and restaurant where celebs like Yves Saint Laurent, Bowie and Iggy Pop used to hang out, with an incredible art collection on the walls from such fans of the joint as Warhol and Kippenberger.

The last outpost of West Berlin before the Wall used to be Kreuzberg, still a vibrant Bohemian district to this day. If the legendary nightclub S.O.36 isn’t what it used to be, you’ll still find a great range of nightlife on Oranienberger Strasse. Having been in the shadow of the wall, they still mark the spot of Checkpoint Charlie, and have a museum exploring its legacy. A graffiti-covered section of the wall still stands, as the East Side Gallery, behind which you can find virtual Jamaica as a beach bar on the river Spree – what could be more Berlin? One of the best real galleries is the Berlinische Galerie, an invaluable modern history of the city through its art. Nearby you can find the Jewish Museum, exploring the city’s troubled relationship with the Jewish community, and the Holocaust Memorial, a dignified public monument to commemorate the dead.

 

You’re now on the border with Mitte, the traditional heart of the city (it translates as middle), a district (or kiez) that has regained its purpose after the fall of the Wall. Mitte contains the legendary Unter den Linden, Berlin’s counterpart to the Champs-Elysees, a beautiful boulevard which takes you to the reconstructed Brandenburg Gate. From here you can see the sci-fi dome of the Reichstag, but you’ll find so much to do in Mitte, with its upscale restaurants, cool bars and blue chip galleries.

East lies Friedrichsain- you can tell it’s East because you can still see some of the Communist iconography in the street from the eighties. This is another vibrant area, and home to the most famous night club in the world, the infamous Berghain. If you’re looking for a more chilled time, you’ll find no shortage of laidback neighbourhood bars and cafes.

E8PPXE Brandenburg gate at sunset

Berlin is a dynamic, ever-changing city, and by the time you next visit, there’ll be another incredible must-visit gallery/club/restaurant open – which is part of the beauty of the place.

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