Home to some 4.5 million people, Berlin is the capital city of the Federal Republic of Germany. The city is the largest in Germany and is also the seat of the state of Berlin, one of Germany's 16 states. Berlin is a diverse city that is often regarded as one of the youngest in Europe because so many artists, pacifists, and musicians from younger generations have moved to the city throughout the decades following the end of World War II. Today, the city is well known for its tolerance, lively nightlife, street art, and countless museums.
When to visit
Late spring through early autumn offers the best time of year to visit Berlin. There are two major events that take place during this window, 48 Stunden Neukolln and the Bierfestival Berlin (International Berlin Beer Festival). The former started in 1999 as a small block party in the working-class neighborhood of Neukolln.
Today, it is a two-day celebration in June that highlights the creativity of the neighborhood's residents. The latter occurs one weekend each year in August, and offers you the chance to sample 2,000 types of beer from around the world, including craft brews from independent German breweries.
On the whole, Berlin's weather is often gray and cold. Fear not, there is a large window of time when the weather is warm and inviting. The best time to visit Berlin occurs between May and early September. If you visit in the few weeks encompassing late July and early August, be prepared for extreme heat. You'll find plentiful sunlight during the summer months as well, with daylight lingering past 9 PM every day.
Autumn is a suitable time of year to visit Berlin. Though the temperature is often crisp, there are plenty of clear-blue days to enjoy as well. Winter is seemingly endless in Berlin, with sleet, icy rain, strong winds, and freezing temperatures the norm. However, winter offers a number of classic indoor cultural events for you to enjoy.
Your trip to Berlin isn't complete without a visit in early October. This is the only time of year to catch the Festival of Lights. Famous buildings throughout the city, such as the Brandenburg Gate, are illuminated in numerous ways. Best of all, the event is free to enjoy. Other must-do festivals and activities in Berlin include the Berlinale (Berlin Film Festival) and a shopping outing to Ku'Damm.
The Berlin Film Festival is the city's largest cultural event each year, with 250,000 tickets sold annually and 400 different films screened. Ku'Damm, and its extension Tauentzienstrabe, is the primary shopping region in Berlin. Flagship stores for major international brands can be found here, including KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens), which is the largest department store in continental Europe. Most Berlin shops close at 8 PM from Sunday to Wednesday, with closing hours varying from 9 PM to 10 PM Thursday to Saturday. Sunday opening is determined by German law, and is limited to roughly a dozen weekends each year, often in conjunction with major events.
Berlin is a city rich in historical significance. The former Reichstag under Nazi control, the Bundestag is the German parliament building and offers free tours to visitors if you register in advance. Registering is important because there is a daily limit on tours, so book early if you want to see the building's interior.
The Berlin Wall famously divided not just the city, but the free world from the Communist rule of the Soviet Union. Today, a large stretch of the wall remains intact for you to visit east of Central Berlin along the River Spree. Don't forget to visit Checkpoint Charlie. Famous as an American-controlled crossing point between East and West, the actual guardhouse is housed at the Allied Museum on Clayallee.
Tips & Recommendations
• Cash is king in Berlin. Locals prefer cash over credit cards. The local currency is the Euro (€). Traveler checks are not widely accepted.
• Bars are popular gathering points for Berlin's younger generations.
• 112 is a nationwide emergency number for medical emergencies and fires.
• 110 is the police emergency number.
• Pickpockets are a problem in some Berlin neighborhoods, so be weary at bus stops and large train stations.
• Exercise caution at night in the districts of Neukolln, Kreuzberg, and Wedding. Intoxicated partiers and low-income neighborhoods create a volatile situation at times after dark.
Large and roomy, ibis Styles Hotel Berlin Mitte is a popular choice. The 2-star rating indicates the price should be right for budget travelers. Alexanderplatz Railway Station connects you to the rest of Berlin. Here, you'll find Mauer Park and Alexanderplatz as well as Bebelplatz, all just a short distance away. Here, you'll be close to numerous Berlin attractions, including Television Tower and Neptune Fountain. From this property you'll be close to Alte Nationalgalerie and Natural History Museum.
With its 3 star rating, arcona Living Goethe 87 guarantees a comfortable stay. Among the popular sights within walking distance from here are Bauhaus Museum of Design and Berlin Zoo. Siegessäule is just 1.8 km (1.1 miles) away.
The small Smartloft Apartments&Art offers warmth and hospitality. The comfortable rooms are 3-star rated. Alexanderplatz Railway Station connects you to the rest of Berlin. Mauer Park, Alexanderplatz and Bebelplatz are all within walking distance from here. Neptune Fountain and Television Tower are interesting attractions in the vicinity. Museum goers will enjoy Alte Nationalgalerie and Natural History Museum, both in the property's proximity.
Save money by staying in this 1-star Heart of Gold Hostel Berlin. Walk to Television Tower and Neptune Fountain --just a short distance from this location. You'll appreciate how close you'll be to popular destinations, Reichstag Building, for instance, is a short walk from here. Just 0.9 km (0.5 miles) away, Berlin Cathedral is well worth a visit. Museum goers will enjoy Alte Nationalgalerie and East Side Gallery Berlin Wall, both in the property's proximity.
The 2-star Three Little Pigs Hostel Berlin delivers good quality for the price. While staying in Berlin, you might enjoy visiting Philharmonic Hall. This is a great location for walking to landmarks such as Gendarmenmarkt, Brandenburg Gate and Bebelplatz. Nearby you'll find the Berlin monument Reichstag Building. From this property you'll be close to Checkpoint Charlie Museum and Film Museum.
Pension Puschkin Berlin's small size creates a more homey atmosphere. Expect a bit of extra comfort and service at this 3-star lodging. Several popular attractions are easy to reach from this location, including Siegessäule and Philharmonic Hall. Berlin museums are delightful! Spend some time in Film Museum, or perhaps Bauhaus Museum of Design.
With fewer than 20 rooms, Pension Prenzlberg offers the intimacy of a small accommodation. The high star rating ensures a comfortable stay along with excellent facilities. Neptune Fountain is a short walk from here; other attractions, including Mauer Park, can also be reached on foot.