Twenty years after its post-Wall rebirth, Berlin is a scene-stealing combo of glamour and grit, teeming with top museums and galleries, grand opera and guerrilla clubs, gourmet temples and ethnic snack shacks. Whether your tastes run to posh or punk, you can sate them in Berlin.
When it comes to fashion, art, design and music, the German capital is the city to watch. A global influx of creatives has turned it into a cauldron of cultural cool reminiscent of New York in the ’80s. What draws them is Berlin’s legendary climate of tolerance, openness and experimentation infused with an edgy undercurrent that gives this ‘eternally unfinished’ city its street cred. Cheap rents don’t hurt either.
All this trendiness is a triumph for a town that’s long been in the cross-hairs of history: Berlin staged a revolution, was headquartered by fascists, bombed to bits, ripped in half and finally reunited – and that was just in the 20th century! Famous landmarks such as the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and what’s left of the Berlin Wall are like a virtual 3-D textbook in a city where you’ll find history staring you in the face every time you turn a corner.
Perhaps it’s because of its heavy historical burden that Berlin is throwing itself into tomorrow with such contagious energy. At times the entire city seems to be bubbling over into one huge party. Cafes are jammed at all hours, drinking is a religious rite and clubs host their scenes of frenzy and hedonism until the wee hours. Sleep? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Yet despite its often hectic pace, Berlin functions on an exquisitely human scale. Traffic flows freely, public transportation is brilliant, you can walk without fear at night, clubs have no velvet ropes and your restaurant bill would only buy you a starter back home. Come and join the party and be swept away by the riches, quirks and vibrancy of this fascinating city.
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Best places to stay in Berlin
Berlin is a bon vivant, passionately feasting on the smorgasbord of life.
Top 20 free things to do in Berlin
Berlin may be one of the best-value cities in Europe but for tourists those euros can start to add up after days of museum-hopping and nights of clubbing. Save your cents by taking in some of the city’s many freebies. Dome of the Reichstag building, Berlin. Image by Fabio / Flickr / Getty Images...
Berlin's best nightlife
Berlin's art scene
Berlin - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Berlin starts here. You'll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go, how much to budget, plus in-depth info on Berlin's art scene, everything from classical art to street art.
A three-day itinerary to the German capital. 'Reichstag' by erikwestrum...
Offbeat tours of Berlin
Berlin - Museumsinsel & Alexanderplatz (Chapter)
Museum lovers hit the jackpot on this little Spree River island with its five world-class museums, including the unmissable Pergamonmuseum, and the majestic Berliner Dom. Discover Berlin's birthplace in the Nikolaiviertel and learn about life...
'An Evening at Charlottenburg Palace' Palace Tour, Dinner and Concert by the Berlin Residence Orchestra
Settle in for an Evening at Charlottenburg Palace, with dinner, a self-guided palace tour and concert featuring the Berlin Residence Orchestra included. This tour regularly sells out weeks in advance, so with a choice of four seating categories available, book ahead of time to avoid disappointment! Please note, this tour is not operating until mid-2014.
Discover Berlin Half-Day Walking Tour
Travel into Berlin's past, from 1920s Friedrichstrasse to today's Potsdamer Platz, on this enlightening half-day walking tour. While walking, your guide's superb story-telling skills will weave the themes of Prussian, Imperial, Nazi, Cold War and 21st-century Berlin into a detailed narrative, using the latest historical research.
Feast on Europe's best food trucks
Food trucks may be trendy now but the concept is hardly new. Since the turn of the century, hungry workers have counted on mobile vans and stalls lining city streets to provide cheap, filling fixes...
Berlin - Scheunenviertel (Chapter)
With its narrow streets and charming courtyards the Scheunenviertel is fashionista central and also teems with hip bars and restaurants. Come face to face with the quarter's Jewish roots at the Neue Synagoge, then check out the galleries along...