Berlin, Germany

Berlin is the capital as well as largest city in Germany. The city is also regarded as one of the sixteen federal states (Bundesländer) of Germany. It has a population of 3.4 million within its city limits, making it Germany’s largest city as well as the second most populous city within the eighth most populous urban area in the European Union.

Reichstag, Berlin
Author: Cezary Piwowarski (cc-by-sa-3.0)

Berlin is located in northeastern Germany, at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, which has a population of 5 million people.

Berlin is believed to have been founded some time around the thirteenth century. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and the Third Reich (1933-1945). After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a Western exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961-1989).

Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of Federal Republic of Germany.

Deutscher Dom, Berlin
Author: Denis Apel (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 Generic)

Französischer Dom, Berlin
Author: Beek100 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

Berlin is home to world-renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums and personalities. Berlin’s urban landscape and historical legacy has made it a popular setting for international film productions.

Berlin is recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and modern zeitgeist.

Due to the Cold War, Berlin inherits two of everything, two international airport, two city centers, etc. The former East and West Berlins are even now slowly being integrated as one.

Reichstag, Berlin
Author: Klaus Nahr (cc-by-sa-2.0)

Going to Berlin

By Plane

Berlin has two airports, Tegel International Airport and Schönfeld Airport.

  • Tegel International Airport (ICAO: EDDT, IATA: TXL) is located in the north-west of the city it’s the main airport for flag carriers (Lufthansa, BA, Air France-KLM, Delta etc) and hub for domestic flights as well. The original airport was designed as a hexagon but today two other terminals try to handle the flights of Air Berlin (most flights in Terminal C) and other budget carriers (mostly in terminal D). All flag carrier flights leave from the main terminal building A (Terminal B nowadays contains just the bus gates of Terminal A for Non-Schengen flights), and is also where all airlines lounges are.

    Buses from Tegel International Airport operate to S+U Alexanderplatz, Hauptbahnhof (bus TXL), and S+U Zoologischer Garten (buses X9 and 109) for the standard ticket fare. Caution! Do not take any train to the “Tegel railway (S-Bahn) station”, which is not connected to the airport, but rather to the suburban village called Tegel. It is not possible to walk or to otherwise get easily to the airport from that station. Tegel International Airport does not have any railway station. Any indication to a Tegel railway station refers to the remote S-Bahn station.

  • Schönefeld (ICAO: EDDB, IATA: SXF) The former East Berlin airport southeast of the city center is the base for most low-cost airlines (e.g. easyJet, Ryanair and Germanwings) and charter flights in addition to traffic from Eastern Europe.

    Herwigskathedrale (St Hedwig’s Cathedral), Berlin-Mitte
    Author: Beek100 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

    The airport is served by the S-Bahn and regional trains. The S-bahn line S-9 will take you conveniently to (and through) the city centre via such major stations as S Ostbahnhof, S+U Alexanderplatz, S Hauptbahnhof and S+U Zoologischer Garten. The S-45 line runs between the Airport and S Hermannstrasse on the Ring line, but only on weekdays.

    There are also less regular but faster regional trains that cost the same and stop at these major train stations too. In S-Bahn and regional trains between the airport (zone C) and the city (zone A,B), the public transport ticket (zones A,B,C for €2.80) can be used. Stamp the ticket to validate it before boarding.

    Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin
    Author: Manfred Brueckels (public domain)

    The construction of the new Airport Berlin Brandenburg International (BBI) has started at Schönefeld and the new airport is scheduled for opening in autumn 2011. After the opening all air traffic in the Berlin-Brandenburg region will be bundled at BBI and the Tegel airport is going to be closed down.

    There are numerous direct flight connections between Berlin and major German & European cities. For historical reasons intercontinental direct flights to Berlin were limited. The German flag carrier Lufthansa will mostly fly to its major hub airports Frankfurt and Munich and offer connecting flights to Berlin on a near hourly basis.

    Delta and Continental Airlines have daily nonstop flights to Berlin from New York and Qatar Airways flies twice daily to Doha. Hainan Airlines flies (in code-share with Air Berlin) to Beijing and Air Berlin flies thrice weekly to Bangkok.

    Berliner Dom with the Berliner Fernsehturm in the background
    Author: Arne Hückelheim (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

    By Bus

    Berlin is connected with over 350 destinations in Europe by bus. Due to a German law supporting the German national railway there is only one bus corporation connecting Berlin with these destinations. Long distance buses arrive at Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (Central Bus Terminal) in Charlottenburg. From there take the S-Bahn (station Messe Nord) or bus into town.

    By Train

    Berlin is served by ICE, InterCity and EuroCity trains by the national German train corporation Deutsche Bahn (DB) which offers connections between Berlin and other German and major European cities. If you arrive in Berlin on a national (non-regional) DB trip, you are entitled to use your ticket in the whole local transport to your final destination within the city (Zone A).

    Several night trains from/to Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich and Vienna (special offer for €29 in one direction) travel every day. They are popular with backpackers so reservations are recommended. Long-haul trains to Eastern European cities (Warsaw, Kaliningrad and Moscow) mostly use the Bahnhof Lichtenberg in Eastern Berlin. Make sure you have a reservation because these lines are also very popular.

    Potsdamer Platz, Berlin
    Author: WiNG (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)

    By Car

    All main roads and motorways join the Berliner Ring, or the A10, from which you can access the inner city. The city motorway is usually very crowded during rush hour.

    As of January 1, 2008, Berlin requires all cars to have a “Low Emissions” sticker in order to enter the city center (Low Emmision Zone, “Umweltzone”). Information on obtaining a sticker (which must be done at least several weeks in advance) is available here.

    Exploring Berlin

    Berlin is a huge city. You can make use of the excellent bus, tram, train and underground services to get around. Taxi services are also easy to use and a bit less expensive than in many other big Central European cities. You can hail a cab (the yellow light on the top shows the cab is available), or find a taxi rank (Taxistand).

    Taxi drivers are in general able to speak English. If you ask for a short trip (Kurzstrecke), as long as its under 2km and before the taxi driver starts the meter running, the trip normally is cheaper, 3,50 euros (as of apr2009). This only applies if you flag the taxi down on the street, not if you get in at a taxi rank.

    Berlin-Halensee Damaschkestraße
    Author: Fridolin freudenfett (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

    Check the Berlin route planner (in English) to get excellent maps and schedules for the U-Bahn, buses, S-Bahn and trams, or to print your personal journey planner. The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) have a detailed fare list on their web site.

    If you don’t know how to get somewhere, or how to get home at night, call +49 30 19449, the Customer Service of the BVG. There are also facilities in most U-Bahn and some S-Bahn stations to contact the Customer Service directly. In 2005 the BVG introduced Metro lines (buses and tram) that run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All lines are marked with a big orange plate and a white M.

    Intersection of Kurfürstendamm and Lewishamstraße in Berlin-Charlottenburg
    Author: Fridolin freudenfett (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)

    It’s also worth noting that the house numbers do not necessarily run in one direction (up or down). On a lot of streets, the numbers ascend on one side and descend on the other. Especially on long streets check the numbering scheme first: you can find the name of the street and the numbers on that block at nearly every street corner.

    Location Map of Berlin

  • Districts of Berlin

    1. Mitte – city center
    2. Charlottenburg
    3. Friedrichhain
    4. Hellersdorf
    5. Hohenschönhausen
    6. Köpenick
    7. Kreuzberg
    8. Lichtenberg
    9. Marzahn
    10. Neukölln
    11. Pankow
    12. Prenzlauer Berg
    13. Reinickendorf
    14. Schöneberg
    15. Spandau
    16. Steglitz
    17. Tempelhof
    18. Tiergarten
    19. Treptow
    20. Wedding
    21. Weißensee
    22. Wilmersdorf
    23. Zehlendorf

    Places of Interest in Berlin

      Eastern Berlin

    1. Brandenburg Gate
      This magnificent Neoclassical structure is the quintessential symbol of Berlin.

    2. Bebelplatz
      This is an area designed to mirror the grandeur of ancient Rome.
    3. St-Hedwigs-Kathedrale
      This is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Berlin.
    4. Unter den Linden
      This is one of the most famous streets in Berlin.
    5. Humboldt Universität
      A prestigious university in Berlin.
    6. Neue Wache
      One of the finest Neo-Classical structure in Berlin.
    7. Zeughaus
      This Baroque style arsenal today houses the German History Museum.
    8. Friedrichswerdersche Kirche (Schinkel-Museum)
      Originally a church, this Neo-Gothic building is today the Nationalgalerie.
    9. Französischer Dom
      French cathedral built for the Huguenot community.
    10. Konzerthaus
      This magnificent Neo-Classical building is today the home of the Berlin Symphony Orchestra.
    11. Deutscher Dom
      Cathedral of the German Protestant-Reformed Church.
    12. Schlossbrücke
      One of the most beautiful bridges in Berlin.
    13. Berliner Dom
      Cathedral with one of the largest crypts of its kind in Europe.
    14. Museum Island
      Island in the tributaries of the Spree river that today houses an impressive collection of museums.
    15. Altes Museum
      This museum building stands as one of the most beautiful Neo-Classical structures in the world.
    16. Neues Museum
      Newly reconstructed museum on the Museum Island.
    17. Alte Nationalgalerie
      Museum showcasing modern art collections of Germany.
    18. Pergamonmuseum
      Museum housing one of the most famous collections of antiquities in Europe.
    19. Bodemuseum
      Museum with a mixed collection from coins to Egyption art.
    20. Marienkirche
      Roman Catholic church at Karl-Liebknecht-Straße.
    21. Rotes Rathaus
      Berlin’s main town hall.
    22. Fernsehturm
      Berlin’s television tower and tallest structure in the city.
    23. Alexanderplatz
      Famous square in Berlin.
    24. Nikolaiviertel
      Favorite hang-out by the bank of the Spree River.
    25. Mäkisches Museum
      Museum dedicated to the cultural history of Berlin.
    26. Checkpoint Charlie
      Famous border crossing between the American and Soviet sectors of Cold-War Berlin.
    27. Jüdisches Museum
      Museum that focuses on Jewish history and art.
    28. Topographie des Terrors
      Museum documenting Nazi crimes and tortures.
    29. Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin
      Technical museum that pulls together over 100 specialized collections.

    Eastern Berlin

    Western Berlin

    1. Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche
      One of the most famous landmarks in Berlin.
    2. Kurfürstendamm
      Famous boulevard in Berlin.
    3. Käthe-Kollwitz-Museum
      Small private museum exhibiting the work of the artist Käthe Kollwitz.
    4. Zoologischer Garten
      One of the oldest zoos in Germany.
    5. Tiergarten
      Vast landscaped park in Berlin.
    6. Siegessäule (Triumphal Column)Column commemorating victory in the Prusso-Danish war.
    7. Bauhaus-Archiv
      Building housing the collection of the Bauhaus school of art.
    8. Bendlerblock (Gedenkstätte Deutsche Widerstand)
      Part of the German State Naval Offices during the Third Reich.
    9. Gemäldegalerie
      Art gallery with collection representing all the major European schools.
    10. Kupferstichkabinett und KunstbibliothekThe Print Gallery with collection of engraver’s plates, prints, drawings and watercolors.
    11. Neue Nationalgalerie
      Building that houses the art collection of West Berlin.
    12. Kunstgewerbemuseum
      Museum of crafts and decorative arts from early Middle ages to modern day.
    13. Philharmonie
      Philharmonic and chamber music hall of Berlin.
    14. Musikinstrumenten-Museum
      Museum of Musical Instruments.
    15. Potsdamer Platz
      New financial and business district of Berlin.
    16. Reichstag
      German Parliament Building.
    17. Hamburger Bahnhof
      The former Hamburg Railway station is today a museum of contemporary art.
    18. Museum für Naturkunde
      Neo-Renaissance building housing one of the biggest natural history museums in the world.

    Excursions from Berlin

    1. Bröhan-Museum
      Late-Neo-Classical building housing works of art from the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil or Secessionist) and Art Deco styles.
    2. Sammlung Berggruen
      Art collect from the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century assembled by Heinz Berggruen.
    3. Schloss Charlottenburg
      Palace that was once the summer house of Sophie Charlotte, wife of Elector Friedrich III.
    4. Schlosspark
      Royal park surrounding Schloss Charlottenburg.
    5. Museum für Ur- und Frühgeschichte
      Neo-Classical pavilion housing a museum that documents the cultures and civilizations from Stone Age to medieval times.
    6. Messegelände
      Vast halls for tradeshows and exhibitions.
    7. Olympiastadion
      Stadium built for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
    8. Spandau
      One of the oldest towns in Greater Berlin.
    9. Gedenkstätte Plötzensee
      Memorial to the 2,500 people massacred by the Third Reich.
    10. Schloss Tegel
      Palace complex in Berlin.
    11. Brecht-Weigel-Gedenkstätte
      Former residence of playright Bertolt Brecht.
    12. Neue Synagoge
      Formerly one of the biggest synagogues in Berlin.
    13. Prenzlauer Berg
      A vibrant, happening district in Berlin populated mostly by journalists and students.
    14. Karl-Marx-Allee
      This is an open-air museum to Socialist Realist architecture.
    15. Gedenkstätte Berlin-Hohenschöhausen
      Museum housed in the former special transit camp of war criminals to the KGB.
    16. Forschungs- und Gedenkstätte Normannenstraße (Stasi-Museum)
      Former headquarters of Stasi, the GDR secret service.
    17. Köpenick
      Island containing settlement older then Berlin.
    18. Treptower Park
      Vast park where 150,000 striking workers assembled in 1919.
    19. Flughafen Tempelhof
      Once Germany’s largest airport.
    20. Viktoriapark
      A park with artificial waterfalls and trails, and dotted with memorials.
    21. Rathaus Schöeberg
      Imposing building once serving as the town hall of West Berlin, where John F. Kennedy delivered his famous speech.
    22. Museumszentrum Dahlem
      The museum quarter of West Berlin similar to the Museum Island in East Berlin.
    23. Jagdschloss Grunewald
      One of the oldest surviving civic buildings in Berlin.
    24. Strandbad Wannsee
      Popular recreational spot for Berliners.
    25. Pfaueninsel
      Picturesque island that is today a nature reserve.
    26. Nikolskoe
      Russian-style dacha built for Tsar Nicholas I and his wife, the daughter of King Friedrich Wilhelm III.
    27. Klein Glienicke
      Palace-park of Prince Karl of Prussia.

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