Berlin has something for everyone – in abundance. From the grit and grime of the East to the glam and glitter of the West, the German capital is a cultural cauldron of art and design.
The re-birth of a city devastated by war, separated and reunited is fast becoming one of the most intriguing cities in the world. Visitors are drawn by the few surviving landmarks such as the Reichstag, Brandenburg Gate and the remaining fragments of the famous wall. The fascinating history is retold in outstanding museums and free street displays, represented in art and the openness of the German people who still feel remnants of regret for the past.
The Jewish history museum and the German history museum are popular with visitors as is the Jewish concentration camp in Sachsenhausen, though it has been stripped to the bare bones and is disappointingly devoid of character. For a real taste of wartime Germany head to the Unterwelten in Brunnenstrasse where a network of underground Nazi bunkers are secretly hidden behind an undistinguished green door. The film museum in Postdamer Platz is also worth a visit.
The nightlife in Berlin is positively throbbing, with pockets of hotspots dotted all over the city. Locals head for Kreuzberg and Rosenberg Platz where Polish and Russian bars provide a unique alternative experience, whilst tourists tend to stray to Kurfurstendamm and Alexanderplatz where glamorous clubs are reflected in the inflated prices. Bars with beer garden beaches, several of which can be found throughout this thriving city, are another unique design popular with party goers. Berlin’s cultural diversity is reflected in the many delicious restaurants serving sumptuous recipes from all over the world, though food and drink prices are notably cheaper in the east.
Berlin Zoo houses, Knut, the first polar bear to be born in Germany. The 35 hectares of green oasis in the heart of the city is the most visited zoo in Europe and easily recognised by the impressive Asian architecture of Elephant Gate at its main entrance. A short walk from the zoo is Berlin’s biggest park, Tiergarten, the design for which was taken from the blueprint of London’s Hyde Park.
As expected of the German efficiency the transport system is second to none. Trains and buses turn up regularly and on time. Fares are cheap, so make sure tickets are purchased and validated from machines on the platforms as plain clothed ticket inspectors are not lenient when handing out hefty fines to anybody caught without a valid ticket.
Twenty years after reunification, Berlin is still a tale of two cities and, in part, it’s this contrast that makes Berlin such a fascinating, must see destination.
Travelling to Berlin by Ferry
Although Germany does have some coastline, there is currently no direct ferry between the UK and Germany. Berlin though is situated well inland, so even if there was a UK-Germany ferry, driving would still be needed. The ferry that will actually get you closest to Berlin is the Harwich Esjberg ferry.
Though if you don’t mind the extra drive there are many more options with shorter crossing times and a slightly longer drive.