- Cityscape Soviet so-cool republic
- City Life Louche and lowdown
Flying in the face of stuffy German stereotypes, famously liberal and fun-loving Berlin has long been a magnet for pleasure-seekers.
Willkommen to perhaps Europe’s most fascinating city. Lines of bars and clubs, blaring out rock, techno and everything in between, have now replaced the famous Berlin wall, and are testament to the city’s resilience and upbeat character. Indeed, the collapse of the Iron Curtain has allowed its dormant creativity to flourish. Art galleries have sprung up in almost every vacant warehouse space, theatre and cabaret venues continue to pack them in, and awe-inspiring buildings such as the metal-and-glass Reichstag have brought iconic design to the Soviet-era cityscape. Add to this a vibrant culinary scene, offering everything from traditional würst to elaborate Asian fusion, and this city is one you’ll never want to leave. Berlin? It’ll take your breath away.
Do go/Don’t go
There’s never a bad time to visit Berlin. In the balmy summer, there are all kinds of alfresco delights to indulge in; in winter, it may be cold and up-to-your-knees snowy, but it’s also incredibly atmospheric. And there’s glühwein on sale everywhere to warm you up.
- Planes There are three airports in Berlin. Berlin International | better known as Tegel | is the most likely arrival point for visitors from the US. It’s about six miles north of the city centre | and is well served by transport links. Schönefeld and Tempelhof are equally easy to get to and from. For information | go to www.berlin-airport.de.
- Trains Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de) is Germany’s national rail service, and operates cross-country links, as well as routes to other European cities. Berlin’s metro system – the U-bahn – runs from the early hours of the morning until just after midnight; and all night at weekends.
- Automobiles Don’t bother. Parking places in central Berlin are difficult to find | and very expensive when you do…
- Taxis You’ll find taxi ranks all over the city, and you can also call Taxi Fon (0800 8001 1554) to get one sent to you. When you get into a cab, the meter will always be set to €2.50. Expect to pay €1.50 a kilometre after that.