In another article we have already presented the most beautiful Berlin sights. Here we want to deal with the most important practical aspects of travel and give you some important Berlin travel tips for a successful vacation in the capital. Normally, we only deal with places that used to be on the other side of the Iron Curtain. But since Berlin is fortunately no longer a divided city, in this article we will deal with the city partially as a whole.
The most important Berlin travel tips
Berlin – Climate and weather
Berlin is part of a moderate climate zone and is influenced by the foothills of the Atlantic winds and the Eastern European continental climate. Mild summers are followed by relatively cool winters, which roughly correspond to the German average, but often turn out somewhat cold. Especially in January and February it can get uncomfortable.
Winters and spring are usually relatively dry, most of the precipitation here comes from the sky in summer and autumn.
Berlin – Best time to travel
The German capital is visited by millions of tourists every year and there is always something going on here. There is no perfect season in this sense, because even in winter the range of interesting events is large. While you can relax in the summer at the beach club on the Spree, numerous Christmas markets are open in the winter, so you will never be bored away from visiting beautiful sights.
You should keep in mind that Berlin is also an important trade fair location. If a major event is taking place, the hotels are often fully booked or charge hefty surcharges.
Important Berlin Events
As just described, you will certainly not be bored in Berlin. But there are some highlights in the annual calendar that you can mark thickly in the calendar and which offer the perfect framework for your Berlin visit:
- Film Festival: When it’s still really nice and cold outside, stars, starlets and many tourists flock to one of the most important and traditional film festivals in Europe, the Berlinale (usually in February). It takes place, among other places, at the Berlinale-Palast on Potsdamer Platz.
- ITB: The International Tourism Fair is not a trade fair, but something for all visitors to the city. Every year you can go on a journey through the wide world in the Messe Berlin in March, where always a country is presented in more detail and acts as a guest country.
- Carnival of Cultures: The Carnival of Cultures, which always takes place at Pentecost, is almost as international as the Tourism Fair. Openness and tolerance are to be promoted, colorful street parades and countless concerts make the carnival one of the most colorful and beautiful events of the year.
- Days of Jewish Culture: Berlin once had one of the most thriving Jewish communities in Germany. Today, the city attracts many Israelis, who organize numerous cultural events together with the Jewish community of Berlin and its guests during the Days of Jewish Culture.
- Long Night of the Museums: On a certain date in August, Berlin’s museums also open their doors in the evening and at night. During the Long Night of the Museums, many buildings are also wonderfully illuminated and you can enjoy numerous concerts and more.
- Festival of Lights: Speaking of illumination, one of our favorite events is the Festival of Lights in October. The city is bathed in a colorful sea of lights and offers you great photo opportunities.
The most beautiful sights of East Berlin
Berlin has countless sights. Here we want to introduce you to the most beautiful in the east of the city. In another article we go into more detail about them:
- Brandenburg Gate: The Berlin landmark stood directly at the Berlin Wall and represents German division and unity like no other building in Germany.
- Unter den Linden: There are plenty of sights along Berlin’s magnificent boulevard.
- Museum Island: Germany’s most important museums are conveniently located just a few meters from each other on an island surrounded by the Spree River and Spree Canal.
- Berlin Cathedral: The neo-Renaissance church is one of the largest Protestant churches in Germany and the burial place of the Hohenzollern dynasty.
- Berlin City Palace: The Palace of the Republic used to stand here. The reconstruction of the City Palace, which is now located here, is very controversial.
- Gendarmenmarkt: Perhaps the most beautiful square in East Berlin is adorned by an ensemble of two almost identical churches, the German Cathedral and the French Cathedral.
- Checkpoint Charlie: Just like the Brandenburg Gate, this former border crossing is symbolic of German division.
- Prenzlauer Berg: Once a neighborhood of artists and alternatives, gentrification has since left its mark here. Nevertheless, the popular residential area is always worth a trip because of its creative spirit.
- Eastside Gallery: The longest remaining section of the Wall is adorned with countless graffiti and paintings.
- Karl-Marx-Allee: The wide avenue was one of the most representative streets of the GDR and looks more like it could be located in Moscow or New York with its wide lanes.
- Berlin Wall Trail: From the Eastside Gallery to Potsdamer Platz and the Bernauer Strasse Memorial, you can learn all about the division of Germany and the Berlin Wall along several information boards, Wall remains and watchtowers.
- Bus lines 100, 200 and 300: Below we describe the sightseeing lines of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe in more detail, which run along the main sights of the city.
How to get to Berlin?
It’s not just Berliners who frown on the subject of airports; the German public has been preoccupied with the issue for years. But now the time has come and BER, the Berlin Brandenburg Airport opened its doors. It is located southeast of the city near the old Schönefeld Airport (which now forms BER’s Terminal 5) on the border with the state of Brandenburg and will be the most important transportation hub in eastern Germany in the future.
You can reach BER by car or cab, but also by public transport. There is a train station below Terminal 1, where you can take the Airport Express or regional trains to the main train station four times an hour. The S-Bahn trains 9 and 45 also connect the airport with the city center, leaving every 20 minutes and also stopping at the old Schönefeld airport.
Of course, the capital is also connected to the long-distance network of Deutsche Bahn. The most important hub is the main station near the Reichstag, which was opened a few years ago. However, long-distance trains also stop at the long-distance stations Berlin Ostbahnhof, Berlin Gesundbrunnen, Berlin-Spandau, Berlin Südkreuz, Berlin-Wannsee and Berlin Zoologischer Garten.
The arrival by car is not a problem, you can simply take one of the famous German Autobahn (highways):
- The A2 leads from the Ruhr area via Bielefeld, Hanover and Saxony-Anhalt through Berlin to Poland and is Germany’s most important east-west axis.
- The A9 connects Munich with Berlin and runs through southwestern Brandenburg. If you are coming from Bavaria, Thuringia, western Saxony or eastern Saxony-Anhalt, this is the best option.
- As a driver, there is hardly any way to get around the A10, Berlin’s beltway, which runs completely around the city.
- You can get from Dresden to Brandenburg via the A13. The route leads through the Spreewald and then to Berlin.
- If you are coming from northern Schleswig-Holstein or from the Baltic coast of Mecklenburg, you can either take the A24 described below or drive parallel to the coast to Greifswald, where the autobahn makes a detour to the south and leads past Neubrandenburg and Pasewalk near Prenzlau to Brandenburg. Here you change to the A11 and reach the Berlin ring road.
- If you are coming from Hamburg, you can fall back on the A24, which, starting from the Hanseatic city, runs through western Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania to Brandenburg and then joins the A10.
Important: Berlin has an environmental zone that covers the entire city center. You are only allowed to enter this zone if you have a green environmental sticker. You can find more information here.
You can also get to Berlin comfortably by bus. These stop either at the Central Bus Station at the Radio Tower in Charlottenburg, at Alexanderplatz and often also at Ostbahnhof. From all points there is a good connection to public transport.
The Berlin transport company BVG is mainly responsible for public transport. It operates the bus, subway and streetcar networks. Deutsche Bahn (the main German railway company), on the other hand, is responsible for the suburban trains, as well as the regional trains that also run through the city.
The S-Bahn network is relatively dense and connects Berlin with the communities in the surrounding area. Particularly important are the S 41 and S42 lines, which run as ring trains around the center.
The subway network is very tight and connects all areas in the center with each other. Today, you will hardly notice whether you are in the western or eastern part of the city.
You can also get everywhere by bus. We would like to recommend the lines 100, 200 and 300, because these lines serve as hop-on-hop-off buses and pass the most important sights of the capital. If you buy a day ticket, you can travel very cheaply through Berlin and always get off where there is something to see! Lines 100 and 200 start at Bahnhof Zoo and then go to Alexanderplatz. Line 300 starts at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall and goes via Potsdamer Platz to Alexanderplatz and then on to the East Side Gallery and Warschauer Straße station.
First of all, when you buy a ticket, you don’t have to worry about which means of transport you can use, because the tickets are valid for both the lines operated by BVG and the lines operated by Deutsche Bahn.
There are three fare zones in Berlin: AB, BC and ABC. Sounds a bit confusing, but it’s actually quite simple. Area A covers the city center, B the extended center and C the surrounding area including the airport. So normally you only need one ticket in area AB for your vacation. Information about the prices can be found here.
In addition to the many cabs in Berlin, there is also a special service that you can use, the Berlkönig. It works like a call-collection cab and is run by the public transport company. It is mainly active in East Berlin and takes you to your destination relatively cheaply if you don’t want to take the train or are traveling at night.
Typical food in Berlin
In Berlin there are some dishes that you should definitely try at least once. Food in Berlin is cheap and above all diverse. There is the cuisine of almost every country in the world to explore here. The best restaurants are not even expensive. Of course, there are also dishes that originate here or for which Berlin is famous. These include:
- Döner Kebab – What would Berlin be without the Döner?! For us, the best kebab in East Berlin is served at Kebap & Friends (Warschauer Str. 81).
- Currywurst – belongs to Berlin like the TV tower. Best to try in Prenzlauer Berg at Ziervogel’s Kult Curry (Schönhauser Allee 20) or at Konnopke’s (Schönhauser Allee 44b).
- Königsberger Klopse – simply a Prussian dish, that should definitely be eaten in Berlin. Tastes good at Walid (Wichertstraße 55).
You want to more information about Berlin? Then maybe our book tips on the subject will help you.
- Lonely Planet (Author)
- 352 Pages - 02/19/2019 (Publication Date) - Lonely Planet (Publisher)
Classic travel guide to Berlin about the city with all the practical information you need for your Berlin trip.
- Funder, Anna (Author)
- 304 Pages - 09/20/2011 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)
Book about the history of GDR’s state security and how everyday life in East Berlin looked like.
- Hertzberg, Max (Author)
- 204 Pages - 07/10/2019 (Publication Date) - Max Hertzberg (Publisher)
Spy novel about East Berlin
- Dominik Schendel (Author)
- 192 Pages - 11/08/2016 (Publication Date) - DOM publishers (Publisher)
The renowned architectural publisher dom Publishers has, among other things, a book in its program dedicated to the Berlin. Many historical photographs complete the well-researched book.
- Taylor, Frederick (Author)
- 528 Pages - 05/27/2008 (Publication Date) - Harper Perennial (Publisher)
Recently updated book about the Berlin Wall. On more than 500 pages it allows a deep inside view of the Wall and those dark times
What do you think? Do you have any other Berlin travel tips? Write us your Berlin travel tips in the comments!