The capital of Germany, Berlin, is one of the country’s 16 states, as well as its largest city. Berlin is situated in north-eastern Germany on the banks of River Spree, and is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. A temperate seasonal climate is experienced in Berlin, due to its location in the European Plain. Approximately one third of the state is composed of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, and lakes. Berlin is a popular tourist destination for its museums, entertainment venues, festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts, and high quality of living. Berlin is also known as a world city of culture.
What to see & do
Sightseeing in Berlin will be interesting for tourists as its history has left the state with a highly assorted variety of architecture and buildings. Berlin’s role in the 20th-century German history is apparent until today, due to the distinctive architectural styles of the different national governments that were based in Berlin (the Kingdom of Prussia, the 1871 German Empire, the Weimar Republic, Nazi Germany, East Germany, and the reunified Germany). Some of the most iconic landmarks in Berlin include the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz in Mitte, one of the tallest structures in the European Union and is visible throughout most of the central districts of Berlin; the Rotes Rathaus, with its distinctive red-brick architecture; the Neptunbrunnen fountain that features the personification of the four main Prussian rivers, with Neptune at the top; the Brandenburg Gate; the Reichstag building, featuring a glass dome over the session area; the East Side Gallery, an open-air exhibition of art painted on the last existing parts of the Berlin Wall; the Gendarmenmarkt square, bordered by the Franzosischer Dom and the Deutscher Dom; and the Konzerthaus that stands between the two cathedrals. In River Spree, there is the Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which houses five museums. Nightlife in Berlin also offers a unique experience as it is one of the most diverse and vibrant of its kind in the continent.
How to get around within Berlin
Getting around Berlin is possible via buses, trams, underground services, and taxis. Berlin uses a zone system and the public transportation uses a common ticket. The subway/metro (U-Bahn), on the other hand, has electronic signs in the stations that indicate the time of the next train as well as its direction. There are also detailed maps in every station as well as on the trains. The U-Bahn provides transportation network throughout greater Berlin. Most of the trams are found in East Berlin; tram lines in West Berlin were removed to accommodate for more vehicular traffic. Buses are the slowest form of public transport in Berlin. However, the yellow double-decker buses that serves the city can get to almost anywhere in Berlin, even the places that cannot be reached by the trains and trams. The most recommended bus line for tourists is the bus route 100 or 200, which leaves from Zoo Station or Alexanderplatz on the other end. This line crosses most of the historical sites in Berlin. Going around Berlin by bike is also a great way to tour the city; Berlin has no steep hills and has a number of bicycle paths – separate paths, bike lanes on the streets, bike lanes on footpaths, mixed-use pedestrian and bike paths, and combined bus-bike lanes.
How to get there
Berlin has two commercial airports: Berlin Tegel Airport and Schonefeld Airport. Berlin Tegel Airport is located within the city limits and is an important transfer hub for Air Berlin and a focus city for Lufthansa and Germanwings. Schönefeld Airport is located outside the city’s south-eastern border in Brandenburg, and is an important destination for easyJet. By 2017, Berlin Brandenburg Airport is expected to replace Berlin Tegel Airport and will integrate old Schonefeld facilities. Berlin can also be accessed from other cities in Europe by bus, train, and car.