For many, Berlin is the epitome of all that is great in German culture and this captivating city, a treasure trove of cultural attractions, is also at the heart of the global interest in Germany's turbulent history:
Historically, Berlin is one of the most fascinating cities in the world and many people travel here primarily because they are curious about the dark mystique of the capital under Hitler, and the legacy of the Berlin Wall, which featured so prominently in the Cold War imagination. The city has been resurrected as an artistic, vibrant place, and has rapidly regained its pre-war reputation for being a party city. A holiday in Berlin attracts both sophisticated fun-lovers and voracious culture vultures, with a great balance between cultural treasures and exciting modern attractions. Visitors can pass through historic sites like the famous Checkpoint Charlie, take a tour around the iconic Reichstag, or marvel at the splendours of the Charlottenburg Palace, with its impressive collections of art and beautiful gardens.
Berlin's famous cabarets and nightclubs are in full swing, and its opera and concert venues seldom miss a note; the nightlife in this special city will not disappoint. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities in the many great retail streets and malls, and foodies will be similarly delighted by the selection of quality restaurants in Berlin.
Best time to visit Berlin
Berlin is famed for its long, sunny summers (June to late August) and this is the best time to visit, when outdoor cafes in the parks and gardens (especially the Tiergarten) come alive with events. However, Berlin's cultural delights, like museums and galleries, make it a year-round destination. Even in winter, often the least popular season to travel in Europe, the Berlin Christmas Markets and New Year's celebrations make it a rewarding time to visit.
GMT +1 (GMT +2, Apr - Oct)
230 volts, 50Hz. European-style two-pin plugs are standard.
German is the official language. English is also widely spoken and understood.
There are no serious health risks for visitors to Germany and no vaccinations are required. The German health service is excellent and there is a reciprocal health agreement with the UK and most EU countries, whose citizens are entitled to free medical and dental treatment on presentation of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Nationals of other countries should take out travel insurance.
German law stipulates that all prices, menus and bills include both tax and a service charge, so tipping is not necessary in restaurants. Cleaning staff, hairdressers, taxi drivers and other menial services appreciate small tips.
A visit to Germany should be trouble free, but take normal precautions to avoid mugging, bag-snatching and pick-pocketing, especially at airports, railway stations and markets in the large cities.
Visitors are not required to carry their passports with them at all times in Germany, but carrying some form of identification is advised. Smoking in public places such as bars and restaurants is illegal.
Berlin is teeming with history and its key attractions bear testimony to that. The sobering Checkpoint Charlie and Jewish Museum serve as stark reminders of Germany's complex past, and history buffs enjoy exploring all the museums and memorials the German capital has to offer. The remains of the infamous Berlin Wall are now the Eastside Gallery, the largest open-air gallery in the world, displaying graffiti from more than 118 artists from around the world.
Younger travellers enjoy visiting the Legoland Discovery Centre, while the historic Hamburger Bahnhof, one of the most popular art galleries, is a must for culture lovers. The Potsdamer Platz is a wonderful place to explore, boasting a fantastic mix of restaurants, shopping centres, hotels, a casino, theatres and cinemas. The Kollhoff-Tower located in the square features a panorama platform which offers breathtaking views of the city, reached by Europe's fastest express elevator.
The Berlin Museum ticket, which is valid for three consecutive days, allows free entry to about 40 museums, while the Berlin Welcome Card offers discounts on most of Berlin's major attractions, as well as free travel on public transport within the city. Prices depend on how many days the card is required for. Both cards can be bought online or from railway stations and tourist information centres.
Restaurants in Berlin are melting pots of culture and gastronomic delight. The city's culinary traditions have been immensely influenced over the years by its vibrant immigrant community, with authentic international cuisines growing to cement a firm place on the city's food scene.
The flagship dish of Berlin is the simple yet satisfying boulette, a combination of fried meatball and hamburger often accompanied by Berliner Weiße, a traditional mix of sour beer and juice. The highly popular Doner Kebab from Turkish influence is one the most popular fast food dishes, while German favourites like beer and pretzels are stocked in abundance.
The central Mitte borough, which also contains many of the prime tourist sights, is the best bet for eating out in Berlin. Brimming with a wide variety of restaurants, Oranienburger Street is a particularly enticing option, featuring a buzzing atmosphere and many of the city's most popular restaurants.
Berlin follows close on Amsterdam's heels for the title of Europe's most liberal city, offering avant-garde setups, trendy bars, risque underground clubs, artistic local hangouts and world-class performing arts. Berlin's nightlife expanded rapidly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, with locals excited to take advantage of a new type of social freedom. The clubbing scene in Berlin is now one of the most competitive and stimulating in the world.
The Mitte district is one of the trendiest, boasting some of the city's most popular party spots but often flooded with tourists. New clubs regularly spring up in Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain, while Kreuzberg is fast becoming a go-to hangout with locals, and is distinguished by its edgy atmosphere. Schoneburg offers some superb cafes and saunas and is quite big with Berlin's gay community, as is Nollendorfplatz.
There are plenty of neighbourhood pubs serving local brews and old favourites, while cabaret is still a popular pastime in Berlin, with many cabaret clubs dotted around this vibrant city. Live music venues dominate much of the city, showcasing both well-known and amateur acts in just about every type of atmosphere, from intimate eateries to grungy music halls.
Berlin has a continental climate with cold winters, hot summers and mild autumn and spring seasons. The weather in summer (June to August) is mostly pleasant and sunny, with long days and temperatures averaging 73°F (23°C), but Berlin's climate is unpredictable and the weather can rapidly change. Winters (December to February) can be cold and damp, with the temperature hovering around freezing. Snow falls between December and March, but Berlin seldom stays covered in snow for long. Rain can fall all year round and it is always a good idea to have an umbrella in Berlin, no matter what the season. The wettest months are June and August, and the driest months on average are October and February. Berlin is a year-round travel destination because so much of the city's appeal lies in its cultural and historical attractions, which are fabulous regardless of the weather. The most popular time to visit Berlin is in the summer months when the sidewalk cafes, parks and gardens can be enjoyed to the utmost and there are numerous fun summer events.
Germany is one of the most forward-thinking LGBT+ friendly countries in Europe, seeking to be seen as a beacon of equality. That said, attitudes in Berlin can vary in our experience vastly from East Berlin to West Berlin.
Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine.
Country specific diphtheria recommendations are not provided here. Diphtheria tetanus and polio are combined in a single vaccine in the UK. Therefore, when a tetanus booster is recommended for travellers, diphtheria vaccine is also given. Should there be an outbreak of diphtheria in a country, diphtheria vaccination guidance will be provided.
Those who may be at increased risk of an infectious disease due to their work, lifestyle choice, or certain underlying health problems should be up to date with additional recommended vaccines. See the individual chapters of the ‘Green Book’ Immunisation against infectious disease for further details.
There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations.
The vaccines in this section are recommended for most travellers visiting this country. Information on these vaccines can be found by clicking on the blue arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.
The vaccines in this section are recommended for some travellers visiting this country. Information on when these vaccines should be considered can be found by clicking on the arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.
02 December 2021 - 3 Nights
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For many, Berlin is the epitome of all that is great in German culture and this captivating city, a treasure trove of cultural attractions, is also at the heart of the global interest in Germany's turbulent history.