The capital and cultural epicentre of Germany, Berlin is a popular destination for all art, history, and culture buffs around the globe. Home to some of history’s most prominent landmarks and an array of expansive art museums, this city is everything a curious traveller could ask for. Berlin is a distinguished backdrop in many famous films like The Bourne Supremacy and Run Lola Run.
Where to go
The most sought-after attraction that has visitors flocking to Berlin is the indelible Berlin Wall. Once a stout barrier that divided the nation from 1961 to 1989, the Wall now stands as a reminder of German history. Located in the middle of the city on the historic Bernauer Strasse, the Memorial preserves the last standing portion of the Berlin Wall and its grounds. Exhibition plaques trace the events that occurred here, and preserved remnants and border obstacles are displayed alongside the Wall.
Another strong symbol of German history is the Brandenburg Gate, which stands proudly in Pariser Platz. The only remaining city gate that formerly represented the division of East and West Berlin, Brandenburg Gate now symbolises unity. Modelled after the Propylaeum of Athens’ Acropolis, the Gate is exemplary of sophisticated German classicism. The quadriga crowning the gate points towards the city centre, and the Gate is closed to traffic – so you can meander about the plaza safely and enjoy the company of the occasional mascot or street performer.
And what’s a trip to Berlin without visiting its internationally-acclaimed museums? With a museum pass (the Berlin Welcome Card) that grants you free access to almost any museum in the city, museum-hopping is a way of life here. The best place to start is the famed Museum Island, a collective of five world-renowned museums built on a small island on the Spree River. Constructed between 1824 and 1930, this cluster of monuments is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the Pergamon frieze and the Market Gate of Miletus in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin’s most visited, and behold the bust of Nefertiti in the Neues Museum (New Museum). It is interesting to witness the evolution of civilisations and human artistic endeavour over the course of 6000 years.
An extensive transport network covers the city of Berlin. The S-Bahn, which mostly runs above ground, is a regional network covering about 170 stations; the U-Bahn, or underground train, runs to about 140 stations. Several public bus routes cover the smaller roads, and more than 20 tram lines extend the U-Bahn network in Berlin. Trams are more common in the eastern part of the city. Of course, taxis are always an available option.
Getting to Berlin
Berlin Tegel Airport, approximately eight kilometres from the city, is the main international airport that handles domestic, regional, and international flights. It serves flights coming in from cities including Amsterdam, Frankfurt, and Beijing. To travel from here to the city, hop on bus 109, 128, or the JetExpressBus TXL.
The city is also served by Berlin Schönefeld Airport, located about 18 km from the city. It handles mostly regional and international flights, covering cities like Dublin, Barcelona, and Reykjavík-Keflavík. From here, the city can be accessed via the S-Bahn lines S49 and S9 and select Airport Express trains.