Berlin is one of the 16 states of Federal Republic of Germany and is the capital of the country, as well as its largest city. It is located on the banks of River Spree in north-eastern Germany, and is the centre of the Berlin-Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. Due to its location, Berlin has a temperate seasonal climate and has areas composed of parks, gardens, forests, rivers, and lakes.
What to see & do
Berlin Wall - The famous Berlin Wall was the barrier that separated West Berlin and East Berlin from 1961 to 1989. Officially called the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart, it was also called The Wall of Shame. Most of the wall has been destroyed, with only three long sections remaining. A private museum is located near Checkpoint Charlie.
Berlin Zoological Garden - Established in 1844, the Berlin Zoological Garden is the oldest zoo in Germany. It occupies 35 hectares in Berlin's Tiergarten. The zoo houses almost 20,500 animals representing approximately 1,500 different species. It is considered to be the most visited zoo in Europe.
DDR Museum - DDR Museum is an interactive museum situated in the former governmental district of East Germany. It features exhibits on the daily life in East Germany, or DDR.
House of World Cultures - House of World Cultures, or Haus der Kulturen der Welt, is the country's national centre for the presentation and discussion of international contemporary arts. The centre hosts art exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, concerts, films, and academic conferences focusing on Visual Art and culture.
How to get around Berlin
Berlin is very large and has a highly complex, but very useful, transport infrastructure. The regional rail lines cover the surrounding regions of Brandenburg. Long-distance rail lines provide Berlin with connections to all the major cities in Germany, as well as with several cities in neighbouring European countries. The S-Bahn is the mainly overground rail system with some suburban stops, while the U-Bahn is the mainly underground rail system that provides 24-hour service during weekends. Detailed maps for both lines are available at the stations and on the trains themselves. The trams are found mostly in East Berlin, and buses, although comparatively slower, are frequent and extensive.
Travellers can access the Berlin route planner online for precise maps and schedules for the public transport system in Berlin. Tickets can be purchased at the vending machines at U- and S-Bahn platforms using coins, local bank cards, or banknotes; Berlin uses a zone system, but the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, bus, tram, and regional rail use a common ticket. Some of most useful tickets for tourists include the Berlin City Tourcard, which is valid for all public transport services in the state and also serves as a discount card for many tourist attractions, the Berlin WelcomCard, which provides free travel on all modes of public transport, up to 50% discount on plenty of tourist and cultural attractions, a city plan for Berlin and Potsdam and a network plan for public transport, and a handy guide with insider tips and tour suggestions. Both tickets are available in different versions, varying only in length of validity and price.
How to get there
The two commercial airports serving Berlin are Berlin Tegel Airport, situated within the city, and Schönefeld Airport, situated just outside of the state's south-eastern border with the state of Brandenburg. Berlin Tegel Airport provides plenty of connections with other cities in Germany and Europe, mostly provided by Air Berlin and Germanwings. Hainan Airlines operates flights from Beijing, while Air Berlin also operates from New York and Abu Dhabi. Berlin Schönefeld Airport, the sole airport in East Berlin, operates to and from Cairo, Tel Aviv, and Tehran, in addition to other European cities.