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Frommer's Berlin day by day

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Frommer's Berlin Day-by-Day Guide is the complete up-to-date reference for visitors who want to maximize their stay in the smartest, most time-efficient way. This invaluable guide offers reviews on a wide array of sightseeing, lodging, shopping, dining and entertainment options in all price ranges, and also includes thematic and walking tours of the city's best-loved neighborhoods with Frommer's trademark candid and accessible expertise.

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15 Favorite Moments

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Even in the midst of constant change, “Berlin bleibt doch Berlin,” which means Berlin always remains Berlin. No other city in Europe has experienced the kind of rapid change and renewal that Berlin has since the Wall came down in 1989. Yet Berlin has held on to its identity and is back to being the trendsetting, party-loving German capital. Whether you’re exploring Museum Island’s world-renowned museums, taking a somber tour of the city’s war and Wall memorials, or checking out the pulsating nightlife, Berlin will excite and entertain you in a way few other cities can.

 

Zooming up to the Reichstag’s futuristic cupola. Book an early-morning tour of Norman Foster’s glass dome. Ascend the spiral ramp to a platform that affords far-reaching vistas over Berlin, from the Brandenburg Gate to the Siegessäule. Go to Page.

Getting wild behind the wheel of a Trabi. Go, Trabi, go! Pick your dream machine, pull the choke, and feel your two-stroke splutter past landmarks from the Fernsehturm to the monumental Karl-Marx-Allee. These cult GDR cars are the coolest way to enjoy the sights of Berlin’s “Wild East.” Go to Page.

 

1. The Best of Berlin in One, Two or Three Days

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This whirlwind tour takes in Berlin’s trophy sights from the glass dome crowning the Reichstag to a classic saunter down the Unter den Linden boulevard. After a brief detour to Ancient Greece at the Pergamon Museum, you can catch a memorable sunset by the River Spree and toast your first day with a glass of Berliner Kindl beer in Zum Nussbaum. START: U-Bahn to Bundestag.   Reichstag. Start your day with a visit to the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament) for a captivating view over the city. An elevator takes you up to architect Norman Foster’s striking glass cupola. There’s nothing like the moment you step inside the kaleidoscopic shell and come face-to-face with the 360° panorama of Berlin. Check the website for details on guided tours and book in advance. 20–90 min. Platz der Republik 1. 030-227-0. www.bundestag.de. Free admission. Tours daily 10:30am, 1:30, 5:30 & 6:30pm when parliament is not sitting; advance booking essential. U-Bahn: Bundestag.  

2. The Best Special-Interest Tours: Something Brewing, Kinder Surprise, Art Uncovered, Roaring Twenties, The Other Side of the Wall

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Berlin is no exception in this beer-loving country. An outing to the capital’s lively beer gardens and brewpubs is a great way to slip under Berlin’s skin and enjoy homebrews and banter with the locals. So, brace yourself for an intoxicating tour of the top drinking holes: from quaffing under the fruit trees in Kreuzberg to sipping pilsner in the Nikolaiviertel. START: S-Bahn to Tiergarten.   Café am Neuen See. Quench your thirst on warm weekends at Berlin’s biggest beer garden, seating 1,000. Join beer-guzzling locals on the benches beside this tranquil lake for cool lagers and giant pretzels. A sandpit, table tennis, and rowing boats (5€ for 30 min.) will keep kids amused. Lichtensteinallee 2. 030-254-49-30. Daily 9 or 10am to 10pm. S-Bahn: Tiergarten. Schleusenkrug. Enjoy a leisurely saunter along the Landwehrkanal (Go to Page, ) to this canal-front beer garden. The name is a fusion of Schleuse (lock) and Krug (beer mug). The attractive garden, with its willow and creeping roses, provides respite from the city’s bustle. The grill rustles up a selection of tasty snacks from 4pm. Müller-Breslau-Strasse, Tiergarten. 030-313-99-09. May–Sept daily 10am–1am; Oct–Apr Mon–Fri 11am–7pm, Sat–Sun 10am–7pm. S-Bahn: Tiergarten.  

3. The Best Neighborhood Walks: Potsdamer Platz, Alexander Platz, Museum Island,Kreuzberg, Kurfurstendamm, Unter den Linden

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This tour leads from the green expanse of Tiergarten to a forest of skyscrapers in Potsdamer Platz. Following the River Spree, take in the neoclassical grandeur of Schloss Bellevue and the modernist elegance of Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Ambling farther south brings you to Kulturforum’s stellar galleries showcasing Rembrandt and Picasso. START: S-Bahn to Tiergarten.   Siegessäule. One of Berlin’s most visible icons, the Siegessäule (Victory Column) towers above the Grosser Stern traffic circle and is crowned by a golden statue, nicknamed “Goldene Else” by Berliners. You need to get up close to this monument to Prussian war victories to appreciate its ornate murals and mosaics depicting the battles of the 19th-century Franco-Prussian and Austro-Prussian wars. Feeling sprightly? Hike up to the platform for vistas across the treetops to central Berlin. 30 min. Go to Page. S-Bahn: Tiergarten. Schloss Bellevue. Pass through the woodlands linking Grosser Stern to Schloss Bellevue. Stroll across the neatly clipped lawns to reach the three-winged facade of this beautiful baroque palace. Built in 1786 for Prince Ferdinand of Prussia, it has been the official residence of the German president since 1994. Supported by Corinthian columns, the gables are embellished with allegorical figures that represent agriculture, fishing, and hunting. 20 min. Go to Page.  

4. The Best Shopping

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Shopping Best Bets

 

Best for Vintage Fashion

Waahnsinn, Rosenthaler Strasse 17 (Go to Page)

Best Flea Market Finds

Flea Market, Strasse des 17 Juni (Go to Page)

Best for CD Bargains

Space Hall, Zossener Strasse 33 (Go to Page)

Best for Diva Bling

Gallery Schrill, Bleibtreustrasse 48 (Go to Page)

Best for Designer Dogwear

Koko von Knebel, Uhlandstrasse 181 (Go to Page)

Best for Fair-Trade Toys

Barefoot Berlin, Kreuzbergstrasse 75 (Go to Page)

Best Urban Streetwear

EASTBERLIN, Alte Schönhauser Strasse 33–34 (Go to Page)

Best for Unique Truffles

Confiserie Mélanie, Goethestrasse 4 (Go to Page)

Best Department Store

 

5. The Great Outdoors

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Berlin’s biggest outdoor playground is a vast swathe of greenery studded with lakes and canals. You’ll find some quiet corners, but most of Tiergarten hums with activity, from picnicking families to rollerblading teenagers. Footpaths weave through woodlands where Prussian princes once went hunting, affording snapshot glimpses of the Siegessäule (Victory Colum). START: S-Bahn to Tiergarten.

 

Landwehrkanal. Begin your stroll on the grassy banks of the Landwehrkanal, Berlin’s main canal. Running parallel to the water, the tree-fringed Gartenufer skirts the zoo (Go to Page) and offers a sneak preview of its inhabitants. Peek through the fence to spy hyenas, storks, and llamas. Cross the bridge to reach the serene rose gardens. 30 min. S-Bahn: Tiergarten.

Neuer See. A few paces away is the lake, mirroring a copse of oak, ash, and maple trees. When the sun’s out, the best way to appreciate it is by hiring a rowing boat (5€ for 30 minutes). 45 min.

 

6. The Best Dining

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Dining Best Bets

 

Best Falafel

Dada Falafel Linienstrasse 132 (Go to Page)

Best Riverside Dining

Patio Helgoländer Ufer/Kirchstrasse (Go to Page)

Best Splurge

Vau Jägerstrasse 54 (Go to Page)

Best Skyline Views

Solar Stresemannstrasse 76 (Go to Page)

Best for Families

Ampelmann Restaurant Stadtbahnbogen 159/160 (Go to Page)

Best Spicy Sausage

Curry 36 Mehringdamm 36 (Go to Page)

Best for Chocolate Indulgence

Fassbender & Rausch Charlottenstrasse 60 (Go to Page)

Best Alpine Flavors

Schneeweiss Simplonstrasse 16 (Go to Page)

Best Old-World Tavern

Gasthaus Krombach Meinekestrasse 4 (Go to Page)

 

7. The Best Nightlife

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Nightlife Best Bets

Best Twilight Views

Solar Stresemannstrasse 76 (Go to Page)

Best for Tunnel Vision

Künstliche BEATmung Simon-Dach-Strasse 20 (Go to Page)

Best High-Rise Party

Weekend Alexanderplatz 5 (Go to Page)

Best Swim & Bop

Badeschiff Eichenstrasse 4 (Go to Page)

Best Beer Garden

Prater Kastanienalee 7-9. (Go to Page)

Best Sports Bar

Oscar Wilde Pub Friedrichstrasse 112a (Go to Page)

Best Caipirinha on the Beach

Strandgut Mühlenstrasse 61 (Go to Page)

Best Blues Bar

Speiches Blueskneipe Raumerstrasse 39 (Go to Page)

Best Rum Cocktail

Rum Trader Fasanenstrasse 40 (Go to Page)

Best Chic Hotel Bar

 

8. The Best Arts & Entertainment

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Arts & Entertainment Best Bets

 

Best Cabaret

Bar Jeder Vernunft Schaperstrasse 24 (Go to Page)

Best Jazz Club

Quasimodo Kantstrasse 12a (Go to Page)

Best Contemporary Opera

Komische Oper Behrenstrasse 55–57 (Go to Page)

Best Symphony Orchestra

Berliner Philharmoniker Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse 1 (Go to Page)

Best for Rock & Indie Concerts

Columbia Halle Columbiadamm 13–21 (Go to Page)

Best for Drama Classics

Deutsches Theater Schumannstrasse 13a (Go to Page)

Best Opera Company

Staatsoper Unter den Linden Unter den Linden 7 (Go to Page)

Best Arthouse Cinema

Arsenal Potsdamer Strasse 2 (Go to Page)

Best for Classical Concerts

 

9. The Best Lodging

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Lodging Best Bets

 

Best for Wild Bedrooms

Arte Luise Kunsthotel Luisenstrasse 19 (Go to Page)

Best 1920s Flashback

Askanischer Hof Kurfürstendamm 53 (Go to Page)

Best Hotel on Water

Eastern Comfort Mühlenstrasse 73–77 (Go to Page)

Best Eco-Conscious Hotel

Circus Hotel Rosenthaler Strasse 1 (Go to Page)

Best Design Hotel

Casa Camper Weinmeisterstrasse 1 (Go to Page)

Best for Art Nouveau Style

Hotel Art Nouveau Leibnizstrasse 59 (Go to Page)

Best on a Budget

EastSeven Hostel Schwedter Strasse 7 (Go to Page)

Best for a Romantic Weekend

Honigmond Garden Hotel Invalidenstrasse 122 (Go to Page)

Best Gay but Hetero-Friendly Hotel

 

10. The Best Day Trips & Excursions

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Berlin’s petite Versailles, the opulent baroque summer palace of Schloss Charlottenburg, merits at least half a day of your time. Relive the splendor of the Hohenzollern dynasty in gilded state apartments and French gardens strewn with romantic follies. In the afternoon, explore genteel Charlottenburg, where galleries showcase Picasso, Art Nouveau, and Surrealist works. START: S-Bahn to Westend.

 

Schloss Charlottenburg. King Friedrich I of Prussia gave this not-so-humble abode to his sweetheart, Sophie Charlotte, as a token of his affection in 1699. The summer palace is the jewel in Berlin’s Hohenzollern crown and a feast of Italian baroque. The facade alone is breathtaking, partly modeled on Versailles and adorned with classical-style sculptures, including a bronze equestrian statue of the king. Most of the palace was rebuilt after being severely damaged during WWII. The staterooms are overwhelming, so concentrate on the Altes Schloss (Old Palace) where you can visit the Great Oak Gallery, an exquisitely carved, oak-paneled banquet hall completed in 1713, the crimson and gold Red Damask Chamber, and the king’s all-gold Bedchamber. The highlight is the Porcelain Room, brimming with 2,700 pieces of Chinese and Japanese porcelain, from cups to plates and vases. 1 hr. Spandauer Damm 10–22. 030-32-09-11. www.spsg.de. Admission 12€ adults, 7€ concessions. Apr–Oct Tues–Sun 10am–6pm, closed Mon; may be closed Nov–Mar, check website. S-Bahn: Westend.

 

The Savvy Traveler

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Before You Go

Government Tourist Offices

For pre-travel enquiries, contact Visit Berlin (Am Karlsbad 11; www.visitberlin.de). Their website has information in English to help plan your stay and you can order maps and brochures online. Their call center ( 030-25-00-25) deals with accommodation bookings.

German National Tourist Offices:

In the U.S.: 122 East 42nd Street, Suite 2000, New York, NY 10168-0072 ( 212/661-7200; www.cometogermany.com). In Canada: 480 University Ave., Suite 1410, Toronto, M5G 1V2 ( 416/968-1685). In the U.K.: PO Box 2695, London W1A 3TN ( 020/317-09-08; www.germany-tourism.co.uk).

The Best Times to Go

Every season has its appeal, but May through August are the most popular months, when the weather warms and locals flock to the city’s gardens, lidos, and beaches. Even in peak months, temperatures rarely exceed 30°C (86°F). Summer is also best for music festivals, open-air screenings, and beer garden jaunts, though beds can be scarce so book well ahead. September and October are cooler and quieter—with fewer crowds, and reductions on hotels and airfares up for grabs. November’s great cultural lineup enlivens the dull onset of winter. Although December can be bitingly cold, it offers winter warmers at its Christmas markets. Wintry weather continues through to March, with the thermometer often dipping below freezing in January and February.

 

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