The epicenter of Germany's art scene, Berlin attracts everyone from history buffs to techno addicts with its variety of activities and different neighborhoods. If you're visiting during the summer, make sure to visit on of Berlin's famous beer gardens or take a party boat cruise through the city on the canal. No matter if you're taking it easy enjoying an excellent German beer in the park or raving until the sun comes up at one of the city's many famous clubs, Berlin has something to interest and excite young and old.
Berlin's public transport network, run by BVG and VBB, is easy to use, well-connected and affordable. Start by finding a ticket machine at any station or boarding platform. The touch screen ticket machines feature several language options and accept cash or card. Choose your ticket type, from single journey to daily or weekly pass, and away you go. There are no turnstiles or barriers, as the BVG trusts you to buy a ticket, but don't forget to stamp the ticket for validation before use. The iconic yellow U-Bahn underground trains comprise of 10 lines, stop frequently and cover all central areas and attractions visitors wish to see. The S-Bahn above-ground trains connect, among others, the main train and bus stations, airports and a city ring line. A fleet of trams and buses compliment the routes between train stops. One ticket is valid on every line, whether train, bus or tram, and is good for 1.5 hours in one direction. Service runs from 4:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on weekdays and 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays. Using Berlin's variety of transport options is a fun way to experience the buzz of the city and its people.
In Berlin, the temperature difference between seasons is huge, and can range from 85 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and go below 32 degrees Fahrenheit in winter. The winter season (January to April) can be cold and brutally windy with grey skies, but don't let this hinder you from touring Berlin and enjoying the rich culture, history, and exciting attractions that are scattered throughout the city. If you are not prepared for the freezing temperatures and windy weather, coupled with frequent showers of the harsh winters of Berlin, then it is recommended that you visit from May through September, which is the summer season. Summer usually has a larger amount of tourists that make the nightlife one of a kind, and you can enjoy the company of vacationers from all over the world in one spot. If you travel to Berlin during the summer, you can see many musical exhibitions and shows throughout the bustling city. Also, many street fairs occur during the summer and there are always a multitude of luxurious local spas for you to relax and enjoy yourself. Spring (mid-March to May) in Berlin can be wonderfully warm, and there are also fewer crowds and better prices during this part of the year.
The Berlin district of Mitte and its sizable pedestrian marketplace, Alexanderplatz, is your hub for walking around the city's central sights. The iconic TV-Tower spire rising from the "Alex" shopping square will help to orient you and also offers fantastic panoramic views from the top. In close proximity is the Nikolei Quarter, Berlin's medieval center, which is on the Museum Island. This is where you'll find the Baroque Berliner Dom church on the Spree. The Spree, Berlin's main waterway, is lined with cafes and historic architecture and is the best spot to catch a river boat tour. You'll see more museums and galleries as you stroll along Unter Den Linden, which brings you to another Berlin monument, the Brandenburg Gate. Beyond the Gate, stop at a biergarten in the forested Tiergarten park, or travel a bit further to the Zoological Gardens. Brandenburg Gate is also close to city's Government Quarter and Reichstag building, as well as the Hauptbahnhof central train station. Wander east along the river by foot or by bike, and you'll eventually reach the Eastside Gallery, where remnants of the Berlin Wall still stand. Another must-see within walking distance is Checkpoint Charlie, the Cold-War East-West crossing. Walking in Berlin is a great opportunity to see the city up close and personal.
The cuisine of Berlin tends to be hearty and rustic with pork as the main component of most dishes. The city has a strong pub culture, and food is a big part of that - with locals and visitors heading out each night to indulge in excellent beers and a range of delicious meals. One of the truly unique dishes that can be found in Berlin is Eisbein which is a slow-cooked pork knuckle with a crispy outer layer, that is served on a bed of sauerkraut (pickled cabbage). Street food and food festivals are an important part of the cuisine culture of Berlin. Head to Markthalle Neun to sample some of the street food dishes such as currywurst (a pork sausage served with curry ketchup) or a Berliner (a sweet donut with a jam filling). Thomas Eck in the Charlottenburg area of Berlin is an authentic German restaurant that serves a variety of sausages that can be washed down with their large selection of local beers. Those seeking a luxury dining experience should try Coda, a restaurant run by Chef Rene Frank and serving experimental cuisine. Vegetarians should head to Lia's Kitchen for a wide variety of unique vegetable dishes.
For a long time, Berlin has had a casual coffee culture. The emergence of chic third-wave coffee houses and specialty roasters such as The Barn and Five Elephant have this trend has drastically changed to satisfy the growing need for the world's favorite caffeine in this populous city. With Viennese and Arabic-inspired coffee houses, third-wave coffee producers in Berlin have gone above and beyond to keep this emerging trend on the rise. Thus, Berlin has fast become a national coffee mecca attracting thousands who have embraced the Kaffe und Kuchen (coffee and cake) culture in their daily routines. Some of Berlin's traditional coffee houses include Hallesches Haus favored for its stunning rustic ambiance, the Viennese-inspired Café Einstein Stammhaus, and Distrikt Coffee known for its bitter espressos. The Scandinavian-inspired Five Elephant coffee house laid the foundations for third-wave coffee houses. Others followed suit, including the Barn known for its extensive coffee menu, Bonanza Coffee famed for serving the best flat white in Berlin, and Concierge Coffee which has the perfect intimate setting. Common pastries and desserts offered in Berlin coffee houses include the Rheinische krapfen, black forest cake, sacher torte, and German cookies.