The official capital of cool (or should that be unofficial?), Berlin is where global hipsters and history addicts rub shoulders. Whatever your taste, interests or financial budget, this quirky, vibrant and effervescent city blends the old and the new, luring you in and never letting go.
Each of the city’s distinct neighbourhoods has its own charm and character. Mitte is the tourist hot-spot with visitors flocking to Museum Island, the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, the mecca for every Cold War thriller aficionado. And if you have a penchant for the finer things in life, visit Charlottenburg Palace, Berlin’s majestic Prussian palace just within city limits. The young and the restless congregate in Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Prenzlauer Berg, where effortlessly hip bars and clubs seem to be open 24 hours a day.
From late night to the wee hours, you’re sure to find parties you won’t remember but will never forget. Berlin is a powerful magnet for fashion, art and music and it is not hard to see why. This is a city almost overflowing with creativity. From guerilla fashion shows hosted in the U-Bahn stations to the pop-up nightclubs in the famous Pergamon Museum or East Side Gallery, Berlin is the ultimate manifestation of culture.
Loathe to forgetting its past but keen on looking towards the future, Berlin strikes a balance between self-reflection and optimism for a brighter tomorrow. This is a place where the skyline changes more often than the unpredictable weather. Today, the city has evolved into a lightning-paced metropolis where you won’t ever get bored or run out of things to see, do and drink.
The extensive public transport network makes getting around both simple and for the most part stress free. With so much to see and do, accidentally getting off at the wrong U-Bahn stop is even a blessing in disguise as you might stumble across the city’s hidden gems. It is hardly a surprise then, when speaking about the constantly changing nature of Germany’s capital, former French culture minister Jack Lang once said: “Paris is always Paris and Berlin is never Berlin!”
In our comprehensive guide of Berlin – Bears, Beers and Bikes – we’ve given you the low down of the city’s icons, museums, and historical must-sees. We’ve shopped till we dropped so you wouldn’t burn a hole through your wallet. We’ve gone ahead and had predrinks at all the hip bars so you would know how to party like a Berliner. And we’ve even ventured beyond the city limits to sunbathe in the beautiful lakes and forests – mostly for ourselves, but you will benefit from our reports, too!
Either way, this is how we see Berlin, in the eyes of a young and curious student, so we can only hope you too will see the absolute brilliance of Berlin!
City Travel Review Team, July 2011