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Berlin Travel Guide

Berlin is a place of stark contrasts. On one hand, reminders of its turbulent past are everywhere. But it’s also a modern megalopolis—that’s geographically nine times bigger than Paris—with exciting new attractions and an inherent subversiveness. This juxtaposition makes it a destination unlike any other.

The big question for most travelers when venturing to Germany’s once war-torn capital then becomes how to navigate the past while living in the present. It’s essential to confront the heavier aspects of the city’s history. However, that doesn’t mean a visit to Berlin is all memorials and museums. (Though, it bears repeating that you should absolutely carve out ample time to do all that.) The contemporary side of things very much deserves exploration, too.

An artsy mecca with a slew of galleries and eccentric installations, Berlin transformed the last pieces of the wall that once divided it into a permanent open-air exhibition.

This sprawling city also has a wild side with nightlife at its center. There are hedonistic drinking dens with cabaret acts, swanky speakeasies and anything-goes clubs where people party for 48 hours (that’s not an exaggeration). Add to that picturesque parks, a thriving food scene that’s garnered international acclaim of late, a world-class zoo and a cool aesthetic sensibility with homegrown designers making a global name for themselves.

Overwhelmed? Berlin tends to have that effect on out-of-towners. Bookmark this guide to help plan your first (or next) trip.

Time Zone
CEST (Central European Summer Time)

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Best Time to Go
May through October is the peak travel period in Berlin. Temperatures tend to be moderate, making it a lovely time to walk around, see the historic sites, hang out in the many green spaces and enjoy al fresco dining. Winter isn’t the season that most tourists visit due to the less welcoming weather. However, holiday festivities—notably the fabled Christmas markets—are a bright light in the middle of what can feel like a very long, grey few months.

Things to Know
Currency: Euro
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: German

Calling Code: +49

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How to Get Around
U-Bahn: The most convenient and efficient way to navigate Berlin, the U-Bahn, or subway system, has a total of 10 lines stopping at 173 stations. During the day, the iconic yellow U-Bahn trains depart every five minutes. At night, they leave in 10-minute intervals. Tickets are also valid across the Transport Association Berlin-Brandenburg VBB-operated S-Bahn, buses and trams.

S-Bahn: The S-Bahn is a network of suburban train lines that covers 15 lines and nearly 170 train stations. In the city center, it mostly runs above ground.

Buses: Metro buses M11 to M85 run 24/7. Day bus lines 100 to 399 connect the suburbs and city center. Night buses—which are marked with an N—cover the day bus and U-Bahn routes that cease operating overnight.

Trams & Metrotrams: Upwards of 20 tram lines extend the network of the U-Bahn through the eastern part of Berlin. The difference between trams and metrotrams is frequency, with the latter running more often.

Taxis: Public transport in Berlin is fantastic—and would be our recommendation. That said, if you’d rather take a car, taxis are widely available.

Rideshare: Prefer to hail an Uber? That’s also an option.

Bicycles: Bike sharing is a convenient and eco-friendly way to get around thanks to companies like Nextbike and Donkey Republic. While electric bikes are available to rent through Wheels, Jump and LimeBike.

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Best Hotels
Related Items
Hotel de Rome
Address: Behrenstraße 37, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 4606090
Website

Located on Bebelplatz in historic East Berlin, Hotel de Rome occupies what was once the headquarters of 19th-century Dresden Bank. Brilliantly, this prestigious Rocco Forte property preserved many of the building’s most spectacular original features—most interestingly the jewel vault that’s now an indoor swimming pool. While sleek furnishings and colorful accents add modern flair to the mix.

Orania
CREDIT: COURTESY OF ORANIA
Orania.Berlin
Address: Oranienstraße 40, 10999 Berlin, Germany

Phone: +49 30 69539680

Website: orania.berlin

An upscale addition to the edgier side of Kreuzberg, Oriana.Berlin is a boutique stay with an elevated yet totally laid-back sensibility. It’s impossible to pinpoint the singular thing that makes this hotel so stellar, however, the subtle Asian influences—headboards swathed in elephant-printed fabric and signature crispy-skinned duck at the restaurant—as well as jazz in the open-concept lobby, definitely play a part.

Hotel am Steinplatz, Autograph Collection
Address: Steinpl. 4, 10623 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 5544440
Website

The same air of glamour and sophistication that lured the likes of Brigitte Bardo to Hotel am Steinplatz remains today. Sure, the decor is different—not that anyone would complain about the gorgeously refreshed interiors (or the upgraded amenities for that matter)—but the distinctive Art Nouveau details endure. Plus, it’s within walking distance of Tiergarten, Potsdamer Platz and the Berlin Zoo.

SO/Berlin Das Stue Hotel
CREDIT: COURTESY OF SO/BERLIN DAS STUE HOTEL
SO/ Berlin Das Stue
Address: Drakestraße 1, 10787 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 3117220
Website

Upon arrival, SO/ Berlin Das Stue looks incredibly posh. The 1930s neoclassical edifice, built by KaDeWe architect Johann Emil Schaudt, certainly gives off a regal first impression. Inside the former Royal Danish Embassy, it’s just as resplendent with an eye-catching white marble staircase and dazzling, larger-than-life chandelier. Direct access to the Berlin Zoo is a bonus.

25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin
Address: Budapester Str. 40, 10787 Berlin, Germany
Phone: +49 30 1202210
Website

Hip, youthful, off-beat, and affordable—25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin serves up major cool factor. It’s the type of place you’d go to hang out even if you weren’t a guest. Of course, staying at this urban oasis does come with a bunch of perks such as enjoying the jungle-themed rooms and skipping the line for the rooftop cocktail bar.

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