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    Berlin: Germany's colorful capital

    The German capital and seat of Germany’s parliament and government is home to some 3.5 million people, of whom roughly one in four has foreign roots. Germany is arguably nowhere more cosmopolitan, multicultural or progressive than in the once divided city. Today, Berlin is where the creative and the enterprising, the culture vultures and the night owls come together. The city holds a wealth of options for them all, including world-class theaters (musical and spoken) and museums.

    But smaller stages and a vibrant gallery scene are also very much a part of Berlin, as is its alternative art scene. But there’s even more to the capital, which has much to offer on the culinary front with its famous Michelin-star cooks, smart hipster cafés and modern microbreweries. At the same time, Berlin’s hip neighborhoods change constantly, so that while Berlin-Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg were the places to be in the early 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Kreuzberg and Neukölln are now buzzing with a colorful crowd.

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    Top 10 sights in Berlin

    Lufthansa, Travel Guide, Deutschland, Berlin, East Side Gallery
    The East Side Gallery consists of more than 100 murals painted onto one of the last surviving sections of the Berlin Wall, including this one by Birgit Kinder


    Platz der Republik 1
    11011 Berlin
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    Opening hours and guided tours:

    This neo-Renaissance building was inaugurated in 1894 and remained the seat of Germany’s parliament until it was severely damaged by fire in 1933. In 1945, the battles to capture the capital left the Reichstag in ruins. Since 1999, the restored building, now featuring a spectacular glass dome designed by star architect Sir Norman Foster, has again become the seat of the German parliament.

    East Side Gallery

    Mühlenstraße 3-100
    10243 Berlin

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    There’s not much left of the once 155-kilometer-long wall that divided the city for 28 years. One of the few remaining sections of the wall is situated between Ostbahnhof train station and Oberbaumbrücke bridge in Friedrichshain. In 1990, 106 murals were painted onto the east-facing side of this roughly 1300-meter-long section of the wall, which since 1991 has enjoyed landmark status as the permanent open-air East Side Gallery. The artworks have been damaged by weather and vandalism so that most of the paintings are reconstructions today, rather than the original works.

    Jewish Museum

    Lindenstraße 9-14
    10969 Berlin
    Tel. +49-30/25 99 33 00
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    Opening times:
    Daily 1000-2000

    The museum traces Jewish history and culture in Germany, while also presenting the history of anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews during the Nazi regime. Visitors enter the museum through the baroque Kollegienhaus, a former courthouse. Much more stunning, however, is Daniel Libeskind’s new design of the neighboring building with its zigzag design and silver-gray zinc facade. The two buildings are connected by a spectacular underground stairway.

    Checkpoint Charlie

    Friedrichstraße 43-45
    10969 Berlin
    Tel. +49-30/253 72 50 (museum)
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    Opening times:
    Daily 0900-2200 (museum)

    At the former border crossing between the American and the Soviet Sectors of Berlin, you can nowadays see image and text panels that explain its historical background. The permanent exhibition in the Wall Museum chronicles the building of the Wall in 1961 and its impact, as well as detailing people’s attempts to flee and successful escapes from the German Democratic Republic (GDR). In 2012, the Black Box museum opened right next door, featuring the history of the Cold War.

    Brandenburg Gate

    Pariser Platz
    10117 Berlin

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    The former city gate stands at the western end of grand Unter den Linden boulevard. In the days of the German Democratic Republic, it was located in the restricted zone in the eastern part of the city, whereas today, crowned with the Quadriga, it is Berlin’s most famous landmark and a symbol of German unity. Just south of Brandenburg Gate in the direction of Potsdamer Platz square, is where the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Holocaust Memorial) designed by Peter Eisenman was inaugurated in 2005. The sloping field with its 2711 concrete slabs, or stelae, of varying heights arranged in a wave-like grid pattern attracts nearly 500,000 visitors a year.

    Museum Island

    Am Kupfergraben
    10178 Berlin
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    Opening times of the museums:

    Museum Island is an ensemble of historical buildings and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the largest museum complexes in the world, with the Old and the New Museums, the Old National Gallery, the Pergamon Museum and the Bode Museum all in close proximity to each other. Tip: Reasonably priced tickets covering admission to all five museums can be booked in advance online.

    Charlottenburg Palace

    Spandauer Damm 10-22
    14059 Berlin
    Tel. +49-30/32 09 10
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    Opening times:
    Tue-Sun 1000-1800 (Apr-Oct)
    Tue-Sun 1000-1700 (Nov-Mar)

    This magnificent baroque palace dates from the early 18th century and testifies to the penchant of the Prussian kings for building. It was named for the Electress Sophie Charlotte, wife of Frederick I. Tours of the palace include viewings of the former private apartments of the royal couple, the Silver Chamber and the Royal Treasury containing the Prussian crown jewels. Visitors are well advised to allow plenty of time to enjoy a walk in the extensive French gardens.

    Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer)

    Bernauer Straße 111
    13355 Berlin
    Tel. +49-30/46 79 86 666
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    Documentation Center opening times:
    Tue-Sun 1000-1800

    The border separating East and West Berlin originally ran down the middle of Bernauer Straße. Today, the former border strip features a memorial with a documentation and visitor center. The memorial includes a section of the original wall as well as photo panels and video installations that depict the erection of the border fortifications.

    Volkspark Friedrichshain

    Am Friedrichshain 1
    10407 Berlin

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    This park is located between Prenzlauer Berg and Friedrichshain. During the day the area is popular with sports enthusiasts and families, and the Märchenbrunnen fountain with its statues of characters from Grimm’s Fairy Tales is particularly popular with children. In the evening, an open-air cinema and entertainment events in the pavilion attract numerous visitors to the park.

    Television Tower

    10437 Berlin
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    The Television Tower is not only Berlin’s tallest structure (368 meters) but also one of its most prominent landmarks. On a clear day, visitors to the observation platform 204 meters up can see up to 40 kilometers away. For the perfect panoramic view, there’s the restaurant at 207 meters, which turns once around its own axis every 60 minutes. The tower stands in Alexanderplatz, the busy square famous for its World Clock and Fountain of Friendship between Peoples.

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    Good to know

    Country Information

    Country overview

    Once mockingly referred to as the “land of schnitzels and leather pants,” Germany has acquired a much more modern image in recent decades. International visitors are attracted to the big cities, especially the capital, Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, in particular, the city with its many cultural and entertainment attractions has become a major tourist destination. But other German cities also know how to celebrate and enjoy life.


    Hamburg’s annual Hafengeburtstag port anniversary festival attracts around two million visitors every year, the Rhineland is famous for its carnivals, and Munich’s Oktoberfest is famous the world over.

    Germany also has a variety of natural landscapes: for example, from the Wadden Sea and lowland plains of the northwest, the lakelands in the northeast of the country, numerous low mountain ranges and heathlands, to the central highlands and Alpine regions.


    Germany borders Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Poland and Switzerland. The northwest has a coastline on the North Sea, while the Baltic coastline in the northeast stretches from the Danish to the Polish border.

    The country is divided into 16 states (Bundesländer) and has an exceedingly varied landscape. In what was once known as West Germany, the Rhine, Bavaria and the Black Forest stand as the three most famous features, while in the east, the country is lake-studded with undulating lowlands.

    River basins extend over a large percentage of the region, and some of Europe’s most prominent rivers flow through the country. These include the Elbe, the Danube and the Rhine.

    The highest point in the country is the 2962m (9718ft) peak of Zugspitze Mountain in the Bavarian Alps. Cable cars run to the summit, which can also be climbed.

    General Information

    Key facts

    Population: 82,79 million (2017)
    Capital: Berlin.


    German is the official language. Regional dialects often differ markedly from standard German.


    Euro (EUR; symbol €) = 100 cents. Notes are in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5. Coins are in denominations of €2 and 1, and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents.


    230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style round two-pin plugs are in use.

    Public holidays

    The public holidays for the January 2019 – December 2020 period are listed below.


    * In catholic regions only
    ** Sachsen only
    *** Not in all Laender (Bundesländer)
    ****Berlin only


    New Year’s Day: 1 January 2019
    Epiphany: 6 January 2019*
    International Women’s Day: 8 March 2019****
    Good Friday: 19 April 2019
    Easter Sunday: 21 April 2019
    Easter Monday: 22 April 2019
    Labour Day: 1 May 2019
    Ascension Day: 30 May 2019
    Whit Sunday: 9 June 2019
    Whit Monday: 10 June 2019
    Corpus Christi: 20 June 2019*
    Assumption: 15 August 2019*
    Day of German Unity: 3 October 2019
    Day of Reformation: 31 October 2019***
    All Saints’ Day: 1 November 2019*
    Repentance Day: 21 November 2019**
    Christmas: 25 and 26 December 2019


    New Year’s Day: 1 January 2020
    Epiphany: 6 January 2020*
    International Women’s Day: 8 March 2020****
    Good Friday: 10 April 2020
    Easter Sunday: 12 April 2020
    Easter Monday: 13 April 2020
    Labour Day: 1 May 2020
    Ascension Day: 21 May 2020
    Whit Sunday: 31 June 2020
    Whit Monday: 1 June 2020
    Corpus Christi: 21 June 2020*
    Assumption: 15 August 2020*
    Day of German Unity: 3 October 2020
    Day of Reformation: 31 October 2020***
    All Saints’ Day: 1 November 2020*
    Repentance Day: 21 November 2020**
    Christmas: 25 and 26 December 2020

    All information subject to change.

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    Original, not a copy: Stasi Museum instead of Checkpoint Charlie

    The sentry box in the middle of Friedrichstraße – a mere copy. At Checkpoint Charlie, history meets kitsch and commerce, but that doesn’t stop millions of tourists having their photos taken there. A glimpse into the real GDR is possible without the fairground atmosphere, though. At the Stasi Museum in Building 1 of the former Ministry of State Security in the Lichtenberg district of Berlin, the offices of Erich Mielke, the German Democratic Republic’s last minister of state security, have been preserved in their original state, exactly as he left them in 1989; and since 1990, they have been open to the public. The permanent exhibition Staatsicherheit in der SED-Diktatur (State Security in the SED Dictatorship) also provides an impressive insight into the ways and means with which the ministry once spied on East Germany’s citizens.

    Ruschestraße 103, Building 1
    10365 Berlin
    Tel. +49-30/553 68 54

    Opening times:
    Mon-Fri: 1000-1800
    Sat, Sun and public holidays: 1100-1800

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    Getting around

    Public transportation

    Berlin has an extensive S- and U-Bahn (subway) train network, as well as streetcars and buses. For information about lines, timetables and fares, go to the website of Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe ( Additional information about special offers for travelers is available from the capital city portal (


    There are roughly 7500 taxis on Berlin’s streets. They are all equipped with taximeters, since individual price arrangements are not permitted. If you need a cab, flag one down in the street or book one over the phone. The main cab companies include Taxi Funk Berlin (tel.: +49-30/44 33 22) and Funk Taxi Berlin (tel.: +49-30/26 10 26).

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    From Berlin with love: mural painter transforms her city through art

    Artist Polina Soloveichik never expected to move to Berlin, but after a short visit, she fell in love with her “cold paradise.” Now she talks about a life filled with art, travel and inspirational adventures abroad!

    The #inspiredby series takes you on a trip around the world. Experience the world from the perspective of artists, musicians, athletes and our very own crew, whether at work or play! See what impact and meaning travel has for each of these individuals and let their stories inspire you.

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    Nightlife in Berlin


    Berlin is a demanding city. In the daytime, buildings, museums and galleries are the main attractions, but at night there is no end to the fascinating events on offer. Not only are theaters, classical concerts, opera and

    musicals on the program, but also clubs, gigs, bars as well as an amazing array of alternative locations and off-theaters to give visitors whatever their hearts desire – an exciting or relaxing evening.

    Berghain/Panorama Bar

    Am Wriezener Bahnhof
    10243 Berlin
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    This techno club is one of Berlin’s top venues. The bouncers are feared because their selection criteria are a mystery. The party begins on Fridays and Saturdays around midnight and finishes around noon the next day.

    Das Gift

    Donaustraße 119
    12043 Berlin
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    A piece of Scotland in a corner pub in Neukölln serving whisky and draft beer. There’s also an interesting evening menu that includes haggis and other Scottish specialties. People love the jukebox, and the art exhibitions and intimate concerts staged here.


    Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 3
    10997 Berlin
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    A popular techno club housed in a brick villa dating from 1850, located on Lohmühleninsel island in Landwehr Canal. The interior has largely been left in its original state, and authentic period furniture round off the retro look. A particularly attractive feature here is the fairy-tale garden, an outdoor area with an imaginative decor that serves as a dance floor and chill-out area for both floors in the summer.

    Clärchens Ballhaus

    Auguststraße 24

    10117 Berlin–Mitte
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    Nowhere will you find anything as close to Wilhelminian Berlin as this ballroom – one of the last in the city. The somewhat jaded splendor of the hall of mirrors, which for decades served as a warehouse, is especially moving. Now dance events take place here once again amid the scarred decor. Clärchens Ballhaus has also provided the backdrop for scenes in the TV film Stauffenberg (2004) and Quentin Tarantino’s box-office hit Inglourious Basterds (2009).


    Falckensteinstraße 49
    10997 Berlin
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    The Watergate, which opened in 2002, is one of the best-known clubs in Berlin. It is located on the banks of the Spree River near Oberbaumbrücke bridge (Kreuzberg). Electro, house, techno and minimal are played on two floors. Fascinating are the floor-to-ceiling windows on the ground floor, or Waterfloor, which provide an unobstructed view of the river.

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    Glamour and Currywurst

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    Berlin from it's most appealing side

    They live, love and work in Berlin – and with great success. Art collectors and actors, chefs and authors, comedians and fashion designers, all have been shaped by the German capital and in turn, they too have changed the face of the metropolis. Five women and five men show us Berlin from its most appealing side.


    Martina Gedeck, actress

    You don’t have to be perfect to feel at home here.” – Martina Gedeck, actress

    Martina Gedeck is one of Germany‘s best- known movie actors. She was raised in Berlin and never wants to leave.

    You came to Berlin with your parents as a child. Given the choice, would you move here again?
    Absolutely. Cities like Rome, Paris and Vienna with their ancient centers create the impression that things stay the same. But that‘s not how it is. The only thing we can say with any certainty about life is that it changes constantly. And that is exactly what Berlin represents. Of course there have been architectural blunders, but that’s what makes the city so special. You don’t have to be perfect to feel at home here.

    How has Berlin shaped you?
    The city always looks outward, never feels quite enough in itself. That has a lot to do with the past, with West Berlin’s isolation as an island within East Germany completely cut off from the West.

    In which spots around Berlin would you especially like to film?
    On Devil’s Hill – it‘s a fascinating place. Buried in the ground there is the unfinished building of the Wehrtechnische Fakultät, a Nazi military training school planned as part of the “World Capital City of Germania.”

    At the end of World War II, its ruins were covered over with rubble from bombed-out buildings. Sometimes you will still come across tiles and shards just beneath the grass. There’s a new ruin on top of the hill today, though, a former US American radar listening station. But it’s not just the historical locations that make Berlin what it is. The city is so extraordinary and diverse, it would make a great setting for any film!

    Are there any set locations in Berlin you have particularly good memories of?
    Bismarckallee reminds me of the movie The Baader Meinhof Complex because that’s where we shot the demonstration about the Shah’s visit during which Benno Ohnesorg was shot dead. The entire sixlane street was closed off and all the traffic signs, traffic lights and buses given a 1967 makeover. When I stand outside the Volksbühne theater on Rosa Luxemburg Square, I have to think of The Lives of Others. That’s where we filmed the theater scenes – and the wonderful dance scene at the start of the film.

    Murat Topal, Comedian

    Culturally speaking, you can get to know practically the whole world here.” – Murat Topal, Comedian

    Before switching to comedy, Murat Topal was a policeman. Today, he regularly appears at the Ufafabrik culture center.

    “I discovered my talent for comedy while working as a policeman in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin. I always tried to defuse tricky situations with comedy. The way I see it, police work and comedy are basically all about the same thing, and that‘s adjusting to people and situations, and holding up a mirror to others so that they can see their life‘s realities.

    On the one hand, Berlin is a tough scene for comedians because the competition here is huge; but on the other, there are plenty of small venues where newcomers can try out. Berlin is generally incredibly diverse. Culturally speaking, you can get to know the whole world without traveling far. Alone Neukölln, where I was raised, is home to people from 160 countries. To get a sense of the range of Turkish life, I recommend a visit to the beautiful Sehitik Mosque on Columbiadamm and the oriental gay/lesbian party Gayhane at the SO36 on Heinrichplatz.”

    Leyla Piedayesh, fasion designer

    In this city, what you want is a wearable street look.” – Leyla Piedayesh, fasion designer

    Lala Berlin (, Leyla Piedayesh’s fashion label, stands for Berlin city style.

    “The cobblestones all over Berlin make it impossible for women here to wear high heels,” says Leyla Piedayesh, “in this city, what you want is a wearable street look, and that‘s what I deliver.” It’s useful, then, that the Iran native has always preferred to wear practical boys’ gear: baggy pants, fine-rib T-shirts, vests and chunky penny loafers. “Before I start designing something, I first go through my early things in my mind‘s eye,” says Piedayesh.

    She then combines her clothes with elements that catch her eye in day-to-day life. That might be a leather jacket in a second-hand shop in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin, where she has her studio, or some graffiti she’s spotted in the subway on her way home to Wedding. Piedayesh also finds inspiration in Berlin‘s past, hence the color schemes based on 1980s’ graffiti and tags featured in her next winter collection. The fashion designer still pays the occasional visit to the Mauerpark flea market, where she found the inspiration for her first collection of knit wrist warmers. She couldn’t imagine designing fashion in any city but Berlin. “Nowhere else in Germany will you find so many creative people,” she says.

    Christoph Fahle, entrepreneur

    “These days you start up a business if you want to impress a girl.” – Christoph Fahle, entrepreneur

    Christoph Fahle cofounded Betahaus (, Germany’s best-know coworking space; he is one of the famous projects’ three managing directors.

    Work in an ordinary office or all on his ownsome as a freelancer at home? Neither was an option for Christoph Fahle, which is why in April 2009, he and some friends set up Betahaus – a 2000-squaremeter space for flexible, mobile coworking. Housed in a former flannel factory on Berlin‘s Moritzplatz, Betahaus now has 350 workplaces alongside a café and a studio. Desks can be booked here on a permanent or daily basis along with added extras, such as a coffee flatrate and a locker. “In the ’1970s, you formed a band to impress a girl – today you start up a business,” says Fahle.

    But it’s not just young entrepreneurs that Betahaus attracts; its tenants also include journalists, programmers, architects, carpenters and graphic artists. Fahle hails from Essen and moved to Berlin to study politics. At Betahaus, he is in charge of the workshops, the Makers Room with its 3D printers and the studio. Cologne, Hamburg, Sofia and Barcelona already have their own Betahaus. Nearly everyone recognizes Fahle as he moves through the place – and he, in turn, knows what most of them are currently working on. Ironically, when he wants to concentrate on something, there’s sometimes only one option open to him: working at home.

    Christian Boros, art collector

    In Berlin, there’s plenty of scope for artistic talents.” – Christian Boros, art collector

    Christian Boros owns the largest private collection of contemporary art in Berlin. He shows a part of his collection in a former bunker (

    “Creative people shaped Berlin, not its monarchs, its bankers or its middle classes. Many things in the city don’t work properly, often making improvization, and that appeals to creatives. In Berlin, there’s plenty of scope for their artistic talents. That‘s why there are about 7000 artists from all over the world living here. Most of the pieces in my collection also originated in the city. I acquired the first – an Ólafur Elíasson ventilator – at the first Berlin Biennale in 1998, by the way. Elíasson had just moved his studio from Copenhagen to Berlin at the time.

    In my opinion, there‘s no such thing as a typical Berlin style. It’s more of an attitude that the artists who work here share. They question many things, take nothing as read. This also has something to do with the fact that most of them live in the city by choice, they were not actually raised here. In 2003, I bought the former railroad bunker near Friedrichstrasse to use it as an exhibition space – a fascinating building. It symbolizes the changes in the city’s fortunes, its continuous new beginnings. In the Nazi era, the bunker was a place of refuge, in the days of the GDR, it was used to store exotic fruits, and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it housed a techno club. Berlin is still constantly in flux and I regularly find something new to explore.“

    Judith Holofernes, singer

    “Because the city is still a cheap place to live, people here are very free.” – Judith Holofernes, singer

    Up until 2012, Judith Holofernes was the lead singer and guitarist in the band Wir sind Helden. She also recorded her solo album “Ein leichtes Schwert” (A light sword) in Berlin in 2014. Her second solo album “Ich bin das Chaos” (I am chaos) was released in 2017 (

    Is Berlin a good city to make music in?
    Definitely. In Berlin, you can let unusual ideas develop at their own pace and keep your head above water with part-time bar work. Because the city is still a cheap place to live, people here are very free. They can afford to take time out – and that is essential to artistic productivity. That’s why so much interesting art comes out of Berlin. I feel that is something very precious which really needs to be preserved.

    What inspires you most?
    Music. There are probably more concerts going on in Berlin than most other places, so you just have to open your beak like a baby cuckoo and everything will just fall into it: world stars, as well as more offbeat acts like Tinariwen, a band of Tuareg musicians.

    Which Berlin venue do you like best?
    My favorite place to perform is the Lido at Schlesisches Tor; it’s a lovely, cozy club. But one of my best gigs was at the outdoor Freilichtbühne venue in the middle of the woods in Wuhlheide. When the rays of the evening sun fall on it, it’s an enchanted place. If I were still doing street music, I would probably say Admiral Bridge in Kreuzberg – a fantastic place, and the people sitting on the bridge have time to listen. But I would also love to ride through the streets on a delivery cycle with an amplifier strapped to the front, and spontaneously stop in the nicest places and start singing.

    Robert Harting, Discus thrower

    “I also owe my success to Berlin.” – Robert Harting, Discus thrower

    Robert Harting, World and European Discus Throw Champion, came to Berlin as a teenager. It was here that he began to believe in himself.

    You were born in Cottbus. Why did you move to Berlin?
    I got a place at sports boarding school when I was 15 and left everything behind for that. I was already 6 foot 7 at the time and weighed over a hundred kilos; my name, Robert, didn’t quite cover it. After just a couple of weeks, I had a nickname, Shaggy – and it stuck. I also owe my success to Berlin because I quickly had to stand on my own two feet here. I also got to know the nightlife, of course – I love every second in this city.

    You began studying social and business communications in 2009 and are now working toward a master’s degree. How do you strike a balance between your studies and your sport?
    I move in two different worlds. But I have now found an interface: I am setting up a sport lottery to provide athletes with financial support.

    It also involves brands and strategies. You can throw discus until you’re about 36, after that, there’s no point. I also paint, but so far I’ve been keeping that on a back burner.

    When you think of Berlin, what picture do you have in your mind?
    It’s more a smell, actually, the smell of subway stations, the lukewarm air, the tar, the gravel. When I rode the subway for the first time at 15, it was like being on another planet. I opened my eyes wide and took everything in. These days, I usually take the car instead because I’m just too familiar a face in Berlin. But sometimes people recognize me in places I don’t expect it, in the Dominican Republic, for instance.

    Tim Raue, Chef

    „If you ask me, Berlin is the culinary capital of Germany.” – Tim Raue, Chef

    Tim Raue was a member of the Kreuzberg gang 36 Boys. Today a Michelin star chef, he heads up three restaurants in Berlin, including La Soupe Populaire (

    “Berlin is my home town. I was 24 when I started in my job as a chef at the Kaiserstube restaurant near the Pergamon Museum. The menu there lists Berlin classics, like Königsberg meatballs in caper sauce and poussin fricassee. I prefer cooking Asian food today – I aim to give my guests a rollercoaster ride of flavors and you can do that best with Asian spices. Recently, though, I’ve been returning to my roots more and more, latterly at La Soupe Populaire in Prenzlauer Berg, where I also serve Königsberg meatballs.

    Right now, I am also busy working on the perfect curry sausage – one of my favorite foods when I was a child. If you ask me, Berlin is the culinary capital of Germany. Nowhere else is there such a fantastic selection of good restaurants. In Kreuzberg and Neukölln, you can get authentic Turkish food, in the old West, Georgian and Russian, and in the ex-Eastern sector, you will find the best Vietnamese restaurants because in the days of the GDR, many immigrants from Vietnam moved there. My wife and I don‘t cook at home, we always go out to eat. Our favorite Hong Kong Chinese restaurant is the Good Friends, our favorite Thai, the Moon Thai, and both are located near Savignyplatz. Another discovery is the Cordobar in Mitte, where two Austrians serve some really good wines and delicious snacks.”

    Indira Koch, Violinist

    “There are so many opportunities to play here.” – Indira Koch, Violinist

    Indira Koch is the associate concertmaster at Berlin’s German Opera House (deutscheoperberlin.deand lives with her husband and four children in Zehlendorf. 

    Berlin began by shocking violinist Indira Koch. At one of her first performances – the premiere of a controversial staging of Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco – many audience members booed long and loud, while others cheered with equal volume and staying power. Dismayed, Koch looked around at her fellow musicians in the orchestra pit, but saw only casual shrugs. “In Switzerland, where I was raised, and in the United States, where I studied, such a frank reaction to a performance would be unthinkable,” she says. In the meantime, she has come to appreciate the Berlin audiences precisely for their honesty and spontaneity.

    “A premiere is always exciting.” For Koch, today’s Berlin is “a dream for international musicians.” Many of her musician friends have moved here – former fellow students from Philadelphia, colleague friends from Israel, Iceland and Switzerland. “There are so many opportunities to play here and there’s so much culture around; when it comes to professional orchestras, the city has as many as seven.” Koch, too, has played in a variety of venues around town – at the Gedächtniskirche memorial church and also at the Tischlerei, a new auditorium at the German Opera House. She’s presently on the lookout for further stages on which to play, as in 2010 she and her husband, the cellist Wolfgang Emanuel Schmidt, founded the chamber orchestra Metamorphosen Berlin, which plays mainly works by the Romantic composers.

    Stefanie de Velasco, Writer

    “It’s a bit like a jungle in which there’s always something new to discover.” – Stefanie de Velasco, Writer

    Stefanie de Velasco has been living in Berlin for years and in her novel Tigermilch, she tells the story of a teenage friendship in the city.

    “It was a conscious decision to set my novel Tigermilch in Berlin. Right from the get-go, I felt the city would make the perfect backdrop for my story about the two young protagonists, Nini and Jameelah, because social control features far less in a big city like Berlin than in a small town. The novel unfolds between the farthest western tip of Kreuzberg and Stuttgarter Platz in deepest Charlottenburg. I didn’t want to center it in Neukölln or one of the other supposedly problem areas because, you know, poverty and intercultural conflicts exist all over Berlin.

    For writers, Berlin is the perfect city. Homes are still affordable here, and because the city is so big, it’s a bit like a jungle in which there’s always something new to discover. I lived in Neukölln for a long time, but sadly gentrification has changed it, and what that means is domesticization to the point of monotony; ultimately, you get to a stage where there’s nothing left to develop – for me as an author that’s a frustrating state of affairs. I now live in Schöneberg and feel very much at home there. It’s a district largely ignored by the media, but at the same time it has everything I feel makes the city such a great place to live in: a lively Turkish community, students, a gay-lesbian scene and in the midst of all that, some real old Berlin characters. I would certainly not have started writing in earnest in any other city, not least because the rhythm of the city grabs you. How did Robert Walser put it again? ‘Berlin always calls the tune.’ I fully agree with that.”

    Flight and accommodation


    Restaurants in Berlin


    Whether you prefer star cuisine or home-style cooking, hipster cafés or microbreweries, street food from around the world, “Buletten” (fried meatballs) or the famous Berlin Currywurst (curry sausage), this city’s culinary choices are virtually inexhaustible. Even so, it’s a good idea to book a table if you’re planning dinner at one of the top restaurants.

    Some districts have established themselves as hotspots for particular national cuisines, for example, Kreuzberg for Turkish and Arab dishes, and Charlottenburg for Asian delicacies of every description.

    Restaurant Tim Raue

    Rudi-Dutschke-Straße 26
    10969 Berlin
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    Price: expensive

    Michelin-star chef Tim Raue constantly surprises the guests at his Kreuzberg restaurant with new Asian fusion dishes, always beautifully presented and highly aromatic. The results include exquisite creations, like langoustine with wasabi or suckling pig with dashi (fish stock) and Japanese mustard. Making a reservation is definitely recommended.


    Budapester Straße 2
    10787 Berlin
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    Price: expensive

    This elegant, star-studded restaurant under the aegis of chef Eberhard Lange is located on the 14th floor of the InterContinental Berlin hotel. According to The Michelin Guide, it serves “dishes with distinct flavors, carefully prepared to a consistently high standard.” The unrivaled view of the Victory Column, Alexanderplatz square and beyond as far as the Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) makes dining here a gourmet delight.

    Mogg Deli

    Auguststraße 11-13
    10117 Berlin
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    Price: moderate

    The former Jewish girls’ school on Auguststraße today forms part of the art mile in Mitte and is home to a number of galleries as well as two restaurants: The Pauly Saal, done out in Berlin’s Golden Twenties’ style, and the Mogg, which brings a touch of New York City flair to Berlin with specialties like pastrami, bagels and first-class cheesecake on the menu. Even the interior is reminiscent of American prewar delis.

    Madame Ngo

    Kantstraße 30
    10623 Berlin
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    Price: moderate

    Charlottenburg is considered the best place for Asian food. Chef and restaurant owner Duc Ngo now owns four extremely successful restaurants along Kantstraße. This one at number 30 is a Vietnamese-French brasserie. On the menu are fusion cuisine delights, like Báhn mi, French baguette with liver paté, seasoned with fish sauce, coriander and marinated carrots.


    Oranienstraße 190
    10999 Berlin
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    Price: budget

    Kreuzburger has outlets in the Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Mitte and Kreuzberg districts. The franchising concept is simple and successful: They serve mainly burgers and French fries, but thanks to the many different varieties and spicy house relishes, there’s plenty of choice, including vegetarian combinations.

    Flight and accommodation


    Calendar of events

    Berlinale International Film Festival

    7 – 17 February 2019

    Venue: Various venues

    Attracting in excess of 400,000 visitors every year, the Berlinale is one of the film industry’s most popular events. Over the course of 10 days, hundreds of genre-crossing films from Germany and abroad are screened to a diverse, international audience. The event also features a host of parties, workshops and panel discussions for the truly dedicated.

    Karneval der Kulturen (Carnival of Cultures)

    7 – 10 Juni 2019

    Venue: The street festival takes place on and around Bluecherplatz in the district of Kreuzberg

    The vibrant district of Kreuzberg is perhaps the most ethnically diverse in all of Berlin and the annual Carnival of Cultures provides an opportunity to celebrate this melting pot of cultures. Residents and visitors come together to enjoy live music, food and a parade. Often compared to the Notting Hill Carnival, this is a must if you happen to be in Berlin during June.

    Classic Open Air

    4 – 8 July 2019

    Venue: Gendarmenmarkt

    The picturesque Gendarmenmarkt Square provides a dramatic backdrop for this legendary music festival, which is now entering its third decade. Held over five days in July, the festival is comprised of a series of concerts, which attract over 600,000 visitors every year. Music fans can expect an eclectic mixture of live music including jazz, soul, swing and even pop.

    Berlin Pride Festival

    27 July 2019

    Venue: Various venues

    Taking place every June, this month-long event has become more than just an opportunity to march for the rights of gay and lesbian people; it has become a symbol for diversity. Expect a heady mixture of live music, flamboyant fancy dress and debauchery with undertones of political activism.

    Music Festival Berlin

    29 August – 19 September 2019

    Venue: Berliner Philharmonie

    Musikfest is Berlin’s foremost symphonic and chamber music festival, in which the city invites outstanding orchestras, ensembles and soloists to perform at the Berlin Philharmonia. Hosted by the Berlin Festspiele, the festival aims to open up a new perspective on developments and artistic innovations in the international world of classical music. Prestigious and filled with magnificent sounds, the festival maintains an unswerving focus on the orchestra and the full ensemble. Musikfest Berlin embraces the usual repertoire and tour programmes but also focuses on unusual works and historical performance practices, as well as looking at the relationship between contemporary and ancient music, and the crossing of musical borders.

    Silvester in Berlin

    31 December 2019 – 1 January 2020

    Venue: Brandenburg Gate

    Berlin throws one of the biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the world, a lively shindig that takes place at the city’s iconic Brandenburg Gate. As the countdown to midnight begins there are live bands, DJs and some fantastic laser shows to entertain the million plus revellers until the epic fireworks display to mark the start of a new year. If there was something to rival Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations, it would be Berlin’s Silvester.

    All information subject to change. Please check the dates on the relevant event organizer’s website.

    Flight and accommodation


    Hotels in Berlin


    Berlin offers accommodation in close on 800 guesthouses and hotels, including more than 20 five-star hostels for roughly 140.000 visitors. The range is extensive, so that there is usually a wide selection of accommodation available in all price categories.

    The exception to this rule is when trade fairs are on or around the turn of the year; then early reservations are advisable.

    Adlon Kempinksi

    Unter den Linden 77
    10117 Berlin
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    Category: luxurious

    Top hotel at a top location. The Adlon, directly opposite Brandenburg Gate, was Berlin’s first luxury hotel. It opened in 1907, but was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1945. It was rebuilt in the style of the original and on the same site, the Adlon reopened in 1997 – again setting the same high standards of luxury and service.

    Grand Hyatt Berlin

    Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 2
    10785 Berlin
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    Category: luxurious

    This design hotel on Postdamer Platz boasts spectacular interior design and a luxurious wellness concept. Simple elegance, exemplary service and sophisticated comfort are complemented by a spa landscape on the top floor complete with a panoramic view over the city.

    25hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

    Budapester Straße 40
    10787 Berlin
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    Category: moderate

    25hours hotels are among the most original accommodation choices in Germany. This one opened in 2014 between Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) and the zoo. Animal sounds can be heard at night, so the design happily takes up the urban jungle theme, for example, with hammocks and the extremely popular Monkey Bar on the rooftop terrace.

    Michelberger Hotel

    Warschauer Straße 39-40
    10243 Berlin
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    Category: moderate

    This small design hotel occupying a former factory building in Friedrichshain opened its doors to guests in 2009. The interior design is imaginative and dominated by clear lines. The ambience is reminiscent of a living room in which flea-market treasures have been cleverly combined with design furniture.


    Hobrechtstraße 65-66
    12047 Berlin
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    Category: budget

    True, comfort is rather limited here. But Hüttenpalast attracts an easygoing, very mixed, fun crowd. This indoor camping village occupies two former factory halls between Kreuzberg and Neukölln, and features permanently installed camping trailers and cabins in retro style. The Hüttenpalast also has a few hotel rooms with en suite facilities, and there’s also a pretty garden.

    Flight and accommodation


    Water fun in the capital


    Berlin summers can be gloomy, but the moment the sun comes out, the gray of the city is transformed into an idyllic green. Then life is lived almost completely out of doors – along the Spree River and the canals inside the city, and beside lakes and bays in the surrounding countryside.

    Switch off in Moabit

    10555 Berlin (Moabit)
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    Moabit is a multicultural neighborhood located in the west of Berlin, between Wedding and Tiergarten. Surrounded by canals and the Spree, it forms an island in the middle of the city. Strolling through the southern part is truly delightful: If you set out from Bundesratufer and head east along the Spree, the path will take you all the way to Tiergarten. Weeping willows and bright foxgloves border the riverside paths and promenades, which are great places to escape the big-city noise.

    Visit the Turkish market

    12047 Berlin (Neukölln)
    Show on map

    Opening times:
    Tue and Fri 1100-1830

    Maybachufer on Landwehr Canal is a hive of activity on Tuesdays and Fridays, when Neuköllner Straße is transformed into an all-day market that could just as easily be on the shores of the Bosporus. Countless stalls bend under the weight of oriental specialties, fresh fruit and vegetables, bright fabrics and accessories. Perfect after a visit to the market: a picnic of hummus, olives and Turkish bread down by the waterside.

    Dancing in Monbijou Park

    Monbijou Theater in Monbijou Park
    Monbijoustraße 3b
    10117 Berlin
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    Whether Argentine tango, salsa, a waltz or the cha-cha is your favorite, at the beach bar of Monbijou Theater, you can dance beneath the open sky every night, weather allowing. The outdoor dance floor is festooned with colorful lights and right on the Spree waterfront in Monbijou Park, directly opposite the imposing Bode Museum. Palm trees and sun beds create a holiday atmosphere. If you feel the need to get in some practice first, you could try one of the courses available before the evening’s open dancing begins.

    Rave at the Ipse

    Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 2b
    10997 Berlin (Kreuzberg)
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    If you like dancing to house and techno, definitely plan a visit to the Ipse in summer. This pretty outdoor club right beside Flutgraben canal has tall trees offering cool shadow and an amazing chandelier that appears to float above the dance floor. Dusk and dawn are the best times to enjoy the deep bass rhythms behind you as you look out over the water.

    Swimming with a view

    Badeschiff an der Arena
    Eichenstraße 4
    12435 Berlin (Alt-Treptow)
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    Opening times:
    daily from 0800 in summer

    The open-air riverside swimming pools popular around 1900 were the inspiration for this floating event location. The Badeschiff was originally a barge. Today converted into a pool, it is moored beside the bank of the Spree River. Bathers swimming their lengths here can enjoy panoramic views of Berlin. The pool has its own sandy beach complete with a beach bar, sun beds and a volleyball court. In addition to daily bathing, Badeschiff offers yoga classes, a variety of changing activities and regular parties. The bathing season is from May through September. In winter, the barge is covered and transformed into a wellness and sauna landscape.

    On a discovery tour around Holzmarkt25

    Holzmarktstraße 25
    10243 Berlin (Friedrichshain)
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    The legendary techno club Bar25 was located at this address between 2004 and 2010. In May 2017, the bar’s former manager opened the new Holzmarkt25, a cooperatively organized artist village on the banks of the Spree, where you can stroll across the market square or simply chill by the water. The colorful facades in themselves are worth seeing, but don’t miss out on what’s behind them: Enjoy a meal at Katerschmaus restaurant or its little sister, Fame, perhaps, take in the art and photo exhibitions at Säälchen, the exhibition space on Holzmarkt, or go treasure hunting in the more than 20 shops in the area.

    Ride a board on the Spree

    Stand Up Club Berlin, on the site of Arena Berlin
    Eichenstraße 4
    12435 Berlin (Alt-Treptow)
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    A change of perspective: Standing on a paddleboard on the Spree, you get a whole new angle on the city skyline – as long as you’ve mastered the board, that is. This water sport requires good balance and strong muscles! In addition to courses for beginners, the Stand Up Club also offers yoga lessons on the board and city tours through Berlin – a great opportunity to paddle in groups from Oberbaum Bridge to Treptower Park. If you’d rather go paddleboarding on your own, you can rent the necessary equipment here.

    Wellness on the water

    Finnfloat Saunafloß
    12587 Berlin
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    Even in Berlin, you can enjoy a Finnish-style sauna amid natural surroundings. “Finnfloat” is the name of this small private sauna floating on Müggelsee lake just a few kilometers outside the city. There’s space for two to eight people in this small floating house, which not only has a wood-fired sauna, but a relaxation room and sundeck as well. The sauna has panorama windows, so you can enjoy the view while you sweat it out in the steamy heat before cooling off in the clear waters of the lake.

    A day at the lake

    Strandbad Wannsee
    Wannseebadweg 35
    14129 Berlin (Nikolassee)
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    Nikolskoer Weg
    14109 Berlin (Wannsee)
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    Liebermann-Villa am Wannsee
    Colomierstraße 3
    14109 Berlin (Wannsee)
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    Bathing is banned in the Spree River, but the many nearby lakes more than make up for that. Day trips to the Großer Wannsee lake with its famous bathing beach are especially popular. Here you can do more than just splash about: On Peacock Island, a nature reserve since 1941, you can actually see wild peacocks at close range. A further attraction on the island is the palace that was built as a summer residence in the late 18th century. On the other side of the lake, on the western shore, there’s the Liebermann Villa, which is open to visitors; the former summer house of Berlin painter Max Liebermann (1847-1935) today houses a museum. The extensive gardens, once a source of inspiration for the painter, stretch right down to the water.

    Flight and accommodation

    Good to know

    Best time to visit

    Today: Tuesday, 22.10.2019 20:05 UTC

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    Climate and best time to visit Berlin

    Like most of Eastern Europe, temperatures drop well below freezing point in the depths of winter in Berlin. But there’s a charm to seeing the city’s numerous parks and wide boulevards covered in snow. Head over to Berlin in the summer and you’ll find a series of superb ‘urban beaches’ in Mitte and along the Spree River, with plenty of outdoor eating and drinking options and the chance to take on the locals at volleyball. Spring and fall bring their own charms, but be sure to pack an umbrella and waterproofs as the weather is always changeable, no matter the time of year.

    Climate & best time to visit Germany

    As with most European countries, Germany is a year-round destination but not especially dependable weather-wise. In general terms though, it’s temperate throughout the country with warm summers and cold winters – prolonged periods of frost or snow are rare. Rain falls throughout the year, with much of Germany experiencing its maximum rainfall over the summer months. So unpredictability is a major factor. The average daytime temperature in January is 3°C (38°F) and in July, 22°C (72°F). Extremes commonly reach -10°C (5°F) in winter and 35°C (95°F) in the summer months.

    While Munich might be considerably further south than Berlin, the fact that the Bavarian capital is at a much higher altitude means the two cities have broadly comparable summers. The highest annual temperatures tend to be in the southwest, where there’s almost a Mediterranean feel to the landscape at times. Unsurprisingly, this is where much of Germany’s wine is grown.

    May through to September are the most popular months in terms of tourist numbers, and they certainly hold the most appeal for visitors aiming to spend much of their time outdoors. However, the spring and fall shoulder seasons also hold real attractions for those who want the promise of decent weather without the tourist levels. The winter holidays are also a big draw in their way, due in no small part to their attendant Christmas markets. Peak season for ski areas is from December through to the end of March.

    Away from the mountains, January through to April will appeal to those who enjoy the benefits of uncrowded attractions, although be aware that cities like Berlin rarely witness “slow” periods at any time of year. Prices tend to be slightly higher over the summer months. One other thing to bear in mind is that hotel rates can increase when big trade shows are in town (potentially a problem in Frankfurt, for example).


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    Flight and accommodation

    Good to know

    Phone calls & Internet

    Country code:+49

    Mobile telephony and Internet
    Since June 2017, EU citizens traveling within the EU, and also in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein have been able to use their cell phones and surf the Net without incurring any extra charges: In other words, customers pay the same price for phone calls, text messages and data volume as they do at home. Restrictions do apply to the constant use of SIM cards abroad, however, and caps may be set on data packages. For full details, contact your mobile telephony provider in your country. Travelers using a SIM card from a non-EU state do not benefit from the new arrangement.

    Free Internet access via Wi-Fi is possible in many busy tourist spots. When using public Wi-Fi networks, it is a wise precaution to ensure encryption of all passwords, credit card details and banking credentials entered. Use of a VPN app or security software to check the safety of a hotspot is recommended.

    Flight and accommodation


    Shopping in Berlin

    Key Areas

    As far as variety and choice of shopping facilities are concerned, Berlin is certainly on a par with top shopping cities, like Paris and London. Above all, the range of fashions, accessories, design and art is impressive. Every district has its own busy high streets, so there are places to stroll and shop all over Berlin. Kurfürstendamm and the adjacent streets in Charlottenburg, as well as Friedrichstraße in Mitte/Kreuzberg, are among the best-known shopping areas. The area around Reuterstraße in Neukölln is the place for bric-a-brac and second-hand stores, while fashion and design articles are sold near Hackesche Höfe and on Alte and Neue Schönhauser Straße in Mitte.


    Berlin has more than 250 outdoor food markets every week. Among the best known are the weekly markets on Winterfeldtplatz (Schöneberg, Wed 0800 -1400, Sat 0800-1600), the organic food market on Kollwitzplatz, (Mitte, Thu 1200-1900), and the so-called “Turkish Market” on Maybachufer (Neukölln, Tue and Fri 1100-1830).

    The flea markets in Mauerpark (Sat and Sun 0800-1800) and on Straße des 17. Juni (Sat and Sun 1000-0600) are just the thing for bargain hunters.

    Shopping Centers

    Berlin’s big department stores include the old established Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) on Tauentzienstraße (, Potsdamer Platz Arkaden ( and Galeries Lafayette on Friedrichstraße ( Original objects and elegant design can be found, for example, at Quartier 206 ( on Friedrichstraße and Bikini Berlin ( on Budapester Straße, a concept mall full of interesting little stores.

    Flight and accommodation

    Good to know

    Traveller etiquette

    Handshaking is customary in Germany, and it is considered rude to address people by their first name unless invited to do so. Normal courtesies should be observed. Before eating, it is normal to say “guten Appetit” to the other people at the table to which the correct reply is “danke, gleichfalls” (“Thank you, the same to you”). If you’ve been invited to eat at a German house, it is customary to present the hostess with unwrapped flowers (according to tradition, you should always give an uneven number, and it is worth noting that red roses are exclusively a lover’s gift).

    In shops and other businesses, courtesy dictates that visitors should utter a greeting, such as “guten Tag” (or “grüß Gott” in Bavaria) before saying what it is that they want; to leave without saying “auf Wiedersehen” or “tschüss” can also cause offence.

    Similarly, when making a telephone call, asking for the person you want to speak to without stating first who you are is impolite. Casual wear is widely acceptable, but more formal dress is required for some restaurants, the opera, theater, casinos and important social functions. Smoking is prohibited where notified, on public transportation and in most public buildings.

    Flight and accommodation

    Good to know


    Main emergency number: 112

    Food & Drink

    There’s nothing to mark out German products as particularly risky to general health (although it has a partly founded reputation for being high in fat). Tap water is safe to drink.

    Other Risks

    Tick-borne encephalitis is present in forested areas of southern Germany; vaccination is advisable. Rabies is present; look out for ‘Tollwut’ signs. For those at high risk, vaccination before arrival should be considered.

    During the summer months, sunburn can be a problem. The southwest generally has the highest temperatures. The usual precautions apply: Use a generous amount of sunscreen and be sensible about how long you spend in direct sunlight. Be aware that a breezy day can sometimes mask high temperatures.

    If walking over a long distance in warm weather, it’s advisable to drink – and carry – plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing, including a sun hat. Blisters can be another problem for hikers. These can often occur if new walking shoes are being worn over a long distance. Ideally, footwear should be worn in before the trip.

    As a counterpoint to the balminess of the summer, German winters can be fairly severe. This is generally truer the further east you travel. If you’re arriving during the coldest months of the year, make sure you have adequate clothing. At any time of year, in fact, temperatures can be unpredictable – even in July and August it makes sense to have a sweater (and maybe an umbrella, too) to hand.

    Other health problems that inexperienced travelers might reasonably encounter are the various knock-on effects of consuming too much alcohol. The risk, unsurprisingly, is particularly prevalent among those attending Munich’s Oktoberfest. Be aware that some beers have ABV levels of as much as 6 or 7% and should therefore be treated with respect.

    Contractual physician of Lufthansa

    Dr. Wirth, Matthias
    Arbeitsmedizinisches Zentrum
    Flughafen Schönefeld
    D-12521 Berlin
    Tel. +49-3088754280
    Tel. +49-3060913830

    Please note that Lufthansa accepts no responsibility for the treatment nor will it bear the cost of any treatment.

    Flight and accommodation

    Good to know

    Visa & Immigration

    IATA Travel Centre

    The IATA Travel Centre delivers accurate passport, visa and health requirement information at a glance. It is a trusted, centralized source for the latest international travel requirements. The IATA Travel Centre is the most accurate source available because it is based on a comprehensive database used by virtually every airline, and information is gathered from official sources worldwide, such as immigration and police authorities.

    IATA Travel CentreIATA Travel Centre

    Flight and accommodation