Nowhere is this better represented than at Potsdamer Platz. This was no-man’s land, divided by the Wall, after the Second World War. Now, with lots of shiny new buildings, it is a lively commercial and entertainment quarter. It is close to the important symbols of “old” Berlin – the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag (the original parliament of the German Empire) and the 630-acre Tiergarten park.
Berlin marks its once terrible history with the Jewish community with several monuments. The Jüdisches Museum tells the story of the Jewish people in Germany and the Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe, unveiled in 2005, is a field of 2,700 undulating concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate.
There is no shortage of cheap flights to Berlin. The city has two airports, Tegel in the north-west to which BA and Lufthansa fly and Schönefeld to the south-east where Berlin flights with easyJet and Ryanair land.
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July and August are the wettest and warmest months when temperatures can reach the mid-20s (Celsius). September/October is the most pleasant time of year, highlighted by the autumn foliage. The cold and damp winter is from November to March and is marked with overcast skies and temperatures that often drop below freezing. December to February are the coldest months. In May and June the trees are in bloom and the outdoor café season starts.
Berlin is interesting to visit any time of year, with the most visitors arriving between May and September. Major holidays and events pack the city, such as Easter, Christmas, New Year, Green Week (January), the radio-TV fair (August and September of odd-numbered years) and the Love Parade (July). Throughout the year Berlin also hosts trade shows which can fill the hotels.
March to May and October to early November have pleasant weather and fewer tourists. The fewest visitors are here between November and March; lines are shorter, and you can focus on cultural events. There is also the chance to pick up cheaper Berlin flights.
Berlin may be a large city, but you won’t have trouble finding a way to get around. Berlin has one of the best public transport systems in Europe. From early morning to past midnight you can ride a bus, tram, underground (U-Bahn) or elevated (S-Bahn) train. Some services are offered all night.
Many historic sites are located close together and best explored on foot. It’s very safe during the day, even in large parks, but be aware of your surroundings at night.
Heavy traffic can make biking seem scary, but there are bike lanes almost everywhere and it’s an especially good way to explore parks and forests. You can even take a bike on the U-Bahn and S-Bahn during certain hours for an additional fee.
If you want a taxi, it’s cheaper to hail one from the street than call one ahead of time. There’s no need to rent a car, especially with Berlin’s abundance of reckless drivers and ongoing construction. Parking is difficult to find as well.