Berlin has come a long way since the wreckage of World War II -- and since the Berlin Wall came down. Today it's a thriving and open metropolis that's always in the conversation when people talk about Europe's coolest city. It's home to a vibrant arts scene, revitalized old neighborhoods, some of the continent's most innovative new architecture and trendy urban eats.
If it's your first time in Berlin, you should consider a StattReisen historic walking tour or a City Circle sightseeing tour via bus. Both will give you a quick feel for the city and take you to major attractions and highlights. With or without a guided tour, your itinerary should at a minimum include the Berliner Dom cathedral, the imposing Charlottenburg Palace and Museumsinsel (Museum Island). To get a spectacular aerial view of the city, climb the TV Tower at Alexanderplatz. For fresh air, spend some time at the charming Tiergarten, the largest and most popular park in Berlin. It's full of trees, flowers and the restored Berlin Zoo. For culture, you can take in a performance at the renowned Theater und Komodie am Kurfurstendamm or a show by the Berliner Ensemble.
Travelers who like to shop will find all they can handle here. There's a bewildering array of designer boutiques, malls, flea markets, galleries and more. If you're looking for branded and specialty items, spend some time at Kurfurstendamm or Friedrichstrasse in the city center. The Potsdamer Platz Arkaden is another area worth a visit, with about 130 shops selling clothing, high-end fashion accessories and electronics. There are also a lot of cafes and restaurants in the area. If you're hunting for bargains, make your way to Strasse des 17 Juni during the weekend, as this is the best-known flea market in Berlin.
Dining and Nightlife
A hotel room in Berlin is strictly a place to sleep -- and even sleeping is optional, considering all the fun things to do after dark. You can get a taste of any world cuisine among the many restaurants in the city but try to devote at least one dinner to a hearty Berlin specialty like currywurst and fries or bratkartoffeln (potatoes fried with bacon and onion). And, of course, have a Berliner donut, just for JFK's sake. A large number of coffee shops have emerged in Berlin and almost all are jammed with coffee lovers, hanging out and talking till the wee hours. If you like gaming, check out the casinos, including the Casino Berlin at Alexanderplatz or the Spielbank Berlin at Potsdamer Platz. You will also find a number of theaters, concert venues and opera houses to fill your bill if you're a fan of the fine arts.