Berlin, a heady blend of grit and glamour in the northeast of Germany is the country’s largest and most cosmopolitan city.
Although 92% of the capital’s buildings were razed to the ground by World War II bombs, it has rebuilt itself with remarkable results over the decades, making its memorials, museums and cutting-edge architecture ripe for exploring.
Arriving at Berlin Tegel Airport
Berlin’s compact yet functional Tegel Airport sits about five miles northwest of the city centre. On landing, passport checks and customs are usually relatively swift, and the airport is well integrated into the city’s public transport network, making it easy to travel to and from.
Four BVG (Berlin Transport Services) stops are located right outside Terminals A and B and the TXL Express Bus runs at six-minute intervals towards the city centre via Main Station (Hauptbahnhof) to central Alexanderplatz (it takes around 37 minutes, depending on the time of day). Zoologischer Garten, to the west of the city, can be reached in approximately 20 minutes by Express Bus.
If you want to change onto the S-Bahn (Berlin’s rapid transit railway system), the Express Bus TXL will take you to Beusselstrasse station in just 10 minutes, where you can take the circular line. The U-Bahn network (which runs mostly underground) is just five minutes away from the airport via the Express Bus.
Tegel also has a direct connection to motorway A111 (exit Flughafen Tegel) which then links it to the A10, A110 and A115, reaching out in all directions across the city. Taxis are easy to flag down and car hire is clearly signposted.
Festivals and events
It’s easy to soak up culture in Berlin, with annual events including the Berlin Film Festival (February), Berlin Carnival of Culture (May–June) and the spectacular Festival of Lights (October).
The Long Night of Museums event (every August) sees most of Berlin’s 170 museums and cultural institutions, including those on the World Heritage-listed Museum Island – open their doors from noon until 0200, giving visitors an intimate look at paintings, sculptures, art performances and concerts.
Beer, of course, is a big deal in Berlin. Its international beer festival is usually held during the first week in August, when over 2,000 brews from around the world are served up to jovial crowds across the boulevard of Karl Marx Allee. That’s not to mention the annual Oktoberfest celebrations, which – although not quite as large as their Munich counterparts – are still well attended and suitably raucous.
Towards the end of November, as the days get colder and the nights get longer, the streets erupt into a riot of festivity, with Berlin’s iconic Christmas markets setting up shop at around 100 fairy-light-strewn locations across the city.