The Insider Guide to Berlin
Despite its turbulent history and a reputation for edgy nightlife, there's more to the German capital than Berghain and the Brandenburg Gate. In a city at the cutting edge yet inescapably defined by its past, you'll need to explore the sights on the margins to really understand the big-ticket attractions.
Lass uns gehen! The Main Attractions
You can't visit Berlin without making a stop at Checkpoint Charlie. One of the city's most-visited Cold War remnants, the crossing point linked East and West Berlin when the city was divided by the Berlin Wall. Another spot you'll want to cross off your list is a visit to the East Side Gallery, a graffiti project by 118 artists that covers an old part of the infamous structure. From here, you can head west to bustling Potsdamer Platz – the public square that’s widely considered the beating heart of Berlin – then north, past the spectacular golden Berliner Philharmonie concert hall and onwards, through the city's largest and oldest park, the Tiergarten. If you have children in tow, make a stop at Zoo Berlin, at the western end of the park, which is home to more than 20,200 animals. If that's not enough to satisfy miniature zoologists, you'll find another 7,250 at Tierpark Berlin in the east of the city. Why two zoos, you might ask. In a city that was once divided, you'll find lots of things twice. To the east of the park is Brandenburg Gate, a towering 18th-century archway complete with Doric columns and classical statues – another must for culture vultures and history buffs. By now you'll have worked up an appetite, so follow the banks of the city's majestic river, the Spree, to pedestrianised Alexanderplatz for lunch and retail therapy, plus views of the city's iconic TV Tower. Of course, you can't visit Berlin without delving into its Jewish history, so finish your day at the Jewish Museum, where you'll find fascinating exhibits exploring German Judaism through time, as well as a poignant Holocaust memorial. Now you've hit off all the major players, it's time to get off the beaten track. Read on for our local insider tips.