1 day agoKatherine Sacks answered the question:West Berlin has a certain Parisian charm about it, and on Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm), you’ll find some high-end shopping on par with the fashion capital. Along with luxury designer brands like Prada, Versace, and Chanel, this mile-long shopping street is home to Europe’s largest department store, Kaufhaus des Westens (or KaDeWe). The premium department store houses six floors of fashion, jewelry, home goods, and shoes, as well as an impressive food hall that’s not to be. When you are ready for a break, head to the top floor restaurant and enjoy lunch underneath the café's stunning art deco glass ceiling.
In East Berlin, the central Mitte neighborhood is home to some of the city’s young designer boutiques and showrooms, like Antonia Goy and Lala Berlin. Steps away from the nearby Alexanderplatz, the Alexacentre shopping mall offers a wide variety of more commercial stores, like German brands Camp David and S. Oliver, as well as globally recognized European chains H&M and Zara.
Berlin is also home to some great vintage and flea markets. The Sunday Mauerpark flea market gathers eclectic shoppers looking for a bargain on used bikes or vintage ware, while the Straße des 17. Juni market is known for a stricter policy for its vendors, which leads to more professionals and antiques. You'll also find small trinkets, jewerly, and housewares at the city's farmers markets; the Saturday market at Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg is worth a visit.
On April 23Katherine Sacks answered the question:When you think about the Berlin skyline, the image that most comes to mind is Brandenburg Tor. And while the neoclassical gate in the center of town is certainly impressive, Berlin’s landscape offers much to be admired. Thankfully there are plenty of options to get a great view. The Fernseturm, or TV Tower, is one of the city’s most recognized landmarks, jettisoning into the skyline where you can see it from almost every location in town. That tall tower also offers a great view; an elevator brings you 207 meters high to find a revolving restaurant and viewing gallery. The glass roof of the Reichstag, the home of the German Parliament, also offers an impressive view from its West Berlin home; entrance is free, but advance registration is required. And for a bit of a thrill, take Europe’s speediest elevator to the 24th floor panoramic observation deck, Panoramapunkt, in Potsdamer Platz’s Kollhoff Tower.
On April 23Katherine Sacks answered the question:Berlin is Germany’s largest city, and with a population of roughly 3.5 million people, it’s about 3 times the size of Chicago. An impressive transportation system helps navigate the paths throughout it. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn networks help get you around the central city, with frequent stops in most of Berlin’s primary neighborhoods. These trains also reach out further into the city’s suburbs. The above ground Ringbahn makes a circular loop around this network, connecting points throughout the city center. And every few blocks you'll find either a tram or a bus stop, which make numerous stops throughout the city. The country’s transportation network, Deutsche Bahn, also provides bike rentals; register ahead of time, pick-up a bike, and enjoy the city views on wheels.
One thing to note: the public transportation system here relies on an honesty system, so you won’t find entry barriers at any of the stops. But underground inspectors make rounds throughout the bus, trams, and train lines, giving out fines of up to €40 to riders without a ticket. Tickets can be purchased on trams and at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, and need to be stamped before boarding the train. Check out the official website for more information and to plan your journey; the Deutsche Bahn Navigator phone application is also helpful in planning routes for tech-savvy visitors.
On April 17Katherine Sacks answered the question:Berlin is a pretty carefree city, full of creatives, artists, and wanderers who tend to just let things happen as they will. This nonchalant attitude often rubs off on the city’s visitors, but there are a few things to keep in mind when planning your visit. Here are some simple tips to get you in-the-know before you land in Berlin.
While the weekends are high season for tourists, they are sacred time in Germany. In smaller cities, shops are only open until noon on Saturday and nearly everything shuts down on Sundays. The more cosmopolitan Berlin offers a little leeway, but the rules are pretty much the same. You’ll find that most shops, grocery, stores, pharmacies and the like have shorter hours on Saturday, and are closed on Sundays. Tourist shops stay open for souvenirs, along with restaurants, bars, and convenience stores for provisions.
Cash is king in Berlin—most shops, restaurants, and bars don’t take credit cards. Although many hotels, grocery stores, and some high-end department stores cater to an International audience and will take your plastic, it’s best to be prepared to spend cash.
German law requires that all prices, menus, and bills include tax and a service charge, so tipping is not neccessary. However, it's common practice to leave a few Euros for a tip. Berliners often round up the bill and leave the change.
Important Telephone numbers
Stay connected while travelling with these numbers on hand. The international access code for Germany is +49 and the city code for Berlin is +30, so dial 011+49+30 + a Berlin phone number in order to call the city from the United States. When calling the U.S. from Berlin, dial 001 first.
On April 16Katherine Sacks answered the question:Berliners love to gripe about the weather, and everyone you meet from December through March will apologize for the cold, gray city skies. While a snow walk through Tiergarten park can be magical and December’s Christmas markets are unforgettable, the best time to visit Berlin is in the summer. The city is extremely walkable, and sunny weather makes that so much nicer then the freezing winter temperatures. Many of Berlin’s best attractions—boat rides along the Spree River, open air concerts, and outdoor film screenings—are best enjoyed in summer. The warm weather also brings everything from the blooming Schloss Charlottenburg courtyards and boisterous beer gardens, to a number of barge pools set along the Spree River, perfect for soaking up the sun. And of course, one of Germany’s favorite treats, a trip to an eis café for several scoops of German ice cream, is best enjoyed during the hottest summer days.
On April 12Katherine Sacks answered the question:Berlin is home to a vibrant mix of Old World history, modern, International flair, and eclectic artisan studios and galleries. With such a wide spread of attractions, visitors have an array of options at their fingertips, and there is really something for everyone in Berlin.
History buffs can dig into Berlin’s storied past by touring the Deutsches Historische Museum, checking out the remains of the Berlin Wall, and walking around Olympiastadion. Art aficionados will enjoy the city’s wide variety, everything from the classic paintings inside the Alte National Galerie and the modern Hamburger Banhof (inside a former train station) to a growing number of smaller, avant-garde galleries. If you appreciate architecture, Berlin’s varied style can be seen in the neoclassic Brandenburger Tor, the GDR-era Alexanderplatz, and the modern Potsdamer Platz. Nature lovers can enjoy a walk through Tiergarten park, enjoy the flora and fauna at the Botanischer Garten, or head west to Berlin’s popular Wannsee Lake, whose beaches are heavily packed come summertime. And fashionistas will appreciate the city’s luxury department stores and neighborhoods like Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, where you can find first-rate boutiques, as well as great vintage finds.
On August 2Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Berlin is a vibrant city, steeped in history and culture. Here are five activities not to miss in the German capital:
1. The Reichstag. Home of the German parliament, the Reichstag is a marvel of democracy and architecture. You must register at least a month ahead to visit the building’s dome. British architect Sir Norman Foster’s mirrored spiral draws thousands to the roof every day, so be prepared to wait (if you’re visiting the building’s rooftop restaurant, you can skip the line). Guided tours can be arranged in English six days a week, however, 45-minute lectures about the history of the building are only offered in English Tuesday afternoons (registration is required for both). After registering, you can even watch a session of parliament.
2. A visit to East Berlin. East Berlin has a drab history, which included small, bland apartments in nondescript gargantuan concrete buildings where everyone lived. Today, you can still see signs of the area’s past — like the buildings, along with some lingering war destruction — but you’ll also see shops, museums and a vibrant nightlife scene. While it may be cliché, a bus tour is one of the best ways to see East Berlin. Look for tour companies like Berlin City Hop-On Hop-Off, which lets you get on and off as many times as you like, so you can explore the area by foot.
3. Charlottenburg Palace (Schloss Charlottenburg). Before 1871, Germany was home to closely related states and kingdoms. Royalty had mansions sprinkled throughout the region. We are drawn to the majesty of Charlottenburg Palace, the largest castle in the capital. Construction on a summer residence started in 1695 for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Prussian Elector Frederick III. After he ascended to the throne, the palace and its ornate gardens became more and more grand. Although the structure sustained substantial damage during World War II, the baroque and rococo mélange was lovingly brought back to its original splendor in the 1950s. It's a great place to get a glimpse of the life of Prussian royalty and see exquisite collections of 18th-century French and German paintings and porcelain.
4. Visit the Berlin Wall Memorial (Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer). Construction of the Berlin Wall started on Bernauer Street (Bernauerstrasse), where a visitor center now sits. However, you’ll see the full exhibit outdoors. Walk about nine blocks along Bernauer Street; the wall has been replaced with 12-foot-tall rusted metal poles. Go there to read and hear (audio is available) about the cinder-block barrier and the lives it separated.
5. Museum Island. The World Heritage site holds five world-class museums, including the Pergamon Museum and Old National Gallery. Head to the area to get an up-close look at the Pergamon Altar and Ishtar Gate on this land in the middle of Berlin.
On June 12Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Germans aren’t always acclaimed for their cuisine, but Berlin is filled with top restaurants serving decadent fare with modern spins. Here are five of our favorite eateries in Berlin:
1. Solar. Your dining experience here will begin with a glass-elevator ride up 17 floors. With the city lights sparkling below, you will dig into a modern twist on German cuisine. After the meal, climb a spiral staircase to a lounge where a DJ spins and Berlin landmarks glitter below.
2. Fridas Schwester. In this bright and casual dining room, chocolate mousse is married with ginger and figs. To accommodate all the available flavors, the menu changes frequently. You can choice a vino from the well-edited list of wines from Europe, Africa, Australia and North America to accompany the international flavors.
3. Grill Royal. While its brief menu offers Dover sole, lobster and sea bream, people come to the lush Grill Royal for careful preparations of steaks, chops and roasts. The dark dining room is populated with large and daring photographs, sculptures and paintings.
4. Ixthys. This spot creates authentic Korean food in a unique setting. When no servers are on duty, grab a menu and flip (past the passages from the Bible) to the short list of dishes. Give your order to one of the two women in the kitchen at the back of the dining room, grab a drink from the refrigerator and then find a seat in the tiny room. Just know that Ixthys doesn’t accept reservations, even though a line often stretches outside the door.
5. Anywhere that sells currywurst. The unofficial street food of Berlin, currywurst is basically a sausage that’s covered in a faintly curry-flavored sauce. Every local has their favorite currywurst spot, but we love Curry 36 or Konnopke’s Imbiss in Prenzlauer Berg.
On June 12Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Berlin is filled with both Old World luxury and modern-day gems. Here are the five best places to stay in the city:
1. Hotel Adlon. Sitting in the shadow of Brandenburg Gate, the Adlon has welcomed heads of state, power brokers and boldfaced names for decades The interiors are a welcoming combination of dark woods and cream highlights, and amenities abound. Inside the guest rooms, you’ll be treated to free Wi-Fi (a rarity in Berlin hotels) and the latest entertainment options. The hotel even has its own nightclub — just flash your room key and skip the line.
2. The Mandala Hotel. Each room is large and comes with windows that open, small kitchens, walk-in closets and modern workspaces. Mandala Hotel pulses along with the life of Potsdamer Platz. And just a few streets away is…
3. The Mandala Suites. This is Mandala Hotel’s more serene sister. It has rooms that overlook a courtyard and an eighth-floor restaurant, from which you watch the city life below.
4. NHow Berlin. Perched over the Spree River on the former dividing line between East and West Berlin, this retro-futuristic design hotel focuses on music. The hotel features two recording studios — which have been used by chart-toppers like Jessie J and N.E.R.D. — and room service will gladly bring you a guitar or keyboard.
5. Schlosshotel Im Grunewald. It doesn’t get much more elegant than this hotel, located in a former mansion on a tree-lined street. A design renovation by Karl Lagerfeld gave the hotel an even cozier touch, punctuating the space with chandeliers, plush red rugs and gold-leaf designs. Top amenities include an indoor heated pool and an Audi that will pick you up at the airport.
On June 12Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:Kurfürstendamm (or Ku’damm as locals call it) is famed for its boutiques, stores and galleries. It is a literal mile of stores for every retail need — clothes, furniture, musical instruments, art, housewares, books, electronics, pets — in the Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf neighborhood of west Berlin. The boulevard offers Berlin and German brand favorites, as well as familiar names like Prada, Versace and Chanel. And when you need a break, you can take a seat at one of the cafes or bars that little the area.
Luxury department store Kaufhaus des Westens (better known by its nickname KaDeWe) has attracted discerning shoppers since 1907. It sells all the items you would expect at a premium department store — fashion, electronics, jewelry — in its 648,000 square feet of space.
Berlin is dotted with some unique markets as well. The flea market at Mauerpark in the east stretches for acres. Go there any Sunday to find art, vintage furniture, jewelry and clothes, as well as global cuisine at pop-up restaurants. Artisans, artists and local farmers sell their wares at Hackescher Markt, which sits on a small square not far from Alexanderplatz, every Thursday and Saturday. The square is a neighbor of Rosenthaler Street; this Mitte District-street is bursting with unique boutiques. Not far away, Friedrichstrasse also offers block after block of shopping centers, small shops and the multi-level beauty department store, Galeries Lafayette.
On June 12Forbes Travel Guide Inspector answered the question:With so much history and culture, kids will have a long list of museums and exhibits to visit in Berlin. Here are the five best:
1. MACHmit! Museum for Kids. This kiddie paradise uses games, computers, art and creative approaches to teach little ones about the world around them. The hands-on museum gets your children involved in exhibitions on a diversity of topics, like the rights of the individual and how to make a ball. It’s fun in any language.
2. Science Center Spectrum. Mini scientists can roll up their sleeves and try 250 experiments. (Note: it will be closed until renovations are completed in December 2012.)
3. German Museum of Technology. This is the place to find out how the machines around us work. People of all ages can trace the development of things like photography, medicine and trains.
4. Domäne Dahlem. Take your little ones on a farm adventure at this outdoor museum in southwest Berlin. They can get up close with cows, pigs, goats, horses, chickens, ducks and turkeys, as well as also climb on a tractor, ride ponies and drive miniature tractors.
5. Schlachtensee. Bring your family to this picturesque lakefront area, or rent a two- or four-person canoe and row across the serene waters. The area is so serene that it’s hard to believe a S-Bahn train station is just a five-minute walk away.