Berlin – Germany’s lively capital city – is filled with lush parks, broad lakes and breathtaking river views. It has been more than 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the city has been transformed physically and culturally over that time. While you can find plenty of dark history to explore, Berlin also has a vibrant cultural heart with more than 170 museums, an abundance of modern architecture and wonderful cuisine.
Berlin boasts numerous Michelin-starred restaurants (11 holding the highest rating of three stars), but it is also filled with beer gardens serving traditional food and brews. Carts throughout the city sell an unexpected mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean street food. Any visit to Berlin is not complete without trying the local German speciality called currywurst: a curry-spiced sausage drenched in tomato sauce and served with fries. Or for something sweet, bite into a deep fried doughnut filled with marmalade.
Berlin is also the most visited city in Germany, with more than 28.7 million tourists choosing to stay overnight in the city in 2014 and 11.9 million people deciding to make a day trip to the capital.
As there is no port for cruise ships in Berlin, cruise lines usually arrange for a transfer via bus or train from destinations such as Magdeburg or Warnemunde. The transfer to Berlin takes approximately 2 hours from Magdeburg and 3 and a half hours from Warnemunde.
Magdeburg Pier has no facilities of its own, but as it lies next to Old Town, many facilities are a very short walk away.
Facilities near the pier in Magdeburg include:
- Tourist information centres
- Public toilets
- Restaurants and cafés
- Post office
The port in Warnemunde is situated close to the local train station and many useful facilities can be found there.
Facilities at the train station include:
- Taxi rank
- Tourist information desk.
How To Get Around
Berlin has an excellent public transport network comprising U-Bahn (underground trains), S-Bahn (above-ground trains), buses and trams. A day pass will allow you to ride any public train, tram or bus for the one low fee. Double-decker buses aimed at tourists take in all the major sights, allowing passengers to hop on and off as often as they like.
Travel times from the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (the central train station):
- It is a 12 minute journey to the Reichstag Building.
- It is a 5 minute journey to the Reichstag Building
- It is a 13 minute journey to the Charlottenburg Palace
- It is a 15 minute journey to the East Side Gallery.
- It is a 4 minute journey to the Reichstag Building
- It is a 13 minute journey to the East Side Gallery
- It is a 25 minute journey to the Charlottenburg Palace.
- Currency – The currency in Berlin is the Euro (€). Notes come in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500 denominations. Coins come in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent and €1 and €2 denominations.
- Time Zone – Berlin, like most of Europe, follows Central European Time (CET), which is one hour ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Between March and October, this time difference becomes two hours when daylight savings is observed.
- Weather – Berlin enjoys a continental climate with hot summers for Western Europe and cold winters. July is the hottest month in Berlin, with temperatures averaging at 18 degrees Celsius. January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of -1 degrees Celsius.
- The East Side Gallery – Berlin Wall memorabilia, including, photographs, postcards and propaganda posters, are the most popular souvenirs in town. Although the majority of the wall was torn down in 1989, a few sections remain. The most visited section runs for a two-kilometre stretch and is the longest section of the Wall still standing today. Numerous international artists decorated the wall throughout the 1990s. Running along the Spree River below Alexanderplatz, this section is extremely well preserved and is considered an open-air art gallery.
- The Reichstag Building – This iconic building housed the Diet (the legislative assembly) until 1993. Constructed in the 1890s, its stunning façade was built in the Italian High Renaissance style. Thanks to a fire and bombings during World War II, much of the internal structure has been rebuilt. Most dramatically, the building’s giant dome has been replaced with a striking modern glass dome. The roof terrace and the gigantic glass dome (reached via a dramatic spiral ramp) are open to the public and offer spectacular views over Berlin. Just remember to take photo ID with you.
- Charlottenburg Palace – Construction began on this Baroque building in 1695. With rooms decorated in sumptuous Rococo and Baroque styles, the opulent royal apartments and giant festival halls are stunningly beautiful. The palace is filled with porcelain vases, 18th century paintings, jewellery and gilded furniture. In fine weather, make sure you take a stroll through the ornate gardens.