How many days: 3 Days
When: August 2018
I visited Berlin for 4 days during August in a year which saw record temperatures around Europe. Luckily it was the last week in August and the temperatures had begun to drop so it wasn’t too uncomfortable. I met 2 friends whilst I was out there, and we had planned most of our activities in advance.
Berlin is a city which has seen many conflicts in modern history, World War II in which the city was heavily bombed and destroyed, and the Cold War which ultimately saw Berlin physically divided by a wall for nearly 30 years. The city still has many scars from these conflicts both visually and in its culture, its easy to look at berlin and think that this city could be so much more developed if it hadn’t been for these conflicts.
That said, it is one of the most forward-thinking countries in Europe and not to mention the fact its very gay friendly. The people are very laid back and friendly, which can be lacking in other European countires such as Paris and Rome.
Berlin is unusual among European capitals in many respects and the four decades of partition - 28 years of them being physically separated by a wall - have also left traces. Barely a fishing village in the 18th century, Berlin grew to be one of the most important and biggest cities in the world by the 1920s, only to lose much of its importance and historic architecture as a result of World War II and German partition. The heart of old Prussia and a focal point of the Cold War, Berlin today is coming into its own again as a cosmopolitan capital of one of Europe's wealthiest nations. "Arm aber sexy" (poor but sexy) as a former mayor would have it, Berlin attracts young people, students and a creative bohème like few other cities in the world. With architectural heritage from Prussian monarchism, Nazism, East German communism and Potsdamer Platz, filled 1990s and 2000s style glass palaces, Berlin's architecture is as varied as its neighborhoods and its people. And due to its long history as a cosmopolitan capital (first of Prussia and later of Germany) it has attracted immigrants from all over the world for more than three hundred years now. It should thus be no surprise that immigrants past and present continue to leave a distinctive mark on the city.
The U-Bahn and S-Bahn are the underground metros that run in and around the city, they provide the most efficient way to get around Berlin. However, be aware that the system is slightly more complex than other European cities (like London and Paris). If you do a lot of travelling I would highly recommend downloading the app “City Rail Map”, this lets you put in your current location (or start point) and end and it shows you the metros/trains and connections you need.
At the station you can buy a ticket, best value is to buy a day pass for around 5 Euros which is valid from time of purchase until 3AM. You must validate your ticket BEFORE you get on the train by punching it in one of the machines either next to the ticket machine or on the platform.
The S-Bahn station is located 5 minutes from the main terminal building, and depending on where you want to go in Berlin, you would usually take the S9 (purple line) or S45 (yellow line).
The Berlin U-Bahn (commonly understood to be short for Untergrundbahn - "underground railway") is a network of ten lines across the city. They are numbered from 1 to 9 with the prefix "U" (U1 U2 U3 U4 U5 U6 U7 U8 U9), with the additional line U55 ( U55 ) in operation until its route gets connected to the U5 sometime before 2020. You may find the U-Bahn network slightly less logical and convenient to use than in other European capitals, as Berlin's troubled history made its mark on it and many key locations remain unconnected.
If you need to get around the city quickly, take the S-Bahn. The Ringbahn that goes all around Berlin in a circle (or as local politicians would have it "a dog's head") lets you get to other parts of the city really fast. If you're looking for the way, use BVG.de, that site includes Buses, U-Bahn, S-Bahn, Tram and even ferries. You can simply enter departure address and arrival address to see the optimum connection, it's an excellent service.
Berlin has a temperate oceanic climate, meaning warm summers and cold winters. Nighttime temperatures typically fall below freezing in the winter, and snowfall is a regular occurrence, though the snow rarely accumulates for more than a few days. Summers are typically pleasant, with daytime temperatures typically in the low 20s, and nighttime temperatures staying above 10 °C. Berlin is a rather windy city compared to much of Southern Germany, though by no means as windy as coastal cities like Hamburg or Lübeck. A wind-stopping jacket comes highly recommended, especially during the shoulder seasons.
Germany uses the Euro currency. Berlin is cheaper than most other major cities in Europe.
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