Cheap flights to Berlin
Edgy, full of character, multi-faceted and compelling, Berlin is all these things and more.
Germany’s capital is a city apart, and one you won’t forget in a hurry. People talk about how the city has been a hub of political goings on and the epicentre of historical happenings for hundreds of years, and they’re not wrong. It’s been divided by the Iron Curtain, torn apart by the Second World War; it’s been at the forefront of innovations in technology, art, and music – the list goes on.
Come for the history, for the trendy art scene, for some hardcore clubbing, or just to relax and take in the sights: it’s all on offer here.
After a long weekend in the various clubs and bars across Berlin, unwind at this stunning yet affordable spa and bathhouse. Complete with ambient coloured lighting and curated underwater beats, Liquidrom sets itself apart from anything you've experienced before. Float through its modern domed caverns before getting a salt peeling or moseying into a herb-infused sauna (10 Mockernstrasse, liquidrom-berlin.de).
Relive the 1990s at Potsdamer Platz, where a nondescript staircase in the pavement leads down to an authentic WWII bunker, now converted into a space for laser tag (U Anhalter Bahnhof, 92 Stresemannstrasse, undergroundlasergame.de).
Considering the vast importance of music to Berlin's arts scene, Record Store Day, on 18 April, is full of action at participating shops across the city, with live performances, parties, and plenty of dancing. recordstoredaygermany.de
Hamburger Bahnhof is one of the most renowned and widely recommended art institutions in the capital. Stunning architecture aside, there is always a captivating rotation of important works on view in the wide halls within, from the museum collection as well as private collections. On view until May are a variety of important artists ranging from Joseph Beuys to Andy Warhol (50-51 Invalidenstrasse, hamburgerbahnhof.de).
The Berlinale international film festival is easily one of Berlin's most well-known and important events of the year. If you are lucky enough to be visiting in February, make sure you don't miss this vibrant celebration of film. At least 400 films show annually and the best of European cinema is highlighted. Check the website for the packed festival programme, released at the end of January (5-15 February). berlinale.de
In a converted WWII bunker, the private Boros Collection features an internationally renowned collection of contemporary artists in what was once a wartime building, then a fruit storage facility, and even an underground rave venue, before it was renovated to become a stunning gallery. From the far reaches of influence like China's Ai Weiwei to German-born names like Wolfgang Tillmans, a private tour (you must book ahead) through the bunker is a truly unique art experience (20 Reinhardtstrasse, sammlung-boros.de).
Berlin's enormous Gardens of the World park, in the district of Marzahn, was opened in 1987 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the city. In addition to rare flowers and plants from all over the world, there's also a large maze that visitors can get lost in for a good hour or so (Gärten der Welt, 99 Eisenacher Strasse, berlin.de/en).
The stunning, mid-century-era Philharmonie concert hall is home to the Berliner Philharmoniker. With its golden honeycomb facade, the building is almost as incredible as the sounds that you will hear inside it. Each Tuesday at 1pm there is a free concert for visitors, which makes it an even better place to hide from the cold and experience something magnificent (1 Herbert-von-Karajan-Strasse, berliner-philharmoniker.de).
Sternberg Press, the independent publishing house located on the former "Stalin Allee", is enclosed by a building and street that holds a complex and fascinating history. Walk down from Alexanderplatz and experience a street that feels more like Moscow than Berlin, taking a break in the little bookstore full of interesting art and theory books, and boasting a beautifully maintained interior (78 Karl-Marx-Allee, sternberg-press.com).
Berlin is notoriously flat (which is exactly what makes it so great for bicycling). Take a short trip up to Wedding and bundle up to wander through its winding pathways before climbing up the top of its WWII bunker to catch one of the best views of this historic sprawling city and surrounding countryside (Volkspark Humboldthain, Wiesenstrasse, berlin.de).
Avoid the tourist shops and bring back a gift from Süper Store, which offers a variety of mostly locally made goods including jewellery, food and drink and small household items (U Schönleinstrasse, 12 Dieffenbachstrasse, sueper-store.de).
Finland has a long history of design, the best of which can be found in Mitte's Kippis shop. Owned by two expat Finns, the store houses strange and rare furniture, porcelain, textiles, wallpaper and even a few Finnish sweets (Kippis Finnish Design, 146 Torstrasse, kippis-design.de).
The heritage town (and surrounding castles) of Potsdam are just outside of the city limits, offering a fascinating view into the old Prussian empire that Germany was once a part of. Check out its Amsterdam-like Dutch quarter, the old shopping district with good traditional German eats and boutiques, and Sanssouci Palace, which almost rivals the Palace of Versailles for "wow" factor.
The Berlin-Hohenschönhausen Memorial is not part of a deep and forgotten past: it was only 25 years ago when the wall came down and this Stasi prison became inactive as the German Democratic Republic (GDR) reunited with West Germany. Over the years thousands of political prisoners passed through this institute, where investigations, interrogations, and detentions were carried out. This is a must-see memorial to learn and engage with this complicated and important part of Germany's history (66 Genslerstrasse, stiftung-hsh.de).