Cheap flights to Berlin
Fly to Berlin. The airport has an excellent train station. Are you adventurous enough to take the first departing train you see, with zero planning, and jump on it until you reach the countryside?
Keep an eye out of the window until you like the look of the scenery. Then make your decision, jump off the train at the next station, and look around at your home for the night. What happens next will depend upon where you have alighted from the train. Germany has masses of empty space and woodland so it's usually easy to find a peaceful spot.
Eat local, sleep on a hill, be spontaneous!
If, however, you prefer something more prescribed than just following your nose (although that's not the point of this idea), then pick a deliberately non-touristy small town such as Königs Wusterhausen. It's just a normal, small town which is exactly what I want when I go exploring - I'm less interested in tourist highlights than getting a feel for normal life somewhere different. There are plenty of nice woods and lakes nearby.
Level of Difficulty: Medium (it's actually easy, but the boldness makes it harder).
What to pack: Warm clothes (check the weather forecast!), hiking shoes, woolly hat, headtorch, raingear, sleeping bag, mat and bivvy bag. Take food and water just in case there are no shops where you exit the train.
Best time to go: late spring / early summer.
Tourists, talents, technology, and tolerance shape the rhythm of the city which is dynamic and welcoming, tolerant and trendy, diverse and creative. A US magazine called Berlin “the place to be” and encapsulated the thing that fascinates both Berliners and visitors. No other city has such a moving history, no other city has changed this fast – and reinvents itself constantly.
But exactly what is it that actually makes Berlin so attractive? It is the diversity, the contrasts and the sheer inexhaustible potential of this capital city to consistently fire the enthusiasm of its visitors from all over the world. People are excited by the mixture of history and Zeitgeist, the broad spectrum of art, culture, music, entertainment and shopping facilities.
On average, 500.000 guests visit Berlin each day. Half of them come to the German capital for a second or third time. And many who come as tourists think about moving here. Berlin has a magnetism over young, creative, well-trained, and productive people.
visitBerlin launched the app „Going Local Berlin,“ especially for those Berlin visitors who come to the city yet again. For the first time in an app, all twelve Berlin districts and their unique highlights are the focus. The free app offers visitors tips for orientating themselves in the city’s many diverse neighbourhoods, together with tips for discovering new aspects of Berlin. Initially, 60 neighbourhoods with more than 600 tips are presented. They were personally selected by visitBerlin staff and in cooperation with the districts themselves. In addition, the app offers a tour of each district that’s also available as a video and gives insight into the atmosphere and the highlights of that part of the city. The tips are organized into categories such as “Must See”, “Hidden Places” and “Eating and Drinking”. app.visitBerlin.com
The tourist guide also suggests that visitors get to know the city of Berlin off the beaten track. Introduced are the little-known sights of Berlin and insiders’ tips for each district as well as 12 fascinating walks, all waiting to be explored by visitors.
Even you can become a Berlin expert: just download the app on your smartphone. In September you get the brochure “Going Local” for free at the easyJet counter on your arrival in Berlin. Now you are well equipped for your visit in Berlin – impress your friends with your knowledge!
Oktoberfest purists may feel slightly uneasy celebrating in Berlin rather than Munich, but all the important elements are present and correct. Big tents, brass bands, roasted meat and freshly brewed beer, surrounded by lots of jolly, drunk Germans. Revels run until 16 October. (Kurt-Schumacher-Damm 207, http://www.schaustellerverband-berlin.de/oktoberfest-berlin.html)
Bearpit Karaoke (www.bearpitkaraoke.com) speaks to what modern Berlin is all about. Come 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, a mobile sound system is set up in Mauerpark and locals take their turn at the karaoke mike. Sing well and they'll cheer, sing badly and well
Bearpit Karaoke is well named.
Running for ten days from the 9 - 19 February, the world famous 67th Berlin International Film Festival is spread across 20 venues, creating a cosmopolitan cultural hub that attracts artists and celebrities from all over the world. The extensive programme offers something for everyone including kids, film buffs and those looking for a one off experience. https://www.berlinale.de/
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week
In Berlin, fashion week isn't about big brands, swanky parties or runway extravaganzas. Instead, experimentation and accessibility are the buzzwords as designers examine new ways of previewing their collections. 2015 hosted fashion films alongside 3D printed collections, this year keep an eye on the three biggest trade shows; Panorama Berlin, Show & Order and Seek to stay a part of the action.
Interfilm 31st International Short Film Festival: Running from 10-15th November, Berlin's 31st International Short Film Festival will screen 500 films across seven cinemas to bring the world of shorts to Berlin. Check the full festival programme for a great way to explore international cinema in bite-sized chunks in between sightseeing and other touristic activities.
The Kunstraum Bethanien is a Victorian-era hospital turned exhibition space in the Kreuzberg neighbourhood, where some of the city's most cutting-edge artists display their works. Most days, they'll be hanging around outside, smoking or just eating from the cheap café, so don't be surprised if criticising an exhibition sparks a very frank conversation. (Mariannenpl. 2, www.kunstraumkreuzberg.de)
The Bauhaus Archive
Numerous documents as well as photographs, design items and revolving exhibitions provide a comprehensive view of the infamous Bauhaus legacy and its importance to modern-day design. If you get stuck, audio guides and tours are on hand to help you find your way, and the gift shop is stocked full of everything you might need to turn your home into a Bauhaus original. www.bauhaus.de/en/
For the last 30 years, Berlin's transmediale festival has encouraged us to consider the aesthetic and speculative positions between art, technology and culture, inviting participants to reach an understanding of technology as being more than just the digital world. This year's anniversary exhibition kicks off on February 2nd, well worth a visit if you want to experience something out of the ordinary. https://transmediale.de/
Fairy Tales at the Tadjik Tearoom
As the temperatures drop to a Baltic sub zero, head indoors to The Tadjik Tearoom on Oranienburger Tor. This Soviet gem serves teas, pierogi, blini and pelmeni housed in a stunning building steeped in history. Every Monday from 7.30pm guests are treated to a Soviet fairy tales read by professional storytellers. A real treat for cold ears.
Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt (Kulturbrauerei)
Berlin in December means Christmas Markets and nowadays there are dozens to choose from. One of the most beautiful is the Lucia Weihnachtsmarkt in Prenzlauer Berg's Kulturbrauerei which is dedicated to the Nordic-Scandinavian countries. Visitors can warm up with Swedish glögg, buy gifts, eat the obligatory German sausage and bunker up on plenty of festive spirit.
Markthalle Neun: The culinary epicentre of Berlin's food scene, this beautiful market hall is home to Berlin's most famous butcher (Kumpel & Keule), U.S.style barbecue (Big Stuff), Italian baker (Sironi) and craft beer brewer (Heidenpeters). Check out the weekly Street Food Thursday market, or the lesser known Breakfast Market held on every third Sunday of the month.
Teufelsberg (German for Devil's Mountain) sits atop a manmade hill in West Berlin and was purpose built by the allied forces using rubble at the end of WWII. Used as a listening post by the U.S. during the Cold War, a trip to the area is an eerie reminder of Berlin's very recent divided history.
A little piece of Bali by way of Berlin is exactly as heavenly as it sounds. This massive oasis of tranquillity offers eleven saunas and steam baths, massages and all manner of other treats designed to restore your wellness and regenerate your energies, right in the middle of the city. Guests can either buy hourly packages or day passes to fully immerse themselves in this heavenly getaway - if they can stomach the material free' house rule. https://www.vabali.de/online/
It's a half hour train journey from Berlin's centre, but Grunewald feels like another world. Hire a bicycle and admire the suburb's magnificent houses, before going off-road into the Grunewald forest. It's the largest green area in Berlin and dips and rises around pine trees and shimmering lakes. Pack a picnic and a swimming costume and make a day of it. www.visitberlin.de/en/spot/grunewald