Berlin is the capital as well as the largest city in Germany. The city is also regarded as one of the sixteen federal states (Bundesländer) of Germany. It has a population of 3.4 million within its city limits, making it Germany’s largest city as well as the second most populous city within the eighth most populous urban area in the European Union.
Berlin is located in northeastern Germany, at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg metropolitan area, which has a population of 5 million people.
Berlin is believed to have been founded sometime around the thirteenth century. It was the capital of the Kingdom of Prussia (1701-1918), the German Empire (1871-1918), the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) and the Third Reich (1933-1945). After World War II, the city was divided; East Berlin became the capital of East Germany while West Berlin became a Western exclave, surrounded by the Berlin Wall from 1961-1989).
Following German reunification in 1990, the city regained its status as the capital of Federal Republic of Germany.
Berlin is home to world-renowned universities, research institutes, sporting events, orchestras, museums, and personalities. Berlin’s urban landscape and historical legacy have made it a popular setting for international film productions.
Berlin is recognized for its festivals, diverse architecture, nightlife, contemporary arts and a high quality of living. Berlin has evolved into a global focal point for young individuals and artists attracted by a liberal lifestyle and modern zeitgeist.
Due to the Cold War, Berlin inherits two of everything, two international airport, two city centers, etc. The former East and West Berlins are even now slowly being integrated as one.
Going To Berlin
Berlin has two airports, Tegel International Airport and Schönfeld Airport.
Tegel International Airport (ICAO: EDDT, IATA: TXL) is located in the northwest of the city it’s the main airport for flag carriers (Lufthansa, BA, Air France-KLM, Delta etc) and hub for domestic flights as well. The original airport was designed as a hexagon but today two other terminals try to handle the flights of Air Berlin (most flights in Terminal C) and other budget carriers (mostly in terminal D). All flag carrier flights leave from the main terminal building A (Terminal B nowadays contains just the bus gates of Terminal A for Non-Schengen flights) and is also where all airlines lounges are.
Buses from Tegel International Airport operate to S+U Alexanderplatz, Hauptbahnhof (bus TXL), and S+U Zoologischer Garten (buses X9 and 109) for the standard ticket fare. Caution! Do not take any train to the “Tegel railway (S-Bahn) station”, which is not connected to the airport, but rather to the suburban village called Tegel. It is not possible to walk or to otherwise get easily to the airport from that station. Tegel International Airport does not have any railway station. Any indication to a Tegel railway station refers to the remote S-Bahn station.
Schönefeld (ICAO: EDDB, IATA: SXF) The former East Berlin airport southeast of the city center is the base for most low-cost airlines (e.g. easyJet, Ryanair and Germanwings) and charter flights in addition to traffic from Eastern Europe.
The airport is served by the S-Bahn and regional trains. The S-Bahn line S-9 will take you conveniently to (and through) the city center via such major stations as S Ostbahnhof, S+U Alexanderplatz, S Hauptbahnhof and S+U Zoologischer Garten. The S-45 line runs between the Airport and S Hermannstrasse on the Ring line, but only on weekdays.
There are also less regular but faster regional trains that cost the same and stop at these major train stations too. In S-Bahn and regional trains between the airport (zone C) and the city (zone A,B), the public transport ticket (zones A,B,C for €2.80) can be used. Stamp the ticket to validate it before boarding.
There are numerous direct flight connections between Berlin and major German & European cities. For historical reasons intercontinental direct flights to Berlin were limited. The German flag carrier Lufthansa will mostly fly to its major hub airports Frankfurt and Munich and offer connecting flights to Berlin on a near hourly basis.
Delta and Continental Airlines have daily nonstop flights to Berlin from New York and Qatar Airways flies twice daily to Doha. Hainan Airlines flies (in code-share with Air Berlin) to Beijing and Air Berlin flies thrice weekly to Bangkok.
Berlin is connected with over 350 destinations in Europe by bus. Due to a German law supporting the German national railway there is only one bus corporation connecting Berlin with these destinations. Long distance buses arrive at Zentraler Omnibusbahnhof (Central Bus Terminal) in Charlottenburg. From there take the S-Bahn (station Messe Nord) or bus into town.
Berlin is served by ICE, InterCity and EuroCity trains by the national German train corporation Deutsche Bahn (DB) which offers connections between Berlin and other German and major European cities. If you arrive in Berlin on a national (non-regional) DB trip, you are entitled to use your ticket in the whole local transport to your final destination within the city (Zone A).
Several night trains from/to Amsterdam, Paris, Zurich and Vienna (special offer for €29 in one direction) travel every day. They are popular with backpackers so reservations are recommended. Long-haul trains to Eastern European cities (Warsaw, Kaliningrad, and Moscow) mostly use the Bahnhof Lichtenberg in Eastern Berlin. Make sure you have a reservation because these lines are also very popular.
All main roads and motorways join the Berliner Ring, or the A10, from which you can access the inner city. The city motorway is usually very crowded during rush hour.
As of January 1, 2008, Berlin requires all cars to have a “Low Emissions” sticker in order to enter the city center (Low Emission Zone, “Umweltzone”).
Berlin is a huge city. You can make use of the excellent bus, tram, train and underground services to get around. Taxi services are also easy to use and a bit less expensive than in many other big Central European cities. You can hail a cab (the yellow light on the top shows the cab is available), or find a taxi rank (Taxistand).
Taxi drivers are in general able to speak English. If you ask for a short trip (Kurzstrecke), as long as its under 2km and before the taxi driver starts the meter running, the trip normally is cheaper, 3,50 euros (as of apr2009). This only applies if you flag the taxi down on the street, not if you get in at a taxi rank.
It’s also worth noting that the house numbers do not necessarily run in one direction (up or down). On a lot of streets, the numbers ascend on one side and descend on the other. Especially on long streets check the numbering scheme first: you can find the name of the street and the numbers on that block at nearly every street corner.