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A Guide to Berlin
Long and turbulent history has shaped Berlin into the enchanting German city we know and love today. The alternative art capital has many iconic sights to witness, from the graffiti covered remainder of the infamous Berlin Wall, through the modern, golden coloured Berliner Philharmonie, to the charming and lovely Sunday flea market at Mauerpark. Today, the city is truly a multicultural centre, with residents and travellers from all cultural backgrounds. Berlin is truly a place to be if you’re in love with cultural and historical urban travel.
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Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Berlin
Validate Your Metro Ticket
Berlin has a great metro network, that’s not only quite cheap, but is also almost always exactly on schedule. However, the metro doesn’t apply any techniques like gates or security to make sure the riders pay for their tickets. Instead, the tickets are validated at the many ticket machines. This has to be done before boarding on the train, though, so make sure you arrive a couple of minutes before your train!
What happens if you don’t validate? If you’re lucky, you may get away with it. However, chances are a train crew member will ask you to show them your ticket.
Traffic lights are there to help traffic run smoothly, and orderly people in Berlin respect this very much. You’ll rarely see Germans crossing the road when it’s not their turn. If you’re in a rush and decide to traverse at a red light, prepare yourself for stares of disapproval, and a possible fine.
Don’t Bring Up WWII
The Second World War was a dark time of hardship for the whole Europe, and every country has exhibited their share of cruelty, but Germany is considered the main culprit. Most German nationals feel collective guilt, and are not very eager to discuss anything related to the war, so spare yourself the awkward conversations and avoid the topic if at all possible.
Getting Around Berlin
With many options readily available, once your flight to Berlin lands, getting around is easy. Berlin operates many modes of public transport, each more efficient than the last. You won't have any trouble getting around the city, and you can reach even the remote areas quite easily with public transport, though taxis and car rentals are certainly an option.
Berlin is officially divided into three fare zones - A, B and C - A representing the inner city centre, B spreading out to the city borders, and the zone C being reserved for the areas outside the city limits, including Potsdam and the Schönefeld airport.
The most popular means of transportation around Berlin are the S-Bahn and U-Bahn (Underground) train systems. Both are very efficient and stations are spread strategically around the city. As both systems, along with the bus and tram systems, are maintained by a single operation, the same tickets are used for all modes of transport. Just don't forget to validate them!
When Is The Best Time to Fly to Berlin
Berlin is quite cold and wet during the European winter - from December through the end of February. If you decide to take one of the cheap flights to Berlin during the winter, you may get chilly, but also save some money and avoid the summer crowds.
During European summer, starting in June and ending with August, the city is warm, pleasant and bustling with travellers just off their flights to Berlin. While you'll surely have a good time with the temperatures averaging at 29 ℃ in June and July, you should book your accommodation in advance, as it can get quite pricey!
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Getting to Berlin Tegel Airport (TXL)
TXL is located 8 km from Berlin’s city centre, so you won’t have a hard time reaching your accommodation after your flight to Berlin. The best, and the cheapest way to reach the city centre from Tegel Airport after your flight to Berlin lands is by using the Airport Express Bus. The buses leave every 10 minutes, and the stations are located just outside the terminal. This ride will take up to 40 minutes, and a one-way ticket costs EUR 2.80.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi ride, and reach your accommodation directly. While this is effective, it can get quite pricey depending on your destination. Taxis are always readily available outside the terminal.
Parking at Berlin Tegel Airport
If you happen to need parking space at TXL, you're in luck - many options are available. The parking spaces are available across three long-term car parks, and one short-term park. Travelling a long distance, you want your vehicle safely parked once your flight to Berlin lands.
P1 is a multi-storey car park about a three-minute walk away from Terminal A, and it costs EUR 160 per week, or around EUR 40 for 24 hours.
P2 is a multi-storey car park located close to Terminals D and E. It is slightly more expensive than P1‚ costing up to EUR 50 per 24 hours, but keeping the same price of EUR 160 for a full week.
P5 is a ground-level car park near Terminal C. It is the cheapest option, costing EUR 140 per week.
Getting to Berlin Schönefeld Airport
Berlin Schönefeld Airport (SXF) is a secondary international airport of Berlin. Schönefeld Airport typically serves European low-budget airlines like Ryanair and easyJet. It's located 18 km southeast of Berlin, in the zone C. The best way to reach the city centre if any cheap flights to Berlin land at SXF is by train. Signs pointing to the train station are present throughout the airport. The Airport Express train costs EUR 3 and takes around 30 minutes to reach Berlin's central train station.
Parking at Berlin Schönefeld Airport
Three ground level and two multi-storey car parks are available at Schönefeld Airport. The car park P4 is close to Terminals A and B; Car park P3 is near the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport with a free shuttle running the distance between the park and the Schönefeld Airport every 30 minutes. Car park P2 is a short-stay car park located beside the main airport building.
Things to do in Berlin
Munch on Something
While you might be tempted to eat currywurst and schnitzel throughout your trip, bear in mind that today Berlin is a multicultural capital. This also means that there's a huge variety of delicious dishes from all around the world readily available. One thing you surely can't afford to miss is the Turkish Döner Kebab. You can't go a block without coming across a kebab shop in Berlin, and you'll know exactly why Germans love it once you try it!
If you don't eat meat - don't fret! Though world-famous for wurst, Germans also maintain a strong vegan and vegetarian cuisine presence!
Visit The Museumsinsel
Located on the River Spree, and built in a span of a hundred years from 1830 to 1930, a cluster of five museums, a cathedral and gardens is definitely a must-see if you're in Berlin for the first time! Even if you don't have enough time to stroll though all of the museums, it's worth dropping by - the enchanting Baroquesque architecture of the Berliner Dom cathedral and the beautiful, well-maintained gardens are a breathtaking sight on their own! This place makes cheap flights to Berlin seem even cheaper!
The Holocaust Memorial Site
Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas, or the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is an enormous, unique Holocaust memorial. The huge area of the memorial is filled with 2,711 large concrete blocks arranged in a neat grid. The memorial is definitely worth a visit, as it not only has an overwhelmingly eerie atmosphere, but is also quite impressive in size. The visits are free, and more information about the site, with the list of around 3 million Holocaust victims, is available in an underground tourist facility.