Berlin now

Since 1990, when the two German states were reunified, this city on the banks of the Spree has developed into a cosmopolitan world capital. Areas of the city that slept and stagnated in the shadows of the dividing Wall have sprung back to life. Berlin's Mitte, Potsdamer Platz and Friedrichshain are living examples of Berlin's newly liberated energy.

The new central business district

Potsdamer Platz, a breathtaking reminder of the construction boom that swept the rejuvenated capital through the early and mid 1990s, Potsdamer Platz has become the new focal point of the city. Conceived on drawing boards and computers, this 120,000 m² area of no man’s land in the heart of Berlin has been transformed into a totally new downtown centre; a meeting place for commerce, culture, and business.

Almost the same zeal for reconstruction was applied to the area surrounding the Reichstag. This newly created Governemt Quarter houses not only the two houses of the German Parliament, but also the Chancellor's residence, a variety of ministries, and a large number of embassies representing nations and states from all over the world.

Now that building work on Hauptbahnhof, Europe's busiest rail intersection, has been completed, Berlin's position as a world metropolis has been further enhanced.

Lots to discover

Beginning its life as a bridle path linking the central residences on Museum Island with the forested area of the Tiergarten, the boulevard Unter den Linden has since developed into one of the city’s finest streets. Imposing Prussian era buildings and modern office buildings and embassies stand side-by-side - a stroll along Unter den Linden is on every visitor’s to-do list.

Hackeschen Höfe Oranienburgerstraße and the area just to the north of Alexanderplatz and Spreeinsel are well-known for their cosmopolitan flair. Just a couple of minutes away, in Auguststraße and Linienstraße, there are a large number of interesting galleries and a mix of restaurants, trendy cafés and unique bars catering to every taste. Wandering throughing the linked courtyards of the Hackesche Höfe will give you an insight into the courtyard-based life of many Berliners.

Potsdamer Platz has become the main tourist attraction of central Berlin, and not only because of the Berlinale film festival in February. The Sony Center and Potsdamer Platz Arkaden complexes, along with the recently constructed Beisheim Center, offer a stimulating mixture of shopping, theatre, casino, cinema, multimedia and modern architecture.

At one time the busiest traffic intersection in Europe, Potsdamer Platz became defunct as the Berlin Wall cut directly across its centre. In 1993 this area was turned into Europe’s biggest building site, and from this wasteland the new heart of Berlin has arisen.

Cycle City Berlin

Biking is a practical alternative to the public transport network or car as a means of easily getting around the city. Bicycle couriers and velotaxis are regular sights on Berlin's streets. The network of bicycle lanes and cycle paths currently covers more than 10% of the city's streets, and there are is also a network of cycle routes for you to get around without ever having to come into contact with traffic lights and car drivers.

If you want to explore Berlin, there’s no better way to get around than on the comprehensive public transport system. Now that the underground and regional train networks have been completed, there's no easier way to get from A to B. Even during off-peak hours, you can usually get a bus every 15 minutes, and from Friday through Sunday the underground and local trains operate round the clock. The official web site for Berlin's public transport operator is www.bvg.de.

Shopping and eating out

Designer names and avant garde fashion, high-street stores and upmarket boutiques, international flare and emerging designers: Berlin has them all. Ever more of the world's top clothing creators have been opening new flagship stores in Berlin.

Whether it’s fine jewellery or exclusive designer clothes you’re looking for, collections from the rising stars of fashion or arresting footwear, you won't be disappointed. A quick visit to the annual fashion showcase "Bread & Butter" will give you a good idea of what is waiting for you in Berlin.

And on the subject of food: large market halls where you can find a wide variety of fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy and even clothing all under one roof, are extremely popular in Berlin.

Berlin Restaurant Berlin is a city where the whole world is made welcome, with restaurants offering cuisine from every country you can name and even a few countries you can’t, from plain and simple to luxury without limit.

In Berlin you can embark on a gastronomical world tour or indulge a taste for innovative food, the only limit is how adventurous you are! If traditional Berlin and German food is more your style, why not head for one of the numerous restaurants in Berlin that offer true local delicacies. You can follow your Boulette with a chilled glass of Berliner Weiße and indulge yourself in the richness of Berlin cuisine.

In summer, Berlin explodes outdoors. Everyone wants to make the most of the sun or relax in the shade under one of Berlin’s many trees. And it’s not just in the suburbs that you'll be able to find a seat at one of the city’s many beer gardens and escape from the hustle and bustle of big city life, there are plenty of oases of calm downtown too.

Get out of the city

After a hard week in the city, Berliners can’t wait to get off the city’s streets and flee to the green spaces of the municipal parks or to worship the sun on the beach of one of the city's many lakes. Schlosspark, Tiergarten or Zoo: there are so many options for anyone who wants to spend their free-time in natural surroundings.

If you want to escape the city completely, Brandnburg (the state surrounding Berlin) has lots of possible destinations as well as a variety of landscapes, a plethora of lakes and rivers, and unlimited sport and relaxation options. Why not take the train to historic Potsdam, or head to the Spreewald lake area in Havelland, or to the Ruppiner Schweiz?

It might not be top of everyone’s lists, but Berlin is a dream destination for water sports enthusiasts. And when you realise that almost 7% of Berlin’s surface is covered with water, a total of 52 km², it’s not so surprising. All in all, there are hundreds of lakes and roughly 180 km of navigable waterways.

Within combination with Brandenburg, Berlin has the largest network of lakes, canals and rivers in Europe. If you like city’s with lots of bridges, you won’t need to go to Venice: with 1700 bridges, Berlin beats Italy’s "City of Canals".