The meandering Spree River splits Berlin into two. In its central district, Mitte, Unter den Linden boulevard unfolds past sleek restaurants and theatres from the Brandenburg Gate to Museum Island. The evergreen Tiergarten unfurls west from Mitte to elegant Charlottenburg, where bistro dining and chic boutiques await. Dip south to dynamic Kreuzberg for one-of-a-kind shops, Turkish cafés and late-night parties. East of Mitte, Friedrichshain flaunts its urban credentials next to stretches of Berlin Wall art. Bohemian Prenzlauer Berg further north is where families frequent brunch cafés and young Berliners hang out in local bars.
Inventive and wallet-friendly, Berlin's gastro scene reflects its worldly locals. Street food is very Berlin. Hit Kreuzberg's bustling hole-in-the-wall joints for mustard-slathered Currywurst (curried sausage) and Turkish kebabs, or chomp pan-fresh falafel in the arty Scheunenviertel. Mitte serves Michelin-starred French cuisine in refined surrounds, and hearty Berlin fare like Eisbein (pork knuckles) in wood-panelled taverns. The elegant Charlottenburg neighbourhood is peppered with intimate Italian and French bistros. Rise late at your Berlin hotel in time for brunch in one of Prenzlauer Berg's bohemian cafés.
A walk through Berlin tracks the rise and fall of the city's rollercoaster history. Poke around cobbled lanes in the lovingly restored medieval Nikolaiviertel, or relive Prussia's heyday in the gilded splendour of baroque palace Schloss Charlottenburg. Open Berlin's darkest chapter at the Topography of Terror on the site of former Gestapo and SS headquarters, and in the chilling and moving Jewish Museum. Be catapulted back to Communist times as you rev a Trabant at the hands-on DDR Museum before tracing the once-divided city at the remaining Berlin Wall.
Buy local on your Berlin city break. Nose around the graceful Art Nouveau Hackesche Höfe courtyards for homespun fashion and jewellery, and the nearby Heckmann Höfe for old-fashioned bonbons made while you wait. Berlin creatives in youthful Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg kit shoppers out with urban streetwear, bold accessories and quirky home design. Explore Kreuzberg and Charlottenburg for speciality stores, selling everything from homemade toys and perfume to mustard and marzipan.
Berlin has been partying ever since that Wall came down. Begin an evening with good vibes and cold beers in chestnut-shaded beer gardens in Tiergarten, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg. If it's warm, relax on one of Berlin's urban beaches where locals sip cocktails and DJs work the decks. Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg are packed with attitude-free 1930s-style bars and late-night cafés and über-cool cocktail bars. Revisit the glitz and glamour of the roaring 1920s on cabaret mile Friedrichstrasse.
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