Take a weekend break in Berlin

With its Cold War past well behind it, Berlin is fast becoming known as one of Europe's most bustling and buzzing cities, bursting with history, culture, and an exuberant social scene.

City breaks in Berlin

Pic: Getty

A long weekend in this German city will undoubtedly prove an unforgettable experience - so here are a few ideas as to what's on offer.

Though it's more than 20 years since the fall of the Wall, remnants of Berlin's past can still be seen, and a trip to the city without catching a glimpse of its troubled past just wouldn't be right. Sections of the Wall still remain, and its precursor, the so-called Hinterland Wall is marked by a trail of cobblestones, alongside which is a 14km bike trail for those wanting to track this once ominous presence.

Better still, take in a Zeit Reisen 'video bus' tour, which combines original film and TV footage with old photographs that brings the history of the city to life as you travel. To further explore the city's post-war history, visit the Stasi Museum, housed inside the former HQ of the secret police on Ruschestrasse, or marvel at the graffiti and murals by more than 118 artists on a 1.3km section of the Wall at the celebrated East Side Gallery.

And be sure to head to the renovated and revitalised Reichstag building, which offers a panoramic view of the city.

From modern art to classical music, Berlin is a hub of cultural offerings. Highlights include the Picture Gallery, housing an almost overwhelming 72-room Old Masters collection including Rembrandt, Vermeer, Titian and Rubens, while the Bauhaus Museum explores the furniture, sculpture, photographs and drawings of this 20th century art movement.

Classical music fans shouldn't miss out on the chance to catch Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra at the Berliner Philharmonie concert hall, an well-known architectural masterpiece in itself.

Now one of the party capitals of Europe, Berlin's nightlife is plentiful and goes on well into the early hours. Berghain is famed for its guest DJs, pumping techno and, upstairs at the Panorama Bar, a more relaxed house and disco vibe, while the Golden Gate is a more intimate (and sweaty) techno club with a relaxed attitude. A more varied playlist is the order of the day at Berlin clubbing institution Cookies, with everything from indie to hip-hop on offer. And at White Trash, you'll find everything from rockabilly and blues to garage to punk.

Dance music not your thing? Quasimodo does an excellent line in top quality jazz acts from around the world, while Badenscher Hof is a cosy venue designed with an intimate jazz/blues club vibe in mind.

And if a classy night out is what you're after, the city is home to a number of sumptuous cocktail bars, not least the chic Bebel Bar at Hotel de Rome, and the impressive menu at Green Door in the bohemian district of Schöneberg.

Eating out
Berlin is awash with cafes and restaurants that you'll want to go back to time and time again. Gendarmenmarkt is something of a culinary centre in the city, with modern German cuisine at Refugium, and Lutter and Wegner, while hot chocolate and cakes at Shokoladenhaus Fassbender & Rausch is not to be missed. There's more fine dining to be had in the upmarket Mitte district, but visitors to the city should not leave without trying the fabled currywurst, the best of which can be tasted at Imbiss on Wittenbergplatz.
Where to stay
Undoubtedly the most convenient, and consequently one of the priciest, areas in which to stay is Mitte, close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Museums Quarter and Michelin-starred restaurants. However, you might find a better bargain, not to mention a more relaxed vibe at the nearby Tiergarten district, with beer gardens, buzzing flea markets and the famed Berlin Zoo just a short hop away.

Boutique hotels can be found at Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf, which gives easy access to high-end shops and cafes at Kurfurstendamm. And for those on a budget, you can't beat the Michelberger Hotel in Friedrichshain - an old brick factory that captures the essence of this arty and energetic city.

Have you recently visited Berlin? What would be your recommendations for new visitors to the city? Leave your comments below...

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