If you only see five major tourist sights during a visit to Berlin....
Bodestrasse 1; 00 49 30 266 2987, www.smb.museum; three-day pass £17
This Unesco heritage collection of museums on the River Spree spans 2,000 years of art and includes the mighty Pergamon Museum and the restored Neues Museum. If it’s sunny, picnic on the Lustgarten and visit the cathedral (Berliner Dom).
Platz der Republik 1; 00 49 30 227 32152, www.bundestag.de; free
The seat of the German parliament is capped with a large glass dome, built by Lord Foster, with great views. Tours (by reservation) are available when the Bundestag is not sitting.
3. Jewish Museum
Lindenstrasse 9-14; 00 49 30 2599 3300, www.jmberlin.de; £4.40
Daniel Libeskind’s celebrated structure is worth a visit for its architecture as much as its content. Designed to disorient visitors, the main exhibit portrays Judaism and the Jews throughout German history.
4. Brandenburger Tor (Gate)
Pariser Platz 7
One of Europe’s most recognisable symbols, the Gate has seen it all: peace, victory, division and unification (not to mention speeches by Ronald Reagan and concerts by David Hasselhoff). Visit at night to avoid the crowds and to see the Gate illuminated
5. Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Cora-Berliner-Strasse 1; 00 49 30 2639 4336, www.holocaust-mahnmal.de; free
The 3,000 stelae (concrete slabs) vary in height and the ground undulates to unsettling effect. The heartbreaking visitor centre underneath personalises the Holocaust with photographs and testimonials.
Getting around Berlin
The S- and U-Bahn metro systems are the easiest way to move around town, since you can get into most areas of the city using one or both of these services. Fares range from £2 for an Einzelfahrschein (single ticket) – one journey, valid for two hours – to £5.50 for a Tageskarte (day ticket), which is valid all day until 3am. If you’re just going a couple of stops (up to three), buy a Kurzstrecke (short-trip ticket) for £1.20. The £13.10 Kleingruppenkarte (small group ticket) is a day ticket for five people. For tourist cards, try the CityTourCard 48 (£13.90), which gives unlimited travel in zones A and B for 48 hours, or the CityTourCard 72 (£19.20), which gives the same thing for 72 hours
Where to stay
Hotels in Berlin
Best known to modern minds as the hotel where Michael Jackson once dangled his baby from a balcony, the Adlon was the celeb spot of the ’20s, when regular guests included Dietrich and Chaplin. Destroyed in World War II, it has been faithfully recreated on its original site near the Brandenburg Gate.
Rezidor currently have one hotel in Berlin - that features the worlds largest cylindrical aquarium and has an excellent location in Berlin-Mitte. Just a stroll away are restaurants, bars, boutiques, galleries and famous city centre sights. The Radisson Blu Berlin hotel is located directly on the bank of the river Spree, opposite to the Berlin Cathedral and Museum Island. Public transport and Berlin airports are within easy reach.
This Art Deco classic is housed in a former dance hall that was once frequented by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. Its large windows, impressive staircases and jazz photographs make for a lovely timewarp. It’s right near the Ku-damm too, so perfect for shopping and culture
Soho House Berlin
A former HQ for Hitler’s brownshirts, this huge Bauhaus building is the latest instalment of the Soho House members’ club emporium. The 40 stylish rooms are open to all and – unless you’re a paid-up member – the only way to sample the excellent rooftop bar, heated swimming pool and restaurant
For official tourism information, try www.germany-tourism.co.uk and www.visitberlin.de. Find more city tips from in-the-know residents at the ‘Berlin’ section of www.spottedbylocals.com; or visit www.slowtravelberlin.com.