Altervative christmas berlin

Alternative Christmas Markets in Berlin

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

Germany has a reputation for celebrating Christmas with gusto. Traditional Christmas markets are popular throughout the country, and draw millions of visitors each year, but alternative markets are popping up all over Berlin. Though many tourists may associate the smells of sweet Glühwein (traditional mulled wine, literally translating to “glow wine” owing to the rosiness that will bloom on your cheeks), spicy gingerbread and tantalizing wurst (sausages) with Bavaria and the North, trendy Berlin transforms into a Winter Wonderland each December with over sixty Christmas markets to choose from.

A visit to traditional German Christmas Market feels like walking through a holiday greeting card: gorgeous twinkling lights, massive trees decorated with candles, seasonal handicrafts and costumed carolers – even Ebenezer Scrooge himself could not resist getting into the Christmas spirit. But what if you want something a little bit different this yuletime? Here is just a small sampling of the best Alternative Christmas Markets in Berlin – Frohe Weihnachten (Merry Christmas)!

 

Weihnachtsrodeo

Don’t let the name fool you – cowboys in ten gallon hats will not be making an appearance at this uber-stylish ‘rodeo’, held inside of a historic department store building. Weihnachtsrodeo is famous for offerings from Berlin’s hottest designers, artists and luxury boutique brands, and so this Market is less about holiday cheer and more about spoiling your loved ones (and yourself) rotten – and looking good while at it. As the only indoor market, it’s also the only shopping experience on this list that you can enjoy without your winter coat!
Warenhaus Am Weinberg Brunnenstraße 19 – 21, 10119 Berlin, near U-train Rosenthaler Platz
December 13, 14, 20, 21. 

 

Kreuzberger Winter Market

Hipsters rejoice: at the Kreuzberger Winter Market you will be able to purchase artisanal mustard, fairtrade honey, locally distilled spirits and unique gifts – all produced by Berlin artists and craftspeople. While the other mainstream markets may bank on Noel nostalgia and childhood memories, Kreuzberger will entice you with food trucks, bespoke cocktails and craft beer. The soundtrack often features modern updates of classic carols – irony optional.
Bergmannhof, Bergmannstr. 5-7, 10961 Berlin, near U-train station Mehringdamm and Platz der Luftbrücke
Nov 24- Dec 30, 1pm-9pm (closed Dec 24+25), FREE entry

 

Christmas Market For Dogs (Weihnachtsmarkt für Hunde)

Looking for something unique for your four-legged friend? The world’s only Christmas Market dedicated to man’s best friend is the Third Annual Christmas Market For Dogs.  Dogs – and their owners – will be treated to a canine friendly atmosphere, special pet foods and gifts for pups of all shapes and sizes, and of course, humans can enjoy a glass of gluhwein in the company of other dog-lovers. A barking good time!
Hüttenweg 90, 14193, Berlin
Dec 6-7, 10am-6pm

 

Voodoo Christmas Market

In the market for a market that won’t leave you feeling bored? Head to the Voodoo Christmas Market, where DJs will be spinning all evening and artists will be gathered selling their wares and allowing the public to peek into their workshops and studios. On hand is beauty parlour to twist your locks into a perfect pompadour, a tattoo studio for some holiday ink and dozens of local trendsetters selling vintage fashion, unique housewares, independently designed clothing, offbeat gifts – and of course, delectable treats (and maybe some beer)!
Urban Spree, Revaler Straße 99, 10245 Berlin
Dec 6, 12-8pm


Nowkoelln Flowmarkt

This year round fleamarket is known by locals for its relaxed atmosphere and as one of the coolest places to buy vintage goods and collector’s items in Berlin, so thank Santa that Nowkoelln Flowmarkt has decided to host a series of festive Christmas-themed sales. Think of this as the perfect place to buy the ‘eco-conscious yet achingly stylish’ person on your list the perfect retro gift – 1950’s highball glasses, taxidermied birds or a framed photo of someone else’s grandparents. Throughout December they will be featuring tables of gift ideas, bargains galore and the fun of perusing tables of well-curated collectables – as well as seasonal food and drink.
Maybachufer, Berlin

 

Holy Heimat

Think of Holy Heimat as the ideal Christmas Market for a cool couple with young children, or those out there who want to have a good time but have left the days of bangin’ parties behind them. Housed in a former railway station, Neue Heimat is an event space that has since been transformed into a music venue, street food hub and cultural gathering place. Their much-anticipated Christmas event (daily until December 21) features a design market, live independent musicians, performers, children’s activities, street food (of course) – and best of all, an ice skating rink! At only 2 Euro entry for adults ( kiddies are FREE) this is the best Holiday market for young families!
RAW, Revaler Str/Dirschauer Str. near U+S station Warschauer Strasse
Nov 27-Dec 21, Thu/Fri 3pm-12am, Sat/Sun 12pm-12am, 2 eur entry fee 

+++We’ll offer walking tours around Christmas time. Check out our schedule for our Berlin pay-what-you-like walking tours!+++ 

Written by Jessica O’Neill

Berlin Walking Tours

The City Palace (Berliner Schloss)

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

Berliner Schloss constructionIn the very center of Berlin, at the bank of the river Spree and right across the huge Berlin Cathedral or “Berliner Dom” is a very busy construction site. It’s the reconstruction of the City Palace as the so called “Humboldt-Forum”. The new name indicates that the exterior of the old baroque City Palace will be (almost) reconstructed, but not the interior. The 21st century Berlin doesn’t need another palace, but a cultural space with museums and cultural institutions. “Humboldt” is the family name of two brothers who helped shape Berlin’s, Prussia’s and Germany’s educational and academic system: Alexander von Humboldt who travelled extensively and was a scholar in many fields and Wilhelm von Humboldt who was a diplomat and a reformer of schools and universities.  Berlin’s (not Prussia’s!) first university was founded in 1810 according to his ideas and is today named after the Humboldt brothers.

+++The Berliner Schloss (City palace) is in walking distance from the beautiful square Gendarmenmarkt, the site of the Nazi book burning on Bebelplatz, and the TV tower. You might also be interested in our self-guided Berlin Mitte tour.++

 

A Castle in the Late Middle Ages

The first castle on the site was built in the middle of the 15th century, when the monarchs moved their capital from Brandenburg (now the name of a small town but also the state of Brandenburg that surrounds Berlin which is also a state) to Berlin. There are no records of the medieval castle, other that it served not only as the residence of the ruling family but as a fortress to protect the city as well. Berlin had become important for the trade. In the 16th century, the castle was demolished and replaced by a Renaissance palace that every following monarch would upgrade.

 

A Palace for a King

The baroque building that is currently under reconstruction is from the early 1700s. Frederick III, elector of Prussia, wanted the crown of a king (in Germany’s many states were several kings, e.g. the king of Bavaria). He managed to be called Frederick I King of Prussia in 1701 and he needed a representative palace. Andreas Schlüter, one of the best master builders of his time, built the large palace. The king commissioned a tall tower, built on the medieval basis of the castle, to house an expensive carillon, bought in the Netherlands. Andreas Schlüter did his best, he even used iron to fortify the 308-feet-tower (94 meters), but he failed and was fired. His rival, Eosander von Göthe who was the builder of Charlottenburg Palace (now in Berlin, then in the countryside) delivered plans for another enlargement.

When Frederick I died in 1713, his son Frederick William I checked the state of the treasury and he didn’t like what he saw. So he fired a lot of his father’s architects and artists and had the palace finished by one of Andreas Schlüters student’s. The characteristic dome that catches the viewer’s eye on old pictures was added only in the years 1845 – 1853. The City palace was the main residence of many kings of Prussia and the Emperors of Germany.

Damage and Demolition

In the last year of World War II, 1945, the City palace was heavily damaged. The socialist administration in the Soviet Sector failed to secure the building and in 1950, the German Democratic Republic (GDR, founded in 1949) had the whole building demolished. Only one piece of the wall was spared and later added to the State Council Building (seat of the collective head of state in the GDR). It includes the balcony, where the German communist leader Karl Liebknecht declared the Communist Republic of Germany on November 9th 1918, after World War I. This communist republic never happened, but for the GDR this balcony was an important historic site. The empty space where the palace had been was named “Marx-Engels-Square” and was left empty until in 1973, the “Palace of the Republic” was finished. The Palace of the Republic was the seat of the “People’s Chamber” (Volkskammer) the parliament of the GDR and housed a concert hall and some restaurants.

 

Reconstruction

After the reunification of Germany, some people called for the reconstruction of the City Palace and founded an association to raise funds and lobby. Others didn’t see the point, sometimes those who had liked the Palace of the Republic and had positive memories of time spent in a concert or a restaurant there. The pro-faction argued with the gap that the missing palace had left in the ensemble of the historic buildings in the center of Berlin and the historic importance of the palace itself. The naysayers didn’t want to spend the money and didn’t like the idea to eliminate the most recent history: the GDR. The fact, that the Palace of the Republic was full of asbestos, helped foster the idea or a reconstruction of the City Palace. In 2002, the German parliament voted it with a two third majority. Construction started in 2012, the architect is the Italian Francesco Stella. The building is to be finished in 2019. The builder-owner is a foundation; about 10% of the money shall be from donations.

The “Humboldt-Forum” will be a unique cooperation of several institutions: the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation with parts of its collection, the Humboldt University and the Central and Regional Library of Berlin. They will exhibit their treasures together, organized along different topics, not along the boundaries of the different institutions. The overall theme will be the “dialogue with the cultures of the world”, namely the ones beyond Europe. To show that the Humboldt-Forum is not the old imperial palace, one side, the one at the bank of the river Spree, will not be reconstructed in baroque, but in a simple modernist style.

 

++On our Berlin-in-a-in a day-Walking Tour we’ll stop by the City Palace.++

 

Written by Gundula Schmidt-Graute

 

Best Hostels in New York

Top Five Trendy, Offbeat Hotels in Berlin

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

If you are looking for accommodation that is as memorable as the city itself, here are some offbeat hotels that you might want to check out.

 

The Dude

The Dude fancies itself a hotel with “Character and Attitude” – and it has both in spades. Located in one of the oldest houses in the historical centre of Berlin, The Dude places a high emphasis on keeping things small, intimate and luxurious. High concept, modern industrial design meets warm, heritage details from the building’s two hundred years history, and no detail has been left spared to welcome you into the space. The owners proclaim that they want guests to feel “like they are staying with a good friend”- that is, if your good friend has an exquisite eye for art and interior design! It is an absolute pleasure to stay at The Dude, and with only thirty rooms, you know you will be treated as an individual, not a face in the crowd. Be sure to snag a reservation for their wildly popular American steakhouse, “The Brooklyn” – featuring 160 whiskies and the best steaks in Berlin.
Rooms start at 99 Euros per night
Located at Köpenicker Str. 92 near U train station Märkisches Museum

 

Propeller Island City Lodge
If you have always wanted to be a part of an art installation, a stay at the Propeller Island City Lodge is for you. Designed by German artist Lars Stroschen as “a work of art you can live in,” this hotel features thirty completely unique rooms, with floating beds, upside down furniture, padded walls, bold works of art emblazoned on every surface and plumbing that defies logic. Every movement you make will change the hotel’s design – paint smears, furniture bends and your daily actions become an indelible piece of the artist’s work. The hotel’s lease has been renewed for one more year, and its future is uncertain – so hurry and book a room at one of the most surreal hotels in Europe.
Rooms start at 99 Euros per night
Located at Albrecht-Achilles-Straße 58 near U train station Adenauerplatz

 

The Nhow Hotel Berlin

“Where Music finds itself at home – and you can, too.” Billed as a Music and Lifestyle Hotel, the Nhow Hotel Berlin is a music lovers dream – and quite possibly the only hotel in the world with a dedicated “music manager” onsite to ensure that a perfectly curated selection of tunes is always playing for guests to enjoy. Located on the banks of the River Spree, the Nhow is home to a luxurious rooftop party palace, two recording studios and rehearsal rooms available for both aspiring and professional musicians. This hotel is completely modern and decorated by cutting edge designers who regularly rotate the selection of art on display – even the staff’s uniforms are haute couture! If you tire of standard room service fare and don’t fancy a continental breakfast, fear not – The Nhow’s menu features guitars, keyboards and drums delivered straight to your room.
Rooms start at 79 Euros per night (if booked 30 days in advance)
Located at Stralauer Allee 3 near S+U train station Warschauer Str.

 

25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin

Ultra cool, ultra stylish and ultra Berlin, 25Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin is at the cutting edge of style in the capital. For its fifth location in Germany, many expected the 25Hours group to choose a site in the trendy East, but instead they have bucked the trend and located themselves far from the bustle of hipster Kreuzberg: near the Zoo in the centre of old West Berlin. As a result, looking out your room’s window you can be forgiven for thinking you are in rural surrounds – the greenery and relaxing foliage is a balm for the soul in busy Berlin. The hotel boasts 149 rooms and an onsite sauna, foodtrucks, neon signage and 360 degree rooftop terrace. Featuring legendary club nights, a highly reviewed restaurant and a woodfire bakery, 25Hours is one of the coolest places to rest your head while you’re in Berlin.
From 136 Euros per night
Located at Budapester Straße 40 near S+U train station Zoologischer Garten

 

 

Soho House Berlin

For directors, actors and other entertainment industry types, Soho House Berlin is the obvious choice. Taking its name and attitude from the legendary Central London members-only club, the ambience at SHB is chic but edgy, and filled with fashionistas and influential entertainment industry creatives. Located in Mitte, the Soho House Berlin is set in an eight-story Bauhaus era building once the headquarters of the Communist Party, and has been lovingly restored and upgraded to give it a modern atmosphere with retro touches. The forty rooms and twenty apartments are spacious and feature period details such as typewriters, record players (with a selection of LPs to choose from) and other vintage accessories, with modern conveniences tucked out of sight – wifi, flat screen televisions and iPod docks. While the rooms are quaint and stylish (and surprisingly affordable), it is the club and rooftop pool that are undoubtedly the main attractions. While the Damien Hirst art, luxury heated pool and trendy bar are usually only open to members and friends, guests of the hotel have a free pass into the action – and in a city as achingly cool as Berlin, that kind of access is truly priceless.
Rooms start at 104 Euros per night
Located at Torstr. 1 near U train station Rosa-Luxemburg Platz


 +++Don’t forget to check out our pay-what-you-like walking tours of Berlin!+++

 

Written by Jessica O’Neill

Berlin Walking Tours

Berlin Pass vs Welcome Card vs City Tour Card?

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

This post compares the various tourist discount attraction passes available to you in Berlin.  Berlin visitors have a choice of several city passes to help them navigate the city by public transport and offer discounts for museums, sights, attractions and bars, restaurants or clubs.  With several choices, visitors are faced with comparing the Berlin Pass vs Welcome Card vs the City Tour Card and whether any are appropriate. Well, if you are planning to visit 2 or more museums during your stay and use the public transportation, it is worth considering a city pass. (Note: Prices are as of  February 2018) (auf Deutsch) (en Español)

Berlin WelcomeCard
The Berlin Pass – All-Inclusive
City Tour Card – Hipsters & Youngsters
50 Museums in 3 Days
Other Cards & Passes
Bus Tours of Berlin

 


BERLIN WELCOME CARD:  

The Berlin Welcome Card actually offers three versions of their cards – Classic, Classic + Museum, and All-Inclusive – all of which are described below. Their goal is to meet the needs of all visitors based on what their interests are, their budgets and the amount of time they have in the city.  All three versions include free public transportation, a free city map, and a free attractions guide.  Each version includes free admission for children under the age of 6 and free transport for up to 3 children between 6 and 14 years old.  Children 5 and younger do not need a ticket.

You could also print the voucher at home and obtain the transport tickets and discount pass at any of a number of tourist offices, including both airports and most major train stations.  The WelcomeCard offers a choice of the number of days you want and whether you want to travel within Berlin (public transport Zone AB) or Berlin and the surrounding areas (public transport Zone ABC).  This card is well reviewed. Read some of the reviews.
 

 

The ticket for public transport includes the U-Bahn (underground or subway), S-Bahn (elevated express trains), buses, night buses, trams and two ferries.  You must exchange your voucher for a travel ticket and you must validate your travel ticket before the first use.  All 3 versions include free transport for up to 3 children between 6 and 14 years old (without their own cards).  You choose either an AB travel card or an ABC card.  The C zone is best for those who would like to visit Royal Potsdam, Sachsenhausen concentration camp or are flying in/out of Schönefeld Aiport.

If you are planning on using public transport a lot, then this pass may very well pay for itself in travel savings, especially if you have children 6 to 14. More important than the potential monetary savings is the time and hassle savings. Check out our post on How to navigate Berlin with Public Transport.

NOTE: If you are arriving very late or early, a tourist office may not be there to exchange your voucher.  In these incidences, you will need to purchase your own travel ticket for that day until you can make the exchange.

 


Classic Welcome Card

The Classic Welcome Card is the base version, offering discounts of 25% to 50% for up to 200 venues and sightseeing tours (see the full list) and a ticket for public transport included.   The museums range from traditional art or history museums to unusual museums, such as the Trabi Museum (the funny little car available in the socialist GDR) and the Currywurst Museum (the iconic Berlin fast food snack). Theaters include opera, ballet, musical theater and comedy. Sightseeing companies are listed as well as restaurants, fast food stands, and bars. Many attractions such as the Berlin Zoo or the Legoland Discovery Center are attractive for children.  See some of the reviews.

  • Berlin Only  Includes ticket within fare zones (AB). This includes Tegel Airport, but not Schönefeld Airport!).
  • Berlin + Potsdam  Includes ticket within fare zones (ABC) including Potsdam, the second Prussian royal residence nearby as well as both Tegel and Schönefeld airports. The ABC tickets allow up to 3 children from 6 to 14 free with the ticket holder.

 


Berlin WelcomeCard + Museum Island 

This is a 72-hour ticket that offers you the same benefits of the above cards (choice of zones) but adds on free admission to the five museums of Museum Island, (the Ancient National Gallery, Ancient Museum, Bodemuseum, New Museum and Pergamon Museum). Note that Special Exhibits are not included in the price.  Children under 14 go free. 1 WelcomeCard + Museum Island can be used by a maximum of 3 children for all discounts and free transportation.  This version of the card is also well reviewed

Get more information or to purchase a WelcomeCard.

You can purchase the Berlin WelcomeCard online or at the two Berlin Airports Tegel and Schönefeld, at the tourist information, where public transportation tickets are sold (even at the vending machines, but you will have to go to a tourist information or a ticket counter to get the matching guide) and in 400 hotels.

 


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All inclusive: The Berlin Pass Berlin pass

This card is more expensive than the Berlin WelcomeCard or the CityTourCard (detailed below), but you get a lot for your money if you have time and the interest to see the most famous and most interesting museums, as well as several top attractions and partake in a variety of tours.

The pass includes:

  • Free entrance to 45 of Berlin’s best museums including the most expensive – the Pergamon, Checkpoint Charlie Museum, Altes Museum, Bode Museum and more
  • Free admission to 9 attractions including Madame Tussauds, the Berlin Dungeon, LEGOLAND, the Berliner Dom, AquaDom & Sea Life Berlin and others.
  • Free tours on an open-top bus, a bike tour, walking tour, a Segway tour and river cruise
  • A free 95-page guidebook (available in English, German & Italian)
  • Option to add-on a public transport ticket for Zones ABC for an additional cost

Prices: (as of Feb. 2018)

Without transportation card:

  • 2-Day Pass:  Adult €98; Child (age 6-14) €51
  • 3-Day Pass:   Adult  €118; Child (age 6-14) €61

With transportation card for zones ABC

  • 2-Day Pass:  Adult €114; Child (age 6-14) €62
  • 3-Day Pass:   Adult  €144; Child (age 6-14) €78

More information or to purchase click here.  You can purchase the Berlin Pass in advance and have it shipped to you, or purchase it once you are in Berlin at the Humboldt Box kiosk on Museum Island.

 


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For hipsters and youngsters: the Berlin CityTourCard

berlin city tour cardIf you are not into traditional museums and such, you should opt for the Berlin CityTourCard. It is available for either 48 hours, 72 hours or 4, 5, or 6 days and comes with a ticket for public transport for Berlin only (AB) or Berlin and surroundings (ABC). Extra tickets for dogs and bicycles are needed, the extension ticket to upgrade from zone AB to zone ABC is not valid for the CityTourCard either. More than 50 partners offer discounts from 15% to 50%.

Besides different guided tours, you can visit attractions like the TV tower or sports events like basketball games. Museums included are less traditional such as the Berlin Wall or movies. Another difference between this card and the Berlin WelcomeCard (besides the number of partners) is that the Berlin CityTourCard includes nightclubs like the Matrix and the Sophienclub.

  • Berlin only, fare zone AB 
    • 48 hours for € 18.90
    • 72 hours for € 25.90
    • 4 days for € 31.90
    • 5 days for € 35.90
    • 6 days for € 39.90
  • Berlin with surroundings, fare zone ABC
    • 48 hours  € 20.90
    • 72 hours  € 27.90
    • 4 days  € 34.90
    • 5 days  € 40.90
    • 6 days  € 45.90

Purchase in advance here.

You can purchase the CityTourCard at the tourist information at Tegel Airport, some train stations (Hauptbahnhof, Friedrichstraße, Alexanderplatz), at the TV tower, the Brandenburg Gate and the Neue Kranzler Eck at Kurfürstendamm. The tickets are also available at the vending machines for the public transport, but you need to get the booklet at one of the sales points. Again, you need to present the ticket and the booklet to be eligible for the discount. And –  don’t forget to validate the ticket before you use it for the first time!

 


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50 museums in 3 days – Museum Pass Berlin Berlin Museum pass

For real passionate museum lovers, the Museum Pass Berlin offers admission to 50 museums for a period of 3 consecutive days for € 29.00 (reduced price € 12.00) with a brochure to navigate Berlin’s diverse museum scene. Watch out for special admission hours during the winter holidays!

You can buy the Museum Pass Berlin online.

Alte National Galerie
Altes Museum
Anne Frank Zentrum
Anti-War Museum
Bauhaus Archive
Berlinische Galerie
Botanical Museum
German Cathedral
German Museum of Technology
Gemäldegalerie
Hamburger Bahnhof
Jewish Museum Berlin
Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts)
Kulturforum
Köpenick Palace
Labyrinth Kindermuseum Berlin
MACHmit! Museum für Kinder
Berggruen Museum
Museen Dahlem (Museum of European Cultures; Museum of Asian Art; Ethnological Museum of Berlin; Museum of Photography)
Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History Museum)
Neues Museum
St. Nicholas’ Church
Pergamon Museum
Schwules Museum

 


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Other Cards and Passes

 

get2Card 

Berlin Get2Card

The get2Card is a 2-for-1 card, as in getting TWO people for the price of ONE! It is sold in increments of 3, 5, or 7 days and a full year (365 days) which is perfect for locals.  Note: the get2Card is only available as a mobile app for iOS and Google smartphones. Therefore you must have a smartphone. The exception is if you buy the annual get2Card, in which case you will receive a paper voucher.

If you do have a smartphone, here is what you get with this card: You pay the cost of one person and the second person with you pays nothing! This saves you up to 50% at 500 activities! That is an impressive amount of options. The pass includes sightseeing, theater, opera, cinemas, and restaurants.  With your get2Car you will receive a 350-page guide with information on all the included offers. Just some of the attractions that are included are:

  • Boat tours in and around Berlin
  • Legoland Discovery Centre Berlin
  • Madame Tussauds Berlin
  • SEALIFE and AquaDom Berlin
  • Panoramapunkt viewing platform
  • German Symphony Orchestra Berlin

Prices

  • 3 days for €18.70
  • 5 days for € 23.70
  • 7 days for € 28.70
  • 1 year for €66

To purchase your card, go to their website and choose a date that you want your card to begin. After you complete your booking, you will receive an email with log-in details to access your card. A nice perk is that they offer a full refund for cancellation up to 1 day in advance.


 

Berlin City Pass  

Not to be confused with the Berlin Pass, the Berlin City Pass is a bare-bones discount card that includes a few items, but ones that you are likely to visit. By bundling these items into a pass, you will save some money AND you also get 20% discounts on many other attractions.  This pass is best for people who are planning to visit a few attractions and like the convenience of having your pass before you even arrive in Berlin.

The pass includes

  • Skip-the-line entrance to the TV Tower with an amazing view of Berlin
  • Skip-the-line entrance to the Reichstag
  • Berlin Metro Card for 48h or 72h
  • Airport Transfer from Airport Schönefeld or Tegel
  • 1-day Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour with CitySightseeing
  • 20% discount on top museums (like the Altes Museum, Neues Museum & Pergamon Museum)
  • 20% discount on top attractions, tours, and excursions (like the Berliner Dom, Checkpoint Charlie, Madame Tussauds and more)

Prices  

  • Pass with 48-hour Metrocard
    • Adult  €72.50
    • Child (6-17) €53.50
  • Pass with 72-hour Metrocard
    • Adult €82.50
    • Child (6-17) €64.00

How it works:

When you know the dates of your trip and are ready to purchase your City Pass, click here. You will be asked to enter your arrival date and airport. Once you complete your purchase, you will receive an email asking you to choose the dates/times for your free visits to the Reichstag and the TV Tower.

Once you have completed this entire process, you will get an email including all tickets. You will get instructions regarding how to pick-up your Airport Transfer and Metrocard upon arrival in Berlin. Lastly, you will receive a discount code to get a 20% discount on tickets for other top museums and attractions.  

+++Don’t forget to check out our pay-what-you-like walking tours of Berlin!+++

 


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berlin christmas

Christmas Markets in Berlin

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

 From Nostalgic to Organic: Christmas Markets in Berlin

Looking for Christmas markets in Berlin? Glühwein (mulled wine – yes drinking in public is legal in Germany!), Bratwurst and roasted almonds – that’s the typical smell of a German Christmas market. The more Northern in Germany you are, the earlier dusk comes and a German Christmas Market is most beautiful in the evening.  As Germany is the country of Christmas markets, Berlin is the capital. VisitBerlin, the tourism marketing company, lists 60 markets, from the small one in the neighborhood to prominent fairs in the city center or in one of the many beautiful palaces. There’s one for everyone. In general, Berlin Christmas markets are open until 8pm, and many close on December 23rd. As Christmas Eve, December 24, is the main holiday of the season in Germany, some of the markets will be closed that day, some open after the Christmas holidays for a few more days. You might also like to visit the more alternative Christmas markets. Here is some helpful overview of Berlin Christmas markets.

Berlin Christmas markets

The overview at Central Station

The Berlin visitor arriving by train can start his or her Christmas market rally right away: The square in front of Berlin Central Station is a cross-section of all Berlin markets: design, organic, traditional etc. And choir music on Sundays. Start you Berlin visit with a Glühwein and some sweets before you even reach your accommodation.

 

In the Center of Old Berlin: Weihnachtsmarkt am Opernpalais

Not too big and very beautiful: the nostalgic market on the “Schlossplatz”, next to the site of the reconstruction of the City Palace (another construction site blocks the traditional site at the “Opernpalais” nearby). Watch the craftsmen at work and buy their products.  Or check out the storytellers and fortunetellers. Not to mention all the traditional German winter food and drinks.

The most central one: “Weihnachtsmarkt am Alex”

At Alexanderplatz you find the regular, traditional Christmas market with many stands where you can buy Christmas gifts, Glühwein, snacks like Bratwurst or potato dumplings and sweets. Admire the XXL Ore Mountain carvings like a huge pyramid (a nativity scene in many tapered floors that turns like a carousel). And party with Nikolaus (Santa)in his Party Hut.

 

For the Nostalgic:  “Berliner Weihnachtszeit”

This market with traditional arts & crafts stands, and ice rink and a huge Ferris wheel is situated between the TV tower and the Medieval Marienkirche (St. Mary’s Church).  For the nostalgic they offer historic fun rides, some about 100 years old. And listen to the iconic Berlin organ grinder.

 

The Big Fairground: “Wintertraum am Alexa”

Between Alexanderplatz and the S-Bahn station Jannowitzbrücke is the huge market for kids of all ages. Enjoy the fun rides, but do it before you indulge in roasted almonds, German Bratwurst, mulled wine (“Glühwein”) and sweets.

 

Upscale: Weihnachtszauber Gendarmenmarkt

On Berlin’s most beautiful square, historic Gendarmenmarkt, you find “Christmas Magic”, an exclusive selection of arts and crafts, drinks and food from the fine restaurants nearby. The stands are in white tents decorated with Moravian stars and there is classical music for entertainment. The market charges EUR 1.00 admission. The New Year’s Eve event is EUR 12.00.

 

For the environmental sensitive: “Umwelt- und Weihnachtsmark in der Sophienstraße”

Behind the famous Hackesche Höfe is the Sophienstraße. Here you find a Christmas market about ecologic products and environmental activism. Get informed and enjoy ethical products but also music, circus and Santa Claus.

 

Let it snow: Winterwonderland at Potsdamer Platz

At Potsdamer Platz, the motto isn’t Christmas but winter: a snow-tubing mountain and an ice rink where coaches help little kids to skate and look for posssible olympic athletes are in the center of the market. What else? Glühwein, Bratwurst, roasted almonds.

 

 In the Sony Center: “Fabelhafte Weihnachten”

A contrast to the more sportive Winterwonderland offers the Sony Center nearby: Get lost in the magic of elves and high tech light shows under the tent-like roof. And of course, food and drinks – magic potion?

 

In the City West: “Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt an der Gedächtniskirche”

Go to the center of the old West Berlin, near S-Bahn Bahnhof Zoo and you find a large traditional Christmas market. The organizers claim they have the biggest lighting in Berlin and they don’t take any chances: The lighting and decorations are done by a professional artist. Children can pet live animals , grown-ups  have the choice among 10 varieties of Glühwein. As the market lasts until 01/04/2015, there will be a New Year’s Eve fireworks. The market is accessible.

 

 International and Baroque: “Weihnachtsmarkt vor dem Schloss Charlottenburg”

Not exactly in Berlin’s center, but with the most beautiful scenery possible: the Christmas market at Charlottenburg Palace. The vendors come from all over Germany and some European countries like Hungary or the Netherlands.  Enjoy the international food and music. A special highlight: musicians from Belarus and Ukraine. On Saturdays after 4:30 pm there is an admission of EUR 3.00.

+++Check out our self-guided tours of Berlin, so you can walk off the many sweets and treats. +++

Berlin Spreepark banner

Spreepark Berlin

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

Every now and then, a bizarre and wonderful attraction lies just off the beaten track, seemingly existing only to beckon to the traveler who has seen it all. Berlin’s Spreepark is just that attraction – a massive, surreal amusement park opened in 1969 and abandoned in 2002. Famous amongst urban exploration aficionados and purveyors of so-called ‘ruin porn,’ Spreepark may not be open to the public, but that doesn’t stop thousands of visitors per year from illegally burrowing under or climbing over fences.

Built over three decades and looking like the hallucinogenic hodgepodge of the weirder elements of each, Spreepark was once a wonderland for East German children keen on whimsical topiary, English-themed gardens and crazy amusement park rides. Now it only attracts adults (perhaps all kids at heart?) who want to experience the surreal sights of crumbling rollercoasters, disheveled carnival games and a massive disintegrating Ferris Wheel (that still works!).

The Park, the only one of its kind in East Germany, was built as the Kulturpark Planterwald in 1969, sold to a private investor after the fall of communism in 1989 and renamed after the adjacent River Spree. However, it seems that no one checked new owner Norbert Witte’s background too carefully. In addition to running an alleged cocaine-smuggling ring out of the park, he drove Spreepark into financial insolvency and decamped to Lima with six of the park’s best-loved rides (his son still remains in prison for his involvement in the crimes). Spreepark has remained out of operation ever since, a rusting monument to eccentricity on the fringes of the city.

Of course, it is precisely this abandonment that has made it a top-rated tourist attraction for those interested in strange places. Some of the most-photographed sites inside include the rollercoaster (its mouth an iconic angry cat-like creature), dozens of toppled dinosaurs and a log flume ride overgrown with branches and leaves. A popular photo opportunity is to seat oneself in an old bumper car, the brightly coloured mid-century auto looking out of place in the overgrown grass of the grounds.

But alas, it seems that an unauthorized visit to this delightfully weird amusement park has recently gotten a lot harder. As of March 2014, the city of Berlin purchased the ramshackle site, and they have increased security and erected a taller fence. This has not stopped brave souls from continuing to enter illegally, and many report that the guards are tolerant of this so long as trespassers are discreet whilst inside the park. A fire in September 2014 caused minor damage, and regularly scheduled tours have been put on hold for the foreseeable future.

If you love strange, offbeat places that only the most daring tourists visit, a visit to Spreepark might be for you. While we can’t recommend that you should scale the fence and enter the site, some of the rides are visible from outside of the fence and a walk along the river nearby is nearly as magical as entering the grounds. Spreepark is a weird and wonderful part of Berlin’s communist past, and a must (or a must-try) for any fan of urban decay and abandoned architecture.

Don’t worry, we don’t want you to climb fences – you can find more information and photos of the Spreepark on this blog. If you are looking for a little bit of thrill, check out our blog on Berlin bunker tours.

 Written by Jessica O’Neill

How to Get from Newark Airport to Manhattan

How to Avoid Jet Lag

Posted by & filed under A Blog on Visiting New York City, Berlin, Boston, Charleston, Chicago, London, Miami, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington DC.

Many of our tour guests who travel from afar or from overseas have trouble to adjust to the new time difference in their destination city. Here are some tips on how to avoid jet lag.

When you travel to another time zone, your internal clock is off – that’s what you call jet lag. Usually getting over jet lag should take 3-4 days depending on how far you have traveled from. Flying eastwards will make it a bit harder to adjust to the new time zone, then when you are flying westwards. That is because our body accepts it better if you are staying up a little later, then having to go to bed much earlier than usual. In addition, if you are used to getting up rather early, flying eastwards is a little bit easier than for people who generally stay up late. And vice versa, if you are a night owl, you will have less trouble adjusting, if you were traveling westwards.

How can I avoid  jet lag or at least minimize it?

  • Start to adjust your internal clock several days before you fly, by staying up later (if traveling westwards) or getting to bed earlier (if travelling eastwards).
  • Once you are in the plane, act like you are in your destination time zone already e.g. change your clock, take a nap, eat moderately or skip a meal and avoid alcohol.
  • Be healthy and well rested. The more you rest before your big travel, the easier it will be to adjust to your new time zone.
  • If you are travelling overseas, on the day of your flight, try to sleep in or sleep as long as you can. This goes for either direction, as you will likely skip a night travelling eastwards, or you will have to stay up much longer when you arrive travelling westwards.
  • Bring a neck pillow and nap on the plane. Even if you don’t fall asleep into a deep slumber, your body will thank you later for each little 20 minute nap you do on the plane.
  • Stay hydrated. It’s best to purchase a bottle of water at the airport (after you are through security), so you don’t have to get the stewardess attention every time.
  • Once you arrive, don’t nap more than 30 minutes or go to bed immediately if it’s not bedtime yet. Stay up till at least 9 pm. This discipline on your first day of arrival, will get you over jetlag much faster.

Other things to consider when travelling to different time zones and jet lag:

When flying westwards, e.g. from Europe to New York, or from Washington DC to San Francisco: Don’t make any late evening plans the first couple of nights.  You might think you are up to it, but your body will tell you otherwise. If you are booking our walking tours, stick to the morning and daytime tours, and avoid the evening tours.

When flying eastwards, e.g. from California to New York, or from Boston to London: Don’t make any morning plans the first couple of days.  Instead plan more things to do in the afternoon and evenings. If you are booking our walking tours, avoid the early 10 am tours, and go for the afternoon or evening tours.

+++We hope you have safe and enjoyable travels without much jet lag and we look forward to having you on our famous pay-what-you-like walking tours soon.+++

Berlin Jewish Museum

Jewish Museum Berlin

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

The Jewish Museum in Berlin is one of the most-frequented museums of Jewish arts, culture and history in the world, with nearly one million visitors per year. A visit to the museum is an opportunity to pay homage to over two thousand years of Jewish history in Europe, and to recognize both historical and contemporary Jewish contributions to Germany. In addition to its stunning architecture and vast permanent collection, regularly rotating temporary exhibits are also on display. While the museum offers visitors a chance to confront the horrors of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, it also provides a meaningful alternative by presenting the myriad highs of Jewish history and culture.

+++Check out our self-guided Jewish Berlin tour or our other Berlin Museum recommendations and tips for museum lovers on Museum Island. A visit to the Jewish Museum can also be connected with a visit to Checkpoint Charlie or with a self-guided tour of Berlin Kreuzberg.+++

In the 1970s academics, historians and activists began to petition for a museum dedicated solely to Jewish history in what was then West Berlin. A debate raged for over a decade, with some believing that the collection should be housed in the existing Berlin Museum, and others demanding that the Jewish experience should be given a higher profile and a discrete location, with the latter group emerging victorious. The baroque 1735-era Kollegienhaus was repurposed to become the home of the ambitious new project, and an architectural competition was launched in 1988 to choose a design for a new building to be built onsite.

Visit the museum

Hours:

  • Monday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • *Please plan sufficient time for the security checks at the museum entrance.

Admission:

Location:

Jewish Museum Berlin
Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin (map)
Public transport:

By Ubahn: U1 or U6 to Hallesches Tor
U6 to Kochstraße
By Bus: M29, M41, 248

Daniel Libeskind, a Polish-American of Jewish descent, won the competition with his ultra-modern, twisted metal zig-zag of a structure, designed to contrast with the eighteenth century Kollegienhaus and prepare the visitor for an experience during which they will encounter disturbing images and narratives. He says of his winning entry, “the new design, which was created a year before the Berlin Wall came down was based on three conception that formed the museum’s foundation: first, the impossibility of understanding the history of Berlin without understanding the enormous intellectual, economic and cultural contribution made by the Jewish citizens of Berlin, second, the necessity to integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city of Berlin. Third, that only through the acknowledgement and incorporation of this erasure and void of Jewish life in Berlin, can the history of Berlin and Europe have a human future.”

When the building was completed in 2000, the empty structure became a tourist attraction even before the museum was opened one year later! Libeskind has gone on to become one of the most celebrated architects of the twentieth and twenty first century, designing the Denver Art Museum, the Manchester Imperial War Museum, the Grand Canal Theatre in Dublin and most famously, the World Trade Centre redevelopment.

Visitors enter the Jewish Museum through the Kollegienhaus, and gain access to the Libeskind building through an underground passage. There one confronts three distinct narratives, or axes, representing Jewish history in Germany, emigration to other parts of the world and the Holocaust. (Top tip: It is important to note that you will enter the main exhibit in the basement, and you then must ascend a long stairwell to the top floor. From there, you’ll experience the museum from the top down – this can be slightly unclear, and people do report getting confused!) The permanent collections showcases fascinating artifacts from Medieval Germany, the Age of Emancipation (a time of prosperity and social harmony in the nineteenth century), details the Jewish war effort during World War One and chronicles the terror of the Holocaust. The collection is displayed in a stark, minimalist way that matches the somber tone of the subject matter. Audio guides are available for 3 Euro, and are highly recommended (Top Tip: arrive early, as they tend to sell out for the day by noon, and are then only available after an hour+ wait).

 

This austere approach is contrasted by the often-lighthearted temporary exhibits, which are frequently presented in a fun and accessible manner. Past exhibitions have included, “Chrismukkah: Stories of Christmas and Hanukkah,” “The Whole Truth … everything you always wanted to know about Jews,” and “Kosher & Co: On Food and Religion.” The current exhibit, launched in October 2014 and running until March 2015, is entitled “Snip It! Stances on Ritual Circumcision” (cheekily presented with a banana in the logo).

While those with Jewish heritage will undoubtedly be keen to visit, the museum is an important stop on any Berlin tourist’s itinerary.

Written by Jessica O’Neill

Berlin Bauhaus

Bauhaus Archive

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

If you have ever gazed upon a modern cityscape and wondered why certain buildings, facades and gardens look the way that they do, you will want to head to the Bauhaus Archive for some answers. This museum and library, often referred to as “a temple of design,” is dedicated to the Bauhaus School, one the twentieth century’s most significant arts institutions. It is well worth a visit for anyone who is interested in modern architecture, twentieth century painting and post 1920’s design.

+++The Bauhaus Archive is a 10-15 minute walk away from Berlin’s park Tiergarten, the Berlin Zoo and the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. The Grosser Stern is also a short walk away – climbing up the column with the golden angel is a great way to see the Berlin Skyline for only 3 EUR.+++

History

The Bauhaus Archive/ Museum für Gestaltung is a repository for art, documents, sculpture and literature that relates to the Bauhaus School, the highly influential school of architecture and design that operated in Weimar, Dessau and Berlin between 1919 and 1933. Founded by Walter Gropius, an architect regularly cited as one of the pioneers of modern architecture, the school was a hotbed of creativity and an important institution in Germany’s liberal interwar period. The Weimar Republic abolished censorship, and as a result the country experienced a surge of “radical experimentation in all of the arts.”

Bauhaus and the art

Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lyonel Feininger flocked from around Europe to the Bauhaus School to create, debate and workshop new ideas. They were highly influenced by the work of late Victorian British artists William Morris, who aimed to eliminate the gap between function and form in everyday objects. According to Morris, this meant that even the most mundane item should be beautiful, but for the Bauhaus School artists differed on this point. For them, buildings and objects should stress minimalism and functionalism instead of decoration; art and technology working together seamlessly without compromising their individual importance.

By removing what they felt was needless ornamentation, the Bauhaus adherents felt that they could help to question and eliminate class differences. Though the two styles are often conflated in contemporary times and can at times appear similar, Art Deco was all about luxury and privilege while the Bauhaus aesthetic emphasized function, simplicity and equality between rich and poor.

The rise of National Socialism saw the School face harsh criticism, as their aesthetic was criticized for being “un-German” owing to its lack of ornamentation and preference for flat-roofed buildings. By 1933 the Bauhaus School was forced to close by the Gestapo, who felt that their work was “degenerate” and influenced too heavily by Jewish culture. However, since that time, Bauhaus design and architecture has clearly gone from reviled to revered.

By 1960 Walter Gropius founded an archive to collect and conserve materials relating to the School and its affiliated artists. Members of the movement donated pieces and gave their support for a museum, and the current building was designed by Gropius and constructed between 1971-79. The Bauhaus Archive has since attracted millions of visitors, both to view its collection and to appreciate the stunning bespoke structure in which it is located.

While the museum is small, it houses an important permanent collection and features rotating special exhibits four times per year. Due to space constraints, the trust is only able to showcase 35% of their archive at any one time, and so Bauhaus admirers will be happy to know that a new extension is currently in a planning phase. It will be opened in 2019, in time for the centenary of the founding of the School.

Whether you are an amateur architecture buff, a hobby painter or a seasoned arts professional, this museum is worth a visit!

 

Visiting the Bauhaus Archiv

Hours:
Wednesday – Monday: 10 am–5 pm; closed Tuesday

Admission (includes audioguide):

Adults: Wed/Thurs/Fri – 7 Euros; Sat/Sun/Mon – 8 Euros
Reduced:    Wed/Thurs/Fri – 4 Euros
Sat/Sun/Mon – 5 Euros

Location:
Klingelhöferstrasse 14
D – 10785 Berlin

Public transport:

By Ubahn to Nollendorfplatz station
By bus: lines 100, M29, 187 and 106, Lützowplatz stop

 

Zoo Tiger

Berlin Zoo

Posted by & filed under Berlin.

Consistently topping Berlin’s list of “must-see” attractions is the Zoologischer Garten, more commonly known to English speakers as the Berlin Zoo. This world-class institution is much more than an unparalleled menagerie of exotic animals – it is a historical landmark, a hive of scientific study and a chance for visitors and students to learn about the winged, hoofed and clawed creatures with which we share our fragile planet. With 1,500 different species and 20,500 animals, you’ll think you’ve stumbled onto Noah’s Ark in the centre of an exciting European capital.

Other sights and attractions near the Berlin Zoo that are worth a visit are the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Memorial Church (5 minute walk) or the park Tiergarten (15 minutes by train). From the Berlin Zoo you are also close to some of Berlin’s famous shopping areas, e.g. the KaDeWe.

History

The Berlin Zoo was opened to the public in 1844, located what was then far from the city centre on the far edges of the Tiergarten, the city’s largest public park. Despite its then-inconvenient location, Berliners flocked in droves to view animals completely unfamiliar to the average European – elephants, peacocks, kangaroos, water buffalo and dozens of others. Over the last half of the nineteenth century, majestic themed buildings – the Antelope House, the Indian-inspired Elephant House, the Egyptian Ostrich House and the Japanese Wader House – were constructed by some of the day’s finest architects. A visit to the Zoo in the Prussian era was a grand event indeed, and must have seemed incredibly glamorous and exciting to Berliners circa 1890!

In 1913 the Aquarium was constructed, adding exotic sea life to an animal cast of thousands. Featuring three floors of fresh and saltwater fish, reptiles galore, amphibians, and a large number of invertebrates, the building itself – including its mosaics and demi-reliefs of dinosaurs – is well worth a closer look.

World War II left lasting scars throughout all of Berlin, but the Zoo has a truly tragic wartime past. At the outbreak of the war, the zoo was home to nearly 2000 animals of 400 species (and an additional 2500 birds). Heavy bombardment from 1941- 44 saw most of the buildings destroyed or badly damaged, and the Zoo as a functioning institution ceased to exist. In 1944, the Zoo flak Tower was constructed, and the surrounding area was used as one the last major fortifications against the Red Army.

None of this was easy on the animals, and sadly, most perished. By the end of the fighting only 91 animals remained alive – including 2 lions, 10 baboons, a hippopotamus, 2 hyenas, an Asian elephant, a single chimpanzee and 2 storks. However, in the postwar years zoologists and architects came together to create new animal enclosures, policies and programs that have placed the Zoo on the cutting edge of in-captivity breeding success, particularly of endangered species that other zoos find very hard to replicate.

The Zoo today

As a result of this scientific achievement and fantastic international reputation, the Berlin Zoo is regularly lauded as one of the most ethical and advanced zoos in the world. Visitors clearly agree – this is the most visited zoo in Europe year after year. Guests are treated to the world’s largest collection of animals on display in specially designed enclosures that are meant to mimic natural habitats as closely as possible.

Vistors to the Zoo can feast their eyes upon monkeys of all species, polar bears, wolves, apes (including gorillas and orangutans), king penguins, hippopotamuses, lions, tigers, rhinos and over 1400 others. Feeding times are scheduled throughout the day (available online here), and so it is usually possible to see the animals in an active and engaged mood!

Currently, the Berlin Zoo is home to a few adorable babies – including a baby black rhino, a few tiny zebras and even a precious kangaroo joey. The Zoo’s breeding successes mean that new arrivals are expected regularly, so ensure that you pay the little ones a visit. If you are bringing a wee one of your own, rest assured that everything on site is child-friendly, from the menus at the café to the Streichelzoo children’s petting zoo, a favourite for all ages.

Whether you are a zoo fanatic or a newcomer to the joys of animal appreciation, the Berlin Zoo is truly one of the finest – and most historically interesting – zoos on the planet. Enjoy your urban safari!

 Admission, Location and Opening Hours:

The Aquarium and the Zoo can be visited separately or together on a joint ticket. Admission prices for adults are 13/20 Euros (zoo alone/joint ticket) while students pay only 10/15 Euros and children 6.50/10 Euros. Berlin Welcome Card holders will receive an additional 25% discount (as well as a host of other benefits), so it is worth checking them out!

The Zoo is located directly beside the train station that is its namesake, and is serviced by many buses, U-bahn lines and the S-bahn.
Opening Hours vary throughout the year depending on daylight. Check the Berlin Zoo’s official website for current operating hours.