As the capital of Germany (originator of the world-famous Christmas Markets) there are high expectations of Christmas in Berlin and the city pulls out all the stops to ensure its festive season is nothing short of magical. Festivities kick off in November when Berlin’s Christmas lights are switched on and the city center is illuminated with millions of fairy lights and yuletide decorations. This is the time to start your Christmas shopping, so make the most of the late night openings, warm your hands on a cup of hot Glühwein (mulled wine) and hit the shops.
“Try not to hit cars, trams, buildings, puppies….” was our humorous guide Mariette’s advice after our merry band of eight people received our Segway tutorial, and before we launched ourselves into Berlin’s busy traffic for four hours of sightseeing.
You’ve likely got a long list of things to do in Berlin already circled in your guidebook – visit the East Side Gallery, walk through the iconic Brandenburg gate, get a view from the Reichstag. But before you finish planning your itinerary, here are a few tips for what not to do in Berlin.
As the opulent former residence of the Prussian Kings and German Kaiser, and now Germany’s largest UNESCO World Heritage site, a visit to Potsdam is a highlight of many travelers’ itineraries. Potsdam’s twelve grand palaces steal the spotlight on most Potsdam tours from Berlin, but equally fascinating is exploring the historic neighborhoods that once formed the city’s Dutch, Italian and Russian quarters.
Cooler weather, fewer crowds and lower prices are all good reasons to visit Berlin in autumn, but the post-summer months also bring a number of festivals and events to the city. If sightseeing is top of your list, make the most of the seasonal scenery with a walk in Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten or dodge the showers by spending rainy days exploring Berlin’s best museums, many of which will be unveiling new exhibitions in the fall.
In spite of such delicious exports as wurst, pretzels or schnitzel, German food generally assumes a reputation abroad that is bland at best. Though traditionally not packed with spices and flavour, the influx of newcomers to the city in recent years has given the German dining experience a much needed facelift.