High 5: Berlin – the perfect winter city
One of my all-time favourite cities has to be Berlin and, since it’s 25 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall this year (the actual anniversary is this Sunday, 9th November), there’s never been a more obvious time to visit.
The city is at its absolute best in winter. It can, of course, be very chilly, so wrap up warm. It’s fairly low on tourist crowds and full of top-notch events in the lead up to December’s sparkling Christmas markets. Here are five must-see-and-dos if you’re visiting this winter:
No-one does Christmas markets better than the Germans. In December, there are more than 60 to choose from. I was there for a long weekend and only managed five. They vary from glitzy big-hitters like those at Gendarmenmarkt, Alexanderplatz and Schloss Charlottenburg to more intimate options like the Nordic-themed Lucia market in Prenzlauer Berg and the medieval-themed market around Richardplatz in Bohemian Rixdorf.
Winter World on Potsdamer Platz
This was my favourite Christmassy event of the weekend. The city’s landmark is transformed into a winter wonderland that includes a 70m-bobsleigh run with amazing views of the Brandenburg Gate, and an outdoor skating rink. There’s also a lovely cluster of small huts, serving warm winter treats such as Quarkkeulchen – delicious balls of sugary fried dough – as well as Bratwurst varieties to die for.
Palazzo dinner theatre
You absolutely can’t miss this. It’s an incredible night of live entertainment, including aerial-acrobatic performers, contortionists, tightrope walkers and stand-up comedy, with the most delicious gourmet cuisine prepared by a Michelin-starred chef and served by singing waiters. In fact, it was the best entertainment I’ve ever seen. It’s open now until 8 March 2015.
Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish (Jüdisches) Museum
Berlin is packed full of fascinating museums so, if you only have time for one, I’d recommend Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum. It’s a must-see in Berlin, both historically and architecturally. The zigzag zincclad building has been cleverly designed and its contents cover more than 2,000 years of Jewish history (from the Roman era to the present day).
Where to stay? The Hotel Amano
I decided to book last-minute and was lucky to find a room still available at Hotel Amano. It’s slap-bang in the middle of the trendy shopping district of Mitte and it has some great little added-extras, including bicycles and tandem bikes for hire, X-Boxes with games to rent, as well as constantly updated Mini Maps and iPods you can use. It’s very reasonably priced for a 4-star hotel, too – roughly £60 pp a night. I’d highly recommend making the most of the bicycles – it’s an easy way to explore the city if you’re only visiting for a couple of days.
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