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By Clemens Frede, MSN contributor

Top tips from a local in Berlin

Follow blogger Clemens as he shows us the exciting things Berlin has to offer a visitor


Berlin is one of the most exciting cities at the moment. As you can see in my video above, this expressive and affordable city attracts artists and young professionals from all over the world and has established itself as a creative centre of Europe.

The city of Berlin has been the capital of Prussia and then Germany since the 18th century. During the 1920s, also referred to as 'the golden twenties' when the arts and sciences flourished, Berlin was actually the third largest city in the world.

Checkpoint Charlie

Discover living history at Checkpoint Charlie

After World War II the city was divided into East- and West-Berlin. It was separated by a wall from 1961 until 1989, when the population of East Germany brought down the wall and Germany was reunited in 1990.

Part of the Berlin Wall still exist in the city as a reminder of the separation and can be seen at East Side Gallery in Friedrichshain.

The Museum at Checkpoint Charlie - one of the places where people could cross the border within the city - offers fascinating exhibitions about escapes from East Berlin.

Sight seeing

You can spend a while in Berlin and not run out of sights to see. The city's boroughs are easy to navigate and the most central ones are Berlin-Mitte, Charlottenburg and Kreuzberg - each renown for a certain crowd and feel.

Berlin-Mitte is the hip centre of the city, which has seen an astonishing revival since the reunification. Many landmarks have disappeared such as the Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) and Palast der Republik (the parliament of the German Democratic Republic), but many new sights have been created.

The Berlin TV tower offers a great view of the city and in Mitte you can find an abundance of Museums on the Museumsinsel (Museum Island).

Swimmers enjoying the Badeschiff

Chill out in the Badeschiff

If you fancy a refreshing dip head for the Badeschiff (bathing ship) in the east harbour of the River Spree.

This floating swimming pool and sauna has been converted from a ship's hull and is open until midnight. DJs regularly spin records outside the pool's entrance where there is also a bar.

Charlottenburg is the centre of former West-Berlin, in which you can find West-Berlin's historical landmark - the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche. The church was partly destroyed during the war and never fully rebuilt but is still an impressive sight.

Kreuzberg is characterized by its history and high number of immigrants. The borough was surrounded by the Berlin Wall on three sides and after the war rent was regulated by law, which made it attractive for students, artists and immigrants.

It's a lively neighbourhood with cafes, bars and shops and an exciting area to explore if you like multi-cultural and alternative neighbourhoods.

Brandenburger Tor

Brandenburger Tor

A must-see is the Brandenburger Tor, located smack in the centre of the city and connecting the East and the West.

To the west side of it you can see the Siegessäule (Victory Column) right in the middle of the Tierpark - a huge park where people hang out during the summer.

To the east of the Brandenburger Tor the famous street Unter den Linden runs all the way down to Alexanderplatz.

Shopping

The neighbourhood of Mitte also has great shopping and restaurants and on a weekend you can get delightfully lost strolling through the shops in the beautiful art nouveau shopping arcade Hackesche Höfe.

Travellers who need a dose of retail therapy should head to Kuhdamm - a big shopping street, home to the famous KaDeWe department store in the centre of West-Berlin.

The 100 year old institution is the largest department store in continental Europe so if you feel yourself dropping while you shop head to the Wintergarten on its seventh floor for a well-earned slice of cake while you enjoy breath-taking views across the city.

If something a little less traditional takes your fancy head for Flagshipstore on Oderbergerstrasse in Prenzlauer Berg to find a large variety of Berlin-based and international designers representing over 30 up and coming labels.

Eating and drinking

The list of restaurants and bars in Berlin is endless and so are the notorious nights in the city. Of course each neighbourhood has renowned cafes and bars to offer, some classics and some new.

Berghain- Berlin's legendary night club

Berlin's legendary night club Berghain

Along with Schmutziges Hobby or Betty F. you may want to check out the Pony Bar on Rosenthalerstrasse and dance the night away at Berghain - the most legendary club in Berlin, where the music never stops.

Enjoy lunch at Barcomi's deli or an Asian dinner at Transit on Rosenthaler Strasse or opt for Kuchi, a sushi restaurant popular with the celebrities.

Hoek on Wilmersdorferstrasse offers more traditional German dishes. On a Saturday mornings Rogacki, also on Wilmersdorferstrasse, is brilliant to fight a hang-over.

The best time to come

In Berlin you will never get bored. Be it fashion week, the movie festival Berlinale or the city marathon - something is always going on. Berlin is probably best to visit during the summer, when life is happening outside on the streets, in the cafe's along the sidewalk and in the parks.

But even with all the indoor sights and museums, Berlin can easily be enjoyed on a rainy or snowy day, too. The opportunities are endless and you will find it easy to run with crowd.

Just take in the diversity and creativity of a city that's constantly reinventing itself.

Discover secret Berlin with LateRooms.com

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