City Layout

Berlin is one of the largest and most complex cities in Europe. Because it's so spread out, you'll need to depend on public transportation. No visitor should try to explore more than two neighborhoods a day, even superficially.

The center of activity in the western part of Berlin is the 4km-long (2 1/2-mile) Kurfürstendamm, called the Ku'Damm by Berliners, who seem to have a habit of irreverently renaming every street and building in the city. Along this wide boulevard you'll find the best hotels, restaurants, theaters, cafes, nightclubs, shops, and department stores. It's the most elegant and fashionable spot in Berlin, but, like much of the city, it combines chic with sleaze in places. Walkers can stop off at one of the popular cafes lining the boulevard.

From the Ku'Damm, you can take Hardenbergstrasse, which crosses Bismarckstrasse and becomes Otto-Suhr-Allee, which will lead to the Schloss Charlottenburg area and its museums, a major sightseeing area. The Dahlem Museums are in the southwest of the city, often reached by going along Hohenzollerndamm.

The huge Tiergarten is the city's largest park. Running through it is Strasse des 17 Juni, which leads to the famed Brandenburg Gate (just south of the Reichstag). On the southwestern fringe of the Tiergarten is the Berlin Zoo.

The Brandenburg Gate is the start of eastern Berlin's most celebrated street, Unter den Linden, the cultural heart of Berlin before World War II. It runs from west to east, leading to Museumsinsel (Museum Island), where the most outstanding museums of eastern Berlin, including the Pergamonmuseum, are situated.

Unter den Linden crosses another major artery, Friedrichstrasse. If you continue south along Friedrichstrasse, you'll reach the former location of Checkpoint Charlie, a famous border site of the Cold War days. No longer a checkpoint, it now has a little museum devoted to memories of the Berlin Wall.

Unter den Linden continues east until it reaches Alexanderplatz, the center of eastern Berlin, with its towering television tower, or Fernsehturm. A short walk away is the restored Nikolaiviertel (Nikolai Quarter), a neighborhood of bars, restaurants, and shops that evoke life in the prewar days.

Maps -- Good maps of Berlin can be purchased at bookstores or news kiosks, such as the Europa Press Center (a magazine and newspaper store in the Europa Center). One of the best maps is the Falk map, which offers full-color detail and comprehensive indexes (consequently, it's sometimes awkward to unfold and refold). Be sure to obtain an up-to-date map showing the most recent changes.

Finding an Address -- As for the numbering of streets in Berlin, keep in mind that the city sometimes assists you by posting the range of numbers that appears within any particular block, at least within major arteries such as the Kurfürstendamm. These numbers appear on the street signs themselves, which is a great help in finding a particular number on long boulevards. You won't find these numbers on street signs of smaller streets, however. Although some streets are numbered with the odds on one side and the evens on the other, many (including the Ku'Damm) are numbered consecutively up one side of the street and back down the other.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.