Traveller’s tale: the bright lights of Berlin

Germany’s capital city is a vibrant marketplace of trade and innovation – with plenty to extend your trip for, too

The Berlin skyline

The Berlin skyline with its iconic TV tower (Getty)

In 1930, Albert Einstein urged delegates at a Berlin conference to embrace innovation, little knowing that 80 years later, the city would emerge as Europe’s very own ‘Silicon Valley’. Nestled in northeast Germany on the banks of the rivers Spree and Havel, Berlin is home to 3.5 million residents, who have all been involved in relaunching the city.

After the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, the newly reunited Berliners came together to reinvent the nation’s capital, backing large-scale building projects that have transformed neighbourhoods, and welcoming entrepreneurship from around the globe. Hip new businesses sprang up among the city’s Baroque palaces, cathedrals and cobbled backstreets.

City of creativity

Modern Berlin is a byword for creativity, with a cutting-edge arts community and dynamic business scene – a new start-up launches every 20 minutes. It has attracted major technology players, including Google, Microsoft, Sony and Swedish-owned music company SoundCloud. And, of course, Berlin is also home to Germany’s federal government: the seat of the country’s political power, if not its financial capital.

At the heart of Europe, the city is well connected to the rest of the continent by rail and air. The city’s two existing airports, Tegel and Schönefeld, are set to be joined by a new international hub, Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt, to increase capacity. It is now slated to open in late 2017.

A popular destination for international trade fairs and congresses, Berlin offers over 700 hotels, more than 135,000 rooms and around half a million square metres of conference space. Top venues include the ultra-modern CityCube Berlin, offering flexible space for up to 11,000 participants, and the BCC (Berlin Congress Centre), with 10,000 square metres of floor space for up to 1,500 people in a listed modernist building. Elsewhere, the Estrel Berlin hotel and congress centre has a conference hall that can accommodate up to 6,000 people.

Need a business lunch venue with impact? Then dine high at iconic landmark the Berlin TV Tower, with its Sphere restaurant revolving at a height of 207m. Or for a less retro, more modern destination with equally stunning views, head to the SkyKitchen restaurant and bar at andel’s by Vienna House for Michelin-starred, contemporary German cuisine.

Caption here (Georg Roske)

andel’s by Vienna House’s SKYKITCHEN restaurant and bar (Georg Roske/SkyKitchen)

Beer gardens and Christmas markets

Berlin also offers delegates plenty of ways to spend their downtime, with almost 200 museums, numerous historic monuments, riverside promenades, lakeside cafés, beer gardens and legendary nightlife – the city is home to around 900 bars and 200 clubs.

Diverse neighbourhoods lend different parts of the city distinct characters, from stylish Schöneberg and more gritty Friedrichshain to charming Kreuzberg and trendy Mitte. Visitors can also take a river cruise, join a cycle tour, pick up designer bargains, book a wine-tasting trip or pick from some 4,700 eateries, while winter brings twinkling lights at fairy-tale Christmas markets. Hows that for work/life balance?

Caption here

Christmas markets remain popular in Berlin

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