Cheap flights to Berlin leave from Sydney and Perth daily. Australians do not need a visa to enter Germany, however, entry requirements are tied to a Eurozone agreement which allows travellers to stay in Europe without a visa for 90 days in a 180-day period, in total, not 90 days in each country. Berlin currently has two international airports Tegel, located in the northwest, and Schoenefeld, in the southeast. Schoenefeld mostly caters to charter flights and cheap carriers, so Aussie travellers will most likely end up in Tegel, which is 8km from the city centre. A new airport is being built which will replace the pair, but the completion date, which was supposed to be 2010, keeps blowing out. Getting to the city centre is easy. The U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains do not service Tegel directly, but city buses do and it will take about 40mins. Buses labeled X9, 109, 128, or TXL head towards central Berlin every few minutes, with Alexanderplatz, in the Mitte district, the most common CBD spot. To get to the main train station, the only direct bus is TXL. It will take approximately 25 minutes and it comes every 10 minutes.
Berlin is serviced by two rail systems. The metro-based U-Bahn is the underground system, while the S-Bahn is the urban system. Buses and trams, which run around the clock, complete the network, with one ticket valid on all forms of transport. A cheap option is to buy a Berlin Welcome Care which provides free public transport for 48 hours, 72 hours, or 5 days from just over A$20. The card also gives at least 25% off the entry at many tourist attractions. Taxis are another option, as they are a bit cheaper than other European capitals. If a visitor asks for a short trip before the driver starts the metre, and then travels less than 2km, the fare will be around A$5. It's also worth noting that the house numbers do not necessarily run in one direction (up or down). On a lot of streets, the numbers ascend on one side and descend on the other.
There is no escaping that a visit to Berlin will be dominated by some confronting reminders of the darker aspects of humanity. Ease into it with a visit to Berlin Wall, and Checkpoint Charlie, the famous East German-West German border crossing. Nearby is the Berlin Wall Museum. A trip to the Topography of Terror will reveal a permanent exhibition at the site where the Secret State Police, the SS and the Reich Security Main Office was located. The documentary exhibition showcases the Nazi reign of terror. That leads on to a visit to the Holocaust memorial, which is in two parts. A field aboveground and an information centre detailing the personal lives of the murdered Jews underground. Entry is free, but invest in the audio guide, as there a many stories to digest and it is easy to lose track of time. It pays to revisit at night, where the lighting and ghoulish atmosphere make it all more poignant. The Brandenburg Gate is also nearby, which is a great sight at night as well, Another place to visit is Museum Island, home to three famous museums - the Pergamon, the Altes and the Bode.
Alexanderplatz is one of the most famous shopping squares in Berlin as well as the largest in Germany, while Kreuzberg is home to cheap second-hand shops. Kudamm is the most popular shopping promenade in Berlin, with the 3.5km boulevard leading from Breitscheidplatz as far as Rathenauplatz in Grunewald, where the exclusive villa quarter of the West Berlin City begins. For an authentic German feed stop in at Frittiersalon, while103 is one of the best bars to enjoy a cheap meal and beer. Another cheap option is Belushi’s bar, which is attached to the famous European hostel. It’s also not a bad place to let your hair down as well. For night out which is a step up from the bar scene, whip on the glad rags and head to the Berghain Bar or Clarchen’s Ballhaus.
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