Top tips for visiting Berlin and Saxony-Anhalt

I have always found Berlin an exciting city to visit even before the wall came down. It is ‘buzzing’ 24 hours a day and by searching on the Internet you will soon find some really unusual sights, hotels and places to eat.    

French Cathedral BerlinIf you arrive by plane, you probably will land at Schonefeld Airport just outside Berlin. To speed up your journey into the city, avoid the S-Bahn and instead take the normal train commonly known as the Airport Express which will get you there in around 25 minutes. Your transport ticket will be valid on this service. Look for the signs at the end of the railway station.

Should you be staying a few days, then I would suggest you buy yourself a travel card covering regions ABC to include Potsdam and Schonefeld. If you are intending to visit a range of sights, then purchase a Berlin Welcome Card at the airport. Travelling around the city is really easy, just remember to validate your ticket before entering the system as there are random checks.

If you have lots of luggage look out for the lifts at the U-Bahn stations.

Sanssouci Palace PotsdamThe Room of Silence on the north side of the Brandenburg Gate is worth visiting.  When I was there it was completely empty. It is free to enter. 

Weiss beer is currently very popular for half a litre!

If you have an ABC travel ticket, take the RE1 train (not the S-Bahn) to Potsdam main station and then a tram into the city. Make for the Dutch quarter with its delightful cafes or walk to the Sanssouci Palace. You can then take the X15 bus back into the town or station. 

For a different experience search out the TISK restaurant in the Arab quarter. A fusion of Berlin food with a modern twist.

Look out for the Ampelmann shops which seem to have sprung up all over the city. Here you will be able to buy products bearing the logos found on many of the traffic lights in the eastern part of the city and are one of the things that survived the Unification. 

Great for its location, just one street behind the Unter den Linden, the Turkish run Titanic Hotel near the Gendarmenmarkt is quite luxurious and serves one of the finest breakfasts I have ever eaten. Contact the hotel direct for the best deals. It is just a few steps from the nearest U-Bahn and the staff are really friendly. It is a quality hotel at an affordable price.    

NaumburgOnce you have discovered Berlin, take the ICE and then a local train to a beautiful town of Naumburg in Saxony-Anhalt. Look out for the remarkable Cathedral and town centre where you can enjoy an iced coffee (very impressive) or a traditional German cream cake such as a windbeutel. Also take a trip on the unusual tramway that runs around the town.   

Not far from the town is the Cistercian Monastery and Federal State Boarding School of Pforta. Open to the public, this is reminiscent of an Oxford College with its gatehouse and ancient buildings. One of the first state high schools in Germany, it was founded back in 1543 by Moritz, the Duke of Saxony. It is around an hour by foot from the centre of the town but well worth the effort.  Just outside the main gate there is also a really good wine shop selling a selection of wines from local vineyards.

Saxony-Anhalt is a very popular area for growing wine and also producing Rotkappchen one of Germany’s most popular sparkling wines. Named ‘Red Riding Hood’, the sekt is due to the red cap on the bottle. You can book a guided tour around the cellars which are located in Freyburg. To get there it will take 9 minutes on the train (RB77) from Naumburg Station. Regular excursions take place most days. 

ImaginataThe area is well served by the railway and you might like to take the train to the city of Jena with a journey time of around 30 minutes. The city is compact and easy to get around. One of the most unusual attractions is the Imaginata in Löbstedter Strasse. About 30 minutes’ walk from Jena Paradies railway station or 20 minutes on the 430/431 bus, it is full of optical illusions and really quirky science experiments. Located in an old transformer station, it is well worth investigating. The staff are young and enthusiastic and it is very unique.

A great two centre break more information can be found www.visitberlin.de and www.saxony-anhalt-tourism.eu

Images courtesy of Godfrey Hall

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Godfrey Hall

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