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Berlin : Useful information - Facts & figures

This page offers tourist information about Berlin, telling you all you need to know
for a stay in this city and in Germany.

Climate  -  Geography & Population
Economy & Politics
- Transport in the city of Berlin
Traveling in Germany: Useful information

 
     
 
Climate

Berlin has a temperate climate, with Atlantic influences from the North West as well as continental influences from the East.

During summer, the average temperature lies around 22-23°C (72°F), in winter around 2-3°C (35°F). Extreme heat in summer does not occur as often as in the South of Germany. Sometimes during winter, temperatures may fall down to –15°C at night. Anyway, you should not forget to take a pair of warm walking shoes if you plan to visit Berlin in winter, which is the ideal season to explore its diverse museums and cultural life.

In summer, you will appreciate the many green oasis in the city and the lakes inviting you for a swim. The average rainfall is 580 mm per year, well balanced between the months.
On this website you can look up the exact time of sunrise and sunset in Berlin: www.sonnenuntergang.de

 
     
 
Geography & Population

Berlin covers an area of 892 sq. km., i.e. eight times the size of Paris or the equivalent of New York; the city stretches 38 km from north to south and 45 m from west to east.
Around the year1920, Berlin was the biggest city of the world!

The city's highest elevation is Müggelberg "mountain" of 115 m and, since 1969, its tallest building is the Television Tower with 368 m. Enjoy the view from its restaurant and platform, situated at 203 m, that revolves around its axis every 30 minutes.
Berlin lies at an average level of 64 m; the city centre at a level of only 32 m above sea level.

LATitude 13° 23' 40"
LONgitude 52° 31' 00"


Berlin is a city of lakes, rives and canals. River Spree crosses through the city from east to west. The biggest lake is "Müggelsee" in the east of the city. Abundance of water is one of the reasons why Berlin only in 1857 got a public water supply and distribution system. There are several beaches and bathing places if you feel like a swim.

The Polish border lies at a distance of 70 km from Berlin.

The current population (12/2014) of Berlin is 3.469.849. Despite this elevated number (2nd biggest city in the EU), this is still one million less than before WW II. 2.3 million live in the western part of the city and 1.1 in the eastern districts. 13.2% of the population are of non-German nationality. 23,000 births per year (Prenzlauer Berg borough had the highest birth rate in Germany) stand for a young city which, of course is partly due to the numerous colleges and universities. No major demographic changes are expected in the coming years.

 
     
 
Economy & Politics

Economy
Average net-income: 1 475€
Unemployment rate: 10,2 % (10.2015)
Tourists per year: 4 984 379 (2003) - 7 585 000 (2007) - 11 800 000 (2014)!!!
Universities and colleges: 30

Until the Nazis took over power, in 1933, Berlin was the most important industrial centre of Germany. Political reunification had a disastrous effect on the industry of the former GDR (not many of its formerly state-owned companies survived the following years) - which is one the reasons for the high unemployment rate in Berlin. The city has just started to slowly recover from the impact of economic overthrow.

Berlin has become an attractive touristic destination and the number of overnight stay continues to rise. The face of the city is constantly changing: New residential quarters, renovated and refurbished historical buildings, recently constructed train lines and stations, a new airport planned to open in 2010.

The removal of the goverment seat and the growing tourism are only two of the many factors that contribute to the city's increasing attractivity, especially in the sector of the media: besides international companies who moved their regional headquarters to Berlin like Sony, Sony Music-BMG, Universal and MTV or ABB, IBM, Coca Cola, Daimler-Benz, Samsung etc., there are traditional Berlin-based companies like Siemens and Schering (the latter just having merged with Bayer).

Berlin invites people to stay, study and research at its universities (Humboldt, Technical and Free University), colleges and numerous other scientific institutions. Names of great personalities like Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Heinrich Heine, Adelbert von Chamisso, Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx and Kurt Tucholsky are closely linked to the city, thanks to Humboldt-University where, until the present day, 27 Nobel prize laureates have come from.

Berlin is an emergent metroplis, bursting with creativity...

Politics
Since June 20, 1991 Berlin officially is once again the capital of Germany, the land being reunited since October 3, 1990 (national holiday).
Berlin is one of 16 German federal states and is composed by 12 boroughs or districts (23 until the end of the year 2000). The Governing Maire of Berlin is MIchael Müller (of the Social Democrats - CDU), government is formed by a coalition of SPD und Die Linke .

The new parliamentary quarter occupies the area known as Spreebogen, but ministeries and secretaries are dispersed over the whole city. The Federal Goverment is one of the most important employers in Berlin.

 

 
     
 
Public transport in Berlin

The Berlin public transport company is called ”BVG”. Have a look at its dense network above and below ground:

The underground (U)
There are 9 underground lines (U-Bahn) circulating regularly and in short intervals. A line frequently used by tourists is U 2 because it takes you to the most interesting parts of the city: Ku’damm – Potsdamer Platz – Unter den Linden – Berlin-Mitte –Alexanderplatz – Prenzlauer Berg.

The city train (S)
These train lines (S-Bahn) mainly travel overground and you will enjoy the splendid view of the city when coming from Zoo Station and travelling direction Alexanderplatz. (lines S5, S7, S75 and S9). They also are a perfect connection to the suburbs and beautiful surroundings of Berlin. The airport of Schönefeld on the outskirts of Berlin is also directly connected to the city by train (S9, S45).

The metro lines (M)
Not to be confounded with the Paris tube! This service was introduced in December, 2004 and stand for a few selected bus and streetcar lines that circulate more frequently than others (at least every 10 minutes) during hours.

The tram lines
The tram used to be the most important means of transportation, before World War II. Today, there are several important tram routes, but only in what formerly was East Berlin.

Fares (2015)
The area covered by Berlin transport is divided into three zones A – B – C. The whole city is comprised within A and B. Travelling to Potsdam requires a three-zone-ticket.
The AB single ticket (Einzelfahrschein) is valid for two hours trip without changing direction (i.e. no return ticket) and costs 2.70 €. The AB day pass (Tageskarte) costs 6,90 €.
A group day ticket (Kleingruppenkarte) is a cheaper option: for 16,90 € (AB) - ABC 17,40 € a group of up to five people can travel together throughout the whole city.

If you are staying for 6 or 7 days, you might even consider getting a week ticket ( Wochenkarte ) valid for 7 days. It costs 29,50 € per person and on weekends (during the whole day) and on weekdays after 20.00 h you may take another adult and up to three children (6-13 years) with you for free.

All tickets (except those you buy from a bus driver) must be validated.

You will find more information on the website of BVG company: www.bvg.de



taxis
Call a cab at 21 02 02 or 26 10 26
Don’t forget to first dial 00 49 30 or 030, in case you call from your (foreign) mobile phone.


Berlin by car
The speed limits in Germany are: 50 kph (30 mph) in built-up areas, 100 kph (60 mph) on open roads. There is no general speed limit on motorways (but on many stretches only 120 kph is permitted). Besides, in a lot of resident areas you are not allowed to drive any faster than 30 kph. If you travel to Berlin by car, you will find that all motorways lead to a motorway belt (A 10). Coming from the South (Munich, Leipzig, Potsdam) you must take A 115 to get to the city centre. If you come from the North (Hamburg), take A 111 or 114, from the East (Dresden) take A 113.


Berlin by bike
Berlin is a paradise for bikers, due the the numerous cycle paths and few hills. It is a very special feeling to move freely through the city, on the tracks of history, and a unique occasion to discover its lesser-trodden paths.

Take a bike - Rent-a-bike
Neustädtische Kirchstr. 8 - 10117 Berlin     Map
+49/ (0)30. 20 65 47 30
Opened from Monday to Sunday - 9:30 to 19:00
Prices: 4 hs 8 € - 24 hs 12,50 € - 48 hs 9,50 €/day


Berlin by plane
There are three airports in Berlin:

Berlin Schönefeld
This airport, situated just outside Berlin in South Eastern direction, was the East Berlin airport and today also is the preferred basis of budget airlines. Berlin and Brandenburg have long since been planning to transform it into a mega-airport and finally the project is on the way, works having begun in summer 2006. Probably the other two ariports will be closed down when the new one is finished (2017????????).

Transport: S-Bahn (city train) takes you immediately to the city centre. S9 goes to Mitte and Zoo station, S45 to the Southern districts. Often, you have to change trains at Schöneweide or Ostkreuz station for other Berlin districts. German railway DB regional trains also stop at Schönefeld.

Berlin Tegel
It is the airport of former West-Berlin and, as for now, the biggest of the city.
Transport: Tegel is connected to many point of the city centre by several normal bus lines as well as express bus lines (TXL – X9 – 109 – 128). In the airport terminal, there is a service counter of the Berlin transport company BVG where travellers get further information. If you take a taxi to the city centre its costs about € 15 to 20.

Berlin Tempelhof : CLOSED
The oldest airport of Berlin. The building dates from the times of Third Reich and still is the second biggest structure worldwide, after the Pentagon in Washington/U.S.
During 1948 and ′49 when the Soviet army cut off West-Berlin by their blockade, it was the main airport of the air lift. As it lies only a few miles from the city centre, for a long time there have been plans to close it down. But the airport is still being used, especially by minor companies and for private jets.

Website of the Berlin airports: www.berlin-airport.de

Air Berlin - Aesyjet - Germanwings


Berlin by train
The railway is a good alternative to air planes, not only because you can enjoy the view of the lovely German countryside while travelling. German and foreign railway companies regularly offer train tickets at special conditions and at interesting package prices.

Links to the website of railway companies:
German railway (DB) www.bahn.de SBB (Switzerland) http://www.sbb.ch
ÖBB (Austria) www.oebb.at

 
     
 
Useful information for Berlin and Germany

Foreign currencies and credit cards
Like most EU member states Germany introduced the euro (€) in January 2002.
The best places to change currency are the bureaux de change, for example:
• at Zoo train station (open from 7.30 am to 10 pm)
• at Tegel airport (open daily from 8 am to 10 pm)
• at Ostbahnhof train station (open workdays from 7 to 10 pm, weekends from 8 to 8 pm)

Off course, you can also change in banks, but the exchange rate usually is better here.
Credit cards are accepted in many places (VISA, Mastercard). But you should ask in advance whether it is possible to pay by card, just to make sure.
Tip are not obligatory, but the standard is up to 10 maximum. Just round up the bill when paying.


Identity documents
Citizens of EU member states and several other countries only need a normal ID card
For many other nationalities a passport valid three months beyond the length of stay is sufficient. In any case, when planning your trip, you should ask at your local German consulate or embassy or at a travel agency about the visa requirements. Berlin still is rather safe, compared to other European cities. Anyway, one should always keep money, credit and ID card in separate places.

Beware of pick-pockets, especially in busy places like airports and stations

Insurance
For a longer stay EU citizens need the form E111 they get from their social security service in their home country (now, there is also an insurance card). On presentation of this form at AOK (Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse) they will get another form that entitles them to medical treatment.
Citizens of other countries should thoroughly inquire at their health insurance about the necessary conditions to get their expenses for medical treatment in Germany reimbursed. If you are planning a long-term stay, you should consider an additional private insurance..

Important telephone numbers
Germany's international access code +49
Ambulance/Fire Brigade: 112
Police: 110
Doctor Emergency Line: 31 00 31
Poisoning Emergency Line: 19 24 0
Dentist Emergency Line: 89 00 43 33 (enquiries)
Directory Enquiries 11837 (in English)

Embassies
United States America : Pariser Platz , 10117 Berlin, (030) 8 30 50
British Embassy: Wilhelmstraße 70, 10117 Berlin, ( 030) 20 45 70
Canada: Leipziger Platz 17 , 10117 Berlin, ( 030) 20 31 20
More Embassies ... WEB (Federal Foreign Office of Germany)

 
     
 
Folowing: Geographical maps and satellite views of Berlin

Click here to go to the page "City Map"  –  Next page >>>

 
 
     


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