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Berlin, Germany City Info
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Population: 3.4 million

Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time plus one hour (two hours in summer): Time in Berlin is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York. (7 hours ahead of central time in Chicago, etc.) Berlin uses the 24 hour clock, so the numeral 1 on a US watch would be read as 1in the early morning or 13 in the afternoon, etc. Transportation timetables and schedules will use this method of representation of time. (designations of am and pm are unnecessary)

International Dialing Code: The country code for Germany is 49. There is no need to use this prefix when calling within the country. To call Germany from the United States or Canada, omit the first 0 from the German number and add the prefix 011 49.

Telephone area code in Berlin: 030

Weather: For a report on Berlin weather, call 0190/270-641. (There is a per minute charge).

 

Average Temperatures:

 

Month

High

Low

January

35F

26F

February

37F

25F

March

46F

31F

April

56F

39F

May

66F

50F

June

72F

53F

July

75F

57F

August

74F

56F

September

68F

59F

October

56F

42F

November

45F

36F

December

38F

29F

The German climate is variable so it is best to be prepared for all types of weather throughout the year. There is no special rainy season. The most pleasant and predictable weather is from May to October. This coincides, of course, with the standard tourist season (except for skiing). The interim periods can bring fewer tourists and surprisingly pleasant weather. The disadvantages of visiting out-of-season, especially in winter, are that some tourist attractions are closed or have shorter hours.

 

Holidays

The following holidays are observed in Berlin:

January 1 New Year’s Day

Good Friday. and Easter Monday. (March or April)

May 1 (Workers' Day)

Late May (Ascension)

Pentecost Monday. (May or June)

October 3 (Reunification Day)

November 1 (All Saints' Day)

December 24-26 (Christmas).

 

Useful measurements

Equivalent Weights And Measures

1 cm 0.39 inches

1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards

1 km 0.62 miles

1 liter 0.26 gallons

1 inch 2.54 cm

1 foot 0.39 meters

1 yard 0.91 meters

1 mile 1.60 km

1 gallon 3.78 liters

 

Visas: US travelers just need a valid passport (no visa).

Electricity: 220V, 50 Hz Electrical sockets take plugs with two round prongs or sometimes three. American appliances will need a plug adapter and will require a transformer if they do not have a dual voltage capability. Most hotels will supply guests with an ironing board and iron if requested.

Business Hours

Banks & Stores

Banks are usually open weekdays from 8:30 or 9 to 3 or 4 (5 or 6 on Thurs.), sometimes with a lunch break of about an hour at smaller branches. Department stores and larger stores are generally open from 9 or 9:15 to 8 weekdays and until 4 on Sat.

Museums & Sights

Most museums are open from Tues. to Sun. 10-5. Some close for an hour or more at lunch. Many stay open until 8 or 9 on Wed. or Thurs..

Embassies and Consulates

United States (Neustädtische Kirchstr. 4-5, 030/238-5174).

Emergencies

Police 030/110). Ambulance 030/112).

Dentist 030/8900-4333).

Late-Night Pharmacies

Pharmacies in Berlin offer late-night service on a rotating basis. Every pharmacy displays a notice indicating the location of the nearest shop with evening hours. For emergency pharmaceutical assistance, call 030/01189.

Language

German is the primary language. English is spoken and understood in most hotels, restaurants, airports, stations, museums, and other places of interest.

Money

Currency : Since January 1, 1999, Germany’s official currency has been the European monetary unit, the euro.

 

Taxes

Most prices you see on items already have Germany’s 16% value- added tax (VAT) included. When traveling to a non-EU country, you are entitled to a refund of the VAT you pay (multiply the price of an item by 13.8% to find out how much VAT is embedded in it). Some goods, like books and antiquities, carry a 6.5% VAT as a percentage of the purchase price.

 

Global Refund is a VAT refund service that makes getting your money back hassle-free. In participating stores, ask for the Global Refund form (called a Shopping Cheque). When you leave the European Union, you must show your purchases to customs officials before they will stamp your refund form. Before you check your luggage at the airport, ask to be directed to the customs desk. Once the form is stamped, take it to one of the more than 700 Global Refund counters - located at every major airport and border crossing - and your money will be refunded on the spot in the form of cash, check, or a refund to your credit-card account (minus a small percentage for processing). Alternatively, you can mail your validated form to Global Refund:  707 Summer St., Stamford, CT 06901, 800/566-9828.

 

Getting Around

The Berlin-Potsdam Welcome Card gives you 72 hours of free transport on all the buses and trams of the VBB network. Also good for free admission or up to 50% reductions for sightseeing tours, museums and many other tourist attractions.

 

Public Transportation: The Berlin transport system consists of buses, trams, and U-Bahn (underground) and S-Bahn (elevated) trains. The network is run by the BVG or Public Transport Company Berlin-Brandenburg. Public transportation throughout the city operates from about 4:30am to 12:30am daily (except for 62 night buses and trams, and U-Bahn lines U-9 and U-12). For information about public transport, call tel. 030/29-71-9843 or 030/19-449.

 

The BVG standard ticket (Einzelfahrschein) costs is valid for 2 hours of transportation in all directions, transfers included. There is also a 24-hour ticket for the whole city. Only standard tickets are sold on buses. Tram tickets must be purchased in advance. Unless you buy a day pass, don’t forget to time-punch your ticket into one of the small red boxes prominently posted at the entrance to city buses and underground stations.

 

If you’re going to be in Berlin for 3 days, you can purchase a Berlin-Potsdam WelcomeCard, which entitles holders to 72 free hours on public transportation in Berlin and Brandenburg. You’ll also get free admission or a price reduction of up to 50% on sightseeing tours, museums, and other attractions, and a 25% reduction at 10 theaters as well. The card is sold at many hotels, visitor information Centers, and public-transportation sales points. It is valid for one adult and three children under the age of 14.

 

Getting There

 

There are hardly any direct flights to Berlin from overseas and, depending on the airline you use, you’re likely to fly first into another European city such as Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris or London and catch a connecting flight from there. Berlin has three airports:

You can reach all three airports by calling the central service phone number 0180/500-0186);

 

Tegel (TXL) primarily serves destinations within Germany and Europe.

Schönefeld (SXF) mostly operates international flights to/from Europe, Asia, Africa and Central America.

Berlin-Tempelhof (THF) became famous as the main landing hub for Allied airlifts during the Berlin blockade of 1948-49. Today it’s the main hub for domestic departures and flights to Central Europe.

 

Bus: Berlin is well-connected to the rest of Europe by long-distance bus. Most buses arrive at and depart from the Zentraler Omnibus-bahnhof in Charlottenburg, opposite the stately Funkturm radio tower.

 

Train: Until the opening of the huge new rail center (Lehrter Bahnhof) in 2002, train services to and from Berlin will remain confusing because of the extensive construction that affects several stations. Trains scheduled to leave from or arrive at one station may be spontaneously rerouted to another. Zoo Station is the main station for long-distance travelers going to and from the west.

 

Bicycles: Berlin is very cycle friendly, and it’s a good way to get to know the city - there are specially marked bike lanes everywhere. There are also many bike rental shops.

 

Transfers Between the Airport and Town

 

Tegel Airport is only 6 km (4 mi) from the downtown area. The No. 109 and X09 airport buses run at 10-minute intervals between Tegel and downtown via Kurfürstendamm, Bahnhof Zoologischer Garten, and Budapester Strasse. The trip takes 30 minutes. If you rent a car at the airport, follow the signs for the Stadtautobahn into Berlin. The Halensee exit leads to Kurfürstendamm.

 

Tempelhof is linked directly to the city center by the U-6 subway line.

 

From Schönefeld a shuttle bus leaves every 10-15 minutes for the nearby S-bahn station; S-bahn trains leave every 20 minutes for the Friedrichstrasse station, in downtown eastern Berlin, and for the Zoologischer Garten station, in downtown western Berlin. Bus 171 also leaves every 10 or 15 minutes for the western Berlin Rudow subway station. A taxi ride from the airport takes about 40 minutes. By car, follow the signs for Stadtzentrum Berlin.

 

By Bus

Buses are slightly cheaper than trains. Berlin is linked by bus to 170 European cities. The Omnibusbahnhof, the central bus terminal, is at the corner of Masurenallee 4-6 and Messedamm. Reserve through DER (a state agency), travel agencies, or the station itself. For information call 030/301-8028 between 9 and 5:30.

 

By Car

The German autobahn system links Berlin with the eastern German cities of Magdeburg, Leipzig, Rostock, Dresden, and Frankfurt an der Oder. Speed restrictions of 130 kph (80 mph) still apply.

 

A car is really unnecessary in Berlin and the surrounding area. The transportation network is amazing in its efficiency and extent. Public transportation via bus, subway and train is available throughout the city and into all of the surrounding area. There are numerous connections to cities throughout Germany and the rest of Europe.

 

By Train

There are six major rail routes to Berlin from the western part of the country (from Hamburg, Hannover, Köln, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nürnberg). Ask about reduced fares within Germany. Some trains now stop at and depart from more than one of Berlin’s four main train stations, but generally trains from the west and north arrive at Friedrichstrasse and Zoologischer Garten, and trains from the east and south at Hauptbahnhof or Lichtenberg. For details on rates and information, call Deutsche Bahn Information 030/19419).

 

Getting Around

 

By Subway

Berlin is too large to be explored on foot. To compensate, the city has one of the most efficient public-transportation systems in Europe, a smoothly integrated network of subway (U-bahn) and suburban (S-bahn) train lines, buses, trams (in eastern Berlin only), and even a ferry across the Wannsee, making every part of the city easily accessible. Get a map from any information booth. Extensive all-night bus and tram service operates seven nights a week (indicated by the letter N next to route numbers).

 

Bicycle

Bicycling is popular in Berlin. Although it’s not recommended in the downtown area, it’s ideal in outlying areas. Bike paths are generally marked by red bricks on the walkways;

 

The Berlin WelcomeCard entitles one person or one adult and up to three children to three days of unlimited travel as well as free admission or reductions of up to 50% for sightseeing trips, museums, theaters, and other events and attractions.

 

All tickets are available from vending machines at U-bahn and S-bahn stations. Punch your ticket into the red machine on the platform. For information about public transportation, call the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe 030/19449 or 030/752-7020) or go to the BVG-information office on Hardenbergplatz, directly in front of the Bahnhof Zoo train station. If you’re caught without a ticket, there is a fine.

 

The U-Bahn

underground system is efficient and extensive; trains run from 4am to approximately 12.30am, an hour later on Fri. and Sat..

 

The S-Bahn

is better for getting out to the suburbs : Wannsee or Potsdam, for instance. The city bus network – and the tram system in eastern Berlin – cover most of the gaps left by the U-Bahn:

Night buses run at intervals of around twenty minutes, although the routes often differ from daytime ones; agents in the U-Bahn stations can usually provide a map.

Taxis are plentiful and can be hailed from the street or picked up at the taxi stands at major intersections, by U-Bahn stations, or in front of the larger hotels.


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