Things to do in Berlin: A three-minute guide

WHY

Berlin has become Europe's go-to city for young, creative types for a good reason. It's affordable, it's edgy, it has a hell of a lot going on and it's extremely good fun. It is a city that has a list of fascinating attractions and tours as long as your arm, but a distinctive personality to go with it. Part of that stems from its unique Cold War history, but the free-spiritedness dates back to before the wall went up.

VISIT

Berlin's underground holds many secrets, and Berliner Unterwelten uncovers them on tours that explore the subterranean railway network, heading into nuclear fallout shelters that were built during the Cold War. Pankstrasse Station was designed to be completely sealed up in an emergency, and bleak sweaty dorm rooms for the survivors are behind hidden doors. See Berliner-unterwelten.de

EAT

The recent resurgence of Charlottenburg has seen several interesting restaurants pop up, of which Madame Ngo is a fine example. The food is Vietnamese with an upmarket twist – such as the €16 filet mignon pho – and the vibe is low formality street food-esque. You'll spot the massive cook pots in the window as you go past… see madame-ngo.de

LOOK

Berlin is indisputably one of the world's street art capitals, and Alternative Berlin Tours runs excellent half-day jaunts that take in the best paste-ups and murals, while explaining how spray can culture took hold in the city. Best of all, though, there is the chance to have a go yourself afterwards, as guests are unleashed on all the street art equipment back at HQ. See alternativeberlin.com

MUST

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It doesn't matter if you're a David Bowie fan or not, Berlin Musictours' Bowie-themed tours are superb. This is partly because they're as much about the impact Bowie had on Cold War Berlin as Berlin had on him. His old apartment, the Hansa recording studios and the concert grounds outside the Reichstag are all part of it. See musictours-berlin.com

Explore the Reichstag in 360 degrees below

SLEEP

Another new addition to Charlottenburg, the Hotel Zoo is wonderfully flamboyant. It's designed by someone who is usually let loose on film sets, and this shows. Each room is individual, art and sculptures have been sourced from all over the world, and entering the lifts makes you feel like you're walking on the Hollywood red carpet. Prices start at €163. See hotelzoo.de

TIP

The famed Checkpoint Charlie Museum is a cluttered, crowded disappointment. By far the best place to get an understanding of the Berlin Wall is the remaining stretch of it along Bernauer Strasse, which has been turned into an open-air exhibition.

More information: traveller.com.au/germany; visitberlin.de

David Whitley was a guest of Visit Berlin.

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