Far from being haunted by its tumultuous 20th-century history, Berlin has recast itself as one of Europe’s most exciting destinations. The German capital boasts an enviable creative hub inspired by its multicultural population and a thriving underground scene. The city’s hedonistic nightlife is probably the best in Europe, and easily one of the most liberal – there are few taboos left in some of Berlin’s clubs.
The locals might have moved on from the past, but the scars of war are still visible on some of the most iconic monuments. Sections of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city for nearly three decades, still stand today. There are also plenty of world-class museums documenting life under the Nazis and then the Soviets.
But Berlin is mostly sought after today for its vibrant cultural life. In the early 2000s, cheap rents, widespread squatting and alternative economies in the face of the city’s financial woes gave rise to a generation of home-grown creative types; even former mayor Klaus Woweret described his city as ‘poor but sexy’.
Gentrification and rising house prices have begun to challenge that. But Berlin still boasts thrilling graffiti, resident artists of all disciplines, and a strong music scene befitting the past and present home of Lou Reed, David Bowie, Nick Cave and Iggy Pop.
For tourists, Berlin remains relatively inexpensive – moderate budgets will suffice to eat, drink and sleep well here. The city also offers a kaleidoscope of different cultures, so you can dine on Vietnamese, Japanese and Turkish food as easily as German.
In fact, the city’s large Turkish community has earned the trendy East Berlin district of Kreuzberg the nickname ‘Little Istanbul’. Legend has it the doner kebab was born here, and takeaway shops selling it can be found on almost every street corner.
With its global gastronomy, fascinating history and vivacious subculture – not to mention racy nightlife – this ‘poor but sexy’ city is sure to go on seducing hip travellers. Berlin is unrivalled in its ability to entertain, asking only one question of its visitors: when are you joining the party?