16 May 2012

Los Angeles Travel Guide

UPDATED for 2017

Travel from Airport:

FlyAway bus to Union Station
each terminal has a FlyAway bus stop near the shuttle buses
around $10 per person, they run every 30 minutes or so
pay when you disembark at Union Station, debit or credit cards only

Super Shuttle to your hotel
after Baggage Claim go out to the Shared Ride Van area for your terminal and find the blue uniformed attendant
around $18 per person

Taxi to your hotel

fixed rate of around $50 from LAX to downtown


Doubletree by Hilton Downtown
120 South Los Angeles Street
a nicely presented hotel, some dated decor in the lobby, with an outdoor Japanese garden above reception, and a Starbucks next door; three blocks from City Center station

Standard Downtown
550 South Flower Street
a rather trendy hotel, with a rooftop bar and pool, 24-7 restaurant, and rooms with gigantic beds and baths; two blocks from 7th & Metro station

Travel Card:

Metro card
You first need to buy a plastic TAP card for $1 (like an Oyster card in London) then load your day’s travel onto it - at Union Station ignore the "Metrolink" machines, that's a different company
Day pass $7, week's pass $25, pay in cash, credit or debit cards
Valid on all Metro trains and buses, but not on other bus company lines

Local Info:

LA Downtowner newspaper
Downtown News newspaper
LA Weekly newspaper
all available free in eg Grand Central Market



Los Angeles City Hall
200 North Spring Street, enter from Main Street
built in 1928, this iconic structure appears on LAPD badges and feature in an enormous number of films.
To visit the free observation deck on the 27th floor, you need to take your passport to the Main Street entrance and get a visitor sticker. Lifts take you to the 22nd floor, then another to the 26th floor, then stairs to the 27th.
On your way out take the lift to the 3rd floor and see the impressive rotunda, then at the Spring St exit is the Olympic torch from 1984. Spring Street has the most monumental staircase.

Avila Adobe
125 Paseo de la Plaza, enter from Olvera Street
built 1818, the oldest house in LA, part of the El Pueblo district with Mexican market
and stop off at Mr Churro next door for some great filled churros

Union Station
800 North Alameda Street
in a Dutch Colonial Revival style, this ornate and historic Amtrack station is a pleasure to visit and has ornamental gardens

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 West Temple Street, Downtown
modern Catholic cathedral, fantastic tapestries by John Nava, 9am-6pm
there's always lots of priests around

The Broad
221 S Grand Avenue
even though it is free, booking is essential, months in advance, as numbers are very tightly controlled and they have a Twitter feed just for daily ticket unavailability
Impressive international art works
PS It's pronounced "Brode" after the philanthropists who paid for it.

Department of Water and Power
111 N Hope St, opposite the Music Center
free, open 8am-4pm, take your passport, get a visitor sticker at reception, and ask to see the exhibition/museum which is on the ground floor and in the lower atrium
a history of water and power in Los Angeles, including things belonging to William Mulholland

The Bradbury Building
built in 1893, this is a landmark in its own right, as well as a film setting for movies from Double Indemnity to Blade Runner; visitors are allowed to the first floor landing, but not in the lifts

Los Angeles Central Library
630 West Fifth Street, Downtown
even though the whole exterior is in a bland beige stone, it has an amazing pyramid on top that looks like an illustrated manuscript. Inside are large atriums and a decent shop.


The Last Bookstore
453 South Spring Street
cavernous, with new and used books, including the arts, graphic novels, and California's favourite social issues


Grand Central Market
between Broadway and Hill St, at 3rd
this used to be a fruit and veg market, but now has a wide range of great eating places, including Eggslut (coddled eggs and sandwiches), Mexican taquerias, pizza, bagels for breakfast (at Wexler's Deli), and great Chinese and Thai at Sticky Rice Co.
evening events include live music, a pub quiz (free to enter, win free food!) and more

Nickel Diner 

524 South Main St, between 5th and 6th
modern reinterpetation of diner food, good breakfasts, popular with cops
closed Monday, open 8-3 and 6-9pm

The Original Pantry Café
Figueroa St at 9th
open 24-7 since 1924, bread and gravy and meat and all in gigantic portions, this is an eating experience with a sense of history

George’s Greek Café
Figueroa St at 7th, downstairs in the "Fig at 7th" shopping centre
fantastic authentic food, quickly served, lots of variety, take away also available


Getting there:
Take the Gold Line Metro to Little Tokyo station and walk south on Alameda until you reach 2nd St. Turn left along Traction Avenue and this takes you past the shops and cafes below.


Hauser Wirth Schimmel
901 E 3rd St
large art gallery with cafe and bookshop
open 11am-6pm, closed Mon Tue

Architecture and Design Museum
900 E 4th St

Sci Architecture Gallery
960 E 3rd St


Poketo gift shop
820 E 3rd St
open 12 noon - 7pm all week, Japanese stationery, homewares, clothing

Apolis bags & clothing shop
806 E 3rd St

Hennessey and Ingalls Art Bookstore
300 S Santa Fe Avenue


The Pie Hole
714 Traction Avenue
amazing pies, including Shepherds Pie Pie, open 7am-10pm

800 E 3rd St at Traction Avenue
sausages, open 11am - 1.30am all week

Zinc Cafe
580 Mateo St


Getting there:

The Metro Red Line has 3 stations along Hollywood Boulevard. There's not a lot at the first, so get off at Hollywood/Vine or Hollywood/Highland to be in the centre of things


The Hollywood/Highland complex has views to the Hollywood sign, street entertainers outside, big cinemas, and the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre. There's also the Hollywood Walk Of Fame (find your favourite actors/bands at http://walkoffame.com/) and cement handprints of early film stars.


Amoeba Music
6400 West Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood (two blocks south of Hollywood/Vine)
the best record store you’ll find in Los Angeles, super-friendly and knowledgable staff, you’ll browse for hours before coming away with something you didn’t know existed; good range of DVDs but remember about NTSC and Region 1!


Getting there:

The fastest buses are the express 720 from Downtown, also stopping at Wilshire stations on the Red/Purple lines. Don't get off at La Brea for the Tar Pits, they're actually further along at Wilshire/Fairfax, the same stop as for LACMA.
Bus 20 stops in more places but is much slower. 


Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
11am-5pm, Fri 11am-8pm, Sat Sun 10am-7pm, closed Wednesdays
free on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, $15/$25 otherwise
permanent collection and lots of visiting art exhibitions, spread across 5 different buildings

La Brea Tar Pits & Page Museum
5801 Wilshire Boulevard
the outdoor tar pits are free to visit, the museum is 

Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
open every day 10am-6pm, $15
honestly, the best thing about this museum is the outside cladding, but if you like cars you may want to go inside


5905 Wilshire Boulevard (in LACMA)
nice place at which to get a modern lunch while browsing the art at LACMA

Courtyard Place
opposite the Tar Pits
has an outdoor food market on Wednesday lunchtimes with lots of stalls and a nice park at the end to eat in


Getting there:
If you're already at LACMA, we'd recommend a nice walk north on Fairfax, stopping in at This Is Not Ikea (515 South Fairfax), a vintage store that supplies lots of film productions and is worth a browse.
Otherwise, from Downtown you can catch buses 16, 17 and 316 which rattle along at a fair pace

Shopping (the only reason you'd come here!):

The Grove
189 The Grove Drive, West Hollywood
shopping, trolleycars, cops on bikes, restaurants, hip destination as seen on The Hills

West 3rd Street
A new shopping district with cafes along its length from the Beverly Center to The Grove
We recommend:
Magnolia Bakery #8389
Plastica #8405
Joan's On Third #8350

Beverly Centre and Beverly Connection
Bloomingdales, Macys, Uniqlo, Old Navy, Target etc etc


The Original Farmers' Market
hundreds of grocers, shops, cafes and restaurants in a historic semi-covered area


Getting there:

The new Metro Expo line takes you from downtown LA to downtown Santa Monica, passing through Culver City. There are also buses but these tend to drive slowly through acres of tract houses.


Visitor Information Center, 1920 Main Street and a kiosk on Ocean Avenue

Santa Monica Pier
Aquarium run by Heal the Bay charity, volunteers explain how they are trying to conserve the local marine life. A 'petting zoo' has fish, eels, crabs etc.

You can walk East along the beach, or alternatively catch a bus from the corner of 3rd and Broadway which runs all the way along the coast road to the end of Venice Beach.
The Tide Shuttle every 15 minutes, only 25c.

Ocean Park Library
2601 Main St
built 1917-18 one of last of Carnegie Foundation libraries


Third Street Promenade

Ye Olde King's Head British Pub, Restaurant and Gift Shoppe
Santa Monica Blvd and 2nd St


Hummus Bar Express
1333 3rd St Promenade
delicious Mediterranean food


Getting there:

Metro Blue Line from Downtown
takes you through lots of suburbs, then travel alongside freeway
as street numbers get bigger and bigger – eventually 190th St!
loop at end goes along main shopping street


The Queen Mary
1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach
vast ocean liner, now permanently berthed in Long Beach, a short bus ride (route C from Pine Avenue); shops, restaurants and historical exhibits of a life on the ocean wave

Museum of Latin American Art (MoLAA)
628 Alamitos Avenue, Long Beach
off the beaten track, but a nice walk from the centre of Long Beach, this new museum has art from a variety of cultures and styles

East Village Arts District

St Anthony's Church
600 Olive Avenue, Long Beach

City Center Motel, Atlantic Ave and 3rd St
classic motel architecture and typography


Getting there:

Metro Gold Line, get off at Del Mar station for a nice walk through a park into the central shopping district


Pasadena Museum of California Art
490 East Union Street
open 12-5, closed Mon Tue


The Getty Center
1200 Getty Center Drive
unless you have a hire car or know a friendly local who can drive you, you’ll have to catch the bus (234 and 734 from Expo/Sepulveda on the Expo Line) to this beautiful complex out of town.

Griffith Observatory
2800 East Observatory Road
Metro Red Line to Vermont/Sunset - take the Vermont exit
DASH bus to the Observatory (a weekly Metro pass gets you free travel, ticket only 50c otherwise) which now runs 7 days a week from 12pm (10am on Sat Sun)
get there early to buy tickets for the Planetarium show which can only be bought on site, on the day
alternatively go in the evening to look at the real stars through free, public telescopes

San Antonio Winery
737 Lamar Street
the only Californian winery in central LA, including tastings, a shop and a great restaurant
open 8am-7pm
catch bus 76 from Downtown and get off at Main/Lamar just after it crosses the LA river and railroad tracks, the winery is down a side street about 5 minutes away

Exposition Park:
Museums of Natural History, Science, African American History
Coliseum, site of 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, tours for $25
take the Metro Expo line, and get off at Expo Park/USC or Expo/Vermont

Oslo and Bergen Travel Guide

Getting there
  • There are about 12 NOK to the pound. Dividing by 12 is annoying, but develops good mental strategies at Level 5.
  • The Flytoget train from the airport is 140 NOK one-way to the city centre.
Where NOT to stay
  • We made the mistake of booking the Radisson SAS Park Hotel, which is in Lyseker, a bus and train ride, and with poor facilities.
  • When shopping or sightseeing in Oslo you will spend most of your time walking between the National Theatre and the Central Station along Karl Johans Gate
  • Buy the Oslo Card - you can choose when it starts and then you have 1, 2 or 3 days to travel and sightsee for free. 180 NOK for 24 hours up to 360 NOK for 72 hours.
  • Museum of Modern Art (Samtidskunst) - buy your ticket, then put your all bags in the lockers (10 NOK coin needed) then go in to the gallery. Failure to follow these rules will mean getting shouted at.
  • On Bygdoy, get the boat from the Radhus to the second stop for Fram, Maritime, and Kon-Tiki. Then get bus 30B to the Viking Ship Museum and walk to the Folk Museum. From there you can catch the 30 back into town.
  • Line up for the 10am Stortinget tour on the north side of the building at 9.45am
  • If you really want to see the Vigeland Park, full of weird nude sculptures, and you can face 30 coachloads of old bored American tourists, catch trams 12 or 15 from the Central Station or the National Theatre. You get to see some nice suburbs on the way.
Eating out
  • Cafe Europa does ciabattas for 70 NOK and main courses for 120 NOK all day with cheap drink prices. It's quiet and has good service. It's north of the National Theatre on the corner of St Olavsgate and Fredriksgate.
  • Clodion Art Cafe is a trendy cafe with great decor and does great house specials. The street it's just off, Bygdoy Alle, has lots of nice design shops. Get off buses 30/31/32 at Frogner Kirke or Olav Kyrres Plass.
  • Dolly Dimples has many branches. You eat with your hands unless you ask for cutlery. The pizzas are big and one 40cm pizza will do for 2 people.
  • Pasta Basta is pricey (140 NOK main course) but the food is far better presented than most Italian restaurants.
  • At 100 NOK for a large plate, Vegeta Vertshus has a vegetarian buffet with salads, hot dishes, pizza, potato cakes, and the drinks are cheap too. It's just south of the National Theatre on Munkedamsveien
  • MacDonald's and Burger King are all over town. A 'menu' i.e. meal deal, is usually 70 NOK
  • Avoid eating in Aker Brygge if you're on a budget, most main courses are about 200 NOK
  • Karl Johans Gate is mainly clothes shops and tacky tat. There are some good bookshops at the National Theatre end.
  • For internationally-known stores and some decent food courts try OsloCity, just north of the Central Station
  • Narveset are the equivalent of WHSmith and are everywhere. For international magazines try the Central Station or National Theatre branches
  • If you're from the EU, you can claim tax back on purchases over £25 or so - look for the signs in the window - you need your passport with you - but beware stores who 'have run out of forms'
  • Not all credit cards work in all stores - our VISA was rejected by a big music store - so have back-up plans
  • The second-hand record market is on Storgata, running north-west from the Central Station - it looks like a wild-west saloon!
Getting about
  • The most useful leaflet is the bus/tram/metro 'Visitor's map Oslo' in Tourist Information
  • Any journey within city boundaries by bus, tram or metro is 22 NOK. A day card is 50 NOK and must be stamped at the start of the first journey. Oslo Card holders travel free.


  • The station is very small, but the ticket office is an ideal place to buy your Bergen Card and Norway In A Nutshell tickets
  • Radisson SAS Hotel Norge
    • It's very central and you can walk with your cases from the station round the lake, though you may prefer to take a taxi.
    • The fitness centre has a swimming pool, get a key from reception.
    • There is a library (not very good books), a bar, and an activity room with table tennis, table football and Playstation.
  • Sightseeing
    • The Bergen Card gets you into almost everything free. 165 NOK for 24 hours, 245 NOK for 48 hours. Only buy it when you want to start using it.
    • The Floyen funicular runs from 7.30am every half an hour. For a fun ride, catch the 'kindergarten express' at 8.30am weekdays.
    • Bergen Art Museum on the lake is in three buildings. The main one requires you to put bags in lockers (10 NOK required).
    • Norway In A Nutshell is a must. Pick up leaflets and timetables and plan which time you want to travel. We recommend doing Flamsbana then boat then bus.
    • If you're really adventurous, combine the Nutshell tour with travelling between Bergen and Oslo - it saves doing the same 2 hour journey twice. You may have difficulty with heavy cases.
  • Shopping
    • While the shops on Bryggen are very nice, watch out for getting short-changed - this happened to us twice in one day
    • The main shopping centres are Galleriet in the centre of town, and Storcenter near the station. They have good supermarkets and cheap eateries.
  • Eating out
    • Dolly Dimples has many branches. You eat with your hands unless you ask for cutlery. The pizzas are big and one 40cm pizza will do for 2 people.
    • Pasta Basta is pricey (140 NOK main course) but the food is far better presented than most Italian restaurants. The one on Torget does excellent 'Tagliatelle alla marinara', and the tiramisu is fabulous.
    • MacDonald's and Burger King are all over town. A 'menu' i.e. meal deal, is usually 70 NOK

Munich Travel Guide

    Getting to Town
  • The subway system has two lines from the airport to the centre of Munich. Go to the Tourist Office on Level 3 at the airport and buy a Munchen Welcome Card. It is available for 1 or 3 days, 1 or up-to-5 people, and for the inner area or all of the transport system.
  • Visit www.s-bahn-muenchen.de for details of transport and www.munich-touristinfo.de for a list of discounts at attractions.
  • Note the airport is out of the inner area so you would have to get the total area card! If you had the time, you could travel 2 stops into town on a single ticket, and then use an inner area card. Not too much hassle for us! It was 26 Euro for the two of us for 3 days.

    Somewhere to Sleep
  • Don't stay at the Hotel Atrium on Landwehr Strasse. It might be near the station, but it's not on the nicest side of town.
  • A much better location is Amalien Strasse, north of the Ring Road and near the Pinakothek. There are plenty of hotels and it's much quieter.
    Eating Out
  • There's always the beer cellars, of which there are many!
  • For a new type of pasta experience, visit Vapiano in the Funf Hofe arcade. You collect a smart card as you enter, then upstairs the chefs will cook your pasta in front of you as you select the ingredients, and then you find a seat. Top up with drinks at the bar, and pay off the card when you leave. www.vapiano.de
  • If you're out to the north of town, near the university and art galleries, a great place to eat is Cohen's, a Jewish restaurant. There's all sorts of starters, tasty mains, and a homely atmosphere. Theresien Strasse 31, phone 280 9545. Universitat is the closest subway station.www.cohens.de
  • For afternoon tea in the classiest surroundings, Cafe Luitpold at Brienner Strasse 11 (near Odeonsplatz) has been open since 1888 and has a fantastic selection of cakes and drinks. When you arrive, choose your cake in the shop before taking your seat, and then give the receipt to the waitress. There's a Palm Garden with regular tea dances. www.cafe-luitpold.de
  • There's also great places to eat in the Schrannenhalle (see below).
  • The 150-year-old market hall in the centre of the Viktualienmarkt is called the Schrannenhalle, and has lots of boutiques and craft stalls, as well as cafes and bars. Every day there is entertainment on the main stage, in a communal German sort of way. Think Butlins or informercials, I suppose.
  • It's a good place to buy gifts or just stop off for a coffee (or a wee). Open 24 hours.
  • The Viktualienmarkt has meats, cheeses, alcoholic drinks, flowers and traditional crafts.
  • Eclectic (and cheap) homewares can be found at Kehraus Outletstore, at Tal 21. Tal runs from Marienplatz to Isartor, and has lots of little shops of varying quality.
    Must-See SIghts
  • There are three Pinakothek museums, Alte (Old), Neue (New) and Moderne (Modern). Take Tram 27 up Barer Strasse, or it's a short walk from the centre of town.
  • The first two cost 5 Euro each, and Moderne is 9 Euro. On Sunday each is only 1 Euro and absoultely packed out.
  • Pinakothek der Moderne is an innovative piece of modern architecture which can be disorientating but worth exploring. It is split into sections for Design, Art, Architecture and Works on Paper.
  • The art is international and there are special exhibitions in each section of the gallery. Visit www.pinakothek.de.
  • There are three good churches in the centre to visit. Frauenkirche and St Michael's Church are to the west of Marienplatz, and Alter Peter is to the south. All have fantastic architecture and atmosphere.
  • The Olympic Park dates from 1972 and still has the original buildings. The Tower is worth a visit, with a Rock Museum and great views. Open 9am - midnight, only 3 Euro with the Welcome Card.
  • The Stadium has seen better days, and is mainly used for concerts. There is an ice rink, a swimming pool, and a park and lake to walk round. Of course there's fab 70s typography too, and Olympic memorabilia in the Tower shop.
  • On the walk back to Olympia-Zentrum station (on line U3) visit the Olympic Village, all ziggurat tower-blocks and communal spaces.
  • History? You want history? Munich has it in spades. Start with the Residence, on Residenz Strasse. There are 4 centuries of architecture, art, jewellery and royal possessions. All over town are historic buildings, including the Neues Rathaus with its famous carillon performing daily at 1200 and 1700.
  • Further out of town you have the palaces of Nymphenburg and Dachau, well worth a visit.
    Our Top Tip: Funf Hofe
  • This is a new shopping and dining arcade, made up of covered walkways between 5 redeveloped city blocks. It was designed by Herzog and de Meuron, famous for Tate Modern.
  • Best shops: Butlers for eclectic homewares and gifts, Muji for Japanese style, Manufactum for German design, Hugendubel for books
  • Best restaurant: Vapiano (see above)
  • Best art: Hypokunsthalle has a shop and cafe, and special exhibitions each quarter. It's half price on Monday evening.
  • Information at www.fuenfhoefe.de

Berlin Travel Guide

Travel from Airport:

By the time you read this, they may have completed the Willy Brandt airport, so you will be able to take an S-Bahn train to the city centre. But probably not, which means you’ve arrived at Tegel. So take the TXL bus to Hauptbahnhof and Alexanderplatz, or if you want somewhere in the West of the city, use the X9 to Zoo Station, or change onto the S-Bahn at Jungfernheide from the X9 or 109.


Four great hotels to choose from:

Holiday Inn Alexanderplatz
only 1 block east of Alexanderplatz, with modern rooms and some good views

Park Inn Alexanderplatz
unmissable as it is in the centre of Alexanderplatz, with over 30 floors, and great views from many of them

Radisson Blu Berlin
on the main road between West and East, next to Berliner Dom, with good bus links and a U/S-Bahn station minutes away, has a fantastic lobby and every room has a view of a fishtank reaching to the top of the atrium

Melia Hotel, Friedrichstrasse 103
recommended by our friends Miriam and Peter, this high-end hotel has fantastic breakfasts and views across the city

Travel Card:

Buy a 7 Day Card for 36 Euro, either from one of the ticket machines (which are often broken) or the German-speaking ticket office at the Airport. Don't forget to validate it at the start of your first journey.
You can also get tourist tickets which are only for up to 5 days, and include some vaguely useful discounts if you like that sort of thing.


Freischwimmer, Vor dem Schlesischen Tor 2, Kreuzberg
a fish restaurant on the bank of a branch of the Spree. Take the U-bahn to Schlesisches Tor, and then walk parallel to the river over two bridges, and you'll see it signposted down a track to the left. 

Nordsee, Spandauerstrasse 4
another fish restaurant, one of a chain, which delivers fast but restaurant-quality food, soups, fish fillets, and also salad and takeaways. An easy lunch for all the family

Currywurst is a Berlin speciality, a sausage chopped up and coated in curry-ish sauce. If you happen to be around Alexanderplatz, you'll see Grillwalkers. These are chaps (usually men, anyway) dressed in orange, with an orange umbrella over their heads and some odd tray thing attached to them where they grill bratwurst. He'll ask you if you want "ketchup oder senf"; That's ketchup or mustard.

Ho Lin Wah, 218 Kurfurstendamm
One of our regular haunts, this Chinese restaurant is a few minutes walk from Zoo Station
If you feel that Chinese people eating in a restaurant is a recommendation, this certainly fits the bill

TOP TIP: if you’re staying in Alexanderplatz, want a quick and easy evening eat, and aren’t too snobby about McDonald’s, there’s a hidden restaurant upstairs at Karl Liebknecht Strasse 13. The shopping centre looks closed for the night, but you can join Berliners in the know by heading up the main escalators

Asteria Greek Restaurant, Schonhauser Allee 143
hard to get good Greek food in Berlin, so we went out of town for this one – take the U-Bahn Eberswalder Strasse on the U2 line, come out of the South entrance, and it’s right there on the West side of the street


There are lots of big department stores, including Ka De We, Karstadt and Galeries Lafayette in the West, and Kaufhof in the East. The main shopping streets are Friedrichstrasse and Tauentzienstrasse. Shops are closed on Sundays.

WMF, Karl Liebknecht Strasse 11, just by Alexanderplatz
innovative kitchenware

Dussmann, Friedrichstrasse 90, Mitte
books and DVDs

Saturn, Alexanderplatz 8, Mitte
DVDs and electronics

Ritter Sport ChocoWorld, Französische Strasse 24 near Gendarmenmarkt
If you’re a fan of square chocolate bars, this is your must-visit Berlin attraction!
A shop with bargain chocolate bars, a café, and even a short history of the Ritter Sport brand, you will need to buy another suitcase for everything you stock up on here

Supermarkets: almost impossible to find, and of very variable quality. Some appear to be like pound shops, with nasty brands, and others have everything apart from what you want. If in the East, try Alexa, a shopping complex just off Alexanderplatz.

Boat Trips:

Three boat companies with embarkation points all along the river:
most tours have commentary in English, though they may be out of date, and the websites are abysmal at making routes and timings clear


The 100 and 200 buses run from Zoo station to Alexanderplatz and beyond, round either side of the Tiergarten. Get an early bus or fight past the queues of French schoolchildren, and sit at the front of the top deck.

Deutscher Bank Kunsthalle, Unter den Linden 13/15
The art is usually a bit mad! It has a good shop, free on Mondays

Bauhaus Archiv, Klingelhofer Strasse 14, closed Tuesday
bus 100 U-bahn Nollendorfplatz. Find out more about Germany's design movement of the 20s and 30s, in a Gropius-designed building

Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstrasse 50-51, Mitte
a train station converted into a gallery of very modern art, very nice café, walk from S-Bahn Hauptbahnhof, closed Monday

Reichstag, Platz der Republik
Built in 1884, ablaze 1933, renovated 1994 with a big glass dome with mirrored cone. Register for free tickets in advance. Any of the buses TXL, 100 or 200 will get you there - nice and early - and then you can watch from the top as all the tour groups arrive.

Olympic Stadium
built for the 1936 Olympic Games, now the home of Hertha BSC, as well as the venue for the 2006 World Cup Final. It has fantastic architecture and well worth a visit. Nearest station is on line U2

Fernsehturm, Alexanderplatz.
great for breakfast or dinner, and views in the revolving restaurant

Deutsches Historiches Museum, Unter den Linden 2
A gigantic museum with a wide variety of exhibits covering all aspects of German and European history, plus special exhibitions, plus a new extension designed by I.M.Pei

Martin-Gropius-Bau, Niederkirchnerstrasse 7, Mitte
Contemporary art and photography, with some big-ticket names, closed Tuesdays

Historic churches to visit, from East to West:
Berlin Dom & Marien Church, near Alexanderplatz
Nikolai Church (a modern reconstruction of oldest church)
German Dom & French Dom, both in the Gendarmenmarkt
Kaiser Wilhelm Church, a bombed church with a modern addition

Potsdamer Platz
Built on what was first a social centre up to the 1920s, bombed in WW2, and then part of the route of the Berlin Wall, this giant entertainment complex also has a high-end shopping mall. The crossroads near the U- and S-Bahn station has the first ever set of traffic lights in Europe.

Siegessaule, Grosser Stern
historical Victory Column, with stairs to the top and views of the Tiergarten, on the 100 bus route

Tempelhof, U-bahn Platz der Luftbrucke
now decommissioned as an airport, and opening as a public park, it is well worth going on a tour of the architecture of the buildings

Stasi Museum, Ruschestrasse 103
between S+U Frankfurter Allee and U Magdalenstrasse
self-guided tour of Stasi Headquarters, including Mielke’s office, lots of displays, and East German spy equipment (including a camera in a whiteboard pen!)

Stasi Records Agency, Zimmerstrasse 90, Mitte
next to Checkpoint Charlie, exhibition "Stasi. The Exhibition on the GDR's State Security"

Stasi Prison aka Hohenschönhausen, Genslerstrasse 66, Lichtenberg
a prison for those detained by the Stasi, now a memorial to those who died, tours led by former inmates

Haus Am Checkpoint Charlie, Friedrichstrasse 43-45
an expanded version of the museum showing the history of the Berlin Wall, the many escapes over and under it, and artefacts from that period of Germany’s history

Jewish Museum, Lindenstrasse 9-14
designed by Daniel Liebeskind, this moving museum presents the history of Jews in Germany

Jewish Memorial, Cora-Berliner-Straße 1
ruined by the tour groups, it is impossible to find a sombre frame of mind amongst running, screaming and kissing teenagers

DDR Museum Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 1, next to Berlin Dom
narrowly avoiding a kitschy presentation of plastic kitchenware, this museum treads on the right side of remembering the privations and persecution in the GDR, with shop and café

Sowjetisches Ehrenmal, Treptower Park, Strasse des 17. Juni
war memorial with stone carvings of Communist type stuff. Over 300,000 Soviets died in the Battle of Berlin in 1945, 5,000 of them are buried here.

Topography of Terror, Niederkirchnerstraße 8
an exhaustive exhibition about the Nazi era, the security services were based in nearby buildings, some still standing, and the persecutions of different groups in Europe; a long section of the Berlin Wall is in position outside

Tranenpalast, Friedrichstrasse U+S Station
During the GDR era, this was the only station where West Germans could visit the East, and East Germans could only hope of being allowed to leave. A moving exhibition with stories, artefacts and the original transit corridors


To the southwest of Berlin, these two towns show a different side of Berlin, and have their own historical resonances. The quickest way to get there is on DB services from any of the big city stations, but the S-Bahn lines 1 and 7 stop off at other picturesque places along the way.

Haus Der Wannsee Konferenz
bus 114 from Wannsee station, get return bus at --04, --24, --44 from the stop opposite the villa
it’s also a nice walk if the weather is fine
this is the villa where the Nazis planned the practical arrangements for the Final Solution, and we would recommend the Branagh film “Conspiracy” as a dramatisation of those events
just North of the villa is a lake-side café and excellent views

Liebermann Villa, Wannsee
11-17 closed Tuesdays €6
bus 114 from Wannsee station
another villa on the banks of the Wannsee, belonging to the painter Liebermann

Instead of taking the train, bus 316 runs from Wannsee to Potsdam and over the Glienicker Bridge, an old crossing point between West Berlin and East Germany, which is interesting and significant.

Sanssouci, Potsdam
the palace and gardens of Frederick The Great

Schloss Cecilienhof, Potsdam
This is where the Postdam Conference took place in 1945, confirming the stuff agreed at Yalta about the postwar European order.