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Berlin’s Winters can be long and harsh but they’re not much worse than those in most of northern Europe. The preferred time to visit is in the warmer months (April-September), when you can explore the city’s waterways and parks, as well as the numerous lakes and sights that lie within striking distance of the city centre. With plenty of cultural events happening all year round, there's no season that will disappoint..
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Bicycles can be hired just about anywhere in Berlin. You'll find that even small hotels and serviced apartments offer bicycles for hire to their guests. With so many bicylces available, you might think that bicycle riders have noting to fear. You must however still take care as other road users can be quite inconsiderate. A good tip is to take advantage of the many bicycle paths and parks to avoid the roads as much as possible. With the right level of care and planning, you are more likely to cycle with ease and enjoy the city.
If you intend to rent a car and drive in the city centre, be prepared for the challenge that awaits you. Many areas in the Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Charlottenburg districts have only managed parking. This will mean that parking fees are applied during both daytime and nightime. You'll also have some difficulty knowing when the fees begin and end as there are only a few signs indicating this. If you do venture forth, you are best advised to pay for the full day. Luckily, some new start-ups like Car2Go and DriveNow have arranged for reserved parking spaces in the city.
The short answer is neither cheap nor expensive. A taxi ride from Mitte to the airport will normally cost about €25.00. A much shorter trip under 2 kilometeres will cost approximately €4.00. Taxis can easily be hailed on the street and if you need to call, use the following numbers: 030/44 33 22 or 030/26 10 26
Tips when eating out are optional. You would normally pay 5 - 10% in cash as you pay. When staying at a hotel, you would normally tip the porter between €1 - 2 and €1 - 2 for the cleaner. Licensed taxis will normally be given 10% above the metered price.
Berlin has an excellent public transport system. Make sure that when getting on a train that you check the final destination listed to make sure you're travelling in the right direction! If you are a visitor, you'll want to purchase a CityTour Card (valid for 2, 3 or 5 days) with all tours listed within the AB fare zone. For an inexpensive bus tour of the city that will take you past many of the city's main attractions, hop on the the 100 bus from either end point (Alexanderplatz or Zoo Station).
If you need an over-the-counter medicine, even aspirin, you will find that this is only available at an Apotheke (pharmacy): the German term Drogerie or drugstore is a shop for sundry items.
Apotheken are open during normal business hours, with those in train stations or airports open later and on weekends. Apotheken are easily found and located within a few blocks of most areas of Berlin. Every district will have an emergency pharmacy that is open after hours. These are listed as Apotheken-Notdienst or Apotheken-Bereitschaftsdienst on the window of every pharmacy in town, often with directions for how to get there. Pharmacies will have a bell you must ring to enter. If you need to speak in English, you will find that most pharmacists can help. Be mindful that many drugs are know by different names: acetaminophen—or Tylenol—is called Paracetomol.
Two magazines in particular, Tip and Zitty, published in alternating weeks offer plenty of information about what's on. You'll find the details of parties and events, and full listing for cinema, theatre and museums. Both of these magazines are sold at newsagents and bookstores. Berlin.fyi draws many of its listing from these sources and they also run their own websites. You should also have a look at the free, monthly Siegessäule magazine which lists everything you might want to know about the LGBT community.
Berlin is greatly welcoming to children and there is so much to do. Begin by having a look at the free children's magazine Himbeer which can be picked up from many local shops and cafes.
Depending on where you are, shops generally open between 10:00 and 12:00 noon. If you're in Fridrichschain or Neukölln, you won't find the shops open before 11:00am. Generally, shops will close at 7:00pm with the larger shopping malls staying open until 9:00pm. Sundays are special and you should head over to Berlin's famous flea markets.