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10 Things Not to Do in Berlin

by Ralph Martin

Don't…
Take a tour in an old Trabant car

Once the pride of East Germany, the Trabant—comprised of a plastic body and an engine with about the same power as a lawnmower—became a badge of that country's backwardness come reunification. Smoky, slow, and suicidal to drive, the car's charms were nonexistent. However, today downtown Berlin is clogged by snaking lines of these old rattletraps painted in Day-Glo colors and faux-jolly safari prints and stuffed full of oversize tourists. A tour guide instructs drivers via stereo loudspeakers on the dashboard. Locals find the repurposing of these cars an appalling bit of false nostalgia.

Instead…
Use public transport

Berlin's public transportation network has received billions in financing since the city was reunified in 1990, and it shows. There's the S-Bahn, an above-ground express train that offers a panoramic view of the new Berlin as it takes you from Alexanderplatz, the heart of the East, to Zoo Station, the West's transport hub, in 12 minutes. A web of whisper-quiet subways and streetcars, as well as buses, cover the city's 341 square miles. Even more Berlin-appropriate is renting a bicycle; rentals are available everywhere, including major train stations. Deutsche Bahn, the national railways system, operates a system of short-term bike rentals that you can pick up and drop off where you like. Best of all, on a bike you look like a Berliner.

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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