Only a few seconds after having set foot in the German capital city, one realises that Berlin is anything but Teutonic in character. In fact, it has long been the preferred destination of bohème crowds. To this day, Berlin remains charmingly intense and dangerously corrupting. 

Berlin by night
Berlin by night

The city’s wide cultural offering allows tourists to have either a more relaxed holiday focused on classical events, or to enjoy a city escape among the most eccentric exhibitions in the world. The 1,895-seater Deutsche Oper is the largest Opera House in Berlin, though the symbol of opera in Berlin is probably the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, a pearl of Palladian architecture located in the heart of former East Berlin.

Façade of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden © Max Lautenschläger
Façade of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden
© Max Lautenschläger
The original building is currently being refurbished with the Opera House now housed at the Schiller Theater in Charlottenburg just a few steps away from Deutsche Oper. The refurbishment began in 2005 and is due to be completed in Autumn 2017, albeit after substantial delays along the line. The aim is to transform the Opera House into a top class venue and a gem of structural engineering and acoustics. Its orchestra, the Staatskapelle Berlin, is one of the world's oldest and has been led by Chief Conductor Daniel Barenboim since 1992.

Komische Oper is in the hands of the visionary director Barrie Kosky, now in his fifth season there. Since the start of his tenure he has programmed many of his own productions, ranging from Die Zauberflöte to West Side Story. The building is located in a very central position, just a few steps away from the Brandenburger Tor. Its majestic façade is by Kunz Nierade, a German architect famous mostly for his work on the Leipzig Opera House.

Deutsche Oper Berlin © Leo Seidel
Deutsche Oper Berlin
© Leo Seidel
The Berliner Philharmonie is probably the most iconic concert hall in Berlin. Designed by Hans Scharoun in the early 1960s it is a good example of organic architecture, a philosophy promoting the co-habitation of human artefacts and the natural world. A temple of acoustic perfection, it was originally developed from Scharoun's idea of “one person opposite another, arranged in circles in sweeping, suspended arcs around soaring crystal pyramids”.

The Berlin Philharmonie © Manfred Bruckels | Wikicommons
The Berlin Philharmonie
© Manfred Bruckels | Wikicommons
The chromatic building stands at the footsteps of the Tiergarten, the second largest urban park in Berlin. Here you can have a stroll and choose between thousands of paths crossing this large expanse.

The Jewish Museum is worth a visit between trips to the concert hall. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, it houses an interactive exhibition about the history of the Jewish community in Germany.

Jewish Museum © Clara Colotti
Jewish Museum
© Clara Colotti

Right in the heart of the former German Democratic Republic lies the Museum Insel (Museum Island), which houses three museums within a single square kilometre: the Pergamon, Bodemuseum and Alte National Galerie. In the Alte National Galerie you can get lost among romantic pictures by Caspar David Friedrich, whilst the Pergamon Museum offers a view of the monumental Pergamon Altar as well as other archaeological beauties from Ancient Greece.

The Berlinische Galerie © Clara Colotti
The Berlinische Galerie
© Clara Colotti
There may have been controversy surrounding the construction of Berliner Schloss, but it is well worth a visit. This cultural centre rises from the rubble of the Palast der Republik, the former parliamentary seat of the GDR that was completely dismantled in 2008 (rumour has it that its walls contained abestos).

If you wish to venture into the former GDR, the Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie should be at the top of your list. Opened in 1962, just one year after the construction of the Berlin Wall, it originally hosted a small exhibition. It now covers over 2,000 square metres in which, for example, you will discover how inventive people were in their attempts to reach the other side. Berlin has not been the only city divided by an imposing wall, so part of the exhibition addresses the topic of civil rights more generally from a global perspective.

If you are passionate about architecture and design, you might consider a visit to the Bauhaus Archive, displaying avant-garde projects of the 20th century's most important college of architecture, design and art. For a more focused exhibition, the Berlinische Galerie offers different collections of art exclusively created in the German capital and the surrounding region.

The Nikolaiviertel district
The Nikolaiviertel district
Savignyplatz is a mere fifteen minutes' walk from the Deutsche Oper and the Schiller Theater. A green oasis in the middle of West Berlin, it is the perfect place to grab a bite pre or post-performance. I highly recommend Schwarzes Café, where you can have a fresh and healthy meal or an exquisite dessert in a Baroque-style dining room.

If you want to treat yourself to a traditional German meal, the best area is Nikolaiviertel. Located five minutes away from Alexanderplatz, the area is one of the oldest in Berlin. After wandering around the reconstructed Medieval alleys, you can stop at Gerichtslaube, where you will be welcomed by friendly staff, substantial dishes and refreshing German lagers.