Here's your essential guide to getting the best out of a city-break in Berlin.

Location nickname: The Grey City

Don't miss: Reichstag

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Best avoid: Checkpoint Charlie

Don't miss: Bratwurst

Best avoid: Anywhere that advertises Deutsche Kueche

Alexanderplatz:  For a glimpse of East Berlin and the grand vision of the GDR, take the U-Bahn to Alexanderplatz.  Despite new building, the unmistakably Socialist square seems designed to diminish the individual.  Scene of large demonstrations before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the square's looming 1,200ft Fernsehturm TV tower has seen it all.

Brandenburger Tor (Brandenburg Gate):  Completed in 1791 as a symbol of peace, Western political leaders chose the gate, then in East Berlin, as a backdrop for Cold War speeches, Ronald Regan challenging Mikhail Gorbachev to 'tear down this wall.'  For a united Berlin and a united Germany the Brandenberg gate is now synonymous with freedom.

Burlesque:  Silk stockings, feather boas and cabaret hark back to a liberal pre-war Berlin of sexual liberation and political satire… before National Socialism put an end to everyone's fun.  Thankfully Berlin's Burlesque scene is naughtily resurgent with several venues around the city, a highlight being the Second International Berlin Burlesque Festival in October 2014.

East Side Gallery:  Painting was one way in which those in West Berlin could protest at the presence of a wall dividing their city.  The gallery is a 1.3 kilometre section of Berlin Wall including some of the most recognisable images and slogans from the pre-unification years, including a snogging Leonid Breshnev and Erich Honeicker.

Reichstag:  Ravaged by fire in 1933, bombed by the Allies in 1945 and later occupied by Red Army troops, only in 1990 following reunification, did Berlin's most symbolic Neo Baroque building again became the seat of government.  Today, entry is free and if queues are long a lunch reservation at the rooftop restaurant gets you straight in.

Museumsinsel (Museum Island):  On an island in the Spree river, in Berlin's central Mitte district are five notable museum collections.  Perhaps most significant is that of the Pergamon Museum, built for the remarkable carved friezes of the 2nd century BC Pergamon Altar from Asia Minor and the blue brick Ishtar Gate of Babylon dating from 575 BC.

Kaiser Willhelm Memorial Church:  The Gedächtniskirche, as it is known, was destroyed during 1943 Allied bombing.  Its spire, never fully restored, was incorporated into a new design featuring a separate blue glass and concrete bell tower.  Inside there's a Cross of Nails made from roof fixings recovered from Coventry Cathedral similarly damaged by German air raids.

Kurfürstendamm:  Unreconstructed shoppers should head to Berlin's longest and liveliest shopping street, once the retail centre of West Berlin, known as the Ku'damm for short.  Prestigious designer boutiques and High-Street chains are all represented.  However, the most famous is KaDeWe (Kaufhaus des Westens), a Harrod's-like emporium, the largest department store in Europe.

Tiergarten: Berlin's 520 acre Tiergarten (Animal Garden) started out as a royal hunting reserve.  Following much post WW2 restoration the park now encompasses 14 miles of pathways, the city's zoo, a Prussian prince's palace - Schloss Bellevue, and the Siegessäule, a 226ft column celebrating victory in the 1884 Prusso-Danish war…

Unter den Linden:  From the Brandenburg Gate to the Schlossbrücke, the grandest of Berlin boulevards suffered during WW2, its elegant facades destroyed and lime trees cut down.  Replanting started in the 1950s and today, along with various embassies, the leafy avenue connects the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German Historic Museum), the Prussian Kronprinzenpalais (The Crown Prince's Palace), the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Opera House) and Humboldt University.

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