Top positive review
28 people found this helpful
Comprehensive and reliable
on 9 June 2013
The 8th edition of Lonely Planet's guidebook about Berlin (written by Andrea Schulte-Peevers) was published in March 2013. I used it before and during a recent visit to Berlin. I found it comprehensive and reliable. Over the years I have read and used several books from Lonely Planet. Not all of them are perfect. When I compare them all, I think this one about Berlin must be one of the best guidebooks ever published by this company.
The main text is divided into four parts. Here is a brief overview:
PLAN YOUR TRIP
There are seventeen sections, including advice and suggestions about eating, entertainment, and shopping. There is also a section about the Berlin wall.
There are ten sections. The sights are organised in eight neighbourhoods. In addition, there is a section about day trips from Berlin plus a list of hotels, which is organised in the same eight neighbourhoods.
There are seven sections, including history, arts, and architecture. There is also a section about music (from punk to techno).
There are four sections, including transport and language. In addition, there are several indexes.
At the end of the book there are eleven maps which cover different areas of Berlin. The book comes with a pull-out map which covers central Berlin on one side. On the other side you will find a map of the subway (U-Bahn) and the S-Bahn plus a street index. When folded out the map measures 38 x 53 cm.
Berlin has a lot to offer: something new and something old; something traditional and something very un-traditional. Berlin has it all, and it is all here in this book.
Personally, I have always felt that Berlin is a place where history has a strong presence. Some people may think that history is abstract and boring. In Berlin you can see history, you can feel it, and sometimes you can reach out your hand and touch it! The history of the city, the history of Europe, is here, and when we think about the cold war, the history of the whole world was concentrated in this place for a while.
While I wish to praise this book, I have to mention three minor flaws. I only mention them to demonstrate how carefully I have read the book:
(1) On page 103, in the sidebar about the television tower (Fernsehturm) in Alexanderplatz, the author says: "... when struck by the sun, the steel sphere below the antenna produces the reflection of a giant cross. And this coming from a country where atheism was the new religion! Westberliners gleefully dubbed the phenomenon 'the Pope's revenge'."
She is wrong. We visited the television tower on a sunny day, and we could see the reflection on the ground below us. The steel sphere is round like a ball, and the reflection on the ground has the same shape. There is no cross. I do not know where this anecdote comes from.
(2) On page 240, in the section about history, the author mentions Otto von Bismarck who was appointed Prime Minister of Prussia in 1862: "An old guard militarist, he used intricate diplomacy and a series of wars with neighbouring Denmark and Austria to achieve his aims."
In fact there were three wars: against Denmark in 1864, against Austria in 1866, and against France in 1870. The author forgets to mention the third war, which explains the following sentence: "On 18 January  the Prussian king was crowned Kaiser at Versailles, with Bismarck as his 'Iron Chancellor'."
(3) On page 290, in the Directory A-Z, the author mentions the Berlin Museum Pass and claims that it "Buys admission to the permanent exhibitions of about 60 museums for three consecutive days." In fact, the number of museums is exactly 50.
If you are going to Berlin for the first time, I recommend this book. It covers all the top sights that you should see on a first visit to the city.
If you have already been to Berlin, I still recommend this book. It covers so much more than the top sights which you have already seen.
Besides, the city is changing fast, not only East Berlin, but also West Berlin. This book will tell you what is new, and the author seems to be up-to-date. On page 13 there is a list of new sights and developments which are covered in the book, for instance the Humboldt Box, which is covered on page 106.
Moreover, the author gives you important advice about how to get access to the places you wish to see. If you want to visit the new dome on top of the parliament building (before: Reichstag; today: Bundestag), you must go online and book your visit in advance. This fact is noted in a sidebar on page 77. We booked a visit this way and it worked very well. While we were waiting to enter the place, we noticed several tourists who were turned away from the entrance because they did not have a booking. Apparently they had not read this guidebook.
Berlin is worth a visit. In fact, Berlin is worth several visits, because there are so many things to see and to do. If you want a change from the big city, I recommend taking a day trip to Potsdam, a charming town, which is covered briefly but expertly on pp. 205-209.
This book is well-written and well-organised. The author lives in Berlin and it shows. She knows the city and she is able to present this knowledge is a clear and concise way. Therefore her book is highly recommended.