Take me there: City West, Berlin
Why go? The city’s commercial district doesn’t have quite the same cachet as trendy east Berlin, but that could all be set to change as a cluster of iconic postwar buildings, including the Zoo Palast cinema and the “Bikinihaus”, are transformed into a new “urban oasis”.
What to do? The highlight of the “Bikini Berlin” development will be a huge rooftop park which will open to the public in April bikiniberlin.de. Uncover west Berlin’s bohemian side on a literary stroll with Slow Travel Berlin slowtravelberlin.com. The Berlin Zoo and aquarium make a great family day out zoo-berlin.de.
Where to stay? The 25hours Hotel Bikini has just opened in a 1950s high-rise overlooking the zoo and Tiergarten park. It has an industrial-meets-jungle theme and a cool rooftop bar and restaurant with an Israeli-inspired menu and DJ nights from €89, designhotels.com. Viking stories and legends retold.
Where to eat? If you can resist the temptations of gourmet food-trailer Burger de Ville, parked right outside the 25Hours Hotel, keep walking to Kantstrasse, a melting pot of ethnic restaurants from Polish cafés to Taiwanese noodle houses: Lon-Men’s is worth a detour for its chilli wontons Kantstraße.
Insider tip “For an intimate after-dinner drink, Rum Trader Fasanenstraße 40 is the oldest, smallest and most characterful cocktail bar in Berlin,” says Paul Sullivan, founder of Slow Travel Berlin. “In summer, head to the Preußenpark Konstanzer Straße 46 in Wilmersdorf. Taken over at weekends by Asian expats, this ‘Thai Park’ serves up the tastiest street food this side of Bangkok.
From designer homeware to edgy crime thrillers, it seems we can’t get enough of all things Scandinavian at the moment. But it wasn’t always so. Turn the clock back 1,200 years and the sight of a bunch of hairy Norsemen paddling towards our shores was enough to strike dread into the hearts of natives.The lives and legends of the Vikings will be at the heart of a major new exhibition at the British Museum this spring, the centrepiece of which will be the remains of a 37m-long Viking warship, the longest ever found 6 March-22 June, britishmuseum.org.
The city of York will also be celebrating its Norse heritage this month at the Jorvik Viking Festival, now in its 30th year 5-23 February, jorvik-viking-festival.co.uk. To mark the anniversary, the organisers have lined up the biggest events programme yet, highlights of which include a Viking feast in York Minster, a candlelit performance of Beowulf in St Helen’s Church and a spectacular battle re-enactment complete with 300 Viking warriors, a host of Norse gods and a firework display. There will be plenty of events for children, too, from combat- skills workshops to craft activities.