Don't bother. Parking places in central Berlin are difficult to find, and very expensive when you do…
There are three airports in Berlin. Berlin International, better known as Tegel, is the most likely arrival point for visitors from the US. It's about six miles north of the city centre, and is well served by transport links. Schönefeld and Tempelhof are equally easy to get to and from. For information, go to www.berlin-airport.de.
Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de) is Germany's national rail service, and operates cross-country links, as well as routes to other European cities. Berlin's metro system - the U-bahn - runs from the early hours of the morning until just after midnight; and all night at weekends.
Country code for Germany: +49. Berlin: (0)30.
Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin chronicles the decadence of city life in the years just before World War II. The Spy Who Came In From The Cold by John Le Carré is a snapshot of Cold War espionage. Russian Disco by Wladimir Kaminer is a collection of tales about 'everyday lunacy on the streets of Berlin'.
Do go / Don't Go
There's never a bad time to visit Berlin. In the balmy summer, there are all kinds of alfresco delights to indulge in; in winter, it may be cold and up-to-your-knees snowy, but it's also incredibly atmospheric. And there's glühwein on sale everywhere to warm you up.
Though most dishes on Berlin menus are of the rib-sticking variety, the city serves up plenty of lighter fare. Splendid Delikatessen (+49 (0)30 9212 7247) on Dorotheenstrasse sells artisan honey, organic vegetables and salads alongside the meatloaf. There's a vibrant eco movement here, too, so good vegetarian food is easy to find.
You'll find taxi ranks all over the city, and you can also call Taxi Fon (0800 8001 1554) to get one sent to you. When you get into a cab, the meter will always be set to €2.50. Expect to pay €1.50 a kilometre after that.
Restaurant bills include service, but it is usual to add five to 10 per cent on top of this. Add about 10 per cent to your taxi fare and five per cent to your bar bill.
A portable DVD player on which to watch brilliant Berlin-set films - take your pick from Metropolis, Good Bye Lenin!, The Lives of Others, Cabaret, Downfall and, um, Octopussy, among others.
When the Cold War ended, artists from all over the world flocked to Mitte, in search of low rents and the creative vibe. The area is still home to plenty of quirky galleries specialising in experimental art. Try Eigen + Art (280 6605) on Auguststrasse, or Tacheles (+49 (0)30 282 6185), an artists' collective in an old department store on Oranienburgerstrasse. The latter regularly hosts impromptu parties and gigs. For more traditional art, head to the Alte Nationalgalerie (+49 (0)30 2090 5577) in Mitte and Tiergarten's Gemäldegalerie (+49 (0)30 266 2951).
If you're looking to update your look, then you won't go far wrong in Mitte. Walk along either Alte or Neue Schönhauser Strasse, and you'll find all manner of designs you won't see anywhere else. Women should pack their men off in the direction of clothes store Respectmen (+49 (0)30 283 5010) and music Mecca DNS Recordstore (+49 (0)30 247 9835), and then spend a leisurely couple of hours browsing the innovative creations at Claudia Skoda (+49 (0)30 280 7211) and vintagewear at Sommerladen (+49 (0)30 177 299 1789), or trying on the beautiful shoes at Calypso (+49 (0)30 2854 5415).
Built by the Communists to loom over free West Berlin as a symbol of Soviet might, the Fernsehturm (television tower) in Alexanderplatz is the tallest structure in the city at 368m. Take a lift up to its viewing platform. From here, you can see the entire city spread out beneath you. For information, go to www.berlinerfernsehturm.de.
The city's four Weinerei bars (www.weinerei.com) are a blessing for visitors struggling to adapt to the soaring rate of the euro. Simply pay a €1 deposit to get a glass, then help yourself to as much wine as you like. Pay as much as you think fair - and maybe treat yourself to one on the house…
June The city's biggest gay carnival (and, believe us, there are quite a few), the Christopher Street Day Parade, sees more than 400,000 take to Berlin's streets in all manner of flamboyant costumes. Expect lots of piercings. October Commemorating the day in 1989 when the wall finally tumbled, the Day of German Unity on 3 October sees street parties being held throughout Berlin. December Christmas markets spring up throughout the city - pretend to do your shopping whilst joining the locals in getting subtly sloshed on schnapps and glühwein.