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History it has aplenty, but Berlin also has masses of museums - 175, with more opening, plus three opera houses, seven symphony orchestras and about 130 theatres. The 5th Berlin Biennial ( runs at KW Institute for Contemporary Art in the Mitte district until June 15, the riches of Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon are at the Pergamonmuseum (June 26-October 5,, and the German capital celebrates its cutting-edge designers (May 22-31, many locations).

The Berlin Welcome Card (48 hours for EUR16.50 or 72 for EUR21.50), allows free travel and up to 50 per cent off 130 tourist attractions. Go to (00 49 30 25 00 25). There are three-day museum passes for EUR19, city information and on-line hotel booking. A good bet is the self-catering Citadines Apart'Hotel (020 7269 1680 in Olivaer Platz, near the Kurfurstendamm shops. A studio apartment sleeping two is from EUR105 (about pound;84) a night for one to six nights, or EUR92 a night for seven nights plus; breakfast EUR9.

If high culture exhausts you, the city's cool for clubbers, while by day Berliners who need sunshine will be flocking to the seasonal Strandbars.

Unlike Paris's public-sector beach by the Seine, Berlin's summer sunbathing haunts are private enterprise bars with a little sand and small pools by the surly river Spree. The most famous is by the Reichstag or, for contrast, the Oststrand is near a surviving stretch of the Wall. About 20 more are likely to be opened in May. But be warned, there may be volleyball.

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