Lose yourself in the Tiergarten. That’s my simple advice for the discovery and enjoyment of Berlin’s great 630 acres central park which stretches from the Brandenburg Gate in the east to Kurfürstendamm and the Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church in the west. Once a royal hunting ground, the Tiergarten reveals itself as a latticework of winding paths and arrow-straight avenues, intimate lakes and busy canals. On foot and by bicycle, visitors move from wild Neuer See to the Neoclassical order of Schloß Bellevue, official residence of the new German president Joachim Gauck. Children play in its dozen playgrounds, rock concerts are staged along its Straße des 17. Juni, gay Berliners congregate for open-air sunbathing in the fields along Hofjägerallee. Pack a picnic, bring a Frisbee or badminton rackets, drop by the zoo and plan to spend the day.
To the north the Tiergarten is flanked by a loop of the overground S-Bahn line, with the stations Tiergarten and Bellevue providing the most convenient access to the park. The BVG 200 bus – which runs from S+U Zoologischer Garten to Unter den Linden and Alexander Platz — follows its southern edge. Step off at any stop or station and dive into the woods. Travelling by chance, lightly, without expectations or a final destination opens one to the unexpected – and that is the finest way to experience the Tiergarten (as well as, arguably, life).
But as the day cools, or the stomach rumbles, it can be helpful to have a welcoming hostelry in mind. To my mind nowhere beats the atmospheric Café am Neuen See, a Seventies glass pavilion dropped into the park, surrounded by old trees, fronting a lake, flooded with light and fantastic nosh. In the summer its adjoining al-fresco beer garden serves salmon and cream cheese pizzas and southern German specialties as well as barbecued meat and fish. Its Sunday brunch -- refined and civilised by Berliners into one of the world's most relaxing meals – is delicious.