22 Berlin

PopulationMetro: 4,120,000
Berlin is urban freedom and mutual respect, where the world’s dreamers (still) pour in, ready to stake their claim.

Germany has evolved into a symbol of tolerance, equality, and prosperity around the globe, and perhaps no other city in the country embodies those sentiments quite like its capital.

Expats, creatives, entrepreneurs, immigrants, punks and misfits all find their place in Berlin, a city where remnants of its fragile history mingle with an ever-changing present, and where being whatever you want to be is not just encouraged but embraced.

Indeed, the city has an annual festival, Karneval der Kulturen, that celebrates diversity and, of course, Berlin Pride Celebration is arguably the biggest and most popular LGBT parade in all of Europe. Go in winter, when gloomy days seem to last forever and the bitter cold chills your soul, and you’ll find bars packed to the gills, art galleries overflowing (pieces by 20th-century artists of the Berlin Secession, Expressionist, Dada and New Objectivity movements take center stage at the recently reopened Berlinische Galerie), and techno clubs pulsing into the wee hours of the morning. As soon as the sun comes out and temperatures rise, the entire city heads outdoors, to the parks, the beer gardens, and to one street party or parade after another.

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Coming in at #7 for best Nightlife on the planet, going out in Berlin is an experience like no other. Indeed, some bars and clubs are known for pushing the boundaries of decency (and even the law). But before you get ahead of yourself, best start out with an institution in drinking: the 140-year-old Prater Biergarten Kastanienallee is the city’s oldest outdoor beer garden and a lively place to drink with both locals and tourists alike under twinkling lights. Meanwhile, Green Door is a well-known secret West Berlin cocktail den where the playful retro decor sets the scene—think plaid wallpaper, kitschy telephone lamps, and pin cushion sofas. Tarantino’s Bar is exactly what you might imagine; here you can drink a cocktail while the soundtrack to Pulp Fiction plays in the background. Go late at night (or early in the morning, as the case may be) and the crowd will likely be at the DJs whim till closing time.

Brandenburg Gate Hakon Sataoen

But Berlin is also as sophisticated and appreciative of the classics as any European capital (which is to say “very appreciative”). It ranks #12 globally for its Museums. More recently, its food scene has exploded, fueled by an open-door policy to both globe-trotting chefs and new immigrants from across the globe. Its ranking as #15 best food city will rise quickly in the near future.