GETTING THERE: Located within East Germany, 100 miles from the border, West Berlin may seem remote and isolated, but in fact it's one of the most accessible cities in Europe. A number of major American airlines offer connections to West Berlin via Frankfurt from Washington. On Pan Am, for example, the current APEX round-trip fare, which must be booked 21 days in advance, is $816 if you fly midweek, $866 on weekends. Last week, Pan Am made the city even easier to get to by inaugurating the first-ever nonstop service from New York to Berlin. The flights are on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, and through June 30 the airline is offering a bargain introductory round-trip fare of $498, with purchase 14 days in advance.
Direct flights are also available from most major European cities, or you can take a train from Denmark or from any major West German city.
There are four highways that carry western traffic directly from West Germany to Berlin. Although the roads travel right through the East German countryside, don't expect to see much of East Germany that way: These corridors are ordinary, boring highways that reveal little of interest on either side and are well-lined with trees and bushes to discourage the curious traveler's sightseeing. But the experience of crossing the East-West German border -- though not at all problematic -- and then, on the return trip, of entering West Berlin past all the East German checks again -- can be an interesting one.
There are also a number of special package tours available this year. For example, Hapag-Lloyd Tours, a German travel agency with offices in Great Neck, N.Y., has a six-day package until Sept. 14 for $1,277 per person, including round-trip air fare on Lufthansa from New York and five nights at the Kempinski, West Berlin's premier hotel on the Kurfuerstendamm. Call (516) 466-1262. GETTING AROUND: Buses and the highly efficient U-Bahn, or subway, and S-Bahn, or tram, will take you to most parts of the city and all the major sites. Individual fares are somewhat high at 2.20 marks ($1.30), so it's a good idea to buy a Touristenkarte (tourist pass), which allows you unlimited transportation for two days at 15 marks ($8.80), or four days at 30 marks ($17.60). These cards are available at kiosks such as the the "BVG" ticket booth in front of Bahnhof Zoo, the zoo railway station.
Taxis abound in West Berlin; nearly every corner downtown has a taxi stand with a line of comfortable, cream-colored Mercedeses, the standard cab in Germany, waiting to take you wherever you want to go. Fares tend to be high, but a very modest tip is all that's expected -- usually a mark or two.
In East Berlin, transportation is more of a problem. As long as you stick to the center city, you can walk everywhere. But if you want to venture to outlying districts, the best bet is to take the overground S-Bahn and the underground U-Bahn, which cost less than one mark (60 cents). You can transfer from one to the other at no additional cost. Taxis are next to impossible to find. WHERE TO STAY: West Berlin offers a vast range of accommodations. There are 23,000 hotel beds in the city, in everything from luxury hotels averaging from $100 to $150, double occupancy, to small, no-frills pensions that rent rooms for $15 to $30 a night.
The most famous hotel in the city is the Hotel Bristol Kempinski, located right on the Kurfuerstendamm. Kempinski was the name of one of the most renowned restaurants in Germany 100 years ago, and today's hotel, rebuilt after the war on its original site, continues that revered tradition. Elegance amid conservative, deluxe surroundings -- and prices -- are its style.
Other deluxe hotels include the Steigenberger on Los Angeles Platz, the Inter-Continental and the Palace, both on Budapesterstrasse, all of which are ultramodern hotels with all the latest conveniences.
More moderately priced but redolent still of Berlin history and tradition is the Hotel Am Zoo, just a block away from the Kempinski on the Kurfuerstendamm. This small, intimate but well-modernized hotel is housed in a building designed in 1893 by architect Alfred Messel that was not completely destroyed in the war, making it one of the oldest structures still standing on the Ku'damm. This is the hotel the author Thomas Wolfe stayed in when he visited Berlin in the 1930s.
Other attractive and comfortable hotels: The Savoy, Fasenenstrasse 9. It's high-priced but not exorbitant and displays considerable original charm, as it is the only Berlin hotel that survived the war. It dates from the 1920s, when it was a favored stopping place for Russian aristocrats traveling to Cannes. The Hotel Berlin, Kurfuerstenstrasse 62, is a modern hotel with a separate balcony for every room. It's best known for its restaurant, the Berlin Grill. The Seehof, a little gem farther out the Ku'damm beyond the city center, on the edge of the Lietzensee lake. It has a pretty view, all the conveniences and a rustic atmosphere, with a lobby designed to look like a country house.
Many rooms in private homes are also available, especially this year, to handle the tourist influx for the anniversary celebrations. If you arrive in Berlin without reservations, you can book a room through the Berlin Information Offices (Berlin Verkehrsamt) at Tegel Airport or in the Europa-Center downtown. WHERE TO EAT: Dining out is one of the great pleasures of Berlin, which hosts perhaps the most diverse and cosmopolitan cuisine in Germany. There are literally thousands of restaurants to choose from, but some of the best and most interesting are: Ponte Vecchio, located downtown on Spielhagenstrasse. It serves northern Italian specialties, but is closed the whole month of July. Alt-Berliner Schneckenhaus on the Kurfuerstendamm. An old Prussian-style restaurant, high-ceilinged and filled with German Victorian furniture, it beautifully evokes a 19th-century atmosphere. It's expensive, serves traditional German cuisine and specializes in snails. Paris Bar, on Kantstrasse. An "artsy" hangout, with walls lined with original paintings by Berlin artists. As its name suggests, it tries for the ambiance of a Parisian-style cafe', and pretty well succeeds. The food, however, while good enough, is quite distinctly, and sometimes heavily, German, despite the French menu. Ax Bax, on Leibnizstrasse. A popular, funky little deli-style restaurant where you belly up to the counter and order what you like from the day's special dishes on display. The de'cor is strictly 1950s bus stop, but the food -- a mixture of Greek, Italian, Central European and whatever else strikes the cooks' fancy -- is delicious. Young trendies like the place and it's usually very crowded. Wirtshaus Schildhorn. An idyllic location in the heart of the Grunewald Forest, on the banks of the Havel River, and tasty, solid German cuisine make this converted boathouse a delightful place to dine. Zitadellen-Schaenke. Housed inside the old Citadel in the district of Spandau, this is a historic restaurant with ancient stone walls and time-honored specialties like wild boar pate', stuffed quail and loin of pork. Worth it for atmosphere alone. 750TH ANNIVERSARY: Highlights of this year's birthday celebration in West Berlin include: June 13. Allied parade along the Strasse des 17 Juni. July 4. "U.S. Gala" at the Waldbuehne, an outdoor stage near Olympic Stadium, featuring American entertainers in a salute to Berlin. July 15-Aug. 30. City festival in the Tiergarten Park and historical fair along the Strasse des 17 Juni. July 25-Aug. 1. Water parade and West Harbor festival. Historical ships from around the world sail down Berlin's rivers and canals. Aug. 1. Rock salute to Berlin at the Reichstag field. Aug. 30. Japanese fireworks at Tempelhof airfield.
In East Berlin: July 4-5. Historical parade through city center, depicting important stages in Berlin's history. Historical street market representing a traditional street market of earlier centuries. July and August. Summer in Berlin, performance and entertainment series. Sept. 25-Oct. 25. Berlin Festival Days of Music and Theater, featuring performances by international guest artists and ensembles. INFORMATION: For more information on Berlin, including accommodations and details of the 750th anniversary celebrations, contact the German National Tourist Office, 747 Third Ave., New York, N.Y. 10017, (212) 308-3300. You may also call 800 -- CITYKEY (800-248-9539) for information on the special CityKey card program that offers Americans in Berlin this year special discounts on accommodations, sightseeing, etc., in honor of the 750th anniversary.