Walks and excursions in Berlin

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A lot of the sights in central Berlin can be visited in the course of a few short walks. And, as you might imagine, the superb public transport system lets you be a bit more adventurous. Here are a few ideas:

Brandenburg Gate to the
TV Tower
Make your way to the Brandenburg Gate, taking either the S-Bahn or the U-Bahn to the Brandenburger Tor station. Walking towards the Gate you'll cross Pariser Platz, which until the 1990s was empty wasteland on the East German side of the Wall. Go through the Gate itself. Ahead of you is the 'Straße des 17. Juni' (Street of the 17th June) that's named after the major uprising in East Berlin in 1953. In the distance you'll see the Siegesäule (Victory Column) sitting in the middle of the Tiergarten.

Turn to your right and walk round to the Reichstag building. If you've booked timed tickets go through security and you'll be shown the way into the building. When you get up on to the roof you'll find as you leave the lift that there's a desk offering audio-guides. Do take one as they're really good, and help you to identify many of the important landmarks that you'll see as you walk up inside the dome to the top. Don't forget - if you think you'd welcome refreshments while you're there do make sure that you make a booking for the rooftop restaurant when  you book for the Reichstag itself.

When you leave the Reichstag go down the steps at the front, cross the road to your left and go into the trees of the Tiergarten. Walk through to the Straße des 17. Juni and turn right towards the Siegesäule. Shortly, on the right hand side you'll see the Russian War Memorial with its tanks and field guns.

Turn back towards the Brandenburg Gate. As you reach it turn right and walk south to Behrenstrasse. On your left you'll see the field of concrete blocks that make up the Holocaust Memorial. When you've seen it turn left (eastwards) along Behrenstrasse until you reach Wilhemstrasse, where you turn left (north). You'll pass the British Embassy on your left before reaching Unter den Linden where you turn right, the Gate now behind you.

Now take your time walking eastwards along Unter den Linden. 200 metres on your right you'll pass the rather grim-looking Russian Embassy. There are lime trees all along the central reservation, and when they end you find yourself near a huge equestrian statue of Frederick the Great. 50 metres further along on the right is Bebelplatz. If you walk into the square you'll find a glass panel in the cobbles through which you can look down into a white-painted, symbolically-empty library. This commemorates the infamous Nazi book-burnings of May 1933. On the eastern side of the square is the Opera House and to the south of it is St. Hedwig's (catholic) cathedral.

On Unter den Linden directly opposite Bebelplatz is the Humboldt University, and just to the east of it, set in trees, is the neo-classical Neue Wache. It's well worth crossing the road to visit it. The statue inside, showing a mother grieving over the body of her son, is a replica of one by Käthe Kollwitz. There's also information in four languages concerning the history of Neue Wache.

Continuing eastwards brings you past the German Historical Museum to Museum Island with its five major, world-class museums, but you'll probably need to come back here on another day if you'd like to visit any of them. In front of you is the Cathedral, and directly across the main road from it is the building site on which the City Palace is being reconstructed. At this point Unter den Linden has given way to Karl-Liebknecht Strasse.

This will probably be enough walking for one day, but you might want to carry on to the TV Tower and view the city again, this time from a far greater height! On the way there you'll pass a communist-era statue of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Christmas markets There are so many markets in and around Berlin that you couldn't possibly get around them all in a single visit to the city.  Read about them here

These are the ones we've enjoyed the most:
  • Gendarmenmarkt - it's a beautiful setting, and there's a small charge for entry
  • The Opernpalais - on Unter den Linden around the Opera House
  • Charlottenburg Palace - the illuminated Palace makes a splendid backdrop
All markets charge a small refundable deposit on the glasses that they supply filled with Glühwein (mulled wine), but on a cold evening it doesn't take long to finish your drink!
Walking the Wall
Tracing the path of the Wall on foot would take a very long time and much of it would be a bit tedious. However, 'Time Out' has a few recommendations of interesting locations to visit If, however, you fancy walking the inner city part of the Wall you can find how to do it here.

Potsdam is worth a day all on its own., and it's easy to get to by S-bahn. There are tour buses waiting at the station and it's well worth taking one to get a feel for the scope of the place. A highlight is Cecilienhof, a former royal retreat that became the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, but there are many beautifully-restored building to admire as well.

River trips
There's an awful lot of water in and around Berlin, so it's worth taking a boat trip if you have time. We've done the Wannsee to Potsdam trip and enjoyed it immensely, and also the one hour trip from the cathedral through the government district to Bellevue and back. Make sure that you get the right language commentary options!

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