As much as it pains us to say it, sometimes you’ve just got to be a tourist.
No it’s not ideal, and no you won’t be able to avoid the crowds, but every so often the must-sees are just too important to pass up. You can count the top Berlin attractions in this category; after all, such is life in a major European metropolis.
But we’ve got a secret.
In an urban area as big and as spread out as the German capital, renting a bike to visit its bucket list destinations can be every bit as enjoyable as the sights themselves. Long, scenic routes and ample bike lanes help put some distance between you and all of the other out-of-towners, and give you a feel for the land you simply can’t get from the window seat in a tour bus.
Should you happen to be looking for a place to start, Spinlister has put together a mapped bike route that will take you to some of Berlin’s most lauded destinations. Check it, and them, out below, then treat yourself to a must-see bike tour that’s a little less cliche.
Say hello to the biggest palace in Berlin. Dating all the way back to its initial construction in 1695, the massive structure has been a fixture of the German capital for well over 3 centuries. Highlights include a regal interior that spans architectural genres from baroque to rococo, as well as the lush Versailles-inspired palace gardens and the mausoleum of Queen Luise, William III and Emperor Wilhelm I.
There aren’t many major buildings under 150 years old that can say they’ve have seen as much action as Berlin’s Reichstag. Granted most buildings can’t say anything at all, but that’s beside the point. Constructed in 1894 to house the German Empire’s Imperial Assembly, the structure was burned in 1933, nearly destroyed in WWII, then left abandoned for the bulk of the cold war. Looking at it’s gloriously renovated state now, however, you’d never know.
The Brandenburg Gate can be counted among the most recognizable landmarks in Europe, with a neoclassical design that dates back to the late 18th century. It managed to survive WWII intact, although heavily damaged, and was fully restored at the turn of the 21st century some 10 years after the country’s reunification. These days, it’s widely regarded as a powerful symbol of German perseverance and unity.
MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE
Constructed between 2000 and late 2004, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is Berlin’s powerful commemorative tribute to the more than 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust. It’s 2,711 identical concrete stelae were designed by architect Peter Eisenman, varying in height between several inches and over 15 feet (0.2 – 4.7 m). This powerful memorial is often crowded during warm days, which can detract from the experience, but by nightfall you may have the place to yourself.
Berlin’s Museum Island is exactly what it’s billed to be: an island in the Spree River whose northern area is covered by five all important, internationally lauded museums. Here you’ll find the Altes, Neues, Bode, and Pergamon Museums, along with the beautiful Alte Nationalgalerie. From Greek and Egyptian antiquities to sculptures and 19th century fine art, you could easily spend a week here exploring works of incredible historical significance and intrigue.
It’s hard to get lost on your way to Alexanderplatz, given its proximity to the towering Fernsehturm Berlin TV tower. This massive commercial and transportation hub is a buzz of activity day and night, with everything from shoppers to diners to tourists simply perusing the market stalls and nearby attractions (Neptune Fountain, Rotes Rathaus building, etc). Given its central location, this is about as literal a “must see” as you can get.