Berlin: The Basic Tour

Now that you’ve not only arrived in Berlin, but also know how to purchase BVG tickets and have the ability to navigate it, it’s time to figure out where to go. Berlin has a multitude of parks, museums, cultural centers, memorials, monuments, lakes, restaurants, rivers, historic sites, clubs, stores and everything in between. You cannot possibly see everything, no matter how long you are there. What you can do is make a good attempt.

The first basic tour for most usually turns out to be a bus tour. Berlin has private tour buses, but let’s be honest here, those cost way too much. The BVG runs a bus line that is not only double-decker, but also passes some of the most iconic landmarks (Sehenswürdigkeiten) of Berlin. And it is ridden using a normal BVG ticket. The 100 Bus line was created after the Fall of the Berlin Wall (der Mauerfall) to link the East and the West. It starts in Alexanderplatz and makes its way west until it reaches the Berlin Zoo station. (Zoologischer Garten) I highly recommend taking it to begin your time in Berlin.


Zoologischer Garten is a great station to continue sightseeing and shopping at. As you exit the station, you should be able to see the ruins of a church. It is the Kaiser Wilhelm II Memorial Church (Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche). As you get closer, you will begin to see a blue building. That is the newly built part of the church. The interior is astoundingly beautiful.

Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche, Berlin, College Travel

The church is situated at a fantastic place to start shopping. If you cross the island it is situated on to the opposite street, you will find yourself on Kurfürstendamm, Ku’damm to locals. It is the premier high street in Berlin. Continuing down Ku’damm away from Zoologischer Garten, you will eventually see a massive building on your right. That is Kaufhaus des Westens, or KaDeWe. It is a massive department store, on the order of Harrod’s in London. I used it as far more of a wishing store, than actually buying anything. Except chocolate. They have an amazing truffle selection on one of the upper floors as well as a wide selection of “American food”.

American Food at KaDeWe

After you’re finished there, (it might take a while) you’ll find yourself at Wittenbergplatz. The U-Bahn station is a beautiful example of old German architecture. You can either take the U2 back to Zoologischer Garten or walk. This part of town is particularly beautiful at dusk.

Wittenbergplatz at Night

Looking down Ku'damm at night

 

Zoologischer Garten is a great station for connections back towards the center of the city. The S5 and the S7 will both make the same stops until you get to Friedrichsfelde-Ost in the far east. If you still have some time after the sightseeing and shopping, head back to the Hauptbahnhof. From the S-Bahn platform head down and follow the signs to the U55. It goes straight to the Brandenburg Gate. (Brandenburger Tor) The area around the Tor is lit at night, and makes for a memorable time.

 

Brandenburg Gate at Night, Brandenburger Tor

 

While looking at the gate from the front, the United States Embassy (Botschaft) will be on your left, the French Embassy on your right, and the British farther back on the left. After you’re done viewing the Tor, walk through it and turn left. Keep walking until you come to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) on your left. Walking through the Memorial at night is a haunting experience. Be sure to be respectful whilst inside the memorial despite others’ behavior.

Next, reverse course and head back towards the Tor. Go past it, and walk to the end of the street, and turn left. Cross the street, and you will find yourself in front of the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament (Bundestag). It’s another building that is stunning at night. After the Reichstag, go left and continue through the gardens, and past the large glass Bundestag building. Eventually, you should be able to see a field of grass that ends in a bridge back over to the Hauptbahnhof. The river that bridge crosses is called the Spree. The lights on the water at night make it to the perfect way to end a day in Berlin.

From the Hauptbahnhof, you can make it back to any part of Berlin rather quickly. Use the BVG app to find the best route.

This day of sightseeing only barely scratches the surface of what Berlin has to offer. Hundreds of museums, parks, and landmarks still await you. Go out and explore, and see what beauty you can find in Bärlin.

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