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Signposts at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin
Signposts at Potsdamer Platz © visitBerlin, Foto: Artfully Media, Sven Christian Schramm

Tour 44 - Cycling Tour of Berlin's City Centre

This tour starts at Friedrichstraße 96, the NH Berlin Friedrichstraße. Head left from the hotel and take a left at the next corner onto Dorotheenstraße. Stay on Dorotheenstraße as it makes a slight swerve to the left. Continue riding for another couple of blocks until the street terminates at Am Kupfergraben.

Am Kupfergraben

This road runs along the left branch of the Spree as it splits to go around the Museum Island. This branch got its name ("copper ditch") apparently from a copper foundry that once stood along here. Take a right onto Am Kupfergraben and then take a left onto Bodestraße, which will take you across the river to the Museum Island.

Museumsinsel

The Museum Island is home to five museums that together have been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Bode-Museum and the Altes Museum. Ride for a block past the Altes Museum on the right and then take a right onto Am Lustgarten. Straight ahead is the imposing Berliner Dom.

Berliner Dom

The Berliner Dom is the largest church in Berlin. Built in 1905, the eclectic style of this cathedral has elements of the High Renaissance and Baroque periods. A visit to the church, the burial crypt of the imperial Hohenzollern family and climbing the 270 steps to the walk around the dome are all worthwhile. The view from the dome is sensational. Continue riding in front of the cathedral until you come to Schloßplatz. This is the site of the former city palace of the German imperial family, which is in the process of being rebuilt. Take a left and cross the bridge over the other arm of the Spree.

Nikolaiviertel

In a block, take a right onto Spandauer Straße and then another right onto Rathausstraße. At Poststraße, take a left into the Nikolaiviertel, the oldest residential area in Berlin. The Nikolaikirche was built in 1200 and is the oldest church in Berlin. Today it houses a museum. Leave the Nikolaiviertel on its south side onto Mühlendamm.

Insider-Tipp: Zillestube

Hearty Berlin food (pork knuckle, liver, etc.) and appropriate drinks are available at this restaurant at Spreeufer 3, along the river's edge in Nikolaiviertel.

Stralauer Straße

Head left on Mühlendamm and then take an immediate right onto Stralauer Straße. This road runs parallel to the Spree. Continue riding for about 3 kilometres as the road becomes Holzmarktstraße, Stralauer Platz and finally Mühlenstraße. On your right, you will see the East Side Gallery.

East Side Gallery

The East Side Gallery is the longest open-air gallery in the world. Running a length of 1,316 metres, this piece of the Berlin Wall was painted by 118 artists with 102 works of art that comment on the events leading to the fall of the Wall and reunification in 1989-1990. Ride past the gallery, then take a right onto the Oberbaumbrücke and cross over to the other side of the Spree.

Tour map

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Oberbaumbrücke

This distinctive red-brick arched bridge was built in 1895 to connect Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. It was severely damaged during the Second World War and blocked to traffic after the Wall was built. In 1963, a pedestrian border crossing was established on the bridge. After reunification, the bridge was reopened for cars, pedestrians and U-Bahn traffic. Ride across the bridge, enjoy the spectacular view of the Spree, and continue as the road curves to the right onto Oberbaumstraße.

Skalitzer Straße

In about a block, the road merges into Skalitzer Straße, which runs parallel to the elevated U-Bahn line 1 tracks. Ride for a kilometre until you come to Oranienstraße, where you will take a right. Oranienstraße is one of the most popular miles for going out at night in Kreuzberg, offering countless cafés, bars and restaurants. Take some time to enjoy a drink or two and some people-watching on this street. Continue riding along Oranienstraße as you cross Heinrichsplatz, Oranienplatz and Moritzplatz.

Rudi-Dutschke-Straße

In about 2.2 kilometres, you will cross Axel-Springer-Straße and continue straight onto Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, named after the famous leader of the 1968 student movement. Ride along Rudi-Dutschke-Straße for three blocks until you come to Friedrichstraße. Take a right and you will find yourself at Checkpoint Charlie.

Checkpoint Charlie

Checkpoint Charlie was one of the most famous border crossings in divided Berlin. It was open only to allied forces, diplomats and East German officials. This was also the scene of the 1961 stand-off between Soviet and American tanks. The Mauermuseum is at the corner of Friedrichstraße and Zimmerstraße.

Mauermuseum

This museum opened in 1963 and is dedicated to documenting the history of the Berlin Wall and the successful and failed escape attempts via such means as hot air balloons, getaway cars, chairlifts and a mini-submarine. Continue left onto Zimmerstraße and head west.

Topographie des Terrors

After a long block, you will cross Wilhelmstraße and then continue on Niederkirchnerstraße until you come to No. 8, home to the Topography of Terror Documentation Centre. Numerous security apparatus in the Third Reich had their offices, torture chambers and holding cells at this site. Today, it is a documentation centre about the crimes of the Nazi era. Continue on Niederkirchnerstraße until it terminates at Stresemannstraße and take a right.

Potsdamer Platz

In about a block, you will be at Potsdamer Platz. In the 1920s, this was the intersection with the most vehicular traffic in Europe. Almost completely destroyed during World War II, the square was caught in no-man's land between East and West during the years of German division. Only in the 1990s was the area rebuilt with the high-rise buildings you can currently see and is now one of the most popular tourist areas in the city.

Insider-Tipp: Caffè et Gelato

Really tasty ice cream, for eating on the go or seated at a table, can be had at this ice cream shop in the Potsdamer Platz Arkaden.

Großer Tiergarten

Head north from Potsdamer Platz onto Ebertstraße. In about two blocks, you will see the Großer Tiergarten on your left. Follow the path into the park and continue riding west. After riding across the park, you come upon the Siegessäule.

Siegessäule

This victory column is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks, erected to celebrate the victories in mid-nineteenth century wars that resulted in the creation of a single German state under Otto von Bismarck. Climb the 285 steps to the top of the column and enjoy the spectacular view over the park and the city. Now head east on Straße des 17. Juni.

Sowjetisches Ehrenmal

In just under two kilometres, you will come upon this Soviet war memorial to the Red Army soldiers killed during World War II. The memorial is flanked with two tanks that fought in the battle for Berlin in 1945. Behind the row of pillars is a cemetery with the graves of as many as 2,500 Soviet soldiers killed in the battle. Continue on Straße des 17. Juni straight ahead to the Brandenburg Gate.

The Brandenburg Gate

The Brandenburg Gate was built as a city gate on what was once the city's western edge. During the years of German division, the Berlin Wall ran in front of the gate; once the Wall fell, the gate has become the symbol of German reunification. Ride through the gate and then continue straight ahead onto Unter den Linden. Ride for another 700 metres and then take a left onto Friedrichstraße. At No. 96, you've reached your destination.