This cycling tour through Mitte and Kreuzberg begins at A&O Hotel & Hostel Mitte, Köpenicker Straße 127–129. From the front door of the hotel, head right and ride a little over a block along Köpenicker Straße until you reach Engeldamm. Take a left onto Engeldamm and then cross the River Spree on the Schillingbrücke. Stop for a moment whilst crossing the bridge and enjoy the magnificent views of Berlin it offers. After crossing the bridge, take a right onto Stralauer Platz. On your left, you will see the famous East Side Gallery.
East Side Gallery
118 artists from 21 countries painted these pieces on the longest stretch of the Berlin Wall still standing to create the longest open-air gallery in the world. The motifs address the post-war division of Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. As you come to the East Side Gallery near the historic Oberbaumbrücke, take a left onto Warschauer Straße. Go over the bridge at the S-Bahn station Warschauer Straße and turn right into the Revaler Straße. After you cross the rail yards, you will see the RAW campus to your right.
This larger, former industrial area is where East German trains were once repaired, but is now home to various clubs and galleries. In the summer, there’s even an open-air cinema with a pool here. In another block, take a right onto Kopernikusstraße and then the first left onto Simon-Dach-Straß, home to a number of cafés that are a perfect spot for a break. After leaving the café of your choice, head back down Simon-Dach-Straße to where it intersects with Kopernikusstraße and Wühlischstraße. Take a left onto Wühlischstraße and ride for seven blocks until the street ends at Boxhagener Straße. This is where the A&O Friedrichshain (Boxhagener Straße) hostel is located. Take a left onto Boxhagener Straße and ride it about seven blocks back to Warschauer Straße. Here you will take a left after crossing the street. This busy road is one of the city’s major thoroughfares.
Take the next right onto Grünberger Straße and follow it as it curves to the left and becomes Wedekindstraße. It then curves to the right and becomes Rüdersdorferstraße. Rüderdorfstraße ends at Koppenstraße, where you will turn left and then take the next right onto Singerstraße. Ride along Singerstraße, cross Lichtenberger Straße, and continue for two more blocks where the street ends at Schillingstraße. Take a left. After a sharp right bend, you’ll now be at Alexanderstraße. Take a right and you’ll soon see Alexanderplatz on the left. You can’t miss the TV Tower, one of the city’s major landmarks.
The tallest structure in Germany is also one of the city’s most distinctive and popular attractions. From the observation deck and restaurant at the top of the tower, you can enjoy a fantastic view over the whole of Berlin. It is worthwhile getting your ticket in advance to avoid long queues. Ride along the south-east side of the square along Rathausstraße past the Rotes Rathaus.
The Red City Hall is the seat of the mayor and takes its name from the red bricks. During the week, the town hall and there regularly held exhibitions can be visited. As you continue along Rathausstraße, cross Spandauer Straße to enter the Nikolaiviertel.
The Nikolaiviertel is Berlin’s oldest residential area and is centred around the Gothic Nikolaikirche. It offers numerous events in reconstructed historicist surroundings to give you a taste of earlier times.
Insider Tip: Kartoffelhaus Nr. 1 is a great place to take a break and enjoy a variety of potato specialities. After a stroll through the neighbourhood, it’s time to start pedalling again. Head back to Spandauer Straße and ride to your left past Alexanderplatz for about three blocks until the street goes no further. You’ve now reached Hackescher Markt.
Hackescher Markt / Hackesche Höfe
Hackescher Markt and the Hackesche Höfe, a lovingly restored ensemble of rear courtyards, have become a popular nightlife area with numerous cafés and restaurants and a creative centre in the heart of Mitte that’s home to a number of design and fashion stores. This makes another great spot for a break and time spent discovering the shops as you stroll through the charming side streets. From the west side of the Hackescher Markt S-Bahn station, ride south on Burgstraße until you come to the first bridge “Friedrichsbrücke”, where you will cross the Spree over to Museum Island.
You are now on Museum Island, one of the most important museum complexes in the world and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island is home to five museums with famous collections that you won’t want to miss. For example, Egyptian Queen Nefertiti invites you to an audience with her in the Neues Museum. Also unmissable is Berlin Cathedral, the largest church in the city, which has become famous for its imposing structure and massive dome. Ride past the cathedral, take a right and cross the Schlossbrücke onto Unter den Linden.
Unter den Linden
This grand boulevard is the old heart of imperial Berlin and runs from the Schlossbrücke directly to the Brandenburg Gate. Originally a bridle path to the royal hunting grounds that have since become the Tiergarten, the street has been continually expanded with the development of Berlin as Prussia’s capital since 1700. Today the street is lined with architecturally impressive edifices such as the Zeughaus, home to the German Historical Museum, the Kronprinzenpalais (Crown Prince’s Palace), and Humboldt University. At the fourth intersection, take a right onto Friedrichstraße. In about three blocks, you will cross under the S-Bahn tracks and then cross the River Spree, after which you will take an immediate left onto Schiffbauerdamm. Ride along the river for three long blocks until Schiffbauerdamm ends at Luisenstraße. Take a right onto Luisenstraße and then a left onto the next street, which curves to the right to once again follow the Spree.
Follow the Spree past the Kronprinzenbrücke/Reinhardtstraße, and then take the next right onto Alexanderufer, which runs along the banks of the Nordhafen (North Harbour). Cross under the rail tracks again. Take a left onto Invalidenstaße, cycle past the Hauptbahnhof (Central Rail Station), and then take a right onto Lehrter Straße. In just over two long blocks, you will come upon the A&O Hostel am Hauptbahnhof. After making a brief stop at the hostel, ride back down Lehrter Straße, cross Invalidenstraße. Follow the road as it crosses under the tracks and curves to the left. Take a right onto Ella-Trebe-Straße and ride it to the next corner. Across the way over this intersection, you’ll see the Moltkebrücke heading over the Spree. Ride over the Spree and in about two blocks you’ll see the Chancellor’s office on your right. Ride past the office and to your left you’ll see the unmissable Reichstag with its glass dome.
Taking a free tour of the dome atop the seat of the German Bundestag is one of the city’s most popular attractions. The dome offers fantastic panoramic views over Berlin. (If you think you might stop, you should register in advance, as it can be difficult to get last-minute tickets.) Take a left onto Scheidemannstraße just past the Reichstag, where you will turn right onto Ebertstraße. In about a block, you’ll see the Brandenburg Gate to your left.
The Brandenburg Gate is on Pariser Platz and is the city’s most well-known landmark and a national symbol because it once stood isolated between the two sides of the Berlin Wall. Since 1989, the Brandenburg Gate has stood for a reunified Germany. After visiting the Brandenburg Gate, continue on Ebertstraße for about five blocks straight to Potsdamer Platz. Alternatively, you can also make a detour through the Tiergarten. To do this, head west from the Brandenburg Gate along Straße des 17. Juni and cycle through the Tiergarten, until you arrive at one of its southern exits.
The Potsdamer Platz is exciting for many reasons, including Panoramapunkt, an observation deck with the fastest lift in Europe. It’s also home to the Sony Center, considered an architectural masterpiece. The Sony Center often hosts film premières with German and international film stars turning out on the red carpet and signing autographs for their fans. After enjoying the view from Panoramapunkt, it’s time to hop back on the bike and head to the east along Leipziger Straße, past the Mall of Berlin. One block past Friedrichstraße, take a left onto Charlottenstraße. In two blocks, you will come upon the Gendarmenmarkt on your right.
The Gendarmenmarkt is one of the most beautiful squares in Berlin and is right in the heart of the historic city centre. The square is home to the Konzerthaus and the French and German “Cathedrals”. Head west (away from the square) onto Taubenstraße and then take a left onto Friedrichstraße. In six blocks, you’ll come upon Checkpoint Charlie.
Checkpoint Charlie was the most famous border crossing during the years of Berlin’s division. The Wall Museum – Haus am Checkpoint Charlie documents the various attempts made to escape from the former GDR. Passing Checkpoint Charli, take a left onto Rudi-Dutschke-Straße, which in three blocks is renamed Oranienstraße. Follow Oranienstraße past Moritzplatz.
In four blocks, you’ll come upon the roundabout at Moritzplatz, which has become a creative centre for the arts scene with the Aufbauhaus. The Prinzessinnengärten on the far side of the square are a fascinating example of urban gardening, because the plants are grown in boxes and Tetra Paks. Continue on Oranienstraße for two more blocks until you come to Oranienplatz.
Oranienstraße / Oranienplatz
Oranienstraße is the heart of “Kreuzberg 36”, the “36” a reference to an old post code. It is a vibrant neighbourhood that’s home to numerous restaurants, pubs and cafés. In another block, take a right onto Adalbertstraße to reach Kottbusser Tor in a block.
Kottbusser Tor is a busy roundabout in the heart of Kreuzberg with a U-Bahn station right in its centre. After checking it out, head back up Adalbertstraße for four long blocks to Engeldamm. Take a left and in a block you’ll come to the Engelbecken.
Michaelkirchplatz is home to a small park with a small pond called the Engelbecken (Angels’ Pool), which is nice place to take a breather.
Insider Tip: The Café am Engelbecken is a fine spot to take a break and enjoy the beautiful views across the park. Ride back down Bethaniendamm to Adalbertstraße and take a left. In two long blocks, you’ll be back at Köpenicker Straße, where you’ll take a left. The A&O Hostel Berlin Mitte is right there on your left. You have reached your destination. Kindly supported by A&O Hotel & Hostel Mitte