The number of visits I’ve taken to Berlin has officially surpassed double digits, which means I’ve pretty much seen all and done all that you can do on TripAdvisor’s list of top sights. So, I decided to do something different, something I’ve never done before, and something that might excite sustainable travelers coming to visit Berlin.
I rented a bicycle and cycled along the Spree River. It was awesome.
It was also a great way to explore the city on a budget… and a great way to work off that extra currywurst you just had at Curry36 (I say that because it’s the best in the city).
What is the Spree River?
The Spree is a river running through Berlin. It runs about 400 kilometers downstream and flows into the North Sea. Many of Berlin’s popular attractions are also located along the Spree, as well as residential homes and garden houses.
Here’s how you can get started
Even when you’re not a local, it’s pretty simple to rent a bike. I downloaded the Call A Bike app, input my information, and then instantly gained access to an interactive city map which located all the available rental bikes in the area (it usually doesn’t take more than a 5-minute walk to find one). The app is run by the Deutsche Bahn (German Railways), and the cost of renting a bike (at the moment) is 8 Cents a minute (or 6 Cents a minute if you have a BahnCard). I biked for 3.5 hours and paid about 7,50 Euro at the end of my ride (+ a 10 Euro fee for accidentally leaving the city zone – be careful).
I also downloaded the komoot app, an outdoor app which allows you to find the best biking, hiking and cycling routes in any given region (including the weather conditions and the routes surfaces). Low and behold, VisitBerlin had already created the perfect cycling route along the Spree river, so that travelers like myself can not only enjoy a relaxing bike ride along the river but also have the opportunity to explore some of Berlin’s top sights and attractions.
What can you expect along the way?
If you follow the route provided on the komoot app, your journey will take you about 1 hour and 45 minutes. I started at Charlottenburg Palace, the largest palace in Berlin, simply because it was one place I’ve never been before. The best place to start would likely be around Potsdamer Platz, it’s central and easy to get to.
Start | Potsdamer Platz
Potsdamer Platz is one of the largest public squares in Berlin and it’s quite the place to be. There are delicious restaurants in the area and many travelers start their journey here because of the close proximity to the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate.
Stop 1 | Holocaust Memorial
You’ll bike past The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which is a memorial created to honor the victims that were killed during the Holocaust (note: please don’t take any silly selfies. If you’re asking yourself why take a look at this Metro News publication).
Stop 2 | Brandenburg Gate
Do you really need me to explain this one to you? The Brandenburg Gate, built in the 18th century, is one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Stop 3 | Reichstag
The Reichstag is quite a historic building, you’ll have to make an appointment to enter and explore the glass dome that sits on top. In 1933, the building was set on fire but was originally home to the German Empire. You’ll need to bike a little off path to get here or simply re-route the VisitBerlin map on komoot.
Stop 4 | House of World Cultures
This modern building is quite impressive on the eyes. It is also Germany’s national center for international contemporary arts (with a great view of the Spree).
Stop 5 | Tiergarten & Berlin Victory Column
The Tiergarten is located smack in the center of Berlin and is a massive urban park filled with history. In the center of the roundabout sits the Victory Column, a monument commemorating the Prussian victory. You’ll need to bike a little off path to get here or simply re-route the VisitBerlin map on komoot.
Stop 6 | Schloss Charlottenburg
The Charlottenburg Palace (where I started my tour) was built in the 17th century, is the largest palace in Berlin and quite a beautiful place for a little rest and relaxation. There is a small lake and a field of gardens at the back side of the palace.
The route will continue back towards Potsdamer Platz, but you will no longer be following the Spree River. You will, however, be cycling through the beautiful Tiergarten, along smaller lakes and rivers connecting to the Spree. It’s definitely worth cycling the full route if you get the chance!