The Berlin Experience on a Bike
Berlin, Germany was the last stop on our tour of Europe in 2018. We were excited to visit the capital city of Germany, especially since we were planning to see most of it on a bike. Berlin is a bike-friendly city. We felt safe and comfortable on the roads. Riding in Berlin compared to Amsterdam was much easier and less stressful. Don’t get me wrong, riding bikes in Amsterdam was fun… fun and intense! While in Berlin we joined a bicycle tour and then rented our own bikes the following day.
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Free Berlin - Bicycle Tours
After a quick google search, we decided to book a tour with Free Berlin (you can also rent bikes from them). They offered a Berlin’s Best Tour that included most of the historical sights we were interested in. It was a half day tour, lasting around three hours, with our group returning our bikes as the sun went down. Our tour guide was a wonderfully spunky, young Berliner. She made the afternoon really fun and did a great job keeping the group together.
Free Berlin has 4 different bike tours to choose from, and the prices were reasonable. They speak both German and English, so we didn’t miss out on any information along the way. Of course, we made sure to stick our single, lonely pin into their visitor map! Yay midwest!
Historical Sights of Berlin
Our bike tour definitely delivered when it came to showing us the best attractions in Berlin. Our tour guide started things off in central Berlin at St. Mary’s Church, also know as Marienkirche. This location was especially interesting to me and not only because this church is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Berlin. The church is sunken down several feet from the surrounding area. This is not because “the church is as heavy as ****!” as our tour guide suggested we might guess. It is because after the war when they leveled everything to construct new buildings all that debris raised the ground level.
The Berlin Wall
Our tour group got to visit the Berlin Wall as well. It looks like this location is usually included in a different tour so we must have been lucky this day! We first stopped to look through the remaining section of the Berlin Wall. You may have gathered that our tour guide was a very animated young woman by now. At the wall, she drew pictures in the dirt to illustrate the obstacles placed between the two walls and the difficulty one would have attempting to cross over.
Museum Island - Berlin, Germany
While on our bike tour we stopped to check out Museum Island. It was a lovely day outside, and there were lots of people enjoying this UNESCO National Heritage Site. While we didn’t make it inside any of the museums, the grounds alone were quite beautiful. The architecture is stunning, especially considering most of the buildings were demolished in the war and had to be reconstructed with such a high level of detail.
The Brandenburg Gate
The tour ended with royal treatment at the Brandenburg Gate. Our guide made sure we rode our bikes through the middle section of the gate. You see when the gate was finished in 1791 the middle portal was for royalty only. Now the gate is a symbol of Germany’s reunification and is one of the most-visited landmarks in Berlin. We happened to visit the gate twice, once at night and then again during the day.
Berlin on Bike - Bike Rental
The 3+ hours we had spent touring Berlin on the bike only made us want to do it some more! So the day after our tour we got up and rented some bikes to ride at our own leisure. Except that it wasn’t very relaxing. We rode from one side of Berlin to the other. We rented bikes from Berlin on Bike (you can also take tours with them). They had a massive lineup of bikes, and everyone was super friendly. Plus, the bikes were in good condition and came with a basket and locks.
We were glad to have a decent lay of the land thanks to our tour the day before. So we took off on our new wheels to discover more of Berlin.
Getting around Berlin on the bike was very enjoyable. Often times we were pedaling next to locals on their commutes. My favorite moments were spent riding next to these two guys with the pug in the basket! Jealous!
Berlin’s East Side Gallery
Berlin has an active art scene. Street art is especially common. We found our way to the very popular East Side Gallery. This open-air gallery showcases murals painted on remnants of the Berlin Wall. There were so many people walking along the gallery walls that we struggled to make it through the crowds while pushing our bikes. I would suggest finding a place to lock up your bike if you plan on spending a significant amount of time here.
More Street Art in Berlin
Like I mentioned before, Berlin has a lot of street art to look at. The East Side Gallery was a little too crowded for me. What I enjoyed most was finding art tucked away where you least expected it. I found these two pieces while looking for a restroom. I felt a stronger connection to these than I did with anything I saw at the East Side Gallery. The wall to ceiling trout felt like a gift made just for me.
Wander through local flea markets
I love flea markets and farmer’s markets! Can you imagine my excitement when we rolled by this adorable little neighborhood market! Evan and I spent some time browsing. We each found a treasure or two. However, while in Berlin the most fun I had at a market was the morning we got lost in the Fleamarket at Mauerpark. It was never-ending!
Tempelhof Feld Recreation Area
If riding a bike in the city next to traffic is not your thing or if you just think pedaling down an airplane runway as fast as you can is really cool then Tempelhof Feld is a great option. The airport closed in 2008 and has since been made into a recreation area. It is a giant, wide open space. You can fly a kite, rollerskate, rent an electric car for your kids, skateboard, walk, run and of course, ride your bike. The park was full of families and individuals but didn’t feel the least bit crowded. By the time we finished pretending we were airplanes, it was time to take the bikes back and fill our faces with food and drink.
If you are able, taking your bike instead of the bus is a great way to immerse yourself in the city. Fully experience the sights of Berlin with the wind in your hair while having the option to pull over whenever you please.
Inspiration - Berlin, Germany
Visiting Berlin in the fall meant that we would be dealing with cooler temperatures but also fewer tourists. What I was not expecting was the beautiful fall foliage! The trees at home had lost all of their leaves well before we left and I just assumed I would find the same situation in Europe. I was happily surprised by all the color on display! To celebrate the autumn days we spent in Berlin I made this watercolor wreath. I am not quite sure what to put in the middle yet so, for now, I will leave it with a cheery little quote.
Cheers! To Good Things!
Freelance Graphic Designer