Having a Ball on a Bike in Berlin
One of Europe’s coolest cities is also one of its most bike-friendly, thanks to mostly flat terrain; some 900 kilometres (about 560 miles) of cycling paths and lanes; and loads of bicycle-rental shops and bike-share schemes all over town.
A wunderbar place to start your two-wheel tour is from the central Alexanderplatz, after fuelling up with a hearty breakfast at one of the area’s cafés. From here it’s just 20 minutes of pedalling – along the iconic boulevard Unter den Linden and under the even more iconic Brandenburg Gate – just beyond which you’ll get to one of Europe’s great urban parks, the Tiergarten, a mix of verdant glens, woodsy patches, and of course the Berlin Zoo.
Within several blocks of the park you’ll also find Berlin’s famous Museuminsel (Museum Island), home to five fantastic art, archaeology, and ethnology museums – perhaps the most famous being the Pergamon. Other museums nearby include the interactive DDR Museum, an entertaining yet sometimes sobering look at life in Communist East Germany, and the German Spy Museum, while other musts in the area include Checkpoint Charlie (the crossing between divided East and West Berlin during the Cold War) and the Berlin Story Bunker (an underground World War II bunker where you can see an excellent documentary on how Nazi Germany came to be).
Just over a 20-minute ride south from either Alexanderplatz or the Tiergarten is another park especially worth a spin on your bike. And 386-hectare (955-acre) Tempelhof Park is unusual indeed because from the early 1920s till 2008 it was an airport, and the buildings and runways are still there – now hosting skaters and cyclists instead of airplanes – along with a huge picnic area, dog-walking field, and barbecue zone.
Also south of city centre, 160ha (395-acre) Treptower Park on the Spree River is also a great place to pedal and just hang out. In addition to lawns, flower gardens, and wooded areas, there’s a carp pond, eateries, an astronomical observatory (which sometimes hosts exhibits), and a number of monuments.
Photo: Michał Parzuchowski