Steeped in history and recently reinstated as the capital of Germany, Berlin is a wonderful city to cycle in. Despite a highly efficient public transport system and cobbles in parts of the city, many people in Berlin take to the streets by bike and it is estimated that 400,000 bicycles cross the city each day. Getting to some of the most famous sights in Europe is easily done on two wheels in Berlin, from the Berlin Wall to the palaces of Potsdam. There are 620 cycle paths in Berlin, which includes 190km of off road routes, 120km of mandatory bike routes and 100km of combined bike and pedestrian tracks.
Berlin is blessed with wide streets and most pavements, except the narrowest ones, have cycle paths. The flat terrain of the city makes it perfect for cycling and the parks have a positive attitude towards cyclists. Most cycle paths in Berlin have been constructed to connect to other neighbourhoods and with the public transport system. The German Railways System also has a Call a Bike scheme, where bicycles can be picked up and left at major train stations for around 15 euros a day. Bicycles can also be taken on public transport with a valid ticket. Hiring a bike is easy in Berlin and there are many rental businesses all over the city. Many of the hire companies offer guided tours by bike of Berlin and some are themed. This is a great way to find out more about the city and its history and serves as the perfect orientation to Berlin. One of the best is a tour of the green spaces of Berlin, which cover a third of the city. Visitors can also take night cycling tours of Berlin, which show off the illuminations and give a completely different perspective of the city, showing it in a vibrant and yet enchanting way.
In Berlin, there are a number of regulations in place to protect cyclists and ensure their safety on the roads. If there is a cycle path for example, cyclists are expected to use it and not the pavement or street. There are also a number of fines that can be imposed on cyclists when they ride in a dangerous manner and cause an accident. All bicycles must have a warning bell and have the appropriate lights and reflectors. In Berlin, drivers will look out for cyclists before negotiating a junction, unlike other cities in the world.
Berlin has a number of classic and scenic cycling routes that show the city at it finest. One of the classic tours to cycle all or part of is the Mauerweg or the 160km trail along what was the Berlin Wall. The route begins at Potsdamer Platz and passes the famous Checkpoint Charlie. At Bernauer Strasse, cyclists can see remnants of the wall and the infamous death strip, where so many people tried to escape, before heading on to Alexander Platz. The route stretches through the old East West border area and is a good ride to consider as a long distance trail or a shorter cycle ride that reflects this city’s most recent past. Other good cycle rides are out to Potsdam, which is a popular day trip from Berlin. With over twenty palaces and spectacular gardens from the Prussian era, there is a lot to see and do whilst cycling. Taking in the Sanssouci Palace, one of the most famous in the world, and the Cecelienhof Palace, to name just two of the historic places to visit, a cycling tour of Potsdam is well worth considering. There are cycling trails that encircle Berlin and take in some of the most famous sights in the city and from European history. These include the River Spree, the Parliament Building and the world famous Brandenburg Gate. Other trails take in the Wannsee area, which is a very interesting and picturesque cycle ride. Berlin has many cafes and restaurants, so taking a break will give many choices of what and where to eat and drink. This is a city that has so much to offer visitors that one visit is probably not long enough.
(Image by Roman Lashkin on Flickr)