|Type of tour:||Self-guided|
|Distance:||20 Miles/day average|
|Dates:||Sundays: May 25-Sep 7, 2014 (additional dates available for groups of 4 or more)|
|Start city:||Berlin, Germany|
|End city:||Berlin, Germany|
This tour offers a most fascinating experience. Cycle through Berlin and around what was formerly called "West Berlin", following the former border line between East and West. This one-week tour is very memorable and allows ample time to visit points of interest in Berlin and Potsdam.
Although the tour starts and ends in Berlin, the tour is surprisingly rural and travels through quiet countryside and wooded nature reserves, along idyllic lakes and rivers, through farming villages and medieval towns, and by medieval castles and baroque palaces.
For many cyclists, the highlight will be Potsdam, one of Germany's hidden gems. When the Iron Curtain lifted from Potsdam, it revealed to the world a wealth of architectural and historical treasures including an extensive landscape of castles, palaces and sprawling parks. (See "Articles" section of this page.)
Learn more about self-guided tours.
Day 1: Berlin
Individual arrival to Berlin. Rental bicycles which have been booked in advance will be waiting at your destination hotel when you arrive.
Overnight in Berlin.
Day 2: Downtown Berlin - Treptow (13-16 miles/20-25 km)
Your first venture begins at the Brandenburger Gate and follows the path of the former Berlin Wall. Take time to enjoy the sights in the Berlin city centre before continuing the tour to the square, ‘Potsdamer Platz’.
Cycle on to the former border control Checkpoint Charlie, where you may want to visit the Border Museum. From there, follow the path of the former Wall alongside the city district of Kreuzberg, over the Spree, to the Ostbahnhof. Here you will find a remnant of the Berlin wall, called the The East Side Gallery, which has been transformed into a wall of art by various artists. Follow the Wall to Treptow.
Spend the night in Neukölln or Treptow.
Day 3: Treptow – Schönefeld – Teltow (25-27 miles/40-44 km)
Before going on, you may want to make a quick stop at the Soviet War Memorial in the Treptower Park. Afterwards, cycle through Treptower's small summer garden area to the former Sonnenallee border crossing (made renowned by L. Hausmann's film). The first German airport for engine powered airplanes was built in 1909 in nearby Adlershof. Once you reach Schönefeld, continue past Bukow and outlying areas to Teltow.
Overnight in Teltow.
Day 4: Teltow – Potsdam (16-19 miles/25-30 km)
Cycle the route of the "Stammbahn", the first Prussian train to run from Potsdamer Platz to Potsdam in 1838. Along the way you will pass the former border control point, 'Drei Linden'. Cross over Königsweg and go through the Berlin forest towards Babelsberg and Potsdam. You may want to use the afternoon to go sight seeing or visit the Sanssouci Palace complex.
Overnight in Potsdam.
Day 5: Potsdam – Wannsee – Spandau (20-22 miles/32-36 km)
Leaving Potsdam, ride along the Havel River and through Babelsberg Park. Babelsberg Palace offers a Café for a leisurely pause. Continue past the Glienicker Bridge, along the banks of the Havel River. Ride through the Berlin forest past the Peacock Island Wannsee. Afterwards, take the ferry to Kladow. Follow the former border by the United Glienicker Heath to Staaken.
Overnight in Staaken or Spandau.
Note: The ferry to Kladow is €6 per person, payable locally (not included in the tour cost).
Day 6: Spandau – Henningsdorf – Hohen Neuendorf (25-27 miles/40-44 km)
Leaving Staaken, your route will take you north through the Spandau Forest north to Nieder Neuendorf and Henningsdorf. Cross the Havel River, follow the path of the former Wall through the Stolper moorland towards Frohnau. Continue through the Tegeler woods towards Hohen Neuendorf and Glienicke.
Your overnight stay will be in one of these towns.
Day 7: Hohen Neuendorf – Wedding – Downtown Berlin (25 miles/40 km)
Ride through the nature reserve Tegeler Fliess. Follow the path of the former Wall south along the edge of Reinickendorf (former West Berlin) via Niederschönhausen (former East Berlin) in the direction of Pankow until you reach Wedding. Cycle through the Mauerpark to Bernauer Street. Pass the Nordbahnhof and continue between Berlin city centre and the district of Wedding until you reach the former border crossing, 'Invalidenstrasse'. Cross the Spree on the Kronprinzen Bridge and make your way to the Reichstag and Brandenburger Gate.
Overnight in downtown Berlin.
Day 8: Departure from Berlin
Depart after breakfast. Travellers are responsible for their homeward transportation.
Sundays: May 25-Sep 7, 2014 (additional dates available for groups of 4 or more)
These are sample hotels and may vary based on availability.
Day 1: Hotel Allegra, Berlin
Day 2: Estrel Hotel and Convention Center, Berlin-Neukolln
Day 3: Hammers Landhotel, Teltow
Day 4: Landhotel Potsdam, Potsdam/Golm
Day 5: Sorate Hotel Berlin-Spandau, Berlin
Day 6: Hotel am Lunik Park, Hohen Neuendorf
Day 7: Hotel Allegra, Berlin
Interested in visiting other areas before or after your tour? Visit our hotels page to learn more about lodging options.
Bikes available to be rented (in advance at the time of booking) include:
All above bike rentals will be equipped with the following at no additional charge:
The bikes will have FLAT pedals. If you want to bring your own pedals, please bring your own shoes and also the necessary equipment to change the pedals.
If you plan to bring your own seat, please ensure that it is a universal seat post.
Helmets are NOT available to be rented. We recommend, for safety and hygiene reasons, that you bring your own helmet.
The terrain on this tour is flat. This tour is for cyclists of all ages and physical conditions.
Tour Start and End
Nearest airport and train station: Berlin, Germany
Tips on getting to and from your tours
Weatherspark.com offers information on average weather conditions at most destinations throughout the globe. Type a destination in the search box, and select "Averages," and you'll find a range of information such as average high and low temperatures, precipitation, cloudy days, humidity and wind speed/direction.
Of course, if your tour is coming up in the next week, you can also select "Forecast" to get the most current information on upcoming conditions.
The following article about Potsdam, adjacent to Berlin and a key destination of this tour, was written by BikeToursDirect president Jim Johnson and published in 1998. Much of the information--other than prices and currency--remain true today.
For nearly 40 years, Potsdam lay behind the Iron Curtain, a jewel of a city hidden to most of the world. Sadly, although the curtain has lifted, few Americans take the time to visit and most of them only on sightseeing buses from adjacent Berlin.
That’s a shame, since this UNESCO World Heritage city is a true treasure.
It’s rare that such a wealth of history—old and recent—and such a concentration of architectural treasures lie within so small an area. During a period of barely three centuries, Prussia’s Hohenzollern kings built an amazing collection of palaces, parks and gardens. In the extensive parks surrounding the city, the Hohenzollern kings commissioned palace after palace, all set in carefully designed landscape gardens. In the 19th century, renowned landscape architect Peter Joseph Lenné unified the palaces and gardens into the harmonious landscape of palaces and gardens that visitors enjoy today.
Most are within walking distance of each other—walks that cross a stunning landscape of 19 lakes, two rivers and expansive hills, forests and gardens. In fact, more than half of Potsdam is either forest or park.
As awareness of Potsdam grows, increasing numbers of visitors are opting to overnight in Potsdam and do day trips to Berlin instead of the more “traditional” other way around. Room rates and restaurants are considerably less expensive and generally more familiar. Visit a restaurant or pub twice in Potsdam, and they’ll know you.
“Berlin is masses of people,” said one American visitor met in a Potsdam bookstore. “For me, Potsdam fills the same need that it did for the 18th-century kings. Potsdam is a refuge, a peaceful place. I can spend hours exploring the parks, and I never hear a car horn or see a traffic light. If I want big-city action, I can be in the heart of Berlin within 25 minutes by S-Bahn or train. In Berlin, the evenings belong to the young. I’d rather stay in Potsdam.”
That doesn’t mean Potsdam is a sleepy backwater. As capital of the State of Brandenburg and as a university town, Potsdam is lively by day or night. Potsdam also benefits from an overflow from Berlin of students and international residents. Therefore, despite being a city of barely 130,000 inhabitants, Potsdam can offer a surprising variety of dining (and drinking) choices.
Many of those options are in the Baroque Dutch Quarter, a group of red-brick, gabled houses built in the early 18th century to attract Dutch tradesmen. The four-block district is filled with courtyard restaurants, cafés and pubs like M18, Hollow Pear, Flying Dutchman, La Maison du Chocolat and Café Heider. Adjacent to the Dutch Quarter is Brandenburg Street, an 18th-century residential area built to house both families and Prussian troops—six soldiers to a household. Today, Brandenburg and neighboring streets have been transformed into wide pedestrian boulevards filled with smiling shoppers, and many of the houses into eclectic book stores, antique shops and bistros.
Many visitors to Potsdam also discover a poignancy of the more recent past, starting with the Potsdam Conference, which in many ways set the stage for the division of Germany. That drama played out quickly with the Russian occupation and the creation of the German Democratic Republic. Signs still remain from those times, which after all ended a scant 14 years ago. As recently as 1994, the city still had 60,000 Russian soldiers. Those interested can wander the former “Forbidden City,” a walled-off villa district once controlled by the KGB, and the KGB prison, now regional headquarters for Amnesty International.
Potsdam also presents an excellent case study of a former East German city adjusting to life in unified Germany. Most notably for tourists, many significant structures were torn down by the government or fell into neglect. Many attractions that you can visit today have been open less than a year, with restoration work funded by foundations and public figures. Work continues in other areas, including around the ruins of the City Palace, built in 1662, severely damaged in 1945, and almost fully demolished in 1961.
But, for most visitors, it’s Sanssouci that’s the prime attraction. Sanssouci Park alone covers 724 acres—compared to Central Park’s 840—and has three palaces: the rococo Sanssouci Palace, the Baroque New Palace and Charlottenhof Palace.
A king who joined his troops on the battlefield, Frederick the Great commissioned Sanssouci Palace in 1747 as a summer palace where he could have a respite from battle sans souci—without worry. You can see his fatigue in the many statues: the warrior in marble, his sword in its sheath, his shield down, a look of weariness on his face.
Most of what visitors see is the ornate original—not reconstructions or duplicates—and perhaps German’s most impressive example of rococo architecture. In front of it, vineyard terraces stretch in geometric shapes into the park.
Over the coming century, descendants made their mark on Sanssouci Park with new constructions: like the New Palace, a massive, 200-room Baroque masterpiece built after the Seven Years’ War to demonstrate Prussian pride—and in response to the palace at Versailles. The neo-classical Charlottenhof followed in 1826. A visual highlight then and now is the Orangerie, a 300-meter-long palace built to house large tropical plants—including 450 potted trees—during the winter. During warmer weather, the grounds in front of the Orangerie become a Mediterannean garden complete with palm trees.
Many visitors to Sanssouci Park neglect the smaller but exquisite New Garden, built as an English landscape garden in the late 18th century. Many Potsdam residents actually prefer the park, a strip of green space between two lakes—the Heiliger See and the Jungfernsee. Relatively few tourists come to the park, although it provides the setting for two charming palaces from two different eras: the Marble Palace, a Baroque masterpiece from the late 18th century, and Cecilienhof, the final Hohenzollern palace, built in 1917 in the style of an English country estate.
Although Cecilienhof is the youngest of the Hohenzollern palaces, it carries perhaps the greatest direct significance for Americans and modern Europe. It was here that the Potsdam Conference took place from July 17-August 8, 1945, to address issues related to post-War Germany. What we take for granted today was still being defined and surmised in 1945. In many ways, the future of Germany was negotiated there—and with that future, the hopes and opportunities not just of one nation but of Europe and the world. In many ways, the Cold War started in Cecilienhof.
Much of Cecilienhof remains as it was in 1945. The conference room is as it was, its circular table ringed by chairs. Flowers still form a large red star in the entry courtyard. The offices of Stalin, Churchill and Truman have been preserved as well, and visitors can almost feel the personalities of the people involved, especially Stalin in his red, no-nonsence office that was almost brutal in its plainness. Visitors can also see some of the games-playing that went on—such as the chair that Stalin moved into Churchill’s study that was too small for the rotund statesman. It was also at Cecilienhof that Truman got word that the A-bomb was ready and gave the order to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Even less visited than the New Garden is Babelsberg Park, just across the Havel River. Located on a bluff, Babelsberg Palace built in the early 19th century in English Tudor Gothic style, offers a commanding view of the Havel landscape and ample opportunities to explore the romantic park. Babelsberg is also adjacent to one of Potsdam several villa neighborhoods, their expansive Jugendstil homes reflecting the relative wealth of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Some proud residents joke that Potsdam is “Prussian Disneyland” due to rich representation of other countries and cultures such as the Chinese Teahouse, the Dragon House, and the Roman Baths, the Italian gardens around Charlottenhof and, of course, the Dutch Quarter, the Mosque, and the Orangerie in the Sanssouci Park, modeled in part on the Villa Medici in Rom. Then there’s the Russian Colony Alexandrowka, with its 13 houses built in 1826 for Russian singers left behind after Prussia and Russia were victorious over Napoleon’s troops.
After extensive restoration, the faux Italian village at the royal estate Krongut Bornstedt re-opened in June 2002 looking much as it did 150 years ago and selling many of the same goods. There’s a wood-oven bakery, a candlemaker, a glassblower, a potter and a jeweler. Everything sold there is created on premises, right down to the tailor shop with its whirring sewing machine and to the “Bornstedter Bueffel” (“Bornstedt Buffalo”), a rich, frothy brown beer brewed as it was in the 17thcentury.
The best time to visit Potsdam is from May through October, although the end of July through August can be hot and humid. The fewest tourists come in May and October and, with the flowers in full bloom, May and June are perhaps the most colorful.
For the parks—especially the palaces—go early in the day. This isn’t just to avoid crowds but also total disappointment; as part of the preservation process, the palaces are limited to a certain number of people coming through each day. When they reach that number, they close. Pay attention to which palaces are open on which days, since each castle closes on a different day. The New Palace is the only palace open on Mondays. Don’t neglect the less popular palaces—historic and architectural gems that often offer no lines, no waiting.
While the parks and palaces are the prime attraction, set aside some time to walk around the Baroque Old Town. Also, some of the best views of the parks and palaces are from the lakes and river. Relaxing cruises are available of different lengths and routes, from 90-minute lake tours to full-day excursions from Potsdam to Berlin and back.
For English-speaking visitors, Potsdam does present a few challenges. The city and tourism websites are in German, and public sightseeing tours are in German only. For that reason, you may want to consider hiring a private guide, especially if you have specific interests in history, architecture or culture—and don’t mind spending €120-150 ($130-163) for a half-day. In addition, many of the city guides are also allowed to provide private tours of the palaces. This can cut considerable time from waiting or even seeing attractions that aren’t of particular interest. The tourist office—which does speak English—can help locate and hire an appropriate guide. On a recent visit, Kevin Kennedy, an American who has lived in the Potsdam area most of his life and is working on his doctoral thesis relating to German history, was superb with his knowledge, passion and insight.
Potsdam features an extremely efficient and comprehensive public transit system of trams and buses, which also connect with the S-Bahn and regional rail systems for travel to Berlin and throughout Brandenburg. Probably the least expensive way to explore Potsdam is on bus route 695, which makes an almost full circle past the major sights. Buy a one- or multi-day pass (from €3/$3 for one day to €10/$11 for a week), step on and off at leisure, and explore.
This article orginally appeared in Gemutlichkeit Travel Newsletter about travel to Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Germany's fairytale castles, romantic villages and bustling cities are surrounded by a wealth of pristine natural landscapes. Only a unified nation since 1990, Germany now boasts Europe's largest economy and second most populous nation. Within its unified boundaries, Germany remains a nation of diversity.
Northern Germany’s coastal terrain along the Baltic Sea includes Hamburg, a harbor city of canals and waterways. Southern Germany's Bavaria region, known as "the green roof of Germany," features snow-tipped Alps, the Black Forest, Neuschwanstein Castle and the historic, picturesque city of Munich. Cruise the Rhine River through the western regions and visit Cologne's famous Gothic Cathedral built in 1248. Experience the arts, fashion and music in the capital, Berlin, and see the revitalized city of Dresden destroyed during World War II.
Mecklenburger Radtour is a small and energetic team of cycling and walking professionals. Over 100 of their tours are personally planned. They are out their available programs with yet another over 100 available tours provided through partnerships with reliable travel companies in Germany and other Europeans countries. Located in Stalsund, Germany, Mecklenburg's particular strengths include routes, hotels and equipment that has been carefully selected to best suit the customer's needs.
The reservation for the tour is effected in writing. The booking becomes binding upon our confirmation of tour date and tour price. If the contents of the tour confirmation digress from the contents of the booking, a new offer is made by the 'Mecklenburger Radtour' and to which we are bound for a period of 10 days. The contract becomes effective based on this new offer if you declare your acceptance within the binding deadline to the 'Mecklenburger Radtour'.
2. Down payment and settlement of the balance:
Pursuant to the revision of §651k BGB/German civil code the traveller receives an insurance note pursuant to the regulations under § 651k German civil code to insure the tour price against insolvency. The same applies to for the payment conditions of this regulation Upon receipt of the tour confirmation and the simultaneously transmitted security, a down payment of 20 %, at least however, • 100.- per person is due, however, at most • 250,-. If the booking was effected by a travel agency, you effect down payment and settlement of the balance with said agency. If you have booked directly with the 'Mecklenburger Radtour', the settlement of the balance is effected to one of our accounts under mention of the invoice number by transfer or crossed cheque a fortnight before commencing on the tour. The tour documents will be sent to you upon receipt of the full price.
3. Services und prices:
The services contained in the tour price are described under the respective tour. We reserve the right to change the route taken by the respective tour and from the km data. Furthermore, we reserve the right to correct errors, print and calculation mistakes. Visitor's tax is not included in the tour price, this has to be paid locally at the respective lodging. Nothing is charged by the 'Mecklenburger Radtour' for children under the age of 4 years. Possible costs that may arise with individual providers have to be settled there and then on the spot. Services included in the tour and which have not been claimed cannot be reimbursed. Should rooms with shower/WC or bath/WC as confirmed by us not be made available by the providers, we shall reimburse the difference. The tour organiser reserves the right to accommodate individual guests in another establishment of greatest possible similarity in extraordinary cases. We reserve the right to charge a single room price should you book half a double room in accompanying group tours when no further guest occupies the other half.
4. Client's cancellation, change of booking, replacement:
Should you withdraw from the reserved tour, we shall charge a fee amounting to 20 % of the tour price per person, however at least • 100.- per person up to the 30th day before tour commencement. In the case of a cancellation between the 29th and 21st day we shall calculate 30 % of the tour prices, in the case of a cancellation between the 20th and 07th day we shall calculate 60 % of the tour prices, and between the 6th and last day before commencement of the tour 90% of the tour price per person. Whatever the case may be, we recommend that you conclude a cancellation cover. A reimbursement of the tour price on the first day and after arrival is not possible. Should you be able to find a suitable person to replace you, we only charge • 50.- for the change of reservation. When changing the tour date, the tour course or changing to another tour, we charge a fee of • 100.-. Your wishes for a change of reservation that are received as from the 29th day before beginning the tour, can, if possible, only be effected after cancellation of the tour contract under the above listed cancellation fees and simultaneous new reservation. You are responsible for ensuring that you have all the necessary documents or possibly a visa if required. Should you have to interrupt your tour due to lacking or insufficient documents, we shall have to treat you as a cancellation.
5. Cancellation/discontinuation by the tour organizer:
If we have to cancel a tour for reasons beyond our control, the payments already effected will be reimbursed. There are no further demands. Should the minimum of 8 guests for a group tour not be filled, we are entitled to withdraw from the contract a fortnight before the tour is to begin. Payments already received are reimbursed without any further delay. There is no entitlement to further claims.