Berlin has a multitude of experiences to offer and it’s hard to pick a place to start. But I’ve made an easy-to-follow guide you can use. The Central Berlin self-guided walking tour if for you if you’re in Berlin for the first time or if you want to discover some central places you might not know about. The Central Berlin self-guided walking tour features some of the famous central landmarks of the city and some not so known corners of the central area.
And if you are staying at the Wombat’s Berlin, this is definitely for you. Because it’s a free self-guided walking tour from a #WombatsTraveller to another. The Wombat’s Hostel is also the starting point. I bet you had no idea you can do so many cool things, so close to your hostel. Make sure to check the first guide too, as it is another self-guided walking tour starting from the Wombat’s Hostel.
I explore most of these places that you will find on this self-guided walking tour together with Kash from Budget Traveller. He made my Berlin Experience amazing, and I loved every second of it. Check out his travel blog to discover cities, food and hostels guides.
Let’s explore some of the East Berlin’s culture and discover some German culture facts. Like the currywurst.
This is the second self-guided walking tour, from a series of three:
1. Berlin Before and After the Wall: How the West Won (and Where It Got Them)
2. Berlin Before and After the Wall: Central Berlin (this post)
3. Berlin Before and After the Wall: Berlin’s Culture
The second self-guided tour of Berlin is “Berlin before and after the Wall 2: Central Berlin”
We start off from the Wombat’s City Hostel in Berlin and reach Alexanderplatz by foot. Takes about 11 minutes, depending on where you want to reach in the square. It is one of the famous squares of Berlin, a meeting point, a reference point, and has many cool things nearby to check out.
World Time Clock (Weltzeituhr)
The World Time Clock is a famous meeting place in Alexanderplatz. It is also known as Urania World Clock and it shows the current time in 148 cities from around the world. It was constructed in 1969 and by 2015, it was declared a historical monument.
Park Inn panoramic view
Ok, this is the best panoramic view of Berlin. I have tried many rooftops for their views, but this is the best. Tha Park Inn by Radisson is also the closest building to the TV tower, of a significant height. Both buildings are practically in the same square.
The rooftop is 150 metres above the ground, 40th floor. There is a lift to the 37th floor, and afterwards, you have to take the stairs. There is a fence to keep people safe, but you can get pictures through it. Although pictures with you in them will look like you are in a prison.
The price is affordable (4 Euros). Also, there is a bar and some chill chairs to spend some lazy afternoon moments, a cosy evening with the best view or a pleasant date night. I recommend to go there one hour before the sunset and enjoy this entire moment. While takings tons of pictures.
Teacher’s House (Haus des Lehrers)
The House of the teacher was built by the GDR (German Democratic Republic) and its murals illustrate the main life aspects in the GDR. The mural wraps around the entire building and it’s titled “Our life” (Unser Leben).
2. Hackescher Markt
Heading towards Hackescher Markt to discover an alternative urban side of Berlin, full of street art and unexpected foods. Hackescher Markt has developed into a cultural and commercial centre after Wall fell, famous for its nightlife. I heard Thursday and Saturdays they have an open market. I recommend it if you are interested in clothes designed in Berlin.
Watch out for the small, ground square memorials, which are meant to remind us of the Jewish who used to live in the area and were at some point deported during the Nazi regime.
Hackesche Höfe is a famous courtyard (eight to be exact), which is quite famous. The interesting Art Nouveau style will surely catch your eye. The courtyards host restaurants and cafes, hotels, galleries, unique shops and even a cinema (Chamäleon Variety Theatre – which is housed in what it used to be a wine tavern). You will find the entrance at 40 Rosenthaler Straße, through a nice arch.
This entire area is a symbol in itself of Berlin after the Wall, as the entire place revived and was restored to become one of the most loved and cosmopolitan areas.
Dead Chicken Alley (Rosenthaler Straße)
Come to this not so touristy but famous alley to discover some of the Berlin culture, where street art meets some Nazi stories, one of the most hipster bars in the centre of Berlin and cool Instagram shots. Take some shots, even stay for a beer/coffee. Absorb the feeling of the place. This is one place to visit, to get as close as possible to get in contact with Berlin after the wall feeling.
Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt
On the Dead Chicken Alley, you will find this house, which used to be a brooms and brushes factory. The owner, Otto Weidt, was hiring and hiding blind and deaf Jews from the Nazi agents. Enter this small and free admission museum to discover the heartbreaking stories of this house.
I believe this is one of the Berlin World War II sites to visit, where a German, Otto Weidt, and has put all his efforts to protect his Jewish workers from persecution and deportation. Impressive. Mind-blowing. Unexpected and dramatic.
3. Museum Island
Alte börse – Friedrichsbrücke (Friedrich Bridge)
You are now facing the Museum Island, and you stand between Alexanderplatz and Nikolaiviertel. You can take a boat cruise from this place. I believe this view is a great illustration of Central Berlin before and after the wall fell, in just one picture.
As you pass by, admire the museums, the architecture and if you are lucky enough you might get some great shots without any people in. If you want to visit any of the museums, I believe you will end your tour here, or you can continue the self-guided walking tour through central Berlin, and come back another day. Museums require a lot of energy and I would reserve one day just for visiting museums if you like doing so.
Also, if you plan to visit the museums from the Museum Island, there is a special pass for it, and it includes all of them. If you want to visit a mix of Berlin’s attractions, from all around the city, then you cannot go wrong with the Berlin Welcome Card. Available to buy it for 1,2,3 5 or 7 days, it also includes a public transport ticket and discounts to most attractions, shops and restaurants. Great value for money if you plan on visiting museums and galleries.
This a touristic and very photographed place in Berlin. From this park, you will get that very famous picture of the Berlin Dom. The Dom is also opened for visitors, but haven’t got the chance to visit it just yet.
This park is also famous because of Hitler’s speech which he held here on the 1st of May, the National Labour Day. Stand in the same place Adolf Hitler stood and try to imagine, if you will, Berlin between the world wars, which it didn’t look much different from today’s city, in that site.
Continue the tour, by crossing the bridge, on the same side, towards the Neue Wache (The New Guard). This impressive and imposing monument serves as the “Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship”.
Remember that this area where you are now, Called Mitte district, was located in the East Berlin. The Soviet part. Even then, the place served as a memorial. For a different cause though. It was the “Memorial to the Victims of Fascism and Militarism”.
The sculpture you can see today, it is called Mother with her Dead Son and it is placed right under the ceiling’s window (Occulus how they call it), to be exposed to nature’s climate. It symbolizes the suffering of civilians during World War II. This should definitely be on your Berlin WW2 sites to visit list.
Walk until you see the Humboldt University. Then, cross the street and you will reach Babelplatz. In the middle of this square, you will have to pay attention to the ground. Right between Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) and The University Library (Universitätsbibliothek Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) a 1-meter square glass window opens in the ground.
The inside of the underground, is actually a memorial for a famous Nazi scene, the burning of over 20 000 books. The books they burned here included works by Heinrich Mann, Erich Maria Remarque, Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, Albert Einstein and many other authors.
Nowadays, this underground memorial is actually made out of empty bookshelves, big enough to store those 20 000 burnt books. On the glass plate, which is set into the cobblestones, you can read “Das war ein Vorspiel nur, dort wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen.” (in English: “That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people”) – Heinrich Heinefrom, Almansor (1821).
Students hold an annual book sale in the market to commemorate this memorial. Also, across the street, in front of the university, there is a small flea market with many books for sale.
After you will try to take a picture of the Babelplatz memorial, with little success, cross the street back to the university. Get inside and exit on the back door, walk around its backyard and get to Hegelplatz(There is a statue of Hegel). Assuming you got here around midday, some students should be around. If they are not on holiday.
On the ground floor of the first building of the university, is a snack bar. A nice place to buy a snack, student prices too. Coffee was not the best one in town, so stick with the water. The pasta was good though.
(Fotospot Bode-Museum mit Fernsehturm)
As the name in German has it, this is a very cool place to get a photo of Bode Museum, one of the art museums from the museum island and the TV tower. From a bridge. With the river. Unexpected hos lovely Berlin is and how much beauty it holds.
Continue on the Tucholskystraße (straight ahead) and turn left on the Oranienburger Str (the 3rd one on the left after the bridge). Admire the street art.
Or turn a right on the same street and stop for a nice tea. is a traditional Tajikistan tea room, which originally opened in the ’70. Locals seem to love the uncountable tea specialities, as they lay on the colourful carpets.
6. Kunsthaus Tacheles
At Oranienburger Straße 54, you will find yourself in front of a large, and deserted building which bears a great deal of history. Once more it is on the verge of demolition, this one of its kind architecture in Europe, a building which was built as a passage to unite 2 streets. Once a Nazi establishment, and after the Wall fell, a friendly urban environment for artists and their ateliers.
This 9000 square meters space, faces demolition. Although the creative minds who helped build this place promised to not abandon it, anonymous influences made them leave eventually. This is the case of losing a part of history and culture, detrimental to money and new city buildings.
This former art centre and sculpture park, covered in murals, which consists in itself a piece of modern art, was abandoned by the artists collective in 2012.
It was originally called the Friedrichsstadtpassagen, and was built to be a department store in the Jewish quarter. During the WW2, it served as a Nazi prison for a while.
As you walk until the intersection with Friedrichstraße, turn left, to see the back of the building. Or what’s left of it. What’s you’ll see is a mural any football fan will love. And not only.
House of Small Wonder
Walk until the first intersection, with Johannisstraße, and turn a right there. At Johannisstraße 20, will see some doors. The entrance reads, House of small wonders. Don’t be afraid to enter. It has a beautiful lobby and that amazing staircase gets you to a magical restaurant upstairs.
What? Yes, exactly. I think I asked about 10 times about the name of this place. Wasn’t sure I heard it right. This cosy and beautiful place, as it looks, but also in its essence, has vegan cakes. I rest my case. And all cakes are so beautiful.
After you stuff yourself with any kind of cake, turn back and turn a left on Auguststraße.
At Auguststraße 24, a restaurant (and a dance school) is hidden behind a beautiful garden. Even if you don’t know about the place, the outdoor will make you stop and take a picture. Don’t be shy, and go inside. During the day, should be pretty clear. If you are lucky, you will see people practising their dance. The inside of the restaurant looks like an 80s club, lots of tables, a bar and another backdoor outside garden.
During the evenings it gets crowded. Booking a table in advance they say it’s recommended. Probably the show is worth it.
7. Memorial Jewish Cemetery
Walk until the first road intersection, then turn a right on Große Hamburger. At number 26, is the Memorial Jewish Cemetary. An impressive set of statues guard the entrance. Walk around for a bit. This former cemetery was destroyed by the Gestapo in 1943.
After you exit the cemetery, turn left and continue your walk. at the end of the street, an ice cream shops await.
Paul Möhring – Tradition & Wahnsinn
Ice cream? Yes, please. Almost always. Not when I’m hungry.
8. Curry 61
If you are rather hungry and want to get back later for ice cream, then I’ve got you covered. As you reach the end on the street, turn a left on Oranienburger Str. At number 6, a small curry joint has some people roaming in front of it. They sell mainly wursts, and they even have a vegan one. What a joy to my senses. Gotta love Berlin.
Why should you try the Currywurst in Berlin?
Apparently, the currywurst is a German fast food. It’s nothing too fancy, just a pork, steamed sausage, topped with curry ketchup, some more curry powder on top, and usually some fries on the side.
This snack was invented in 1949 by Herta Heuwer in Berlin. She combined the ketchup and curry powder she got from the British soldiers, with the German grilled pork sausage. She was selling this cheap snack to the construction workers who were rebuilding the city.
Today, the currywurst is an icon of the German popular culture.
I believe this was a lot of sightseeing deserves to end with a nice beer or glass of wine, on a nice rooftop. If you are staying at Wombat’s City Hostel in Berlin (where we also started the Central Berlin self-guided walking tour), then you are in luck.
Our last stop, for this evening, is the Wombat’s City Hostel Berlin.
(of course, the night can be longer than this. Good thing the hostel is located in an area full of bars and pubs)
If you are still hungry, on the way to the hostel, you should stop at Monsieur Vuong (Vietnamese Restaurant). Vegan and vegetarian-friendly. They are always so full, it must be a sign that the food is good. And who doesn’t love bowls of food?!
After you reach the Wombat’s Hostel, get the most of that rooftop bar. Take as many pictures as you want, let people know just how amazing Berlin seems and feels. While enjoying the happy hour at the wombar (yes, it’s called a wom-bar).
PS. Huge thanks to Kash from Budget Traveller, for exploring Berlin with me. I couldn’t have done it without you!
This post was brought to you as a result of the #wombatsTraveller blog trip, created and managed by iambassador (http://www.iambassador.net) in partnership with wombat’s CITY HOSTELS [https://www.wombats-hostels.com].
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