Sometimes it can be hard to muster enthusiasm to see the city when all outside is cold and grey. Berlin offers plenty of opportunities to see the sights but also escape from the cold when you need to. Sometimes it’s nice to put away the ‘must see’ list and enjoy things at a more leisurely pace.
A great way to get your bearings in the city is to see it from above and one of the best places to do so is from the dome of the Reichstag building. The Reichstag is the building where the German parliament sits, however the building itself has a very interesting history, which can be discovered in a small photographic exhibit inside the dome.
A gently sloping pathway leads you up and around the inside of the dome, offering great vantage points to many of Berlin’s greatest landmarks, and a free audio guide explains a little of the history of each of them as you pass by. A wintery day in Berlin is the perfect time to visit the Reichstag as it offers you a small panoramic ‘tour’ of the city without having to brave the cold for too long. All visitors to the dome must register first (it’s free) and those in the know do so on the German Bundestag’s website. In summer it can be hard to get a booking – especially around sunset, however in winter you may find you have the whole rooftop almost to yourself and if you’re lucky you’ll get to see Berlin under a blanket of snow.
Button up your coats as you leave the Reichstag building and cross the road to find yourself in the wilderness. The Tiergarten park is the biggest park in the Berlin, and it is scattered with fascinating monuments, statues and memorials, many of which have lived in more than one place in the city. Most have signs offering some background on their travels as well as some great historic photos of the park before and during the wars. Don’t miss the sparkling Victory column right in the middle at Großer Stern.
As you reach the far south-west corner of the park, you will find the serene setting of Café am Neuen See. This may well be Berlin’s cosiest café, with a roaring fire, great views across the lake and candles lit throughout the room. Best of all is their very decadent hot chocolate served with luscious balls of Valrhona fondant and a large pot of hot milk. Finally, don’t miss one of the Tiergarten’s highlights – the outdoor gas lantern museum, displaying examples of historic gas lanterns from all over Europe, which you will also see in your travels through the streets of Berlin.
The Reichtag is located on the banks of the Spree, just around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate. The Tiergarten is across the road and there are large maps and signposts throughout the park to help you to find Café Am Neuen See and the Gaslight museum. Half the adventure is in the discovery!