There is nothing like seeing a city from above and Berlin has plenty of places where you can do just that. The sprawl of big cities can make it hard to get a sense of where everything is and it’s even harder when there’s no skyline to navigate by. However, the secret of skyscraper free cities like Berlin is the expansive views from above of rooftops, distant mountains, sparkling lakes that look like ponds and lush carpets of tree tops. Especially in autumn and especially at sunset. So we have complied just a few great spots in Berlin where you can take all of this in with not even a hint of concrete jungle to distract you.
The TV Tower
Berlin’s TV tower is without doubt the city’s most photographed attraction. (Don’t tell the Brandenburg Gate though). It is 368 metres tall which means it towers over Cologne’s (145 metres) and Hamburg’s (147 metres) very tall cathedrals and is therefore the tallest structure in Germany. Despite it being the most prominent feature of the city skyline, many don’t venture to the top and boy are the missing out. The views are spectacular as is the experience of simply being inside such an impressive piece of architecture. The TV Tower can be seen from wherever you are in the city (unless it’s hidden by a building) and as a result the views from the top are unparalleled. It’s design and construction have stories of their own and over time it has become a symbol of reunification and freedom for the city. The TV Tower is open every day of the year from 9am to midnight but hours change slightly in winter. An elevator transports visitors to the top at a rate of about 6 seconds per metre and once you arrive, there is a restaurant, panoramic observation level and a bar. Ticket prices start at €8.50 for children aged 4 – 16 and €13.00 for adults. Queues can be long so check out the ticketing options, in advance and buy the ticket online if you can. Check out the Berliner Fernsehturm website for all the information you need about visiting the TV Tower.
This little know observation deck on the 24th and 25th floors of the Kolhoff tower, right where the Berlin Wall once stood, is well worth a visit if you want some nice views while avoiding the crowds. It offers a great overview of the history of its location – Potsdamer Platz – with a photo exhibition at the top and even a section of the Berlin Wall. The Sony Centre is across the road from Panorama Punkt and as such, you’ll get a great view of it’s unusual canopy as well as the Tiergarten, the Philharmonie, the Kulturforum and some great architectural styles unique to Berlin. There’s also a cafe with big picture windows so you can continue to admire the view over refreshments. Don’t worry about stairs – Panorama Punkt is accessed by the fastest elevator in Europe.
This is a local secret and one you won’t find in most of the tourist guides. The huge suburb of Kreuzberg has Viktoriapark at its heart and the centre of the park is marked by a reasonably sized hill with an impressive cast iron national monument that commemorates the liberation wars on top. Strangely this is partnered with a large artificial waterfall that runs down to street level that is a replica of one in Poland much visited by Berliners. The waterfall is a popular spot for locals on a hot summer night and many people take their own drinks up to the monument to enjoy the sunset there. The view from the monument really gives you a sense of Berlin’s urban landscape and a number of familiar landmarks can be easily located (such as the TV Tower). It’s free, though you do have to spend some energy to climb up the hill. The Viktoriapark Monument is easily accessed from the hotel by the M19 bus stop which is just 2 minutes away at U Kurfurstendamm. Take the bus in the direction of Mehringdamm.
The Reichstag dome is not the highest viewing point but it is definitely the most informative. The impressive building where Germany’s parliament is housed is just around the corner from the Brandenburg Gate and offers a low flying bird’s eye view of almost every attraction that features in Berlin’s skyline. If you’ve been past, you may have noticed the long queues across the road. To avoid being in that queuing to book your visit, you should definitely book online on the German Bundestag’s website. If you do this, you will be ushered straight through on arrival on the day of your booking. (Same day bookings and visits are almost impossible). Once you get to the rooftop, multilingual audio guides are available and the pre recorded tour leads you up the ramp that circles the inside of the glass dome, directing you to significant landmarks and providing a little bit of background information. It’s a great way to get your bearings in the city and understand a bit of its history. There are also some great historic photos of the building throughout its many incarnations. Dome visits are free but must be booked in advance either in person at the booth across the road from the Reichstag or online as listed above.