The 368-metre Fernsehturm, or TV tower, is now an iconic part of the skyline, but socialist German Democratic Republic built it in a bit of a hurry during the 1960s to show off how efficient communism could be, and to make sure their broadcast signal covered all households in Berlin for fear of people tuning in to West German programmes. Now it’s the highest publicly accessible building in Europe and more than a million people every year go up to the observational level to take in a breathtaking view of the city. If you want to go and haven’t already booked tickets, (you should) go early because there’ll probably be a line, particularly if the weather is nice.
Address: Panoramastr. 1 a
Getting there: Bus: TXl, m48, 100, 200, 248, n5, n8, s5, s7, s75, s9/ U2, U5, U8
Tram: m4, m5, m6
The seat of German parliament with the glass dome is another iconic landmark in Berlin. It has a troubled past: Kaiser Wilhelm II railed against this “pinnacle of bad taste in the late 19th century; it burned down in 1933 and Hitler cited this as evidence of a Communist plot and constrained freedom of the press and banned political marches; and it was destroyed in World War 2. Norman Foster redesigned and expanded the building in the 1990s . It’s free to go into the dome and roof terrace, but you have to register online at least two days in advance. There’s even a rooftop restaurant.
Address: Platz der republik 1
Getting there: U55, Bundestag, s1, s2, s25 Brandenburger Tor, Bus: 100, m85
Yes we have a non-functioning airport on this list, but Tempelhof is worth a visit. The former parade ground and airport has witnessed historic events: the Graf Zeppelin coming back from a tour of the Arctic in 1931, a visit from Charles Lindbergh after the first ever solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic, Hitler addressing more than a million people at a Nazi gathering in 1933 and more. Now it’s a huge public park beloved by cyclists, dog walkers, skateboarders, skaters, families on picnics, people flying kites, and urban farmers. It’s one of the world’s largest buildings in a central location for public use.
Address: Platz der luftbrücke
Getting there: U8, Tempelhof
Wannsee Walk and Lake Tour
To continue our theme of enjoying nature, go to this prime expanse of water in the far western part of the city. Wannsee is a well-known lake in Berlin with stylish buildings, white imported sand, and 355,000 square metres of space for bathers, boat rental, a playground with a water slide, and plenty of yacht clubs. There’s a popular walking and hiking path that takes you through forests, sandy paths, and lodges. You can also enjoy the 28-km Wannsee route, a long cycling path that takes you through an equally diverse range of scenery. History buffs, if you want a break from the nice scenery: the Wannsee villa, where Nazis agreed to deport and murder European Jews, is now a museum.
This crosses the old East-West border — passing under Glienicke Bridge, where the spy swaps were once done.
Address: Wannsee station
Getting There: s1, Wansee Banhoff Buses: 114/118/218/316/318/620
Berliners rarely need an excuse for a sauna, especially in the colder months, and there’s plenty to choose from. For sheer size and variety, the massive Thermen am europa-center, at nürnberger straße, near the Ku’damm offers panoramic views of the city, a heated outdoor pool and various baths. For a huge saltwater pool surrounded by colorful lights and music, try the liquidrom on möckernstraße, which also has a small warm pool where you can watch the stars. For sheer quirkiness, try the Badeschiff (bathing ship) in the east harbour of the spree. Here, a floating swimming pool and sauna have been converted from a ship’s hull.
However, the most relaxing sauna in town is the private members’ club and hotel Soho House , according to Johann Haehling von Lanzenauer. Non-members can use the sauna and steam room, and enjoy one of many treatments in this gorgeously designed chill zone.
Address: Torstraße 1, Berlin
Getting There: U2, rosa-luxenburg Platz