Berlin Bike Trip: The Berliner Mauerweg, Part 1

Since we’ve been having beautiful weather lately, a good friend and I decided to do the Berliner Mauerweg, an official bike route that follows the former Berlin Wall. We knew we’d never get the whole thing done in one day, as it’s 160 km long, but we decided to see how far we’d get and take the closest S-bahn home.

We ate breakfast at her place and left at 10 am with lots of water and a packed lunch. It was chilly at first, because even though it’s been unseasonably warm, it’s still quite cold in the morning. It was also overcast (something that worried both of us when we woke up and looked outside), but luckily the sun came out and it warmed up fairly quickly. We started at Mauerpark and headed SOUTH. This part of the route goes through most of Berlin’s tourist attractions. We had to pass by Brandenburg Gate, Potsdamer Platz and the East Side Gallery and dodge tourists along the way. Depending on whether you’re local or visiting, this can be annoying or amazingly convenient. It’s fairly difficult to navigate the route through the city centre…we had an easy time because we live here, so even if we lost track of the signage (the route is marked the entire way) we both had a general idea of where the Wall was so we were able to easily find our way back.

After Kreuzberg, the Mauerweg heads along Treptow and Neukolln, and gets more residential. After a while, the city turns into an almost suburban landscape, and at the edge of the city you hit farmland. It’s quite charming…it’s full of horse ranches (many of which offer horse back riding if that’s something you’re interested in) and farms. As the Mauerweg runs along the edge of the city for the most part, this pretty much summed up the rest of the day. It was lovely…lovely weather, lovely landscape, and lots of exercise. 

We were pretty tired by the end of the day, and we took the S-bahn back from Griebnitzsee (technically in zone C, unfortunately). It wasn’t quite half the route, but close enough, and after this point the transport opportunities are few and far between, so it was the best point from which to leave. I estimate that we did about 70 km of the 160. We’ll do the other 90 km a bit later, which will work out well because there will be a few more daylight hours and hopefully we’ll be fitter by then…not that we’re in poor shape now, because being able to do ca. 70 km of cycling is nothing to sneer at!

Some tips for anyone wanting to attempt the Mauerweg:

-If you’re ridiculously fit and don’t want to stop and see anything, you can probably do it in one day. If you want to actually stop and look at things, and you can’t cycle rapidly on a continuous basis, it will take you 2 days. If you’re not particularly athletic, it may even take you 3. If you live in Berlin, plan accordingly (there isn’t access to transport along the entire route, though there are S-bahns and buses periodically, even along the edge), so that you know your limits and you are able to get home when you need to. Plan it in 2-3 day trips. If you’re visiting Berlin, you might want to try to find a hotel along the route (we saw quite a few) to get the full experience.
-If you think you might have to use a washroom in the near future, but it’s not urgent, look out for one as soon as you can. There aren’t that many! Take any opportunity you find when you find it. Plan ahead.
-Some parts of the route are poorly paved, and a couple of parts go through the most uneven cobblestone I’ve ever seen. A few parts aren’t paved at all (this is almost easier). This was still doable on our bikes (I have a Dutch bike and my friend has a German city bike), but if you have a bike with very thin tires, you might want to reconsider this route.
-The Mauerweg is fairly well-marked, but there are a few places where we got a bit lost. Mostly these were in the central part of the route, but there were also a few places along the edge parts where we got a bit lost. The ADAC Tourenplaner app was really helpful for keeping on track. I got this from the iTunes store last year, though I’m not sure if they have an Android version. 
-I always forget this on the first day-trip of the year, but snacks are a MUST when you’re biking a lot. They also have to be healthy snacks that will give you energy. Think nuts, fruit, whole grains, etc. We got super hungry and something filling with protein would have been great. Also, I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but just in case…bring lots of water!

Now…for lots of pics!

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(Berlin Wall Memorial at Bernauer Strasse)

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(At first we didn’t know where we were and thought we’d taken a wrong turn, but the route goes through that overpass you see to the left)

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(Little chunk of the Wall…at least we think it is)

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(Federal government buildings)

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(Obligatory Reichstag pic, taken while riding)

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(Obligatory Brandenburg Gate pic)

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(Wall remnants?)

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(This church in Mitte seemed oddly out of place. Not something you really see in Berlin)

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(Smelled coffee and then saw why…it’s a coffee factory!)

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(Close to Schoenefeld Airport)

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(Very grateful for a gas station bathroom)

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(Ponies!)

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(this part of Neukoelln looks nothing like what you’d associate with “Neukoelln”…it ranges from rural to suburban. Mind you, it is a large district).

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(Edge of Berlin)

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(The route runs along a lot of farmland)

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(You find these memorial markers all along the Mauerweg. They mark where people died trying to cross the Wall)

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(Abandoned East-West border crossing)

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4 thoughts on “Berlin Bike Trip: The Berliner Mauerweg, Part 1

  1. Looks like a great trip! I’m trying to figure out whether you cycled the bit of the route I used to live near when I was an au pair, but think maybe it’s part of the route you’re doing next time. I lived on the outskirts of Mahlow, but was closest to Lichtenrade S-Bahn, so used to cycle/walk from Berlin, across the former wall, to Mahlow to get home from the S-Bahn. The cobblestone streets there were a nightmare! Only the section where the wall used to stand was nice and smooth, though I used to find it a bit creepy to walk across at night, thinking of how I couldn’t have made that simple journey just 15 years before…

    1. Katie, that was probably the worst bit! The route goes through residential streets at that point and the cobbles were the worst I’ve seen in Berlin.

  2. Danielle, when you wrote about how awful the cobbles were, that was what made me think you must have been in Lichtenrade/Mahlow, as I couldn’t imagine any cobbled street being more horrendous to cycle on than the ones there! Cycling on that kind of terrain makes me worry about how much my brain is banging around in my head…especially on the old bike I had. Not fun 🙂

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