Arriving into Berlin the day before from Hamburg, where we explored the Bohemian side of the city, I knew one of the first things to do for this budget traveller was to go on a free walking tour. I already had in mind Sandeman’s New Europe Tours, a brilliant walking tour company that has free comprehensive guided walks scattered across Europe. I had already been on a few of these already whether they were Madrid, London, Edinburgh or Hamburg.

New Berlin Free Tour

This free tour is essentially an introduction to Berlin, where you can orientate yourself and discover local recommendations, and what’s more you can set the price of the walking tour yourself. It will all be explained to you in person on the tour.

Brandenburg Tor

Brandenburg Tor

From the iconic symbol of Germany, the Brandenburg Tor, you will meet your guide dressed in their clearly visible red t-shirts and be given a quick yet comprehensive overview of Berlin’s 800 year history. As I’m such a history geek, I thought that the overview was pretty standard. It would have been great to have plenty of interaction with the visitors playing out different roles but I realise that time is the limiting factor on this two and a half hour walking tour.

Following the line of the historical and former Berlin Wall from the Reichstag (just round the corner from Brandenburg Gate), burnt down in 1933 in suspicious circumstances and the situation used by Hitler to destroy free democracy, we walk through the city through the Museum of the Murdered Jews, the former Nazi Government District and Checkpoint Charlie along with many sights to see on the way before stopping for a coffee break. The walking is very much fast paced as to condense all of Central Berlin (comprising mostly of East Berlin) into 2.5 hours proving overwhelming. However, I did enjoy the first half just the same. Here are some pictures I took throughout the first half.

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Museum to the Murdered Jews of Europe

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Sobering and Emotional Experience at Museum to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Sandeman New Europe Tours

Remnant of the Berlin Wall

Sandeman New Europe Tours

Site of Hitler’s Bunker (fuhrerbunker) now turned into a Car Park

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Nazi Totalitarian Architecture

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Art on the Remnants of the Berlin Wall

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Checkpoint Charlie

After the coffee break, the walking tour was thus taken into the grand side of the city through the 1920s Cabaret Mile and into Berlin’s grandest square, the Gendarmenmarkt, where you can marvel at the architecture and undertake a spot of people watching. Finally, you are thus taken to Museum Island where you can observe the beautiful twin Cathedrals and Das Konzerthaus. On Museum Island, you are within reach from possibly the best museums in the world. I heartily recommend visiting the Berlin History Museum that really goes into detail the capital’s 800 year history through historical eras.

Sandeman New Europe Tours

Neue Wache – Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship.” – Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture Mother with her Dead Son. This sculpture is directly under the oculus, and so is exposed to the rain, snow and cold of the Berlin climate, symbolizing the suffering of civilians during World War II. (Wikipedia)

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Museum Island

However, this exciting tour ended in the Lustgarten (the old royal gardens) in the heart of the city containing surroundings of beautiful architecture and green spaces. It clearly is the best place to relax after being on your feet for the 150 minutes!

Sandeman New Europe Tours

Check out this route of the walking tour and the sights we saw along the way.

  • Pariser Platz

  • The Brandenburg Gate

  • The Reichstag

  • The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

  • The Site of Hitler’s Former Bunker

  • Luftwaffe HQ

  • The 17. June Memorial

  • The Berlin Wall

  • The Former SS Headquarters

  • Checkpoint Charlie

  • The 1920s Cabaret Mile

  • Gendarmenmarkt

  • Bebelplatz

  • The Old Royal Boulevard

  • Neue Wache

  • The TV Tower

  • Museum Island

Verdict

I was expecting just an introduction to Berlin through this free walking tour but I pleasantly surprised to see that the guide did more than that. He delved into the city’s history rather comprehensively and pulled no stark facts about Berlin’s darkest moments. I was even more so rather impressed with the recommendations the guide gave out what we should do in the city as he proved himself to be a very integrated local all the way from Australia! Even my friend Bente, who’s a German citizen, found out a lot more than she expected!

However, there were many places to cover and you may get ‘walking tour fatigue’ by the last half hour. I would ask this to be a 3 hour walking tour instead to allow a longer break and a slower pace to get round the capital as I’m sure everyone will want to see everything!

But Sandeman’s New Europe Tours don’t just offer an introductory guide to Berlin. They also run more tours in the city that are more specialised – Alternative Berlin Tours, Red Berlin Tours, Potsdam Tours, Third Reich Berlin and Pub Crawls.

Meanwhile, if you’re in Berlin and looking for an introduction, Sandeman New Berlin Tours are the way to go! You won’t be disappointed! Just turn up at the Starbucks at  Brandenburg Tor, look out for the red t-shirts and make note that the free walking tours start daily at 11am and 2pm.

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