12 days
Duration
Europe
Destination
Level 2 - Moderate
Activity

History of the Wall - a small group Berlin wall walking tour

Berlin is a city rich in history. At every turn are traces of a past plagued by conflict, and stories of powerful resistance. The Berlin Wall stood in place from 1961 to 1989, separating East from West. But after its collapse, the city transformed, and an influx of creativity and vibrancy is palpable wherever you go.

This 12 day walking tour explores the history of the Berlin wall. As we track its path, we stop in at checkpoints and memorial sites: for famous crossings, and for tragic events. We will learn about the Cold War and the events of World War II, but we will also experience Berlin’s beauty and culture in the present day.

Exploring Berlin as part of a small group Walking Tour  on foot gives us a local’s perspective.

Exploring  the city of Berlin on foot gives us a local’s perspective, meaning we see what tourists miss. Each day we venture to a different section of the historic Berlin wall. In doing so, we experience the diversity of this incredible city. Berlin is home to great rivers and majestic forests, and stunning architecture from the Rococo to the Modern and contemporary. We even get to experience some 18th century history, wandering amongst the summer palaces of Prussian Kings.

Each day we start the day's walk at a  different location in Berlin, from which we explore on foot. The day's are spent  accompanied by an expert guide on the History of Berlin, not just last century, but those before the 20th century.

Finally, at the end of the day, we return to the comfort of our apartments, living as a Berliner would.

Highlights of this small group walking history tour of Berlin

Highlights of this tour include learning about Berlin's history. We do this through visits to museums and memorials. And we see a section of the Wall that has been transformed into the world's longest open-air gallery.

We tap into Berlin’s art scene with visits to a contemporary art gallery housed in a former train station. And we enjoy the city’s culture in its more traditional forms, with performances of ballet or opera, and the world-renowned Berliner Philharmonica.

So, this tour is for travellers who want to learn about about the destinations they visit, designed for senior adventurers with a passion for history.

For this 12 day walking tour the group is based in serviced apartments in central Berlin. Each day we have a local historian join us to guide us for the day walks which typically last for 3 to 5 hours plus a break for lunch. This small group tour  uses the Berlin public transport network to move around the city to start each day.

Click here to read Odyssey's list of recommended books for those visiting Berlin!

This article from the New York Times in 2018 provides an insight in the secret  tunnels to have east meet the west.

For more details, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.

Travel tips and articles of interest.

For Odyssey Travellers articles that maybe of interest are often published  on this website to assist you with your tour planning. For this small group walking tour of Berlin these articles on Clothing & Footwear,  or suggestions on Packing   or this two part article on travel tips part one  and travel tips part two  are likely ot be of interest. Plus this article on tips for Seniors taking walking  tours as well as reasons  why take a small group educational tour may also be useful.

Tour Notes
  • Small group walking tour Limited to 12 people

PDF of Tour PDF of Reading List

1
Marvel at the creativity of the open-air East—side gallery
2
Learn about Berlin’s history with visits to museums and monuments
3
Experience Sansoucci, the summer Palace of Prussian Kings
4
Escape from the city’s pace at Eiskeller in the stunning Spandauer Forest
5
Enjoy a performance by world-renowned Berliner Philharmonica

Overview: We meet at the hotel for tour orientation, followed by a three –course welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, we take an introductory, 9km walk along the Berlin Wall. We begin at Lubars and head to Schonhulz. Along the way, we visit the Checkpoint Qualitz, which is the memorial tablet for the border opening in 1989. We see Blankenfelde Krankensammellager – the collection camp for sick workers. We visit the Soviet War Museum, which houses the biggest Soviet cemetery in Berlin. It is also the biggest Russian cemetery in Europe, outside of Russia. Finally, we pay our respects at the Memorial Cross for the Berlin Wall victims, who died at this site during the Cold War.

In the evening, we attend a performance of the ballet or opera, pending programming.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Wollankstrasse metro station was located in East Berlin, but only people from West Berlin were permitted to use it. Today, we visit the station as we continue our walking tour from Wollankstrasse to Nordbahnhof. We walk along the stunning “Cherry tree alley”, which features trees donated to Berlin in 1990 for the reunification effort. If we are lucky, we might catch them in full bloom!  We check out the Bornholmer Straße border crossing, which was the first to be opened during the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November, 1989.

Next, we visit the Berliner Mauerpark (The Wall Park) in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district. It is located on part of the former heavily-guarded “death strip” or “no man’s land” between the two parallel concrete walls that formed the Berlin Wall. A 300-metre-long section of the inner wall has been preserved as a monument. Today, it’s an an example of very attractive graffiti! The wall was unusually high at this point because of the many visitors to the neighbouring stadium, home of the East Berlin football team, Dynamo Berlin.

After the collapse of the wall in 1989, the former “death strip” was turned into a large, green open space. Today it is one of the most popular parks in Berlin, featuring a regular flea market, live music and various public events.

Later, we visit Berlin documentation centre. Its exhibition, covering 420 square meters, is dedicated to the history of Berlin’s division. Then, we explore the Chapel of reconciliation. Located on the grounds of the former border strip, it was erected at the very site where the Reconciliation Church once stood. After the Wall was built in 1961, the Protestant Church of the Reconciliation Parish was situated within the death strip, and so, was inaccessible. It became a disturbing symbol of the division of Germany and Europe. In 1985, the East German government gave the order for the church to be blown up. After German reunification, the church property was returned to the Reconciliation Parish with the condition that it be used for religious purposes.

Dinner will be provided tonight.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Subject to availability, this morning we will visit Gesundbrunnen station, a former WWII bunker. We will visit the former Stasi prison known since 1994 as the Hohenschönhausen Memorial. It is situated in the former Ministry for State Security’s “Untersuchungshaftanstalt”, which used to be the main remand prison for citizens under investigation. The reality of life under the Stasi – GDR’s secret police – was revealed to the world with the 2007 Oscar winning film “The Lives of Others”.

The remainder of your day is free to explore the city at your leisure.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: The day will commence with an exhibition on border and ghost stations at Nordbahnhof. On our 7km walk from Nordbahnhof to Potsdamer Platz, we will pass along Gartenstrasse and Liesenstrasse to view the border crossings Chausseestrasse and Invaliden. Both were sites of dramatic escape attempts, one in 1963 and the other, not long before the collapse of the Wall in 1989. Then, we will have the opportunity to visit the  powerful Holocaust memorial, located in Berlin’s government district.

This afternoon, we change pace by checking out Berlin’s vibrant art scene. An influx of artists post-reunification has meant a twenty-year creativity boom in the capital. This creativity influences everything, from the city’s architecture to its vibrant nightlife. We will check out the collection of Berlin entrepreneur Dr Erick Marx, whose pieces – from Rauschenberg to Warhol – are housed in the Hamburger Bahnhof. A former train station that was built in 1847, the National Gallery also has a permanent collection here of modern and contemporary art.

Dinner is provided tonight.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, we transfer by bus to Potsdamer Platz. Our walking tour takes us to the Topography of Terror Memorial. A large documentation centre in the heart of Berlin, its focus is the state apparatus responsible for the regime of terror during the Nazi period in Germany and occupied territories. Here, at the former Prinz-Albrecht-Straße 8 was the head office of the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo / Secret Police). The original building was destroyed during the Second World War. Its location on the US-Soviet border meant the site was disused during the Cold War, frequently a dumping ground for rubble. Today, the longest surviving piece of the Berlin Wall is directly next to the site.

Afterwards, we continue our exploration of Berlin’s checkpoints, including Heinrich-Heine-Straße, and the famous Checkpoint Charlie. A white line on the street Friedrichstraße, drawn in the night between September 6 and 7, 1961, marked the border between East and West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie was the best-known crossing point. We view the famous East-Side Gallery. What was once a section of the Berlin Wall is now the world’s longest open-air gallery, stretching 1.3km, and featuring over one hundred different paintings.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, the day is free for you to explore Berlin at leisure. In the evening, we will attend a performance by the Berliner Philharmonica, which is consistently ranked as one of the best orchestras in the world.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, our walk takes us from Warschauer Street to Schoneweide. En route, we’ll see the Molecule Men, an aluminium sculpture made by American artist Jonathan Borofsky. Located right in the river, it shows three bodies embracing. It is a symbol of the joining of the three districts of Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Treptow across the former watery border. We see the double-deck Oberbaum Bridge crossing Berlin’s River Spree, considered one of the city’s landmarks. We visit the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin’s Treptower Park. It was built to the design of the Soviet architect Yakov Belopolsky to commemorate 7,000 of the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who fell in the Battle of Berlin in April–May 1945. It opened four years after World War II on May 8, 1949. The Memorial served as the central war memorial of East Germany.

We visit the border crossing Sonnenallee: Compared to other checkpoints, the border crossing at Sonnenallee attracted little attention during the years of division – until the film “Sonnenallee,” made after the fall of the Wall. Along the canal, we also visit the memorial stone of Chris Gueffroy, the last person to die trying to escape across the Berlin Wall. We will walk to Hufeisenseidlung before transferring back to our hotel.

Dinner will be provided this evening.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, we visit a Documentation Centre to learn about the history of Nazi forced labour in Berlin-Schöneweide. We head to Hinterland wall – a 28-meter-high artificial hill created by the rubble of buildings destroyed in the war. It was used as a garbage dump until 1958. Remains of the Hinterland wall (inner wall) can still be seen at their original location.

We will learn about the Berlin spy tunnel near Rudower Hohe. And we visit the checkpoint at Waltersdorf Chaussee/Rudow Chaussee, which, in addition to transporting people to and from the Berlin-Schönefeld airport, was also opened for passage of West Berliners into the German Democratic Republic.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, we take a day excursion along the Southern route of the Berlin Wall. Along the way, we’ll see the Modernist high-rise architecture of Gropiusstadt, a district in Neukölln.

We visit Checkpoint Bravo (“Checkpoint B”), and then Klein Glienicke – a village in the border district. During the period of the partition, Klein-Glienicke was, in effect, an exclave, a “special security zone” of the GDR. Since 1990, parts of the village have been protected as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Next, we will see the Glienicke Bridge across Germany’s Havel River. During the Cold War, as this portion of the Havel River formed the border between West Berlin and East Germany, the bridge was used several times for the exchange of captured spies and thus became known as the Bridge of Spies. Events here inspired the 2015 Hollywood thriller of the same name.

We will also visit nearby Villa Schoningen. On behalf of the Prussian King Frederick William IV, in 1843, Ludwig Persius designed this house in the Italian Villa style for Kurd von Schöning, the chamberlain of Prince Carl of Prussia. Now a museum, it houses permanent, and visiting, collections of art and artefacts. A segment of the Berlin Wall in front of the Villa is part of the Berlin-Potsdam’s UNESCO World Heritage site. A classic English park is a short walk away, as is Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island). This was the summer residence of the Prussian Kings. We will catch a short ferry across to marvel at its preserved grandeur, juxtaposed with the island’s rustic working farm.

Finally, while in Pottsdam, we will visit Sanssouci, summer palace of the King of Prussia, Frederick the Great. Thought to rival Versailles, this Roccoco-style palace is smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, but just as impressive.

Dinner is provided tonight.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Today, we venture along the Western route of the Berlin Wall. We transfer, by bus, to Wannsee, before taking a ferry to Kladow. On arrival, we walk to Sacrow to visit the Church of the Redeemer (Heilandskirche). Located at the border, the barrier was built straight across the lot of the church property and the bell tower was used as part of the protective wall of concrete.

Next, we walk to Staaken, stopping off to view a former border train station. We then transfer to Spandauer Forst for a walk to Eiskeller. The beautiful Eiskeller is named for “ice cellar”; it’s considered to be Berlin’s coldest spot during winter. During the division, it was a West Berlin exclave, surrounded on all sides by the Wall. Today, Spandauer Forst is a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city, home to rare plants and animals including kingfishers, hawks and beavers.

Tonight, we have dinner in a local restaurant for our final night of the tour.

Accommodation: Schoenhouse Apartments or similar

Overview: Our tour concludes after breakfast.

What’s included in our Tour

  • 11 nights of hotel accommodation.
  • 11 breakfasts and 6 dinners.
  • Applicable entry fees and services of local guides.
  • Service charges and gratuities.
  • Touring by comfortable and modern coach or public transport.
  • Transport and field trips as indicated.
  • Services of a Tour Leader.
  • Detailed tour information booklet.

What’s not included in our Tour

  • Return international airfares and departure taxes.
  • Comprehensive travel insurance.

Berlin Map. Walking tour

Brandenburg gate Berlin
Brandenburg gate Berlin
Berlin walking tour
Berlin walking tour, Germany
Bridge of Spies, Germany
Potsdam, Berlin
Prussian history, Germany
Germany walking tour
German sculpture
Stasi prison, Germany
Berlin, Germany walking tour
Prussian castle, Germany

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