It may be tempting to march off with a mobile phone and a map to see a big city, but hop-on, hop-off buses offer one of the fastest, cheapest and (in winter) cosiest ways to see the main sights. There are a number of different companies in Berlin all with a different approach – here are the options:
There is no escaping it – those big double decker buses that trundle around city centres might seem as cliche as waving a guide book around in a foreign country, but there is often no more efficient, relaxing and cost effective way to see the main sights. Berlin might not be the largest city in the world but it is separated into 12 distinct stadtbezirke (districts) and can feel like a bundle of little towns at times. With a hop-on, hop-off bus tour it’s easy to take everything in, with the option of extended stays at the more interesting landmarks, or just to grab some lunch at a nice restaurant spotted through the window. Here are the four main hop-on, hop-off bus tours in Berlin:
Templehofer Reisen Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour with Live Commentary
The white buses of Templehofer Reisen might look a little more reserved than the others but they do come with one trick up their sleeves. Not only are these hop-on, hop-off tours one of the best value they also come with live commentary as you chug past Brandenburg Gate (or Brandenburger Tor), Unter den Linden, the Government District, Holocaust Memorial, and Berlin Central Station, the West Berlin Kulturforum and a view of the Sony Centre, aka ‘Mount Fujiyama’ in Berlin. It’s a good quality, informative trip that is best suited to those who really want to learn something, rather than just look out the window and soak up the views and atmosphere – but there’s nothing wrong with that either. From € 23.80 per person.
Big Bus Tour Berlin
Big Bus has gone for a more bells and whistles approach to its hop-on hop-off tour of Berlin. Starting at a reasonable € 26.25 per person for the basic 24-hour ticket (with two routes), there is also the chance to pimp your bus ride with options such as a 48-hour hop-on hop-off ticket, currywurst, a 1.5-hour guided walking tour, a 75-minute guided evening bus tour and even a Spree river cruise, none of which will break the bank. As well as the line west that takes in the classics like Museum Island, Friedrichstrasse, Brandenburger Tor, Checkpoint Charlie and Potsdamer Platz, there is a second line that can be explored (aptly-named Line 2) delving into Berlin’s old East and taking in the Berlin Wall at East Side Gallery and Ostbahnhof. From € 26.25 per person to € 65 with all the options ticked.
City Circle Yellow Tour
For anyone in a hurry, the easy-to-spot yellow and pink buses of City Circle Yellow Tour are a good option. With 30 different locations and buses coming at 10 minute intervals, this tour allows visitors to witness many of the must-sees in the city centre’s west in just over two hours. Starting and finishing on Kurfürstendamm, the buses take in pretty much everything you could hope to see of Berlin in a short time, including must-sees like Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburger Tor, but also the Bauhaus Museum, Berliner Dom and Charlottenburg Palace, and on to Karl-Marx-Allee and the East Side Gallery
all accompanied by detailed commentary in 19 different languages. It might not be the cheapest or the most detailed, but it sure does pack a lot in. From €30.00.
City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
City Sightseeing has been around since the late nineties and operates in many different cities, so it’s fair to say that the company knows more about getting around on double decker buses than your average London student. On offer here is the classic route that takes in iconic mall KaDeWe, the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, as well Lustgarten on Museum Island, Schloss Bellevue and Café Kranzler, the legendary West Berlin coffee spot for artists and intellectuals. Naturally the buses offer panoramic views from the open-top deck, plus have audio commentary and WiFi. City Sightseeing does a lot well but nothing particularly stands out, but the buses are warm, the people friendly and there’s also a useful ‘City Sightseeing Berlin’ app to check the latest times and see a list of the stop locations. From € 30 per person.