Cheap Public Bus Tour of the Top Sights in West and East Berlin
Public Bus 200 is a cheap way to tour the top sights in the former West and East Berlin such as Kulturforum, Potzdamer Platz, Unter den Linden, Museum Island, and Alexanderplatz.
Berlin’s double-decker public buses are great for sightseeing in the German capital. Many companies run dedicated city tours using open-top double-decker buses but public buses can also be used to see the most famous sights at a fraction of the price of dedicated tour buses. Bus 100, which runs from Zoologischer Garten in West Berlin to Alexanderplatz, in the former East Berlin, is the best known and passes by almost all famous sights including the Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate (Bandenburger Tor). Bus 200 follows a slightly different route from Bus 100 but covers the same distance and continues further into the former East Berlin.
- Virtually all the top sights in Berlin Mitte can be seen from bus 100 and bus 200, or are within easy walking distance from a bus stop. These two buses offer great tours of Berlin, several times per hour, at the cheap price of the normal public bus fare.
Public Bus 200 Route in the Former West Berlin
Bus 100 and bus 200 both depart a few times per hour from Zoologischer Garten station – the transportation hub of West Berlin. Both buses pass by Breitscheidsplatz where the ruins of the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Memorial Church) serve as a permanent reminder of the destruction of the war.
From here, the two bus routes differ: bus 100 goes through Tiergarten Park, while bus 200 stays at the southern edges of Berlin Mitte’s green lungs. Bus 200 passes the Elephant Gate of Berlin Zoo and continues along Tiergarten Street, where many embassies are located. Bus 100 and bus 200 cross routes at the bus stop Nordische Botschaften (Nordic Embassies), named after the Scandinavian embassies that share a modern, environmentally friendly building here.
The Kulturforum area is a German cultural tour de force. The copper clad, orangey-yellow building of the Berlin Philharmonie houses one of the best-known symphony orchestras in the world (free lunchtime concerts most Tuesdays). The Gemäldegallerie (Picture Gallery), with around 1,500 paintings including 16 by Rembrandt, is one of the largest collections in the world of 13th to 18th-century European paintings. Further sights here include the museums of Applied Arts, Prints and Drawings, and Musical Instruments as well as the New Gallery (20th century art – closed for several years for renovation).
Next is Potsdamer Platz, the busiest area in pre-war Berlin, which sported the first traffic light in Europe. Post-war Potsdamer Platz was no-man’s land but since 1990 saw the rise of numerous new buildings. The most famous is the Sony Center (home of the Berlin Film Museum) – its tent-like, Mt Fuji-shaped roof is one of the symbols of a rejuvenated Berlin.
Public Bus 200 in the Former East Berlin
Bus 200 now enters the former East Berlin and the Nazi government power center from the pre-war years. The only building to have survived mostly intact from the Nazi era is the former Airforce Headquarters. It is now the tax office – to the right before bus 200 turns sharply into Wilhelmstraße. Having to avoid security zones around the American and British embassies, bus 200 follows back streets before reaching Unter den Linden – the most famous road in Berlin.From here, bus 200 follows the same route as bus 100 past the Humboldt University, State Opera, German Historical Museum, Museum Island, and the 1970s television tower (the tallest structure in Germany).
Bus 100 terminates at Alexanderplatz and most sightseers on bus 200 alight here too. The top sights of Berlin Mitte have been seen. Bus 200 continues deeper into Prenzlauer Berg with interesting architecture but no further top tourist sights. Bus 100 is an excellent way to return to Zoologischer Garten via other famous Berlin sights including the Reichstag (advance reservations essential), Adlon Hotel, Brandenburger Gate, and sights in Tiergarten.
Bus 200 takes around 30 minutes from Zoologischer Garten to Alexanderplatz (and 15 minutes more to the final terminus at Michael Angelostraße, with the final three stops in tariff zone B). Bus 200 runs so often that it is hardly worth noting the timetables in advance.