What if I told you that there was a secret alternative to those expensive hop-on, hop-off Berlin sightseeing buses?
Even better, my alternative Berlin sightseeing tour takes you to nearly all of the city’s central tourist attractions with no walking required.
And best of all, my secret Berlin sightseeing tour costs less than €3.
Are you interested yet?
Try a Berlin Sightseeing Tour on Bus 100
To see Berlin by bus without breaking the bank, just hop on board public bus #100!
Bus #100 crosses central Berlin from east to west (and back again).
The route is mostly served by double-decker buses that provide panoramic views of the best tourist attractions and historic sites in central Berlin.
The frequency of Bus #100 means that you can fit a Berlin sightseeing journey into your day at any time. Most days, you can expect a Bus #100 to pass every five minutes, and you’ll almost never have to wait longer than ten minutes for the next departure.
Boarding Bus #100 in Berlin
Bus #100 makes stops all across Berlin.
My preference is to board at the east or west terminus, so that I can wait for the next bus (if necessary) to secure one of the coveted seats at the front of the upper floor.
The east terminus for most #100 buses is located on the northwest edge of Alexanderplatz, close to the Park Inn. Look for the marked stop signs on
At the west end, Bus #100 originates at the Zoologischer Garten bus circle, which is close to the Curry 36 currywurst stand.
However, it’s not always convenient to get on a bus at the very beginning of the line. When I wasn’t on the east or west side of the center, I would just try to get on board one stop before a main tourist attraction. That way, I beat the crowds who are finishing up at that sight and have first dibs on any seats being vacated by travelers just arriving there.
I was staying at one of the coolest hotels in Berlin, called Casa Camper, and its location made it super-easy for me to get on Bus #100 one stop before the Brandenburg Gate (as shown above).
You’ll find this stop near the corner of Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, on the same side of the street as the Nivea Haus store. Look closely at my photo of the stop and you can see its proximity to the famous Adlon Hotel and the Brandenburg Gate.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Brandenburg Gate
If you board at Unter den Linden and Friedrichstrasse, the first major tourist attraction that you’ll see on your cheap sightseeing tour of Berlin is the world-famous Brandenburg Gate (or, Brandenburg Tor in German) in Pariser Platz. Built in the late 1700s, the gate survived World War 2 and was restored to its original, pristine condition as a joint effort between East Germany and West Germany.
Other important sights located within a two-minute walk of the Brandenburg Gate include the DZ Bank Building (left) where visitors can view the stunning interior courtyard designed by Frank Gehry, and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (right), designed by Peter Eisenman. Pariser Platz is also the starting point for many of the city’s free walking tours.
At any point along this route you can get off the bus and walk to the next stop, or get back on the same bus. At the end of the post I’ll talk about the type of ticket you need for your chosen route. I’ve also noted a few places along the way where it doesn’t really make sense to walk to the next stop due to a long distance or lack of interesting sights.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Reichstag / Bundestag
Technically speaking, “Reichstag” describes the former governments of Germany, while today’s national parliament is known as the Bundestag. However, the former name is still in use, especially to describe actual building you’ll find just west of the Brandenburg Gate.
Bus #100 offers top-floor riders fantastic views of the Reichstag’s dome, which can be difficult to photograph from ground level. There is a stop directly in front of the visitor entrance (book tickets online several weeks in advance to guarantee admission) and one on the far side of the grassy plaza in front of the Bundestag.
While you’re nearby, make sure to check out the Bundeskanzleramt, a modern architecture dream that is the headquarters of the German Chancellery.
Berlin Bus 100 Stops – Around the Tiergarten
Berlin’s Tiergarten is a 5 km2 park in the heart of the city, and it is home to some of the best Berlin sightseeing in the area. Formerly a royal hunting ground, today the Tiergarten is open to members of the public looking to escape the rush of the city.
Bus #100 makes several stops throughout the Tiergarten, allowing visitors to wander through the lush greenery and take in the park’s main attractions on foot between bus stops.
The first significant stop is at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (House of World Culture), a gallery and exhibition space that was gifted to Germany by the United States in 1957. Next door, a carillon sounds free concerts each Sunday between May and September, beginning at 3:00 pm.
From here, Bus #100 continues west, making a stop at Schloss Bellevue (the home of the German president) and then Der Grosser Stern, where you’ll find the city’s iconic Berlin Victory Column. If you’ve chosen to explore part of the park on foot, I suggest getting back on the bus at the Victory Column, as there isn’t much to see for the next few stops.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop -Breitscheidplatz
There are a few bus stops between the Victory Column and Breitscheidplatz, so sit back and relax. You’ll know you’re at the right stop when you see the Europa Shopping Center and what looks like the ruins of a destroyed church.
You’ve now arrived in Charlottenburg, the upscale district on the west side of Berlin’s city center. This area is home to some of the city’s best (and most expensive) shopping, luxurious hotels and opulent tourist attractions.
If you’re traveling with children, you may want to backtrack a block or so to visit the Berlin Aquarium. Otherwise, your main focus will be that destroyed church, which is actually called the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. One of the city’s most contentious works of architecture, the complex retains pieces of the original structure (shown above in stone) alongside a modern belfry (under the orange scaffolding) and the new church, which has walls made from more than 21,000 pieces of blue glass and a striking golden crucifixus on the altar. Admission to the church is free.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Zoologischer Garten
Congratulations! You’ve reached the west end of Berlin’s Bus #100… but you’re only halfway finished your Berlin sightseeing tour!
You should now be at the Zoologischer Garten bus circle, in front of the S-Bahn and U-Bahn station of the same name. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan traveling in Germany, you can pause your tour and grab a vegan currywurst from the Curry 36 stall right in front of you – they were one of the first currywurst places to add a vegan option. (Of course, they also have normal sausages too!)
If you love shopping, head across the street to Bikini Berlin, a “concept mall” featuring permanent vendors and independent pop-up shops. The shopping center has an open air rooftop garden with views over the monkey enclosures at the adjacent zoo, if you want to do a little wildlife-spotting while you’re there. (Also, there are clean, free toilets upstairs!)
One of my favorite tourist attractions in Berlin is also nearby, at Jebensstrasse 2 (on the opposite side of the subway station). The Helmut Newton Foundation and Photography Museum is home to a stunning permanent collection of Helmut Newton’s commercial and editorial fashion photography, along with many of his personal effects. There are also rotating temporary exhibits with a strong focus on fashion and design. This museum is probably not appropriate for children (depending your family’s ideas about nudity and sexuality).
Berlin Bus 100 Detour – Riding Bus 200
If you started your Berlin sightseeing tour in the middle of the Bus #100 route, you’re now going to need to backtrack from the Zoologischer Garten station to your starting point. You have two options: Take Bus #100 back to the Brandenburg Gate, or return to the Brandenburg Gate on Bus #200, stopping at Potsdamer Platz along the way.
If you opt for Bus #200, stay on the bus as it skirts the south edge of the Tiergarten, getting off at the skyscrapers of Potsdamer Platz.
There are a few major buildings and complexes here, including the Sony Center (shown above), where bits and pieces of the historic Hotel Esplanade have been incorporated into the modern glass design, the Kollhoff-Tower, whose elevator shoots up twenty-four floors in less than thirty seconds to a panoramic viewing platform, and the Arkaden Shopping Center (again, with free, clean toilets on the lower level!).
There are a couple of museums nearby at Leipziger Platz, but I can’t recommend either. I found the Dali Exhibit to be very underwhelming (it’s mostly simple sketches) and the Espionage Museum consists almost entirely of reading long passages of text on digital screens.
Of course, you’re also very close to Checkpoint Charlie. If you want to see this completely-inauthentic piece of “Berlin’s history”, head about three blocks to the east.
The streets around the (fake) checkpoint are also home to some different museums and exhibit. The MauerMuseum isn’t bad – the mood is fairly light and it emphasizes the creative ways that people tried to cross from East Germany to West Germany. I also visited the Asisi Panorama, a monolithic 360-degree painting that immerses you in a normal day in the life of East Germany in the 1980s.
There are a few other museums nearby that I haven’t visited, including the Topography of Terror, The Currywurst Museum and the Museum for Communication.
You’ll want to get back on the bus at the same stop as you got off, because it’s a few stops to your next destination.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Staatsoper
If you’re paying attention, you’ll probably notice that your bus has now passed its original starting point and is heading in the opposite direction along Unter den Linden.
Both Bus #100 and Bus #200 follow the same route for the rest of the trip, so you can jump on board either.
The Staatsoper (Opera House) stop is located on Bebelplatz, the last important plaza on this side of the Spree River.
Here, you’ll find the State Opera House, Humboldt University and St. Hedwig’s Cathedral, which was the first Catholic church to be built in Prussia after the Reformation.
If you look into the ground in the center of the square you will find a glass plate in the middle of the cobblestones. Underneath, a bookshelf with the capacity to hold 20,000 books sits empty, a stark reminder of the Nazi book burnings which took place here in 1933.
On the opposite side of Unter den Linden, the Neue Wache Memorial Building honors the memory of victims of war and dictatorships with a haunting Käthe Kollwitz statue at its entrance.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Lustgarten
After Bebelplatz, Bus #100 crosses halfway over the Spree River to Museuminsel, or Museum Island.
Your eyes will be immediately drawn to the stunning Berlin Cathedral and its grassy Lustgarten (“Pleasure Garden”). Rebuilt in the early 1900s, admission to the cathedral costs €7 and includes access to the dome’s exterior walkway. This shouldn’t be missed, and the 270 stairs should be a welcome refresher after all that sitting on the bus!
Further north you’ll find the island’s famous museums, including the Pergamon Museum, Bode-Museum, Neues Museum, Alte Nationalgalerie and Altes Museum. If you want to visit even one museum, purchase the €18 pass for all five museums – it’s the most economical option that allows you to hit all of the highlights, from Nefertiti’s Bust (in the Altes Museum) to the Ishtar Gate (in the Pergamon Museum).
From here, you’re only a ten-minute walk away from my favorite hotel in Berlin, Casa Camper. Seriously, I can’t say enough about the amazing location of this boutique hotel, and since it has a 24-hour complimentary snack bar this would be a great time take a break from all this Berlin sightseeing over a sandwich, salad or cappuccino. Okay, or a bowl of M&Ms.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Mariankirche
You’ve reached the second-last stop on your secret €3 Berlin sightseeing tour!
After stopping in front of the Berlin Cathedral, Bus #100 continues across the Spree River towards Alexanderplatz. Along the way it makes a quick stop in front of Mariankirche, one of the oldest churches in Berlin. Enter the church to see the famous fresco The Dance of Death, which dates back to the days of The Black Plague.
Families might want to make a stop at the AquaDom, the world’s largest freestanding glass aquarium. You’ll find it, and an array of other aquarium exhibits, inside the Radisson Blu Hotel.
If your family doesn’t support seeing animals in captivity, the nearby Berlin Dungeon could be a fun option for families with older children or teenagers. With the help of live actors, you’ll learn about the city’s gross and gruesome history from the Middle Ages until the 1800s (stopping before the Nazi regime).
You’re only a five-minute walk from the end of the Bus #100 route, so you can get back on board or finish the route by foot.
Berlin Bus 100 Stop – Alexanderplatz
You’ve now reached the east end of the Bus #100 route. Way to go!
Alexanderplatz was the most important public square in East Germany, and before that it was already known to every German through Alfred Doblin’s novel and Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s fifteen-hour television and film adaptation.
(For years I’ve been trying to trick people into agreeing to watch the film version with me before they learn how long it is… but everyone knows me too well!)
Today, the square is marked by its iconic TV Tower (Fernsehturm), built by the East German government in the late 1960s. At the top of the 1,200-foot tower there is a viewing platform and a revolving restaurant.
There are other important landmarks in the square, like the World Time Clock (above, an easy meeting point) and the Fountain of International Friendship.
Alexanderplatz is also a convenient shopping hub, with the German department store Galeria Kaufhof anchoring the square (with free, clean bathrooms upstairs!), and UK fast-fashion giant Primark also having a flagship location at Alexanderplatz.
From here, you can get back on Bus #100 or #200 heading west to go back and check out some of the sights you passed during your first ride, or you can go inside the station to catch one of the six different S-Bahn and U-Bahn lines that pass through Alexanderplatz Station.
And with that, your €3 Berlin sightseeing tour is finished!
Tickets for Berlin Sightseeing on Bus #100
Remember those hop-on, hop-off bus tours of Berlin? Their prices start at €22!
A Berlin sightseeing tour on Bus #100? That can cost as little as €2.80!
Because Bus #100 and Bus #200 are part of the city’s public transportation network, you can use a standard ticket for this entire sightseeing tour.
A standard one-way ticket costs €2.80 and allows for up to two hours of travel in one direction. If you start your sightseeing tour at either end of the line, and limit the number of stops you make along the way, you can use this ticket to see everything noted above. You can buy a ticket directly from the bus driver (cash only, exact change recommended) or buy a ticket from a vending machine inside a station and then validate it when you board the bus.
If you want to turn your journey on Bus #100 into a half- or full-day Berlin sightseeing excursion, it’s worthwhile to buy a day pass for the entire Berlin transit system. A day pass costs €7 and is valid from the time of validation until 3:00 am the next morning (so you don’t have to rush home before midnight like Cinderella!).
If you’ll be in Berlin for longer than four days, though, there is a secret option hidden in the depths of the ticket machines in the S-Bahn and U-Bahn stations: the seven-day ticket for €30. This gives you a full week of travel for the price of four single-day tickets, and it’s what I always buy when I’m in Berlin. This is not the same as the Berlin Welcome Card, which is more expensive but includes some discounts at popular tourist attractions.
The BVG’s English website has excellent information about tickets and fares. Use the link in the top right box for even more information about how and where to buy your transit tickets.
Other Berlin Travel Tips
Berlin is huge and it can be hard to know where to start without a good guidebook. I read ten different Berlin guidebooks before my most recent visit to the city, and narrowed it down to my favorites in this post.
On my first trip to Berlin I made some bad accommodation choices, including an Airbnb in a boring neighborhood, a hostel with seriously questionable plumbing and a five-star hotel where I spent more than €350 a night and didn’t get my money’s worth. Fortunately, I’ve since found my new favorite hotel in Berlin: Casa Camper. I can’t recommend this place enough!
If you’re on a budget, Hotel 38 is a cheap hotel in Berlin that is located in the heart of Mitte, close to my favorite restaurants and within walking distance of Alexanderplatz.
And finally, Berlin is vegan and vegetarian paradise. If you’re hungry after all that Berlin sightseeing, I’ve got a complete guide to eating vegetarian and vegan food in Germany, including some great dining options close to the sites you’ll see on Bus #100.
Have you been to any of these Berlin sightseeing hotspots? Which was your favorite? Let me know in the comments!