Don't Miss the Free Reichstag Building Tour in Berlin
Berlin is definitely one of my favorite cities in Europe. I just love its vibrant, grunge, and cosmopolitan vibe.
During my 9-day trip across Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest, I was able to squeeze in a day trip to Berlin during a long layover. Long layovers are one of my fave travel hacks, as it allows you to see more without getting on another flight.
So what could I do on a 5-hour stay in Berlin? Well, take a trip to the Reichstag building, of course!
The Reichstag Building is a historical edifice that currently houses the German parliament. It embodies power struggles and democratic successes and failures, making it an important part of German history.
Aside from its functional and historical importance, it boasts of state-of-the-art green technology and reusable energy, a wonderfully engineered glass dome, and magnificent views of Berlin from its terrace.
The Reichstag Building tour is totally FREE, and I'm impressed at how well-organized and informative it was. You'll need to register well in advance though, because the list fills up really fast.
You can book your place HERE. You'll choose the date and time that you'd like to do the guided tour, and you'll receive a confirmation on your email within a day.
How to get there
That chilly December morning, we headed to the Reichstag's East wing entrance. We first headed to the West Wing and had to make a long detour. Don't make the same mistake!
Berlin is fairly well-connected by metro and bus. The closest metro station would be Friedrichstrasse for local routes and Berlin's central train station Hauptbahnhof for long-distance trains. Alternatively, you can reach it by taking buses 100 and M41.
A day ticket within Berlin costs around 6,90 euros valid for S-Bahn, U-Bahn, trams, and buses and you can buy them on the spot. This is a good deal if you're up for a long day of sightseeing.
What you'll see
The guided visit took around 2 1/2 hours: the first hour and a half being a guided tour that walked us through the history and the architectural details of the building. Our guide also took us to the plenary hall where the German Parliament sits for its sessions.
The Reichstag Building was meant to reflect its rich history as well as to serve modern functions using innovative green technology. The British architect Norman Foster retained the building’s battlescars and added modern-looking steel bars and design to up its look.
A visit to the dome is also one of the highlights of the tour, offering stunning views of Berlin and helped us understand the technology behind this magnificent glass shell above the Reichstag. For example, the 360 mirrors lining the core of the cupola allow ample natural light to enter and illuminate the building. Its generators run on rapeseed biodiesel, and the building operates on a heat-recovery system that recycles the warmer air that rises to the top. How cool is that?
Meanwhile, at the base of the cupola is a collection of pictures and nuggets of history on how the Reichstag Building took on its present form.
To get to the highest point of the dome, visitors must walk up a ramp with an audio guide that prompts you to stop at certain points and points you to the city's landmarks as you look outside through the glass windows. That was definitely the highlight of the tour for me because it was like touring the rest of the city from a single place.
Where to stay
Time and again, I've booked my accommodation with Booking.com. A lot of their listings offer free cancellation, which for me is a great plus. You can start finding accommodations close to the Reichstag Building here.
Alternatively, you can find a cozy little place on AirBnb.
So there you have it! If you're planning a trip to Berlin anytime soon, a trip to the Reichstag Building is something you should definitely consider. Just take note that the rooftop terrace and dome are closed from the 24th to 31st of December, as well as on certain weeks spread across the year for maintenance. Please check here for more detailed information on opening hours.
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