Berlin is a mecca of artists, bohemians and working-creative-class heroes from around the world. The city has more than 175 museums, 50 theaters and 300 cinemas and many, many of them are wheelchair-friendly, making it a perfect destination for a long weekend adventure.
Berlin has a lot of cool neighbourhoods and all of them has a unique atmosphere, one of the most convenient for wheelchair users would be Mitte that is a very lively place, with plenty of stuff to do, and with a ‘rolling’ distance from most touristic sites, jazz cafes, restaurants, museums, live music bars and much more. Mitte is packed with art, culture and entertainment. The whole are is flat, it has an excellent accessibility and is also very easy to get to all forms of public transport. I would recommend staying at The Velvet hotel, in Oranienburger Strasse. The hotel is fully wheelchair accessible, it worked out very well for me. You folks can check them out below.
Take your wheelchair out for a spin around the hood.
I created a 11k wheelchair-friendly route through the Mitte district where you can experience a bit of the history and visit some of the best touristic attractions. Depending on the weather, you could do it all by yourself, without the need to take any transport. The whole route is step free, with no hills and not many curbs.
Starting from Oranienburger Strasse, roll yourself all the way down to Alexanderplatz, a large public square with lots of food, handicrafts, souvenirs and street performers. It is just around the corner from The TV tower and the World Clock, in case you want to see what time it is.
From there, keep rolling along the Unter den Linden avenue all the way to Brandenburg Gate. Unter den Linden is Berlin's most famous street and it literally means Under the Lime Trees Avenue. It has a wide central pedestrian area with no curbs and from there, it's a lovely 30-minute stroll until you reach Brandenburg Gate, thats is one of the most defining monument in Berlin. From there, a quick 10-minute stroll through the park will take you to Reichstag building, an excellent example of blending of the old and the new, it has a wheelchair-friendly glass dome that provides you a great view of Berlin.
There is a restaurant called Populär im Pavillon right outside The Reichstag, on your left, in case you feel like a coffee or a stretch.
Another 10 to 15 minutes strolling through the park and you will reach The Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the Jewish victims of the holocaust, it's a very moving installation of concrete blocks that feels like tombstones. They have made some parts wide enough for wheelchairs folks to be able to access, have a look around and think.
After some thinking, get yourself to Potsdamer Platz, that is only another 10 minutes away and it is a great place to understand a bit of Berlin's history. If you like modern architecture, shopping and cinema, this is a good spot. Also, the Berlin State Library is just a minute from there. It is one of the largest libraries in Europe and Albert Einstein used to work there before the war, a pretty interesting place. Another 20 minutes arm stretch will take you to Checkpoint Charlie, the best-known crossing point between East and West Berlin and with displays and artefacts tracing the history of human rights. Another very interesting place. From there take the Friedrichstraße street to make your way back, this long street is in the heart of Berlin, it reminds me of Oxford Street in London and Fifth Avenue in NYC, packed with shops, food and entertainment on both sides and even if it seems busy, it's a breeze to roll around there. Try to make a quick stop along the way and have a look around in the Gendarmenmarkt square, one of Berlin's largest squares that is dominated by three large historic buildings - the Konzerthaus, the French Cathedral (Französischer Dom), and the Berlin Cathedral (Berliner Dom) - together they form one of the most picturesque corners of the city. Good photo opportunity there.
Right, you have spent the whole day out, got to know a bit of Berlin’s history and seen all the major touristic sites, now it's time to get off of the beaten track for a bit.
Take a stroll in the multicultural and artsy neighbourhoods of Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain.
This wheelchair-friendly street food mecca is perfect to grab a bite to eat and a beverage while exploring Kreuzberg.
The whole area is full of life, there is a lot going on there and it is one of the most creative parts of Berlin. Iggy Pop and David Bowie used to live there back in the old days.
In case you are there by late afternoon, try to make it to Gorlitzer Park to watch the sunset, a lovely place to hang out, chill or go for a stroll.
Friedrichshain is another creative and artsy neighbourhood of Berlin.
Here you can take a stroll alongside the East Side Gallery that is the longest remaining section of Berlin Wall and now it is used as an art gallery, probably the largest open air gallery in the world.
After this fascinating 1.5k stroll along side the wall, keep on rolling for more 2 blocks and grab a coffee at Holzmarkt Pampa, a very interesting and laid-back place to hang out. You may need to use your wheelchair skills a little bit here, this magical place has some curbs here and there but nothing major. It's pretty doable. Grab a coffee there, watch the sunset and have a good time.
Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain are easily accessible via public transportation and provide a more local and alternative experience for wheelchair-backpackers.
Keep exploring and strolling around Mitte
Now back to Mitte, start off by rolling to Hamburger Bahnhof, a contemporary art museum and a lovely place to wander around for a few hours.
For one last dose of culture, head to the Museum Island. One of the most impressive part of the city, here you find a unique collection of galleries and museums including the New Museum (Neues Museum), the Old Museum (Altes Museum), the Bode Museum, the The Pergamon Museum, - some of the best museums in the world. It is of course impossible to see all of them in just one visit. Check out the exhibitions first and see if there is something you fancy, even if you don't feel like it, it's worth taking a stroll there to admire the architecture and the surroundings, there is a park right across the river called Monbijoupark where they have live music and an open air theatre on warm summer nights, they had a Tango Night when I was there, the atmosphere was magical.
Another great accessible place to take your wheelchair out for a dance is Clärchen Ballhaus, it is an old school dance hall that hosts one of Berlin’s hottest parties every Thursday and Friday. The place looks like nothing from the outside, but like a romantic film inside. It's a great place to consume some good food and good music. A perfect accessible night out.
Talking about good music, in case you like Punk rock, The Ramones museum is another good accessible option to hang out, grab a beer and a shot of Jageistmeister.
All these hang-outs are located just around the corner from the hotel, in Mitte.
Getting there and around
The most convenient way to get yourself to the city from the airport is by Uber or Taxi, if you can transfer yourself to a normal seat, your wheelchair can go in the trunk, so no problems there, it will cost you around 20€ and Berliner Uber/Taxi drivers are generally very helpful.
Once in the city, depending on the weather, the best way to get around is actually rolling, the city is pretty accessible, you can get around with no worries. If you want to cover a longer distance, like I suggested in the London's guide, try to Uber your way around, It's cheap, fast and reliable.
As for Public Transport, from what I have seen, all buses and trams have ramps on the level platform and low-floors. The S- and U-Bahn generally have level platforms but not all stations have lifts, you can check the wheelchair friendly stations right here.
Also, download the Wheelmap mobile app, it has a ton of information regarding wheelchair-friendly toilets, bar, restaurants, cafes and venues around Berlin. It's a very useful app. You can also check them out on the web right here.