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Accessible and Sustainable Berlin

By Debbie North

In February 2024, I had the privilege of visiting Berlin to explore both accessible and sustainable tourism in the city. My journey unveiled a blend of innovative accessibility features and inspiring sustainability initiatives, making Berlin a model destination for inclusive and eco-conscious travel.

Transportation and Accessibility

Upon arrival at the city airport, I discovered that the railway services the airport, offering a convenient 45-minute journey to the central station. Travel cards, essential for exploring the city, were easily obtainable at the tourist information centre located within the airport premises. As a wheelchair user, navigating Berlin’s overground and underground train system proved relatively straightforward, although occasional out-of-service lifts at certain stations necessitated flexibility and adaptability.

Accommodations and Sustainability Efforts

My stay at Hotel Rossi, a mere 10-minute walk from the central train station, provided insight into inclusive employment practices and emerging sustainability initiatives. Despite the hotel’s lack of a formal sustainability policy, efforts were underway to promote eco-friendly practices, including locally sourced food options, zero-waste tableware, and environmentally conscious toiletries in guest rooms. Additionally, the hotel’s involvement in community projects, such as SOS Kinderdorf, underscored its commitment to social responsibility and community engagement.

Exploring Berlin’s Attractions

Beyond the traditional tourist landmarks like the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie, I had the opportunity to explore some of Berlin’s newest attractions. A visit to the Futurium, an interactive museum dedicated to exploring the future of humanity, nature, and technology, provided an enriching experience that transcended mere entertainment. Immersed in its thought-provoking exhibits and engaging displays, visitors gain profound insights into our world. From interactive installations thoughtfully crafted for wheelchair users to the innovative utilisation of sustainable energy sources powering the museum’s operations, Futurium epitomized inclusive and eco-conscious design principles at their finest.

Exciting developments lie ahead for Futurium as it prepares to inaugurate its highly anticipated “Raw Materials” theme year, commencing with a vibrant festival starting on 4 May 2024. This momentous occasion heralds the unveiling of fresh exhibits in both the exhibition and Lab spaces, along with the introduction of innovative workshop and event formats and an array of enhanced digital offerings. With a keen focus on raising awareness about the global and local challenges associated with the contemporary utilisation of raw materials, the festival aims to inspire visitors with cutting-edge approaches from the realms of science, research, and practical applications.

Central to Futurium’s ethos is its commitment to sustainability, underscored by its reliance on 100% renewable energy generated through solar power and geothermal sources. This eco-friendly approach not only powers the museum’s operations but also serves as a testament to its unwavering dedication to environmental responsibility.

Indeed, Futurium is more than just a museum; it is a dynamic hub of exploration and discovery that caters to individuals of all ages and backgrounds. With free entry for all, Futurium warmly welcomes families and individuals alike to embark on a journey of inspiration, enlightenment, and transformation.

In Futurium, the future is not just a concept—it is a tangible reality waiting to be explored, experienced, and embraced by all who dare to imagine a better tomorrow.

Exploring Tempelhof Airport

Venturing slightly off the tourist map, I discovered the former Tempelhof airport, now transformed into a sprawling public park. Spanning 386 hectares, Tempelhof Park offers a retreat from urban life, with kite surfers and inline skaters replacing airplanes on its vast runways. The park’s rich history and expansive landscapes make it a hidden gem worth exploring for those seeking a respite from city life.

Berlin Nightlife

For an authentic Berlin variety show experience, I highly recommend a visit to the Wintergarten Theatre. Renowned for its lavish settings and captivating performances, the Wintergarten offers a luxurious retreat into the realm of entertainment. As you enter, a grand marble staircase gracefully descends from the foyer, leading you into the newly crafted subterranean realms.

Within this unique domain, an exquisite boudoir has been meticulously fashioned to cater to both men and women. Adorned with a resplendent white Bechstein grand piano, plush velvet-covered stools, and an elegant champagne bar, this opulent lounge invites guests to bask in its luxurious ambience, providing the perfect backdrop for that necessary selfie!

Moreover, the Wintergarten Theatre has gained numerous awards for its commitment to sustainability. From eco-friendly lighting installations both within the theatre and on stage to costumes crafted from recyclable materials and innovative repurposing of old items, the Wintergarten demonstrates a steadfast dedication to environmental stewardship while delivering top-class entertainment.

Exploring Berlin on Wheels

During my two-day stint in the city, I covered an impressive 32 kilometres of wheeling and managed to wear out a pair of gloves in the process. Berlin’s relatively fast pace makes navigating its streets in a manual wheelchair quite manageable. To make the most of your time, it’s advisable to plan your days strategically and divide the city into manageable zones.

A stroll along the East Wall Gallery to admire the vibrant graffiti is a must-do experience. Likewise, a leisurely walk along the river, passing by iconic landmarks such as the Reichstag building, the Brandenburg Gate, and Checkpoint Charlie, offers a glimpse into Berlin’s rich history and culture.

While I regret not being able to explore the interior of the Reichstag dome due to the necessity of pre-booking visits, it only serves as motivation for future trips to Berlin. With so much to see and do, Berlin’s allure as a vibrant and dynamic city beckons visitors to return time and again for new discoveries and experiences.

My two-day journey through Berlin left me inspired by the city’s commitment to accessibility, sustainability, and cultural enrichment. From accessible transportation networks to innovative cultural institutions and revitalized public spaces, Berlin sets a remarkable example for cities worldwide aspiring to create inclusive and sustainable destinations.

Feeling inspired? Experience the magic for yourself by booking one of our Sustainable Journeys.

Editorial submission – 08th April 2024