Length 7.4 km (4.6 miles), terrain flat
Berlin Running Routes:
Historic Berlin Mitte
Kurfürstendamm, heart of West Berlin
Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin's coolest neighborhood
Potsdam Royal Residences
Ode to Berlin: my long-running love affair with this great city
For other running routes, see Route List. And if you're interested in an essay on what makes Berlin so special, take a look at this Ode to Berlin, written in the transition days after the Wall came down.
NOTE: Here is a pair of runs that begin in the same spot and follow the same route for the first 1.7 km. The Kurfürstendamm Out-and-Back is a simple 7.4-km run down western Berlin's main shopping and entertainment strip. The 8.1-km Wilmersdorf Loop turns off after 1.7 km and circles through the residential neighborhoods south of the Ku'damm, then heading through the scenic Volkspark before turning north again to the start. Choose the route that suits you best!
If you're staying in Berlin Wilmersdorf, or if you just want to experience the old West Berlin of cold-war days, this is the main route to take. It heads up and down the Kurfürstendamm (Ku'damm), the cultural and commercial center of the west side of the city.
I first experienced this neighborhood back in 1984, when I was in town for the Berlin Marathon. Back then, it was the hub of everything interesting in West Berlin. The city was surrounded by a wall, with no place to escape to, unless you drove all the way through East Germany to West Germany. So West Berliners were stuck in their open-air prison, and the Kurfürstendamm was the stage upon which they played out their social life.
After reunification, the old Berlin city center (Mitte) -- which lay in the east -- began regaining its old importance, and the crowds moved eastwards. The Kurfürstendamm suddenly lost its monopoly on Berlin street life.
I hadn't been back in Wilmersdorf in years, so I was interested in seeing what it was like nowadays: a gloomy shell of its previous self or if it was able to hold its own as a place to shop and have fun? I was pleased to see that its old character had remained. Most of the cinemas are now stores, and some exclusive car dealers have moved away, but otherwise business is hopping.
The Kurfürstendamm Out-and-Back Route
This route starts a bit east of the Ku'damm, at Wittenberger Platz, site of KDW (Kaufhaus des Westens), Germany's biggest department store, famous for its gigantic delicatessen. It then winds by the Europa Center and then follows Kurfürstendamm down to its end, before heading back up the other side.
The route is easy to describe and to run: just follow it out and back.
Wittenbergplatz is served by U-Bahn lines 1, 2 and 3, plus a variety of buses. The old U-Bahn station is worth looking into: the walls are covered with original advertizements from the early 1900s.
|Wittenbergplatz U-Bahn station|
|Heading down Tauenzien, past KDW|
|Europa Center water-clock: count the filled bulbs to read the time|
So, this is it, the Ku'damm. There are mobs of people to run around, but if you like streetlife, this is the place to be. There are old-fashioned shop showcases out on the sidewalks and old-fashioned news-kiosks and a line of trees down the middle, giving it a good dose of old-world charm.
|The Ku'damm at Café Kranzler|
When you reach Henriettenplatz, the Ku'damm ends at the S-Bahn tracks, so turn around here and run back on the other side of the street.
|The streets are still full along the Ku'damm|
Click here for Wilmersdorf loop route map
Length 8.1 km (5 miles), terrain flat
As the note at the top says, if you want a longer, more varied route, with fewer crowds, take this one. Just turn south (left) off of the Ku'damm after 1.7 km, at Bleibtreu Strasse, to head through the rest of Wilmersdorf. This street will give you a feeling for the quieter side of this pleasant borough, with its elegant old apartment houses and hotels.
|Running along Sächsische Straße|
When you cross Brandenburgische Straße, keep going south on Mannheimer Straße, with a few businesses on the left side, and row-houses on the right.
|Mannheimer Straße row-houses|
|Fennsee lake in the Wilmersdorfer Volkspark|
At the end of the lake, you'll come to a big intersection. You have to cross to the other (south) side of the street to continue in the park, over there at Mimi's Imbiss.
|The way into the next section of Volkspark|
|Volkspark flower beds|
|The U-Bahn station, with Schöneberger Rathaus in background|
|The balcony where JFK gave his speech|
Right after the town hall, turn diagonally left onto Salzburger Straße. After two blocks, it ends at Bayerischer Platz. Cross that square towards the left and continue northwards on Landshuter Straße.
|Elegant Wilmersdorf along Ansbacher Straße|