Iconic Berlin TV Tower promises best views in Berlin

by Jun 23, 2022Berlin

Berlin TV Tower A Berlin Icon

The Berlin TV Tower’s distinctive needle and giant sphere is visible throughout Berlin, and it is still the tallest building in Germany. From the panoramic floor or restaurant inside the sphere high above Berlin, visitors enjoy some of the best views in Berlin.


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The Berlin TV Tower is an iconic spire, stretching skyward above the Berlin skyline and visible from almost any point in the city’s central district – and well beyond on a clear day. In German, the tower is known as the “Berliner Fernsehturm,” and its primary function is as a transmission tower for radio and television – hence, its name. With a height of 368 meters (1,207 feet) including the antennas, it is the tallest structure in Germany.

The tower was built by the German Democratic Republic (or GDR as East Germany was known) between 1965 and 1969 and was intended to be a glorious symbol of East German and Communist prosperity and power.

Getting to go up into the TV Tower and experience panoramic views was a very special treat for then-East Berlin residents – one that allowed them to in part look down into West Berlin as the sphere rotated. After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the futuristic-looking tower became an iconic symbol of a reunited Berlin, and it remains near and dear – like family – to former Easter Berliners where Alexanderplatz was a true East Berlin meeting place.

Today, the TV Tower is where locals and visitors can go to enjoy some of the most expansive, and some might say, best views of Berlin. Housed inside the glistening sphere just below the antennas is an observation deck, a bar, and a rotating restaurant — at height of approximately 203 meters (668 feet).

Enjoying the best views in Berlin

Located smack in the center of Alexanderplatz (Alexander Square) in Berlin’s Mitte central district, the Berlin TV Tower is impressive to gaze at from below and is much beloved by all Berliners. But the magic happens inside where with a ticket you ride to the observation deck for expansive city views.

Looking Down On Nikolai Quarter

Looking down onto Nikolai Quarter.

While you can purchase your ticket once you arrive at the TV Tower, I would recommend you purchase your tickets online in advance. By booking online you can reserve the time you can enter, and you will skip any lines that may form to purchase tickets onsite. If you have a Berlin Welcome Card, you can save a few euros on the price (rumor is that dynamic pricing will be instituted later in 2022 offering less expensive tickets at lower demand times). Capacity inside the observation deck is limited, so tickets are booked for 45-minute time slots. Arrival times are firm, although we discovered departure times less so — no one is in the observation deck looking to kick you out after 45 minutes. Still the maximum allowed occupancy of the sphere is 320 people, so be considerate, and don’t overstay your welcome.

Fernsehturm Deck Views

HITT Tip: If you choose not to book your visit in advance, realize you may not be able to purchase tickets for an immediate ride up to the observation deck. But not to worry. The tower offers an SMS notification service that will text you 30 minutes before your reserved admission time, which means you can leave (don’t stray too far) and explore nearby sights.

Berlin TV Tower Lobby

The lobby at the TV Tower and the stair leading up to security and the elevators.

When Therese and I visited in May 2022, we chose an evening time slot to enjoy pre-sunset golden hour and sunset. Once we arrived at our appointed time, we proceeded to security where our bags were checked and then we were whisked onto one of the two relatively small elevators – each has a 12-person capacity. The ride is fast – 40-seconds which translates to 6 meters per second. Although the elevator does go a bit slower (2 meters per second) if it is windy outside because the tower sways. Be sure to look up through the glass ceiling as you zip skyward.

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Once we disembarked, we found ourselves looking out over Berlin with an eagle’s-eye view. Because we were inside a glass sphere, the viewing glass is curved, meaning you can look almost directly down – along the banks of the Spree River, over to Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag, onto historic Nikolai Quarter and Museum Island — as well as out toward the horizon and toward the Olympic Stadium, the abandoned Tempelhof airport, and Teufelsberg. All around the rail of the 360-degree viewing platform there are maps and information plaques to help you identify key sights.

Photographing In The Berlin TV Tower

It never once felt crowded, though there were certainly a lot of people milling about the platform. And the views are indeed spectacular!

If you feel like a drink, and it’s between the hours of 14:30 and 23:00, the Bar 203 (named for the elevation of the observation deck) is open for business. A drink and a view, what could be finer?

HITT Tip: If there is an emergency, the only evacuation route is a very narrow, steel staircase with 986 steps. For this reason, wheelchair users and anyone with a disability that limit mobility (including canes and crutches) are not allowed to visit the Berlin TV Tower. Animals and strollers are also not allowed. Learn more about the Tower and limited accessibility.


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A 360-view with your meal

While Therese and I only visited the observation deck on this trip, we are certainly eyeing a return visit to book a window seat in the revolving restaurant. Because we had a TV Tower representative with us, we were allowed to peek into the restaurant — and it looks amazing. The floor rotates 360 degrees every hour, so diners enjoy an ever-changing panoramic view of the Berlin skyline while eating. Food and drink are not included in the price of the restaurant reservation and the menu looked very nice, although basic as one might expect. There is not a lot of room for a fancy kitchen. The food is not inexpensive either. We were told some folks just book a visit for dessert and drinks or very popular theme brunches.

Rotating Restaurant Berlin TV Tower

Adding on a VR experience – Berlin’s Odyssey

This is a very new addition to the experience at the Berlin TV Tower as of late May 2022, and one I would certainly recommend booking. You can book the Berlin’s Odyssey experience separately, but a combo ticket is the way to go so you can enjoy the view first and then the VR experience afterward – although flipping that order could give you perspective about the city’s history before your view of Berlin.

Therese Iknoian Enjoys Berlin's Odyssey

The entire VR experience takes 15-minutes. I most enjoyed the first seven minutes of virtual reality when I found myself “looking down” virtually on the Nikolai Quarter (where Berlin was birthed in the 13th century) and seeing how it might have looked in 1237 and then in 1451. What the producers of the film were able to recreate was visually remarkable. It was almost as if I were still standing on the observation deck looking down onto Nikolai Quarter as it was several thousand of years ago.

While interesting from a historical perspective, the rest of the VR experience from 1897 to 1969 and then to 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall was not as compelling and lacked a connection to the TV Tower … which is what I really wanted with my TV Tower visit. Plus, it is history that is covered by any number of other museums in Berlin about the Wall and East Germany.

Still, for the first 7 minutes alone, the VR experience is something I fully recommend as an add-on.

HITT Tip: The Berlin TV Tower is one of the structures that is usually illuminated with light installations during the Festival of Lights, typically held in Berlin during the month of October.

Berlin TV Tower Illuminated

Fun Berlin TV Tower Facts

>> Official height of the observation deck is 203.78 meters (668.6 feet).
>> Official height of the restaurant is 207.53 meters (680.9 feet).
>> Official height of the tower including the antennas is 368.03 meters (1,207.4 feet).
>> The total weight of the shaft is 26,000 long tons (29,000 short tons – U.S.).
>> The weight of the sphere is 4,700 long tons (5,300 short tons).
>> The diameter of the sphere is 32 meters (105 feet).
>> The outer diameter of the tower at its foundation is 42 meters (138 feet).
>> There are 150 different antennas for TV and radio transmission on the tower.

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Disclosure: We were fully hosted during our visit to the Berlin TV Tower. Any reviews, mentions and opinions here are our own, and are not approved, provided, or otherwise endorsed or influenced by Visit Berlin or the TV Tower.

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