Cultural trendsetter, party paradise, high on history - to say that Berlin is a cultural mishmash is an understatement. However, there’s more to the city than Brandenburg Gate, Alexanderplatz, and World War II-time relics, structures, and what-not littered throughout the city - in fact, this barely scratches the surface. The other side is the Berlin you can’t see immediately - the shrouded secrets, the less-frequented nooks, the eclectic projects, and the wonderfully quirky subculture. Take a dizzying spin through past, present, and future all at once with this list of some of the finest, hidden, and best non-touristy things to do in Berlin.
1. Explore the stunning Schöneberg
Flag off your alternative Berlin experience tour by strolling along Schöneberg, Berlin’s most culturally rich city district. Experience the hopping nightlife around Nollendorfplatz and Winterfeldtplatz, get hypnotized by the architecture around Viktoria Luise Platz, or stroll the verdant, leafy streets which head to the Winterfeldmarkt. Do not miss dining in the many restaurants in Akazienstrasse - start with some amazing coffee (Double Eye, Coffee Roastery), dig into chocolate products and icecreams (Winterfeldt Schokoladen, Jones Ice Cream), and dig into global cuisine (Ixthys, pizzeria Malafemmena, Cafe M). If that isn’t enough, the green parks like - Rudolph-Wilde-Park and Natur Park Schöneberg Südgelande will surely provide balm to your soul.
Address: Tempelhof-Schöneberg, Berlin
2. Take a dip in the Badeschiff
Literally meaning ‘bathing ship’ in English, swimming at Badeschiff, one of Berlin’s most unusual swimming pools, is a must-do. This contemporary art project solution made from an old river cargo container floats atop the unswimmable, long-neglected River Spree. In summers, Badeschiff is a mini-oasis of cool, clean water, and in the winters, its an indoor health complex covered by translucent shells. Enjoy views of the Oberbaumbrücke, Molecule Man, and the TV Tower as you sip on cocktails while listening to a DJ in the summers and seek refuge from the cold in the heated pool and saunas in the winter.
Address: Eichenstraße 4, 12435 Berlin
Opening hours: Flexible due to weather, check website
Price: Adults USD 6, Children (6-12 years) USD 2, Children under 6 years free admission
3. Soak in the Berlin sunset at Klunkerkranich
After a day of exploring the city, there’s no better a place to soak up the Berlin sunset than doing so at the Klunkerkranich, a funky rooftop bar atop the Neukölln Arcade mall. This amazing rooftop space features up-cycled, quirky decor, plants, and furniture while serving some amazing beers and drinks from the local Späti. What’s even better is that Klunkerkranich even hosts live concerts featuring some of the best DJs in Berlin.
Address: Karl-Marx-Straße 66, 12043 Berlin
Opening hours: Wednesday - Friday: 4pm - 2am; Saturday: 12pm - 3am; Sunday: 12pm - 2am; (closed on Monday and Tuesday)
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4. Have your mind blown at the Designpanoptikum
Step through the doors of the Designpanoptikum, a wonderfully unnerving half horror house, half design museum of extraordinary objects across eras spanning past and future. Featuring medical equipment paired with common items, and retro-tech attached to body parts, the space-carnival-esque whimsical world is eerily dystopian to the hilt and features an eclectic collection spanning film, medical, and aviation industry, among others.
Address: Poststraße 7, 10178 Berlin
Opening hours: Monday - Saturday: 11am - 6pm (closed on Sundays)
Price: Normal USD 11.32, Group > 10 people USD 10.19, Group > 15 people USD 9.06
5. Enjoy Asian food at Thai Park
Thai food is big in Germany and the local Thai populace has been meeting up at die Thaiwiese (Thai-Meadow) for more than two decades now. This food-sharing market sees Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and ‘Thai mamas’ set up rainbow-colored umbrellas over pretty blankets on the grassy pitch every fair-weather weekend, opening their coolers and heating up their saucepans to whip up some amazingly tasty food. Sunday is the busiest day, so get out to Thai Meadow while it’s still early! Must-try items include Sticky Rice with Mango and Coconut Sauce, Fried Whole Fish, Sticky Buns, Deep-Fried Banana, Spring Rolls, and Som Tam.
Address: Preußen park, Brandenburgische Str. 10707 Berlin
Website: Thai Park
Opening hours: Friday - Sunday: 11am - 10pm; (closed Monday - Thursday)
6. Hang out at HolzMarkt
The party city of Berlin has grown up with the opening of HolzMarkt. What was a tiny shack of scrap wood on an abandoned lot on River Spree has transformed into a Bohemian, unconventional urban oasis today. HolzMarkttoday features food stalls and restaurants, a kids’ daycare center, a coworking space, a yoga studio, a gallery, a wine shop, two theatre stages, numerous bars, several playgrounds for kids, and the famous and happening club Kater Blau as well. Holzmarkt has an open-door policy, and one can walk in with kids, parents, and even grandparents - transforming HolzMarkt into a quirky, crazy space where generations come together.
Address: Holzmarktstraße 25, 10243 Berlin
Opening hours: 12am - 11:59pm (daily)
7. Let your hair down at Badehaus
An eye-popping golden bathtub at the entrance and a long wooden bar akin to a barn welcome you into Badehaus Szimpla, a Friedrichshain establishment. Sip on wine and imported fruit schnapps while enjoying live music, playing everything from metal to gypsy-disco to indie pop Don’t miss the ‘Fuckin Monday’ and Tuesday’s 'The Swag Jam’ - the former features house, hip-hop, all-time favorites, while the latter is Berlin’s finest beats and live hip-hop. Their monthly Balkantronika parties which feature traditional swing and Balkan-brass shouldn’t be missed either.
Address: Revaler Strasse 99, (auf dem RAW-Gelände, Zugang Höhe Simon-Dach-Str.), 10245 Berlin
Opening hours: Sunday - Thursday: 7pm - 2am; Friday - Saturday: 7pm - 4am
8. Travel to Central Asia at the Tajikistan Tearoom
Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing
Sip on some tea and forget your troubles at the Tajikistan Tearoom, a wonderfully delicious slice of Central Asia in the heart of Berlin. Originally built as a Tajikistan pavilion in the 70s at one of Leipzig’s trade fairs, today the Tearoom features classical Persian-style lush decor, complete with thick Persian carpets and carved wooden pillars, complete with an old Soviet tourist resorts map hanging above the counter. Low wooden tables are where food and tea are served, while the guests can stretch out with comfy cushions on the floor, barefoot, of course. A vast selection of oriental teas and Russian food are the grand finale.
Address: Oranienburger Str. 27, 10117 Berlin
Website: Tajikistan Tearoom
Opening hours: Tuesday - Thursday: 4pm - 11pm; Friday: 2pm - 11pm; Saturday: 12pm - 11pm; Sunday: 12pm - 10pm; Monday: 4pm - 10pm
9. Tour the DDR Museum (from USD 13.0)
Travel back in time by visiting the award-winning historical DDR Museum, which features interactive exhibits transporting enthusiasts and history aficionados to post-WWII East Germany by offering them the smells, sights, and glimpses of life behind the ‘Iron Curtain’. Travel in an authentic Trabi car, undergo an actual Stasi interrogation, explore reconstructions of original living spaces, undergo a virtual tour of a GDR housing estate, and, after you’re done, exit the compound through a hole in the Berlin Wall.
DDR Museum Berlin Admission Ticket
Duration: 1 to 2 hours
10. Take a shooting training (from USD 118.0)
Why not take a shooting training while vacationing in Berlin? This one-hour shooting training allows participants to choose weapons of their choice In the duel with the targets and focuses on teaching them to use typical large-caliber long weapons as well as short weapons. Intensive instruction and care are offered, as is a professional shooting instructor for enhancing our shooting experience!
Duration: 1 hour
Oriental food, Tajikistani cuisine, quirky retro attractions, unconventional art projects - there is no dearth of non-touristy things to do in Berlin. So, put on your ‘offbeat’ shoes and explore Berlin beyond what is conventional with these non-touristy, off-the-beaten-path attractions.
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