Berlin is the kid from high school art class who always wears black and manages to seem so casually cool, you question whether you can sit at the same table (but you can because you’re cool too, darn it).
There are so many levels to this city and if you spend any time here, you’ll understand why it’s been drawing artists and creatives for decades. The city is all about the counterculture and the greatest part is that you don’t have to search far to discover it.
When you’re here, conventional activities like the hop-on hop-off bus, a visit to the Parliament Building, a walk along the East Side Gallery, and museum tours on Museum Island are what you’ll likely hear about, but that’s not why you came here, is it? You want knowledge on intriguing things to do that visitors normally don’t know about. You want to hit the venues in torn black pants, not strappy shoes and tan socks!
Don’t worry, being a resident of the city for 2 years, I’ve got you covered. These are my top 10 greatest alternative things to do in Berlin for individuals who prefer to stray off the beaten track:
Do you like live music? Do you prefer to play in the sandbox and sit in the summer heat while drinking a relatively inexpensive Moscow mule?
It’s one of my favorite daytime pubs in Berlin since it’s full of odd artwork that changes all the time and offers fantastic views of the city at sunset. On a nice day, the decks and tables are generally full with residents and visitors enjoying the view and the ambience. While it might not be Berlin’s best-kept secret, it’s surely one of the greatest places to spend a quiet afternoon. When the sun is shining, you may often find me there.
To reach there, travel to the Neukölln Arcades, enter through the station door and take the elevator to the 5th level. It will open to a parking lot. Turn left and go up the driveway and you’ll start to notice flower pots and wonderful tiny sculptures. Entry is normally €2 and it’s open till 1:30am.
Champ of Tempelhofer
How many abandoned airports in the middle of a city have you visited in your life? Tempelhofer Feld is one of those unique places that is just so Berlin and on a nice day you will see locals barbecuing, windsurfing on the tarmac and even planting vegetables in some of the communal garden areas .
The airport best known for the Berlin Airlift when this part of Berlin was under American control during the Cold War. Flights were constantly taking off to deliver food to those in walled-off West Berlin. The history is fascinating and if you are a lover of old abandoned buildings (like me) you will love it.
Enjoying the outside of the airport is free and you can get there at any time, but if you want to see the inside of the airport, and you really should, book a cheap tour that lets you in learn more about history, jump behind check-in counters and transport yourself back in time.
Berlin Alternative Street Art Tour
I’m not usually an excursionist, but this walking tour is really excellent. The guides are not only sharp and knowledgeable about street art, they also seem to really like it. For me, it’s like a two-for-one, since it’s a history trip and an art tour blended into one, giving you a unique knowledge of where Berlin originated from when it was a divided city.
I recommend it to all my friends who are travelling as it’s a terrific opportunity to get your bearings around the city, see lesser renowned art than the East Side Gallery and also a chance to meet other tourists. If you know nothing about Berlin and street art or already know quite a bit, you are likely to come away with fresh knowledge.
Teufelsberg, which translates to Devil’s Mountain, is certainly one of my favorite sections of this city (well, just out of town, to be accurate) (well, slightly out of town, to be exact). It is situated on top of a hill that was formerly a Nazi military technical institution under construction and debris from the ancient east.
It was originally a spy base for US soldiers during the Cold War, as proven by the randomes, which are the giant bubble-shaped listening domes depicted above. While in tatters now, the spy base still remains and is decorated in graffiti art. Some of the greatest celebrities, including Jimmy C, have designs there. The whole area seems like some sort of bizarre, abandoned wonderland.
Sadly you can’t just hop on and explore since it is now private property and there is an admittance charge. Schedule a half-day excursion here that includes transportation and a guide. It’s worth it.
Have you ever anticipated to encounter a genuine Thai style street food market in Berlin? I have to tell you, it’s a pretty unusual thing to talk a mixture of German and Thai to someone while ordering food, but after you get past the initial disorientation of going into a small Chiang May, your taste buds will reward you.
Outside of Thailand this is the most genuine Thai cuisine I have ever tasted. Everything about it is just like the actual thing, except for the pricing of course. Most meals are €5 so bring friends and split around.
The market takes place over the weekend at the Preussenpark when the weather is pleasant.
YAAM is an abbreviation for Young African Art Market and is a famous beach club in Friedrichshain, near the East Side Gallery and other tourist attractions. Beach clubs like these are prevalent all around Germany, and other than the sand, I can’t really tell you what defines a beach club. The concept is that individuals of all ages and cultural origins may come and hang out, have a drink and/or attend one of their numerous musical events.
There’s a lot of extremely amazing street art within YAAM Beach, and for those in this techno-obsessed town who like live music, trap, drum n’ bass, hip hop , reggae and afro house, it’s a terrific alternative location to come and dance hard. Check out their event schedule for yoga and musical performers.
Sunset over the canal
The canal that flows through Kreuzberg is a popular for locals and visitors alike during twilight hours. Purchase a beer at the local späti (a tiny convenience shop that sells beverages, candy, etc.) and take it to the banks, especially in the summer months, and you’ll discover you’re in excellent company.
My favorite spot is at Admiralbrücke. Keep a look out for the guy hawking samosas, the swans, and the people on inflatable rafts selling beer.
On a sweltering Berlin summer day, this floating pool on the Spree River is the place to be. Granted, it’s known to visitors and costs €5, but if you’re seeking to meet some nice people at the closest beach party you’ll find in landlocked Berlin, this is a terrific venue.
What many may not realize is that it is not just open throughout the summer. Badeschiff is also open in winter and provides saunas and heated pools.
If you can’t get enough street art (and honestly, who can?), this spot near to the Warschauer str S-bahn station has enough of it. Furthermore there’s a lot going on here including music events, nightclubs, a Sunday flea market, a climbing wall, movie nights, one of Europe’s largest indoor halfpipes and pubs outdoors when the weather is pleasant.
This is one of my favorite areas to observe and hang out street art. But be sure to keep an eye on your valuables, because pickpockets are having a joy (and that goes for all of Berlin) (and that goes for all of Berlin).
Bite club is a summer street food party that takes place every third Friday at the Arena Berlin, which isn’t too far from the Badeschiff if you want mixing names and pool time.
If you’re here in the colder months and still want to discover some delicious street cuisine, come to the Markthalle Neun in Kreuzberg on Thursdays. It’s highly popular, so be prepared for crowds. You may also find amazing alternatives around the city in this post.
Here are some of my faves in my beloved Berlin, a place I’ve significantly slackened in writing about, other from telling you why I moved here ages ago and what I love about it. dirty underbelly of the city.
Feel free to post any of your favorite locations in the comments, and let me know if you wind up checking out any of them and enjoying your stay here!