Europe is full of capital cities that are bursting with exciting things to see and do. Germany’s capital Berlin is no exception! This vibrant city has exciting culture, art, history, food, architecture and techno beats coursing through its veins. You’ll find a number of must-visit bucket list sites here including the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and the Berlin Wall Memorial to name a few. Luckily for travellers, there is even more to explore! Take a break from the Berlin guide book, delve deeper and you’ll discover a host of hidden Berlin gems.
Berlin is a dynamic city made up of delicate glamour and underground grit. Where east and west were once divided, unity is now centerstage. Today creativity, multiculturalism and freedom are celebrated. Berlin is far from boring!
Here are a few of our favourite off-the-beaten-track hidden gems in Berlin:
Located south-east of the city centre, Treptower Park is home to the Soviet War Memorial. The memorial was built between 1946 and 1949 and designed by Soviet architect Yakov Belopolski. It honours the 7,000 Soviet soldiers who fell at the Battle of Berlin in 1945. An imposing 12m high statue depicting a soldier carrying a rescued German child is the centrepiece.
A visit to the Berlin Cathedral will be on many Berlin bucket-lists. During your trip be sure not to miss the view from the dome! After exploring the beautiful cathedral, make your way up 270 steps and you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the city. Take a stroll around the outside of the dome along the open-air walkway to enjoy panoramic views of Museum Island, the Humboldt Forum, the Berlin TV Tower and the River Spree.
This market first opened its doors in 1891 and was named Neun (nine) thanks to 14 similar markets which were established across the city at the time. Today, Markthalle Neun stands as a food hub in Berlin today thanks to savvy locals who revitalized it from 2009. Explore the market and the local and regional produce stands. Visit on Street Food Thursday for a real treat for the taste buds! You can try out street food from across the globe at this popular weekly event.
The Tiergarten is Berlin’s most popular park. Venture into the heart of the Tiergarten park to find this well-loved tree which has the opening lyrics of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (one of the greatest love songs of all time!) carefully carved into its trunk. No one knows who did it or why they did it, but the tree bark has healed and the words remain. People love to visit this unsanctioned monument. Shortly after Ben E. King passed away in 2015, the lyrics to the chorus appeared wrapped around the trunk of a neighbouring tree.
Have a free hour to spare during lunchtime in Berlin? Head to the Berliner Philharmonie for a free lunchtime concert! Some of Berlin’s best musicians, including the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, perform these concerts in the foyer of the building. Music lovers can grab a spot every Tuesday from September to June from 1pm. You can also enjoy some great food while you’re there (while the music is free, the food will cost you but it is reasonably priced).
Please note: the lunchtime concerts have been put on pause due to Covid-19 precautions. We will update this information when they resume.
Image by OlafJanssen / CC BY-SA
He may be American but Berliners have a soft spot for this Baywatch star! Visit the David Hasselhoff Museum in the basement of the Circus Hostel to find out more about “Germany’s most famous non-German”. The museum is super compact and filled with memorabilia including a replica of the piano key scarf Hasselhof wore during his famous 1989 New Year’s Eve performance. He sang the popular track “Looking for Freedom” at the Berlin Wall, much to the delight of the many spectators, when the wall was in the early stages of being dismantled.
Berlin is famous for its vibrant party scene. Whether you are looking for a techno rave, an underground club, an upmarket bar or a few drinks at a communist themed pub, Berlin has something for you. The city has taken its unique party styles one step further with tiny discos by Teledisko. Old phone booths have been converted into coin-operated clubs; complete with disco balls, strobe lights and dry ice. Pop in your coins, squish in with up to 2 friends, select your song and dance your heart away (as much as you can in a tiny phone booth)! You can record your session and snap photos. There are currently two tiny discos in Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg area and one that changes location.
Spend a few hours seeing the highlights of Berlin in an unforgettable way – on a trabi safari! The trabi (nickname of the Trabant) is an iconic car and symbol of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) which we know as East Germany. Hop into one of these antique automobiles and enjoy an authentic tour experience. Drive around in convoy around Berlin’s best sites, while listening to the commentary on the city’s history during your trabi safari.
Travel below ground for insight into subterranean Berlin. The Berliner Unterwelten Tours offer insight into Berlin’s underground history including WWII raid shelters, cold war nuclear bunkers as well as the tunnels used to smuggle people from east to west Berlin many decades ago.
There is no shortage of memorials to be seen in Berlin. The Parliament of Trees Against Violence and War Memorial is an art installation created by Ben Wagin in honour of the victims who died at the Berlin Wall. The Parliament of Trees is located opposite the Reichstag, on the east bank of the River Spree, on the former border of the Berlin Wall. It’s another poignant spot in a city home to a tangible and oftentimes terrible history.
The Oberbaumbrücke is more than just a bridge. Located on the River Spree, it connects Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg which were previously separated into east and west by the Berlin Wall. Today, the bridge represents Berlin’s unity. It also offers great views of east Berlin including the Berlin TV Tower, the Badeschiff (a floating public swimming pool) and the Molecule Man sculptures. It’s also near by the East Side Gallery making it a great sightseeing stop.
For great views of the city and an eclectic vibe, visit Klunkerkranich rooftop bar. It may look as if this rooftop venue has just been “thrown together” but the creative, bohemian atmosphere is simply Berlin. Located on top of the Neukölln Arcaden mall, it is not the easiest to find and you wouldn’t see it if you didn’t know it was there. Visit on a summer evening for some drinks, great company and sunset views.
Bratwurst, sauerkraut, currywurst and beer. These are all german food staples that travellers will usually try on a trip to Berlin. You should also have Thai food on your list! Berlin has a significant Thai population and you can enjoy a taste of Thailand in the city. On Sundays in summer, Preussenpark (the Prussian Park) becomes a hive of activity as Asian vendors gather to serve up mouthwatering (and reasonably priced!) Asian food. While it is predominantly Thai, you’ll also find Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese food.
Hackesche Höfe in the city centre is one of Berlin’s most popular places. Today, the historic art nouveau complex and courtyard house restaurants, bars, shops, cafes, apartments and even a cinema. It’s also home to quirky Cafe Cinema. This small, colourful spot pays homage to the golden age of cinema complete with film posters and artistic charm. It’s also the entrance to Haus Schwarzenberg Street Art Alley – one of the weirdest and coolest courtyards in Berlin.
Berlin is bursting full of things to do, as you can see! There is a great mix of major attractions and off-the-beaten-track experiences. Make the most of every aspect of the beautiful Berlin when you visit the city on your next trip to Europe!
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