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Berlin is a city with many popular tourist attractions, but there are also plenty of hidden gems in Berlin and lesser-known attractions.
BERLIN QUICK LINKS
Accommodation: Booking.com / Hostelworld
Tours: GetYourGuide / FreeToursByFoot
Food experiences: EatWith
Copy of Lonely Planet Berlin
Getting there: flight (Skyscanner), train (RailEurope), bus (FlixBus)
As my plane landed on the Berlin runway, my feelings were mixed. On the one hand, my arrival meant I’d officially left my beloved Asia behind after 13 months living there. On the other, it meant my Europe backpacking adventures were about to begin.
With the promise of hearty German food and
It was my second time in Berlin, the capital of Germany. Since I’d seen all the tourist highlights before, I decided to focus on the more alternative things to do in Berlin which I’d missed last time.
Follow along with me for hidden gems in Berlin that often get overlooked!
Map of unusual things to do in Berlin
Alternative things to do in Berlin
Once I was checked in to my accommodation, it was time to explore. Even though it was still early, I was still
These are the coolest places to enrich your Berlin bucket list!
Explore quirky Berlin with a guide:
Explore Kreuzberg & Orienstrasse
My accommodation was located in Kreuzberg. Since I was on the hunt for quirky places in Berlin, this couldn’t have been better.
Known for its artists, students and Turkish population, this part of Berlin is quirky, colourful and full of tasty hummus, falafel and shawarma. You’ll find street art galore and hipster bicycles lent against retro shop fronts. There’s an abundance of cafes, restaurants and bars all with outdoor seating, as well as boutiques, bookshops and record stores.
Oranienstraße is a particularly cool part of Kreuzberg. This long street technically stretches all the way from Checkpoint Charlie to Kreuzberg so you can walk the whole way if you want, though the first half would be less interesting.
Oranienstraße becomes lively with lots of bars spilling out onto the streets. Arrive into Moritzplatz station and you’ll be in the thick of alternative Berlin.
Indulge in the vegan food scene
While vegan food is hardly unusual these days, the vegan scene in Berlin started with quirky pop-up cafes that have now become popular with people of all ages, but particularly the younger generation. While exploring the quirky places in Berlin, you’ll stumble across plenty of vegan cuisine.
I visited Brammibal’s Donuts, a hidden Berlin gem in Kreuzberg beside the river, where I tucked into the most divine cherry cream glazed doughnut. Other vegan doughnut flavours include blackberry and matcha, raspberry pistachio and salted caramel hazelnut.
Suggested tour: Berlin vegan food tour
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Berlin, it doesn’t get better than a 120-year-old historic market full of hipster street food. Head down on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays for a weekly market, and all other days (apart from Sundays) for general food stalls.
At Markthalle Neun there are German and Italian delicacies, craft beer, deli goods, pulled pork, vegan food and more. Seriously, come hungry! I wasn’t quite there after my Brammibals doughnut and that, my friends, was a crying shame. Don’t forget to snap some photos in the photoautomat booth.
Looking for foodspiration? Check out EatWith‘s immersive food experiences by locals. From supper clubs to food crawls and cooking classes, there are some fantastic options.
Wander The East Side Gallery
It’s not exactly
This open-air gallery on a 1,316m remaining section of the Berlin wall displays the work of artists from all around the world. Street art is renowned for telling stories, few of which are as important as the tale of the Berlin Wall.
Set your Google Maps to the East Side Gallery and spend an hour or so strolling while taking in the artwork.
Once you’ve had your fill of urban art at East Side Gallery, you’re really close to Holzmarkt 25. This awesome outdoor market, meeting spot and bar is slightly off the beaten track in Berlin since it’s mainly locals who know about it.
By the venue’s own admission, they’re fighting to save alternative venues in Berlin during an era of inflated rents and chain establishments invading the city.
So, to support the hidden places of Berlin and have a refreshing beer on the banks of the Spree, come down to Holzmarkt 25 from 2pm on weekdays and 1pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Klunkerkranich rooftop bar
To finish your day at one of the coolest hidden places in Berlin, you could consider visiting a rooftop bar for views over the city. If that sounds good to you, I’d suggest Klunkerkranich on the rooftop of Neukölln Arcaden shopping
Rather than a fancy sky bar, this hidden gem in Berlin is hipster-friendly. It’s tricky to locate but once you’ve taken the lift to the top floor and walked through the parking lot, you’ll find the entrance to the bar. The views out over the city are unrivalled, especially on a clear summers day.
There’s a cover charge of $5 to enter Klunkerkranich. It’s right beside Rathaus Neukölln station so jump on a Metro from wherever you’ve been previously.
Stay in a refurbished caravan
For a quirky place to stay in Berlin, you can’t do better than the cosy caravans at Huttenpalast. Not only did I have a comfy double bed, but there were quirky furnishings and hot showers. Not the caravan life I’m used to but no complaints here. Check availability here.
These next quirky places in Berlin were contributed by some of my favourite fellow travel bloggers…
The Stand By Me Tree
With its beautiful open spaces, tree-lined paths and boating lake, Berlin’s Tiergarten Park is the perfect escape from the busy city streets. One of the most unique things to see in Berlin is the Stand By Me Tree, located in the heart of the park with the opening lyrics of Ben E King’s iconic Stand By Me etched in its bark.
The tree grew in popularity after the death of Ben E King in 2015 and the chorus ‘Darling, darling, stand by me’ was etched on a second tree nearby.
It can be quite difficult to locate the Stand By Me Tree in the 520-acre tree-filled park. Luckily the pathways are named and it is close to the intersection of Großer Weg and Großer Sternallee. The tree is about a 10-minute wall from the park entrance just off the roundabout at Victory Column.
The pathways are named on Google Maps and the tree is located just off the side of the path.
Entry submitted by David from Your Ireland Vacation.
Another of the most unusual things to do in Berlin is find Teufelsberg, a site layered with history and modern quirkiness on a massive hill in the outskirts of the city.
Teufelsberg was the construction site of a planned Nazi military and technology college. The occupying forces attempted to demolish the building but were unable. Instead, they filled the building with rubble from war-torn Berlin and formed a man-made hill. It was covered with fill and trees were planted on the site that became one of the highest points in the American sector of West Berlin.
In 1961, the hill’s strategic importance stood out to American and British military figures. They built a secret spy tower and listening station on the site. It was constructed under the guise of a weather station and the East Germans and Russians were spied on until the end of the Cold War in 1989.
Once the Berlin Wall fell, the site was abandoned and changed hands several times. Today it is privately owned, but you can visit this Berlin off the beaten path attraction and check out the grounds and tower. It features several floors of street art as you ascend the spy tower.
Entry submitted by Derek and Mike from Robe Trotting.
Take a Cold War bunker tour
Dive into the dark past of Berlin and descend into its labyrinth of underground tunnels with Berliner Unterwelten. During a Berlin bunker tour, you’ll see how West Berlin prepared itself for the Cold War. With Russia threatening to use nuclear weapons, special bunkers were built throughout the continent.
Often using vast empty spaces in the Berlin subway system, these bunkers were fitted with the most basic amenities. Only able to hold a limited number of people, the locations of these shelters weren’t even always disclosed to civilians.
While the guide leads you through inconspicuous-looking doors of the fully operating metro stations, you’ll discover there’s a whole different world hiding behind them. Covered in cobwebs, the Cold War bunkers are intriguing relics of a slightly mythical event in European history. Situated underground, the Cold War bunker tour is quite literally a hidden gem in Berlin!
Entry submitted by Zarina from Miss Travel Clogs.
Visit the Waterfall at Viktoriapark
This lesser-known waterfall with a 79-feet drop is located at Viktoriapark in the borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Viktoriapark is free to visit and includes the highest hill of the inner core of Berlin, offering great views of the city.
The park is a quiet oasis within the bustling city of Berlin and invites for a little break to relax. By walking 5 minutes, you can visit to the former airport Berlin-Tempelhof, the Bergmannkiez (a famous area for cafés, restaurants and clubs) and Schwerbelastungskörper (the location the Nazis were planning to erect a gigantic triumphal arch in this area).
Entry submitted by Chris from Punta Cana Travel Blog.
Berlin Street Art Tour & Workshop
Another option for visitors looking for alternative things to do in Berlin is a street art tour. There are a wide variety of tours to help you experience the hidden gems of Berlin. Many of the guides are street artists themselves (although they won’t disclose who they are).
After exploring the East Side, a fun option is to take a tour which includes the chance to create your own mural.
You’ll be able to pick a stencil, trace it and then spray paint your design. Your guide will show you all of the various techniques. The street art workshop provides a wonderful way to not only visit unusual places in Berlin, but learn a new skill, too.
Entry submitted by Kim from My Global Ways.
The Parliament Of Trees
Located on the shore of Spree river in Berlin, across the Reichstag building, the Parliament of Trees is easily included in your Berlin itinerary. It’s often mistaken as a garden, but this Berlin hidden gem is actually a work of art created by Ben Wagin as a memorial for the victims of the Berlin Wall. Sixteen trees (for each federal state) were planted inside symbolising the unification of Germany.
The garden is bordered by a granite wall formed of authentic parts of the Berlin Wall. The blocks are painted with scenes from the Wall’s history and with the number of victims who died before the wall was demolished. Visitors can sit down on the bench and discover the different elements of the garden.
The Parliament Of Trees may be off the beaten path in Berlin, but it’s an important landmark for those who want to know more about Berlin’s history and especially for those who are interested in Berlin Wall.
Entry submitted by Corina from Another Milestone.
Relax at Badeschiff
As if quirky Berlin wasn’t cool enough already, there’s a swimming pool in the river and a city beach!
Badeschiff means ‘bathing ship’ and refers to the mechanism of the floating swimming pool in the river. The Spree is not clean enough to swim in so the inventive Berliners found a way to get around that: swimming in a beautiful and clean pool with views of the river.
The whole area around the pool works as a beach bar. There’s sand on the ground, a bar with plenty of drink options and sunbeds to relax anytime. The actual swimming pool is 2.1m deep and only for swimmers.
Since the capacity of the Badeschiff is limited, it’s best to buy a ticket online. As of 2021, time-slots of two hours are available for purchase for €6.50. The Badeschiff can be found on the river Spree in the East of Berlin, in front of Arena Berlin. The closest S-Bahn stop is Treptower Park.
Entry submitted by Veronika from Travel Geekery.
Wander Hackesche Höfe
Since much of Berlin was rebuilt after WWII, you’ll see a lot of 1960s and 70’s ‘modern’ architecture with a sprinkling of some older styles. What you don’t expect is an Art Nouveau complex but that’s exactly what you get with Hackesche Höfe.
This hidden gem in Berlin is located next to the Hackescher Market in Mitte district, featuring eight central interconnected courtyards. This style of architecture dates back to the 18th century when it marked significant expansion in Berlin. Although the structure itself was fairly traditional for the area, it was designed with a modern art deco facade that’s rare in Berlin.
Luckily, the damage during the war was minor and was it was restored in the late 1990. Hackesche Höfe is now a vibrant community home to an eclectic mix of cafes, shops, apartments, businesses, cultural institutions and a cinema. You’re free to wander the area at no cost.
Entry submitted by Sam from My Flying Leap.
In addition to Hackesche Höfe, there are several hidden backyards in Berlin sprinkled with quirky street art, unusual architecture and niche museums. Discovering them is a fantastic way to get off the beaten track in Berlin, soaking up the atmosphere of the city and leaving other tourists far behind.
Since they’re hidden by nature, it’s a good idea to take a small group backyards tour with a Berlin guide.
Another unusual way to experience Berlin is by going on a Trabi safari. The Trabant, affectionately known as the Trabi, was the car of the former DDR (East Germany). These vehicles were highly coveted with a waiting period of up to 15 years, and while they weren’t known for their reliability, there is a sense of nostalgia about them.
Today, tour operators allow you to relive the magic of these one-of-a-kind vehicles. The excursions are typically safari-style where you have a lead guide and driver, and everyone follows behind in their own Trabant. You get a quick driving lesson at the start of the tour as this is a rather unusual car.
Over the course of the Trabi safari, you get to see some of Berlin’s top tourist attractions. At the end of the excursion, you receive a Trabant driver’s license as a souvenir.
Entry submitted by Audrey from That Backpacker.
Zauberkönig Magic Store
One of the best places to shop for Berlin souvenirs is Zauberkönig on Hermanstrasse in Neukölln. Opened in 1884, this magic shop has been in business for over 130 years.
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Berlin, prepare to spend some time here perusing their trinkets, tricks and costumes to rent. This shop belongs on Diagon Alley as much as it does in Neukölln!
Entry submitted by Stephanie from History Fangirl.
Berlin hidden gems – nightlife
Discos inside phone booths
Berlin is famous for its glitzy mega clubs but did you know there are some tiny discos hidden away in converted phone booths?
They’re decked out with strobe lights, fog machines, disco mirror balls and your choice of music. They also have cameras in case you want to record your three-minute dance party.
Visit Club Katerblau (open at night) and Raw Gelande (open day and night). These hidden gems in Berlin are easy to operate: insert €2 and pick a song. The doors will open and the party starts. You can pay an extra €2 for a photo strip or a video recording of the whole thing.
Entry submitted by Henry from This Life of Travel.
Golden Gate nightclub
If you get rejected from Berlin’s most famous club, the Berghain, take a trip to this nightclub tucked away under Jannowitzbrücke station bridge. Follow Google Maps to find the entrance.
Be prepared for a true underground Berlin experience in this tiny, dark club. The lineup changes every night with up-and-coming Berlin artists playing from Friday night to Monday morning. Don’t come overdressed or arrive before 3am!
The club is separated into a dancing and chill area. You’re guaranteed to strike a conversation which makes this club a good place if you are travelling solo and to get out of your comfort zone.
Entry submitted by Lucile HR.
Quirky museums in Berlin
The David Hasselhoff Museum
Perhaps the most unusual Berlin hidden gem is the David Hasselhoff Museum in a tiny 2×1 metre corner of The Circus Hostel. It’s jam-packed with memorabilia about this actor/singer popular in Berlin.
On 31 December 1989, Hasselhoff performed a concert at the site of the Berlin wall, singing his iconic Looking For Freedom to Berliners celebrating German reunification. You can learn more about this story through the memorabilia at the museum and read about the movement to create a David Hasselhoff Straße (Street).
David Hasselhoff often returns to Berlin; sometimes he visits the museum. He also performs a few concerts in the city. In 2019, he held a ‘30 years of freedom’ concert to mark the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
When you’ve finished at the museum, the bar upstairs serves steins and pretzels!
Entry submitted by Claire from Claire’s Footsteps.
Fans of the American punk rock band, The Ramones, will be thrilled to know that the first and only museum dedicated entirely to the band is located in Berlin.
The bassist, Dee Dee Ramone, grew up in Berlin and, if you listen closely, you’ll hear references to Berlin in a number of their songs. Inside the museum, you’ll find more than 1,000 examples of Ramones memorabilia. Concerts are occasionally held here, and C.J. Ramone even performed once.
The museum’s plant-based cafe will please vegan travellers visiting Berlin. Come for breakfast and choose from dishes named after Ramones songs. The ‘I Wanna Live’ includes vegan cheese, bacon, marmalade, fruits and hand-baked bread from Kreuzberg. Yum!
Entry submitted by Wendy from The Nomadic Vegan.
Urban Nation – quirky Berlin street art museum
If you want to see some of the best street art in the world, make sure you check out Urban Nation. This street art and graffiti museum in the most bombed city in Europe is free to visit. Browse impressive installations from renowned artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairy.
It’s no surprise to find such a quirky museum in Berlin. Graffiti and street art played an important role in shaping the identity of the city, which was named a UNESCO City of Design in 2006.
The facade often changes at Urban Nation and the pieces are updated regularly. The street art museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm. The easiest way to get there is by taking the subway to the station Nollendorfplatz.
Entry submitted by Carine and Derek from We Did It Our Way.
Visit LGBT+ Schwules Museum
Another unusual thing to do in Berlin is explore the chronicles of LGBT+ history, culture, oppression and rights, both in Germany and internationally.
Since the mid-60s, the LGBT+ rights movement has gained traction thanks to large efforts originating in major cities throughout Europe and North America. Germany has made many contributions to the effort and it is known for being a tolerant country offering LGBT+ people many rights and protections.
However, this hasn’t always been the case. The Holocaust carries a variety of horror stories specific to the treatment of LGBT+ people. These stories are told in the various displays at The Schwules Museum, open in the afternoons (closed Tuesdays). Admission costs €9.
Entry submitted by Austin from Two Bad Tourists.
Stay in a quirky Berlin hotel
For such a quirky city, there are of course plenty of unique and unusual places to stay in Berlin. These include:
Huttenpalast: This caravan hotel in Kreuzberg is a berlin hidden gem in its own right. The double bed in the caravan was super comfortable, plus I had an ‘outside’ seating area to relax in. Since there are only a handful of caravans in the large complex, each seating area is tucked away for privacy. Check availability for €77pn.
Michelberger: This hip hotel inside a refurbished warehouse is totally ‘Berlin’. With high ceilings, flea market-style decor and stacks of books as high as the ceiling, it’s the perfect mix of quirky and light & bright. There’s also a vegan cafe onsite and its perfectly located in busy Friedrichshain. Check availability for €107pn.
Boat hotels in Berlin: Bored of staying on land? Opt for a quirky houseboat located inside a refurbished cabin floating on the Spree. Many have double rooms, living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms. Book Eastern & Western Comfort Boathotel or Spreeapartment MARA.
I hope you enjoyed these alternative things to do in Berlin
Check out my other Europe posts:
- The 30 best German dishes to try
- A complete guide to Munich
- Nuremberg travel guide
- Guide to visiting Nuremberg Castle
- 3 day Vienna itinerary
- 3 day Copenhagen itinerary
- How to spend 3 days in Budapest
- What to eat & drink in Prague
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked these hidden gems in Berlin? Pin it for later!
TRUSTED RESOURCES FOR VISITING GERMANY
Getting around by air – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Driving in Europe – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals in European countries (and all around the world).
For trains, I use RailEurope. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use FlixBus. Find journeys between European countries from €1.
Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy!
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s some of the most affordable insurance out there but still covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and budget tips from my 10+ years on the road!