Planning a trip to Berlin and looking to do something a bit different? Our adventurous local Sara shares 10 unique ways to fill your time in her wonderful city.
Sara also writes about her rollicking escapades and everyday experiences on her blog, Berliner Games.
1. Get to know Berlin’s past on a free walking tour
This is the first thing you should do in Berlin. And while it’s not exactly unique, you’ll see the city from another perspective once you’ve learnt more about the War, the Nazis, the Cold War and the Wall. After all, the only way to understand Berlin is to understand its history.
Everything happened so recently that you can still see reminders and feel the pain of the past. This is what makes the experience so fascinating.
There are several different free walking tours to choose from – just take your pick.
2. Score a bargain at a Sunday flea market
When I think of Sundays in Berlin, images of flea markets immediately pop into my mind.
The locations where they take place are interesting: visit the one in the RAW-Gelände, a former train repair station, or walk among the stalls in Mauerpark, a big park with street musicians in every corner. These are great places to find bargains and pick up second-hand clothes or a new bike.
Photo credit: Phil Strahl
3. Explore the city’s abandoned structures
Berlin is full of abandoned structures, and some of them are really fun to explore. A quick Google search will give you a list of abandoned places all over the city.
Take an imaginary swim in a long-forgotten swimming pool, or explore a derelict hospital, a shabby train station or an embassy full of old documents.
Beware of stray dogs, beware of homeless people living there and have fun: it’s adventure time!
Photo credit: dawolf-
4. Get back to nature at Grunewald
Despite being a metropolis, Berlin is a multifaceted city with wonderful green spaces. Grunewald is its biggest forest and an ideal place for wandering.
Take a map with you and look for the highest hill in the city, Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain), which is made of WWII rubble, or the forgotten cemetery where Velvet Underground collaborator Nico is buried.
Photo credit: pixagraphic
5. Have lunch at the Turkish Market
The Turkish Market takes place every Thursday and Friday on the Maybachufer, the riverbank in the Turkish district of Neukölln.
Go for a wander and take in the scents of spices and delicious food from all over the world. After buying your fresh juice and börek, sit down by the river to enjoy your food while listening to the local musicians.
Photo credit: Cristina Bejarano
6. Enjoy the sunset in Tempelhof
The colours of the sunsets in Berlin are usually jaw-dropping. The best place to enjoy them is Tempelhof, a former airport and the site of the famous Berlin airlift, which has since been turned into a public park.
You can circle the park by bike or on skates, bring your own kite and sit in the small community garden while the sun is going down.
Photo credit: Tony Webster
7. Chill out by a lake
A trip to one of the lakes that surround the city centre is the best way to spend a relaxing day.
Visit the Tegeler See if you prefer being in the middle of nature, the Wansee if you’d like to stop at the traditional Loretta beer garden, or the Müggelsee for a taste of provincial Berlin.
Photo credit: Stefan Hoffmann
8. Discover the underground
Many surprises await you in Berlin’s underground (U-Bahn); it’s another world down there! There are World War II bunkers, Cold War fallout shelters, brewery cellars…
Everything can be visited thanks to the Berliner Unterwelten association. Check out their website and sign up for your preferred tour.
Photo credit: Alexander Rentsch
9. Spend some time in the Kulturbrauerei
Located in the fancy Prenzlauer Berg district, this cultural centre used to be the biggest brewery in Berlin. It houses a cinema, a bar that organises some really nice concerts, a museum and a club that hosts 20s-themed nights. There’s something for everyone at this fantastic place!
Photo credit: Kulturbrauerei
10. Rave in true Berliner style
Last but not least, Berlin is unique because of its eclectic nightlife. Unusual locations are transformed into clubs that are typically open 24/7 from Friday to Monday.
Just look for open-air parties in the nature or ask locals where the best clubs are – you’ll discover another world!