5 Things Only Tourists Do in Berlin

Ülane • 2 Jan, 2014

1. Stop in Mitte

Berlin is a conurbation and its old village boundaries are still marked strongly in its territorial psyche. Locals are reluctant to escape their comfortable “kiez” without good reason. Nobody lives around the centre, and so the area around Brandenburg Gate is an infertile desert to be avoided whilst visiting friends in the strange, distant lands of Neukölln or Prenzlauer Berg, or for the truly adventurous, the fabled Moabit or Marzahn.

2. Talk about how cheap Berlin is

To a tourist spending their holiday bonus, Berlin is a paradise of €2.50 kebabs, cheap hostels and free live music. However, due to chronic unemployment and Berlin’s turbulent history, waiters probably get paid less per hour than the cost of a meal. Additionally, locals have been thrown out of their cheap apartments to make way for illegal B&Bs where tourist tend to stay. When you consider the additional federally-imposed costs that locals also must pay – health insurance, liability insurance, insurance on their insurance and a TV license for a non-existent TV they can’t afford – Berlin doesn’t seem so cheap anymore.

3. Take pictures with a fake Soviet soldier

Checkpoint Charlie offers tourists the chance to smile for photos with an actor wearing the uniform of a regime that brutalised the city. Nothing remains of the original structures at Checkpoint Charlie – the guardhouse is as fake as the Soviet-era tatt which is sold here. Currywurst stands and souvenir stalls are the main architectural features. It’s mainly notable as an example of commercial tourism run rampant, and a mockery of the dark history of Berlin.


Photo credit: Oh-Berlin.com

4. Visit the East Side Gallery

If murals of children holding hands under rainbows is your idea of edgy street art, the East Side Gallery is for you. Otherwise, check out the classic works by Blu or ROA around Neukölln and Warschauer Straße. You can also find interesting new pieces in the RAW Tempel complex.

East Side Gallery BerlinPhoto credit: Els (Flickr)

5. Queue in front of Mustafa’s Gemüse Kebap

Even when it’s raining at 2 a.m. on a Tuesday night, you will still find a queue of tourists waiting for a vegetarian kebab from this stall on Mehringdamm. Is the food that good? The kebabs are okay, but they don’t compare to Babel on Kastanienallee for example. Why do they queue? Because everyone else does. Queuing for Mustafa’s seems to have become an empty ritual without historical or cultural relevance, the ultimate in tick-the-box tourism. Incidentally, if you want a huge plate of cheap and delicious vegetarian food, head across the road to Seerose.


Photo credit: andberlin.com


jamesJames Hudson is an Australian who has been living in Berlin for two years, so he can easily be considered a local by now. He works as a programmer and likes to dance – a programming dancer. He specialises in ballet and modern dancing. Besides that he is passionate about travelling just like all of us here at Like A Local.

Opening photo credit: Trine Juel (Flickr.com/tjuel)

Founder of Like A Local and Traveller Tours, world traveller, food addict & hobby chef, lover of documentaries.


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