Berlin has always been such an intriguing city to me. I mean, where else in the world can you swim in a cargo container in a pool that’s in a river, go out partying on Monday morning, drink a 60 cent beer on the subway and sleep in a coffin? Only in Berlin, that is. Here’s 50 weird and wonderful things to do in Berlin.
1. Brandenburg Gate. During the Cold War and the division of Germany, this landmark stood between East and West Berlin. When the wall fell in 1989 and Germany was reunited, the Brandenburg Gate became the iconic landmark of a new Germany.
2. Walk along the East Side Gallery. The East Side Gallery is a colorful section of the Berlin Wall, which once divided the city into East and West Berlin. It is the largest open-air gallery in the world.
3. Reach the top of Fernsehturm (TV Tower). The TV Tower at Alexanderplatz is Berlin’s most prominent landmark and the tallest building in Germany. Its steel sphere contains a visitor platform and a revolving restaurant. Visit at night for the best view over the city!
4. Spend a day on Museum Island. That’s right, there’s actually a museum island in Berlin home to five world-class museums and the Berlin Cathedral.
5. Eat a Currywurst. The currywurst is a pork sausage that is steamed, fried, sliced, and then served with ketchup and curry. It is the city’s signature dish. I mean there’s even an entire museum dedicated to it (complete with a currywurst-shaped sofa).
6. Go shopping. Check out Kurfürstendamm (also known as Ku’damm), Friedrichstrasse, and all the indie boutiques in Kreuzberg, F’hain & P’berg.
7. Sneak into abandoned places. There are SO MANY abandoned places in Berlin to discover (there’s even a website dedicated to them), but my favourites are Spreepark, an abandoned theme park, and the abandoned hospitals. So creepy!
8. Discover the nightlife. Berlin is notorious for its nightlife. You can start partying on Saturday and walk out of the club on Tuesday. There are no rules. You could strip naked on the dance floor at some clubs and it’s totally cool. You could take your chances at Berghain, one of the worlds best nightclubs, but it is incredibly hard to get into. Another option is Watergate – a ravers dream. Otherwise Kreuzberg turns into one huge open air club during the night. It’s where you can find the coolest bars and clubs.
9. Stroll in the Grunewald forest. Although a lesser known attraction, Grunewald is a beautiful forest surrounded by lakes and walking paths in the heart of Berlin.
10. Take a Photoautomaten selfie. You’ll notice these old fashioned photo booths scattered around the city. They make the perfect souvenir!
11. Rent a bike. Central Berlin is well supplied with bike-rental outlets and the city has a welcoming cycle culture.
12. Shop at KaDeWe. The Kaufhaus des Westens (KaDeWe) is, at well over 100 years old, a true Berlin institution, and is currently the largest department store in Europe.
13. Spend a night in the ‘worlds weirdest hotel’. Propeller Island City Lodge. Only in Berlin.
14. Pay your respects at the Holocaust Memorial. An indescribable feeling.
15. Relax at Tiergarten. Tiergarten park is the green heart of Berlin with 600 acres of lush lawns, leafy paths, small creeks and traditional beer gardens.
16. Visit Hackesche Höfe. The Hackesche Höfe represent the largest, enclosed courtyard area of Germany and were put under a preservation order in 1972. It is a lavish area with numerous bars, restaurants and clubs which makes it one of the coolest places to go when it comes to nightlife.
17. Eat döner kebab. There is a large Turkish community in Berlin so you’ll find their food stands all over the city serving up döner kebabs. They’re a beautiful thing. Most popular at 4am, naturally.
18. Jump off a building. No, really.
19. Bargain at a flea market. You’ll find so many great knick-knacks that you never knew you needed. Here’s a guide to the best flea markets in Berlin!
20. Reichstag parliament building. The Reichstag, seat of the German Parliament, is the most famous landmark in Berlin. I recommend taking a rooftop tour.
21. Swim in a cargo container pool in a river. The Badeschiff, a floating pool which was created from a huge cargo container. It’s basically a pool inside a river. What started as an art project in 2004 is now the best place to be on hot summer days.
22. Lose yourself in a labrynth inside a club. There’s a purposely built labyrinth underneath the club called peristal Signum. For 10€ you can enter the labyrinth (blindfolded at first, and always alone) and make your way through what’s seemingly a metal junkyard. Used car parts, strange noises, dark spaces & bright lights can all be found on the inside.
23. Try a Club Mate. Club Mate is Berlin’s most famous soft drink. Its distinctive taste and extremely high caffeine content makes it a drink of choice for everyone from hipsters to techies to all-night partiers. It’s basically like red bull on crack.
24. Dine in a cheap Vietnamese restaurant. It’s what all the cool kids do.
25. Walk along the river spree. Maybe even try a river cruise to catch all the best sights.
26. Eat a burger from Burgermeister. When you’re finished at the East Side Gallery, jump across the road to the best burger joint in Berlin. It’s a century old and used to be a public toilet, but try not to think about that. I promise the cheese fries are worth the queue that goes out the door.
27. Explore Prenzlauer Berg. It’s the most charming neighborhood comprised of tree-lined streets, colourful boutiques, and trendy cafes. It’s the perfect spot for brunch!
28. Go to Mauerpark on a Sunday afternoon. The park transforms into a social gathering, where everyone comes to eat, drink and listen to the bands play.
29. Make a stop at Alexanderplatz. The largest and most iconic square in the city. Although it’s not a very attractive area, it still holds a lot of sights for you to soak up including the TV tower, world clock, and Fountain of International Friendship.
30. Watch a movie in the park. If you’re in Berlin during the summer, make sure you check out one of the outdoor cinemas.
31. Check out Street Food Thursdays. Every Thursday, Markthalle Neun transforms into a communal dining area serving dishes from all over the world. A foodies paradise.
32. Cross over to Peacock Island. Pfaueninsel is a small island in Berlin home to free-roaming peacocks and other birds. Also on the island, a white palace built by Friedrich Wilhelm II in 1794-97 for him and his mistress.
33. Start your night at spaeti. A spaeti (known as spätkauf or späti) is only a convenience store but it’s where you’ll find beer as cheap as 60 euro cents. In a city where public drinking isn’t policed, making a stop at spaeti is often a part of just about any night out.
34. Drink at a pay-what-you-want bar. At Weinerei bar after 8pm, pay 2€ to “rent” a wine glass then help yourself to whichever wines you want from the bar. A couple hours later food is also served. At the end, the amount you pay is at your discretion based on how much you think the place deserves.
35. Visit the Christmas markets. Germany is the place to be during the holiday season with the country hosting the best christmas markets in the world. There are many in Berlin but the most popular is Weihnachtszauber at the Gendarmenmarkt.
36. Buy vintage from a Pick N Weight store. A few locals told me about this store and I absolutely loved the concept. All clothes are sold by weight and the price per kilo depends on the color. For example, yellow shirts are € 35 per kilo and red sweaters are € 25 per kilo. Time to stock up on light, flowy summer dresses!
37. Hit the Absynth Depot. Also known as the “green fairy”, absinth tastes like strong liquorice and packs a punch that’s hard to see coming. Illegal for decades, it’s again available in Germany. The range and knowledge of the staff here is just astounding.
38. Dine in the dark. Unsicht-Bar is a restaurant with a pitch-dark dining room. Before entering the restaurant, you must give up light of any kind, e.g. from lighters or cigarettes, watches, and phones. If you need to leave the restaurant, a waiter must guide you outside. Don’t worry, they also offer instructions on how to find your food. It’s all about experiencing the taste without visual pretense. You wont even know what the person sitting next to you looks like, but you’ll find yourself having a conversation with everyone!
39. Watch the cabaret at Bar jeder Vernunft. German and international artists perform their programmes every night, bringing back to life the brilliant variety of the 1920s set in an art nouveau mirror tent. Sip cocktails or come early for a preshow dinner.
40. Eat art at Zagreus Projekt. If you love art and food, then this is definitely for you. Every other month artists are invited to create a site-specific installation, then the chef composes a menu inspired by the artwork and serves it to a small group of diners at a communal table right in the gallery. Reservations are essential.
41. Try an alternative walking tour. Alternative Berlin walking tours shows you the city through the eyes of a local. No bookings necessary, just show up at Alexanderplatz any day at 11 a.m. They also run Berlin’s Alternative Pub Crawl.
42. Gruselkabinett for cheesy scares. This ivy-covered Berlin warehouse may look abandoned from the outside, but not so much from the inside. The first floor features the bunker museum, displaying what life would’ve been like in World War II. The second floor, however, is a multi-room exhibition on torture throughout the ages with graphic displays on amputation, cannibalism and blood transfusions. By the third floor, it is simply a haunted house with backlight and jump scares.
43. Enjoy a lakeside bar. Fischerpinte is a wooden boathouse and bar that’s idyllically located right on the edge of the Plötzensee lake. The perfect lazy afternoon.
44. Take an elevator in AquaDom. Touted as the largest cylindrical fish tank in the world — 25 meters high and 12 meters in diameter — the Aquadom is a sight to behold. It contains over one million liters of water, a coral reef, and is home to nearly 2,600 fish from 56 different species. Oh, and there’s an elevator inside.
45. Explore Teufelsberg. An abandoned NSA listening post on Berlin’s “Devil’s Mountain.” Guided tours are available on Sundays.
46. Escape from a hipster apartment. Yes, you read that right. Hipster Escape Party is Berlin’s newest entertainment experience: an interactive escape game played in real time. You and your friends will be locked in a hipster apartment and given an hour to escape.
47. Find the mirrored ballroom. Situated in the side wing of Clärchens Ballhaus, a dancing venue established in 1913 in Wilhelmine shortly before World War I, there is a hidden gem even unbeknownst to most Berlin inhabitants, a mirrored ballroom (Spiegelsaal) which still captures the spirit of a long-lost era. It’s also a lovely place for dinner.
48. Drive around in a Trabi. Trabant, or trabi, was East Germany’s standard car for more than 30 years until it no longer met safety standards. Trabi Safari gives you the opportunity to actually drive one while your guide sits in the back and explains the city to you.
49. Play psychedelic minigolf. Located inside Görlitzer Park, this game of minigolf turns into an artsy underground event when you play on the blurred lines in the cellar of a former train station. You can also rent special goggles if you want to play in 3D. Although, I would probably suggest going during the day as the area can be a bit sketchy.
50. Explore old town Berlin. Nikolaiviertel is a small area on the Eastern shore of River Spree that was destroyed by bombing in 1945 but has been rebuilt to create a medieval village. It’s one of the few neighborhoods with mainly old buildings and is part of Alt-Berlin (Old Berlin). It’s a lovely place for morning coffee or an afternoon drink.
Have you ever been to Berlin? What’s your favourite thing to do?