If you’re looking to explore an alternative side to Berlin, you’ve come to the right. This guide covers all the weird, wonderful, and unusual things to do in Berlin, which I believe are the city’s highlights.
There’s no doubt that Berlin is a fascinating city. From its rich history and vibrant culture to its nocturnal underbelly of sex, drugs and rock and roll, it’s up there with the likes of London as one of the most exciting cities in Europe.
There are a realm of famous landmarks to visit in Berlin, which I cover in this Berlin itinerary. However, it’s the cool and quirky side of the city that gives Berlin its character.
Perhaps you’ve visited Berlin before and are looking for something a little bit different this time around. Or maybe you’re not one to follow the typical tourist trail and want to get off the beaten path.
Either way, this guide to alternative Berlin is just what you’re looking for. We are going all out urban exploring, from abandoned theme parks to street art and possibly the smallest disco in the world!
So let’s get to it. Here are some of the more unusual things to do in alternative Berlin.
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Alternative Berlin – 14 Unusual Things to Do in Berlin
We loved exploring the alternative side of the city. That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy the touristic side too, but it’s the off-the-beaten-path stuff that really gets our blood pumping.
Here’s what we suggest you check out when adventuring in alternative Berlin.
1. Alternative Berlin Tour
What better way to explore Berlin like a local, than to take a guided tour with a local. Alternative Berlin Tours offers a choice of tours, all of which start later in the day after lunch.
Of course, this isn’t your average guided tour where you visit all the usual tourist spots in Berlin. Alternative Berlin Tours allow you to see the city from an alternative perspective.
You’ll get to explore gritty underground locations that even only a few locals know about. And you’ll get a full-blown history lesson from somebody who knows Berlin like the back of their hand.
I should point out that the Street Art tour will likely include a visit to Raw Gelande. So if you’ve visited there already, perhaps opt for another tour such as the Real Berlin Experience or Alternative Nightlife Tour.
2. Raw Gelände
You can take the bus or train to Warschauer Strasse Station and make the short walk to Raw Gelände.
Set in a former train repair yard, this area is an art and cultural centre. The old warehouses and buildings have been taken over and used as an outlet of creative expression for graffiti and street art artists.
There isn’t much going on in the mornings. Whereas by late afternoon, the realm of pubs, clubs, street food stalls, and flea markets burst into life.
Nonetheless, I do recommend checking this place out before it opens. It’s impossible to appreciate the artistic side of the space when everything is open and swarmed with people.
My suggestion is to visit in the morning, and if you have the time, return one evening to enjoy the bustling nightlife.
It’s especially atmospheric come the long Summer nights, and many of the nightclubs roll on until the early hours of the morning.
This leads me onto our next stop – The Teledisko. Possibly the smallest disco in the world, and certainly one of the most unique.
We stumbled upon this creation when exploring Raw Gelände. What appeared to be a telephone box on the outside was blaring music and vibrating off the floor.
The next thing we knew, two giggling girls rolled out of the door, trailed by a pool of smoke. We figured it must have been a speakeasy bar, and of course, we had to check it out.
As it turns out, it is exactly what it says on the tin. A disco in a telephone box. So we slot a few euros into the machine and danced around like crazy women for the duration of our song.
Certainly one of the more unusual things to in Berlin, and we agreed it was money well spent for the 5-minutes of laughs it provided.
Entry: 600 HUF (Free to view outside)/Allow: 1hr
4. TreeHouse on the Wall
Next on the alternative Berlin agenda, and just a 30-minute walk from Raw Gelände we have a spot that I suspect even very few Berliners know of.
The Treehouse on the Wall was erected in the 1980s by a Turkish migrant worker.
At the time, the Berlin wall was still standing; however, Osman Kalin found a loophole whereby a small area of land had been left exposed.
Naturally, this didn’t sit well with the authorities. Many believed Osman was using the house to assist Berliners in crossing over the divide.
However, despite intimidating demands to tear it down, the structure, built using only recycled scrap materials, still stands today.
For the moment, you can’t ‘legally’ get into the house. Although, there are rumours of turning it into an official monument or a museum in the future.
For now, you can admire it only from the outside. In any case, it’s worth checking out while you’re in the area.
Entry: 600 HUF (Free to view outside)/Allow: 1hr
Kreuzberg is known as the hipster district of Berlin. As you can imagine, there’s plenty of cool stuff to check out here.
You won’t find any major attractions as such; however, the blend of trendy cafes, new age restaurants, and urban underground edge, makes for some pretty fun exploration opportunities.
First up, grab some lunch. Kreuzberg is home to some cool and quirky places to eat! Like Burgermeister, that’s set in a former railway public bathroom.
After that, stroll down the banks of the picturesque Landwehrkanal. Especially around the vibrant Maybachufer stretch where the banks are swarming with bars, cafes, and restaurants.
Every Tuesday and Friday is the Turkish market where you can shop for souvenirs or sample some Turkish street food. It’s also worth checking out Brammibals bakery for delectable vegan doughnuts.
6. Hackescher Markt Hidden Alley
Berlin is a metropolis of self-expression, reflected through the endless street art that adorns the city.
Some artistic spaces, like the East Side Gallery, are loud and proud and easy to find. Others, like this hidden alley near Hackescher Markt, are a bit more tucked away.
If you didn’t know it was there, you could easily walk past this alternative hidden gem in Berlin. Which would be a pity as it’s one of the quirkiest spots in the city.
To find it, head to the Cinema Cafe on Rosenthaler Strasse where the unassuming alleyway runs alongside it. Once you get past the dark entrance to the alley, it opens up into a vibrant courtyard.
Huge murals of street art cover the walls, and there are hipster cafes with outdoor seating where you can sit and take it all in. It’s easily one of the best photo spots in all of Berlin.
That’s not all. You’ll also find the Monster Kabinett here – a wild museum of robotic creatures and insect-like beasts. Not for the faint-hearted!
7. Underground Berlin Tour
This was up there as one of our favourite experiences in Berlin. If you’re remotely interested in Berlin history, it’s an essential addition to your Berlin Itinerary.
The organisation is Berliner Unterwelten – A subterranean museum exploring the city’s underground history, including WWII bunkers and escape tunnels.
I’ll be honest, it takes something unique to grip me when it comes to educational experiences and that’s what we loved about Berlin.
There are such creative and immersive ways to learn about the past that you’re instantaneously hooked.
These underground tours are a great example. You can sit in WWII bunkers, follow escape routes under the old Berlin Wall, and come face to face with the dark realities of the past.
Several underground tours run throughout the day in a variety of languages. I’ve included a short description of each below.
We can personally recommend Tour 1. However, depending on the time of year, there may be a limited choice of tours running on the day.
We recommend you check the website for more information, although you can’t book in advance. You must book on the day of your tour at the ticket office.
Tour 2 – From Flaktowers to Mountains of Debris: Discover the devastated ruins of a WW2 fortress. On this fascinating tour, visitors will be shown three of the seven floors of one of the biggest bunkers in the city.
Tour 3 – Bunkers, Subways, and the Cold War: This tour follows the traces of the Cold War in the underground. Discover the modern defence shelters that were built in preparation for a possible nuclear war.
One of the things we loved most about Alternative Berlin was its neverending realm of artistic and cultural spaces.
One of those spaces is the atmospheric Mauerpark – a green open space built on what was once known as the ‘death strip’ of the Berlin Wall.
If you visit on a weekday, you might struggle to recognise what the fuss is all about. Other than a few pieces of street art, there’s not much going on at all.
However, the park really springs into life on the weekend, particularly through the summer months.
Alongside the famous flea market, you’ll find open mic nights, giant BBQs, live performers, street food stalls, and more. It’s a wonderful vibe!
9. Spree Park
Once an amusement park, now abandoned and left to the forces of nature, Spreepark is a must-visit for any alternative seeking traveller.
Like most things in Berlin, the park conceals a fascinating past but I won’t go too much into that here. Long story short, the park closed down in 2002, and until recently went untouched.
There are now plans in place to revamp the whole thing into an art and cultural centre. But for now, the dilapidated rides and structures of the old park remain, allowing for quite the eerie adventure.
Unfortunately, the park is off-limits unless you go as part of a tour; however, that’s not to say that people don’t illicitly do it.
It’s a similar set-up as the abandoned water park in Vietnam, but I’m not sure the Germans bribe so easily.
If you don’t fancy being chased by guards and dogs, take the tour. You can book a guided tour of Spree Park here.
Next up we have Teufelsburg – An abandoned spy station that sits atop an 80-meter hill in the Grunewald forest.
This one is quite a way out of the city centre, but if you’re down for a real offbeat urban adventure, it doesn’t get much better.
Unsurprisingly, the derelict military structure has a remarkable history. First of all, the mound on which it’s built consists of post-WWII debris of dilapidated Berlin.
And the structure itself, once a Nazi military college, was later taken over by the U.S. National Security Agency and used as a spy station. Pretty cool, huh?
Abandoned following the fall of the Berlin Wall, the structure is now a decaying shell adorned in some of the cities most impressive street art.
Naturally, opportunistic locals have clocked on, so now you have to pay to get inside. However, I know of plenty of visitors who simply find a gap in the fence and discover it that way.
If you’d prefer to play it on the safe side, tours of Teufelsburg run daily. You can make a booking through the website here.
The thriving LGBTQ+ culture in Berlin earns the city its position as one of the most gay-friendly destinations in Europe. If not the entire world!
There aren’t many places, other than London, of course, where we’ve felt so entirely comfortable being ourselves. You come as you are in Berlin, and nobody blinks an eye.
Regardless of whether you identify as LGBTQ or not, I encourage you to check out the vibrant gay village in Schöneberg.
Not only home to an endless realm of queer bars, clubs, restaurants, and stores, but a trendy neighbourhood with a fascinating history.
Some other cool things worth checking out in Schöneberg include Urban Nation – A cool museum featuring street art. And Nature Park Schöneberger Südgelände, which I will talk about next.
I also recommend the rainbow cake at Romeo & Rome cafe!
12. Nature Park Schöneberger Südgelände
If you don’t fancy the long trip out of town, perhaps this deserted railway yard will tickle your fancy instead.
Fifty years ago, the park was nothing but an industrial junkyard; however, over the past five decades, it has flourished into a rich jungle forest.
Set in the vibrant Schöneberg district, this Nature Park is our favourite in Berlin.
Despite being reconstructed to include walking trails for the public, derelict remains of buildings, trains, and tracks lay buried beneath the forest.
It’s offbeat Berlin, but without doing anything too risky or illegal. And the best part, it’s only €1 to enter!
13. KlunkerKranich Rooftop Bar
Weather permitting, I recommend checking out Klunkerkranich Rooftop Bar during your time in Berlin.
The venue is a former car park turned cultural rooftop garden. The bar provides a lush outdoor space overlooking panoramic views of Berlin.
During the Summer, this ‘happening’ venue hosts concerts, DJ programs, readings, cinema, and much more on the vast upper deck.
I do believe they have an indoor section as well, but you might want to check out the website for what’s going on throughout the year.
14. SpeakEasy Bars
Nothing screams Alternative Berlin like secret bars hidden in unsuspecting spaces.
The term ‘Speakeasy’ was derived from the prohibition days when drinking holes were illegal, so pub landlords would disguise their bars to evade the authorities.
Nowadays, bars in cities with even a slightly retro vibe loosely throw around the term. However, in Berlin, there is still several of the authentic kind.
Bars with passwords to get in. Bars disguised in warehouses and at the back of shops. There are many Speakeasy bars in Berlin.
And they are a great way to end the day or start your night – whichever way you look at it.
15. Unique Accommodation in Berlin
In such a cool and quirky city as Berlin, it’s no surprise that there are many unique accommodations to match.
Here’s a few of the most unusual we could find – places that reflect the edgy character of the city. So if you’re yet to sort out your digs, you might want to check these out.
Hüttenpalast: This quirky hotel is located in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzkölln district. Hüttenpalast offers a unique range of accommodation including Retro-style caravans and cabins. They are all located within an indoor garden area to really give the feel of a real campsite. In love with this concept!
25 Hours Hotel Bikini: Hotel Bikini is referred to as a chic urban jungle. Animal themes, long leafy plants, and quirky features resonate throughout the property. It’s literally a wonderland for adults, and we are loving it.
Provocateur Berlin: A small and intimate boutique hotel in Berlin boasting lavish rooms designed to set the mood. Perfect for a romantic getaway with your partner or for those looking to enjoy Berlin’s thriving sex scene.
Have Fun Exploring Alternative Berlin!
There you have it – 14 of the weird, wonderful, and unusual things to do in Berlin. I hope this list has you excited about your trip!
Which spot are you most excited about visiting? Let us know, we love hearing from you. You can reach out to us in the comment section below or through our contact us page.
If you plan on visiting Berlin soon, perhaps these other articles will help you to plan your trip:
- Gay In: Berlin – A LGBTQ+ Guide to Gay & Lesbian Berlin
- 10 Awesome Locations for Photography in Berlin
- 2 Days in Berlin – The Best Berlin Itinerary
Stay adventurous and Happy travels.