An Alternative Guide to Berlin

Having spent my year abroad in Berlin, I have really got to know the city. In a hope to inspire you to visit during your next long summer break, I have pulled together some of my favourite things to do that aren't typically what most tourists would have heard of. Berlin boasts several renowned monuments and sights that are certainly worth a visit – you have probably heard of the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and Checkpoint Charlie.  However, there is so much more to Berlin than this.  Whether you are interested in art, history, music or nightlife, there is something to suit everyone in this alternative guide to the real culture of Berlin.


  • Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer – when it comes to the Berlin Wall most people think of the East Side Gallery, but the Gedenkstätte’s outdoor and indoor exhibitions situated at a former border fortification are much more informative.
  • Soviet War Memorial – interestingly absent from most guides to Berlin, this memorial commemorating the fallen Soviet soldiers remains tucked away in the beautiful Treptower Park (which is equally worth an explore).


  • DDR Museum – this museum provides an interesting insight into everyday life in the often overlooked German Democratic Republic.
  • Berliner Unterwelten – in a city renowned for its underground culture, here you can explore WWII bunkers and passages on a fascinating guided tour.

Art galleries

  • Berlinische Galerie – an extensive gallery dedicated to the production and curation of art in Germany from the late 19th to the late 20th century.
  • Urban Nation – this recently-opened art gallery in Schöneberg is a must-visit for street art and graffiti enthusiasts.


  • Jazz – Edelweiß is a small bar near Görlitzer Park which hosts an entertaining weekly jam session by talented local musicians.
  • Hip hop/R&B – every Tuesday Badehaus offers the Swag Jam, a spectacular showcase of Kreuzberg’s finest rappers, singers and musicians.
  • Indie/rock – Lido’s weekly alternative nights include an eclectic selection of songs ranging from Oasis ballads to more up-to-date indie music with a dancey vibe.
  • Techno/electro – you can find this genre everywhere in Berlin, from tiny bars such as Promenaden Eck in Neukölln to internationally-renowned establishments like Berghain.


  • Klunkerkranich – hidden away above a shopping centre and car park (typically Berlin), this rooftop bar is a retreat for Berlin’s many hipsters and offers spectacular views over the city.
  • Weinerei – at these bars you can pour your own beer or wine and decide on the price…what is there not to like?
  • Birgit&Bier – a beer garden with a twist…here you can attend comedy events, enjoy a beer under bunting in the summer or retreat inside to a dancefloor surrounded by floral furniture that your grandma would be proud of.
  • Spätkauf – admittedly this is not a bar, but rather a term for Berlin’s innumerable corner shops where you can access booze and snacks around the clock.

Parks and lakes

  • Mauerpark – in summer this park is popular among Berliners and tourists alike who flock there to explore the vast flea market and watch the open air karaoke

And for the rest, the pictures can do the talking:

  • Viktoriapark
  • Schlachtensee
  • Plötzensee

So if you are planning a trip to the city of sausages, beer and döner, make sure you include some of the above locations on your list.  Only by venturing away from the tourist hotspots and mingling with the locals can you truly experience life in another country…


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