Tourist spots in Berlin are many, you can simply Google them and visit. But here I will talk about some of the hidden or lesser known activities that you can do apart from visiting all the famous sightseeing of Berlin. This might give you an experience of what Berliners do in their leisure time or weekends. Try to include as many as you can from this below to-do list.
1. Berlin’s captivating Festival of Lights
If your trip happens to be in October somewhere, do see the Festival of Lights. It is 10 days running a light show where all the famous landmarks and historical buildings are brightened up with laser projections and video art. You will find such buildings mostly in the city center like Brandenburg Tor, Cathedral dome, Funkturm etc.
During this time the whole city-centre looks sparkling with light and laser shows. This festival so far has been one of the most successful light events in the world.
The timings for this are mostly from 7 pm until midnight. Coupled with it there are certain art and music events, guided tours under the name of “Light seeing”. They can be undertaken by bus, boat or foot.
2. Chill out at Tempelhofer airport field
This abandoned airport area now serves a cool and fun-filled park for visitors. You would see the runways being bustled with sports enthusiasts including cyclers and joggers. Youths are spotted practicing their skateboarding, inline skating, and flying kites. For families, it’s a great picnic spot and for leisure activities. They come here with their dogs and own food and relax by reading books or just sun bathing. In addition, you will find a BBQ area which will make your picnic more fun. Often you would see some small events happening around with food and coffee stalls.
3. Get spooked at Berlin’s Ghost station Nordbahnhof
This train station along with few others like Potsdamer Platz, Unter den Linden etc were closed during the Cold war. Also, trains like S Bahn and U Bahn never stopped here and these were later termed as ghost stations (Geisterbahnhöfe). Today you will find free exhibitions e.g. at Nordbahnhof that displays unknown photos and other facts. It shows how the people during GDR era had their successful escape attempts from such stations.
Moreover, there is a memorial in front of this station that has remains of the border fortifications, the victim’s names, and photos who were killed during the division of the city. The Visitor’s Centre next to this memorial shows a short documentary about the story of Berlin Wall and people’s struggle.
4. Get adventurous with Canoe boat ride
Berliners in their free time love doing something sporty. Often you will see them having canoe rides or simply boating around the city. This is seen usually in summers or whenever you have sunny days. They go crazy when they see sun and nothing would be more adventurous than a canoe ride.
Make sure you are renting canoe boats much in advance as they all get quickly booked.
You can go for a long walk and in fact do little trekking in the nearby Grunewald forest area. There are many small beach look-alike areas along the River Havel. It’s a heaven for both children and dogs. People play with them and thereby enjoy water splash or just bask in the sun.
5. Teufelsberg and its green surrounding
This was a former NSA listening port on “Devils Mountain”, Berlin’s highest hill. Since it’s abandoned now, this will remind you of all the political spies and their spying activities. Its architecture and the design are weird but super creative, as they were rebuilt from rubbles.
The forest area near Teufels Berg is good for a long friendly walk. There is another weird place where it seems as if you are in a dessert. A big sand dune in the heart of this jungle looks awesome.
6. Want to enjoy a Free Beer?
To get a free beer bottle, your only work would be to collect empty beer bottles or specific plastic bottles that lie around on the streets and deposit them in the supermarket. You can then get a beer as per the deposit slip price.
Just for your information–this is often an everyday habit for few Berliners who keep on looking for empty beer bottles in every trash bins in order to get easy money or free beer. Now, this was something I found very strange- searching trash bins for empty bottles (very unpleasant). Better to collect from streets than from dirty dustbins.
7. Sing out at Mauerpark’s Bearpit Karaoke every Sunday
This is one of my favorite activity on a lazy Sunday. If you want to sing or just showcase your music talent, this would then be a great platform. You just need to raise your hand and the anchor will call you as a volunteer. What makes this show unique is that you won’t find a single “Boo”. You would wish to spend your entire Sunday among this lively crowd and a humorous Moderator.
Besides this, you can walk through a big flea market in its vicinity and can have a grilled picnic also in the park.
8. Eerie Spreepark
This is a creepy and totally fabulous abandoned dinosaur theme park. Its state of being abandoned has added an eerie feel to it. Hence, it would be weird enough to hang out for a while here.
9. Enjoy dark dining at Berlin’s Unsicht-Bar
Let me inform you that this experience might get a bit expensive but its worth your penny. You would have a scary cool dining experience. The initial phase would be to adjust yourself to the darkness. This will ensure that you would come up with panic, delights and even surprises while eating food that you can barely see it.
10. Relive life as it was in the medieval ages at Berlin’s Museumsdorf Düppel
How about going into the flashback i.e. 800 years ago by visiting this village. There are cottages, storehouses, crafts workshops, paddocks etc. These have been reconstructed as per the way they used to be in medieval period.
There are guided tours of this village on Sunday. Festivals and special events happen through out the year which will give you a close-up of 13th century’s lifestyle. I find this very serene even without festivals or events.
11. Enjoy your drink and food but pay what you want at Berlin’s Weinerei
How about going to a bar and enjoying unlimited wines and food buffet, but paying as per your wish. Normally they charge 2 Euro for renting an empty glass, but you are free to refill it unlimited times throughout the night. What a crazy and generous idea.
12. Sputnik Kino for some non mainstream cinemas
This kind of cinema is quite rare in Berlin. Its hidden inside an old apartment. Initially, I got confused finding it. Reaching there would leave you breathless as it’s on the 4th floor and without elevator. What I liked about this theater was its cozy atmosphere with a cool bar area and small screen halls with maximum ~20 seats.
Only niche films or cult and classic films are screened. Watch a movie and you will find a big difference in comparison to an ordinary cinema hall.
Have a happy weird Berlin trip :)!
Updated: March 3, 2017