If you’ve heard anything about Berlin you might already know it’s a different capital city to most you’ve visited. Berlin is certainly the place to try unusual and alternative things to do on your trip.
There is a lot of history in Berlin but also a lot of beauty too from its nature, art and people, it’s hard to know what to see first! In some respect, it’s not too hard to find different places to visit and cool things to do in Berlin.
Here are five of my favourite unusual things that I did on my recent Berlin trip. They might not all be for you but I enjoyed each one in its own ‘Berlin’ way!
Table of Contents
- 1 My top 5 alternative things to do in Berlin
- 2 Bonus cool day trip from Berlin
My top 5 alternative things to do in Berlin
1. Visit an abandoned spy station
Cost: €8 (+ transport from the city) *See below
This all sounds a bit James Bond, I guess an abandoned building would make a great film set. But if you want to experience a really cool side of Berlin then jump on a short train ride out of the centre of Berlin to visit Teufelsberg, also known as Devil’s Mountain.
Once off the train, there’s a walk through nearby Grunewald Forest, slightly uphill to warn you in advance! Enjoy the nature around you and keep an eye out for different birds, I heard and saw great-spotted woodpeckers on my walk.
You might not expect to pay to get into an abandoned building but this is privately owned so you’ll need to pay. But once you’re inside you have free range to wander wherever you want (in fact, you also sign a waiver in case you get injured!)
The buildings are particularly interesting but the street art is amazing. Every wall inside and out is pretty much covered in murals and artwork, you don’t know which way to look. Also scattered about the site there are smaller abandoned spots including tree houses, slides and larger art pieces.
As a photographer lover, (you have to pay a photo licence for SLR cameras €15 – includes entry) I was in my element here and had so much fun photographing and exploring the site. I was there over 2 hours walking around. If you need a rest there’s a small outdoor stand selling drinks and food.
The highlight on a clear day is the views from the top of Teufelsberg. You can see back to Berlin city, it’s easy to spot that prominent Sky tower in the skyline. Then after you’ve explored the abandoned building you can enjoy the views from the hilltop.
If you’re looking for an alternative thing to do on your trip this has to be No. 1!
Read my full post here, including costs and how to get there to Teufelsberg
2. Nature lovers can Visit the Garten der Welt
Cost: €7-€9 (with/without cable car) + transport *See below
Berlin has an abundance of gorgeous green areas and parks, you can see that by just looking at all the green spaces on Google! Most are all free for the public to sit and relax, play games, have a picnic or simply take a stroll. On sunny days, you’ll see locals and tourists enjoying the parks, relaxing, drinking and generally soak up the Berlin vibe.
The Gartens der Welt is a slightly different park to visit. It’s about 30 minutes out of the city and will take you on a worldwide journey. Gartens der Welt, if you hadn’t already guessed translates to ‘Gardens of the World’.
It’s also one of the best places to see cherry blossom in Berlin in the spring!
As with anywhere new I wasn’t sure what to expect, I imagined mini gardens next to each other that you could walk around. In fact, the Gartens der Welt is huge, I actually spent 5 hours there haha! Ok, now you might not spend as long as me but it’s somewhere you can explore, then relax, then eat or drink and basically repeat.
Thrown into the mix there are cool things to do, like viewpoints where there are stunning views of the gardens and again Berlin’s skyline. Also, there’s a maze you can get lost in, which I literally did for a short period but you’ll be pleased to know I survived and I’m here to tell the tale!
Lastly, there’s a cable car you can ride up and down. This also takes you out of the Gartens der Welt into a Nature area with a pond. Although, it’s possible to walk up and down to the viewpoints you might want to treat yourself to a cable car ride too.
3. Take a Street Art Tour and Workshop
Continuing the street art theme here. Berlin is amazing for street art, you will see what I mean as soon as you start exploring the city. I’ve done Street Art walking tours before, recently in Budapest there’s a great tour showing you all the beautiful (and commissioned art in the city).
With Alternative Berlin, the tour not only shows you the best street art, it gives you the lowdown on Berlin’s cool street art and graffiti scene, from a real Berlin street art professional, thanks for an awesome tour Ben (now that’s a unique twist).
If that isn’t alternative enough then the second part of the tour is a workshop where you create your own masterpiece. Hmmm well, mine wasn’t exactly a work of art but I had fun creating and trying out all the different techniques. This part of the tour is in a huge warehouse space, probably a good thing because of all the spray can fumes! You can check out my Facebook video of the master at work haha ok maybe not!!
Tours are available on Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat at 12 pm. The tour lasts approximately 4.5 hours.
4. Go to Tempelhof Airport plus take the Tour
Cost: €15 (+ transport costs) *See below
This airport was built in the 1930s and used by the Nazis during WWII, then later by the USA. It was an active airbase for 48 years until it stopped being used as an airport in 2008. Now a huge open space now popular with outdoor enthusiasts, you’ll see everyone from runners and cyclists to people on Segways and kite surfers. The space is so big (7 km round), well it was a runway so I’m sure you can imagine how big it is!!
It’s common for Berliners and tourist to flock here on sunny days and enjoy this green part of Berlin. I certainly enjoyed walking around the airfield, up and down the runways, something you won’t be able to do at any other airport.
But if you want something extra to do on your trip and you love unusual things to do. Then book yourself on one of the tours of the Tempelhof airport building. A guided tour around the now abandoned airport, although a lot of the space is used by companies. The tour lasts about 2 hours and takes you into the main airport check-in all very retro, up onto the roof for fantastic 360-degree views of Berlin, you can see the Sky Tower and Teufelsberg Spy Station. Then even into the old air-raid shelters, which could hold up to 88 people.
It’s a great alternative thing to do to do on a rainy day to keep you dry or on a sunny day to keep your in the shade for a few hours!
- The tour was sold out with 35 people so book in advance if you want to do.
5. Go on a Berlin Alternative Walking Tour
Cost: Free (+ tip) – U-Bahn single ticket also required
Free walking tours are a popular way of exploring any new city and must be up there in the top things to do in a city. Berlin is no different, they have an abundance of free walking tours, in particular near the Brandenburg Gate you’ll see signs for free tours, taking you around the popular and most obvious places in Berlin
But you’ve come to Berlin, aren’t you looking for something a bit cool, unusual and quirky to do on your visit?
If you’re looking for a walking tour with a difference be sure to try a walking tour with Alternative Berlin. Even though the tour starts at the most touristy place in Berlin (outside Starbucks under the Sky Tower at Alexanderplatz). I did mention how ironic this was to my guide and he shared my opinion, but at least it’s easy to find!
From here you head away from the main tourist attractions and take a different route. You also jump on the U-Bahn train to explore Kreuzberg, a very hip and trendy area in Berlin. And finally, end up close to the East Side Gallery at the beach! Yes, Berlin has a beach! I won’t spoil to tour so if you want to go then simply turn up at either 11 am or 1 pm (tours go every day!)
*Top Transport Tip
Consider buying the Berlin Welcome Card for your Berlin trip. This gives you unlimited travel around the city on buses, trams, U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains. Plus it also gives you discounts on top attractions, museums, tours and much more! Prices start from €19.90 for 48 hours.
Bonus cool day trip from Berlin
Situated in the state of Brandenburg, Spreewald is a wonderful place to visit if you love the outdoors. A UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1991 it’s a haven for wildlife and nature. I was lucky enough to spot beavers on my trip whilst canoeing, a first time for me so I was very overwhelmed. There are different places you can visit to explore the area, I opted for a day trip on the train to Lubbenau.
I spent my morning punting down the Spreewald waterways, in the gorgeous sunshine. Understanding local life, including the punting postal system and speedboat fire station, that make Spreewald truly unique! A 3-hour punting tour with an hours stop at the nearby village of Lehde which has its own open-air museum which is fantastic to see local traditions.
Then in the afternoon, if you are looking for more active things to do. Why not try a more energetic activity like canoeing down the narrow network of waterways. It’s a great way to get up close to the wildlife or simply relax as you let the current take you back down the river (at the beginning you’re going against the flow so a little harder!)
More details about my Spreewald day trip coming soon, including how to get there.
So you’ve tried the alternative things to do and see in Berlin. Now try the best alternative accommodation. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit different to stay in Berlin then be sure to check out this unique Caravan Hotel – Huttenpalast.
I stayed here on my trip and absolutely loved the quirky style and set up. Read my full review below of my stay at Huttenpalast
Is this the quirkiest hotel in Berlin? – Huttenpalast Hotel review
Planning your Berlin trip now? Are you looking for the best alternative and unusual things to do on your trip? Feel free to ask me any more questions in the comments below.
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*The Templehof Airport tour and Alternative Berlin street art workshop were in partnership with Visit Berlin. Also the Berlin Welcome Card was provided for my trip. Spreewald punting tour was with Brandenburg Tourism. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.