If you’ve been studying in Berlin for a while, chances are you’ve visited a lot of the city’s main attractions. But what about some of the more obscure gems of the city? Can you say that you’ve explored the hidden side of Berlin? Check out these 10 awesome places to visit in Berlin!
1. Tiergarten – Stand by me
If you go for a walk in the Tiergarten and look carefully, you can find a tree with the lyrics of Ben E. King’s song “Stand by me” etched into it. How cool is that?! That spot has become even more popular since Ben E. King died in May 2015. So, when you visit the tree, silently hum to yourself and think of King…
When the night has come
And the land is dark
And the moon is the only light we’ll see
No I won’t be afraid
Oh, I won’t be afraid
Just as long as you stand, stand by me…
2. Hasenschänke – More than meets the eye
The second place you should keep a look out for is the Hasenschänke, which is located in the Hasenheide district (don’t let the district’s bad reputation keep you from going there). The Hasenschänke kiosk may not look that spectacular from the outside, but it is definitely worth a visit. After the walk there, you’ll want to eat and drink something anyway, trust me. The kiosk serves typical German food: sausages (of course), meatballs, potato salad, and something sweet too: ice-cream, chocolate buns, and cake. If you like meeting new people, you’re in the right place, because the people of Neukölln will love talking to you.
Address: Volkspark Hasenheide, South of the graveyard, 10965 Berlin-Neukölln
3. The jukebox in the Ankerklause – For musical souls
If you want party and have a good night out, then try out the jukebox at the Ankerklause. It’s probably the most varied jukebox you’ll have seen – it plays everything from Blues to Electro music. So, everything your musical heart desires.
Address: Kottbusser Damm 104, 10967 Berlin-Kreuzberg
4. The top floor of the Neukölln Arcaden‘s parking garage – A quiet oasis
The next attraction you should visit in Berlin is on the top floor of the Neukölln Arkaden shopping centre’s parking garage. From up here you have a great view of the city – you can spot the hidden oases in the alleys, and, in the distance, you can see an ocean of golden brown houses stretch before you. This viewpoint was forgotten for a few years, but has been brought to life again. At the railings you can see flowers climbing towards the sky, wood podiums and also a sand pit. In the corners you’ll find huts made out of wood. But the so-called Klunkerkranich is more than just another Open Air Club because of its sense of community: there are “gardener days” on Wednesdays and Saturdays. On these days, the flower pots are filled with flowers and bees are kept high above the Karl-Marx street.
Address: Karl-Marx-Straße 66, 12043 Berlin-Neukölln
5. The Philological Library of the University of Applied Sciences – The spaceship
You definitely have to take a peek inside this library. Designed by the British architect Norman Foster, who also built the German “Reichstag” in Berlin, the library was opened in 2005. The architecture of the building reminds you of a spaceship. Can you think of a better place where to read and study? You can go on a journey through time in both senses of the word: through the books and through the architecture. Love libraries? Then see our list of the top 25 university libraries in the world!
Address: Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin
6. I spy with my little eye…
During the day, you can only see the letters “Spy Museum“ if you’re far from the building or if you look at it from a certain angle, as the glass doors are so high. At night, the letters are lit, so that makes things a little easier. But now thanks to me, you will never miss the museum 🙂 The first spy museum opened in September 2015 on the Leipziger Platz, which is not far from the Potsdamer Platz. Amongst the thousands of pieces exhibited, there is the Enigma machine, which cracked the Nazi code and was recently depicted in the film “Imitation Game”, where Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, the inventor of the machine. You will also find some “James Bond” memorabilia that was lent to the museum (who hasn’t ever wanted to be like James Bond), and contemporary witness interviews with top spies. One day with James Bond and other spies, I cannot imagine anything cooler than that, can you?!
Address: Leipziger Platz 9, 10117 Berlin
7. The Paternoster – More than just a lift
Inside the Schöneberg town hall you will find a treasure – the Paternoster. Unfortunately, since 1972 you are no longer allowed to build these lifts, for safety reasons. Fortunately, this one is still running – and has been for half a century. From personal experience, I can say that you feel a wonderful thrill while driving into the unknown darkness. The good thing is that you know that a light will greet you at the end and you will be happy that you dared to jump in and out again. I wasn’t as daring as Charlie Chaplin, though: he jumped on the lift, rode it to the top and then came back down standing on his head. But maybe you are…
Address: Rathaus Schöneberg, John-F-Kennedy-Platz 1, 10825 Berlin-Schöneberg
8. The Black and White photo booth – You always look good here
At first glance, it looks just like every other photo booth, but only at a first glance. This photo booth has become a cult site in Berlin. One reason is probably because there are funny signs on it, saying: “Fotographiere dich selbst!” (Take your own photograph!). The German verb photographieren is now written with an F at the beginning, but it is nice to see the old way of writing it. So you can time travel while you photograph yourself. The other sign says: “Please respect the night’s rest after 23.00 hours!” I don’t think you’d read that with the new, quiet photo booths. A photo booth that plays its own music while taking pictures? Not bad, is it?!
A little tip: it’s popular to write a sentence word for word on pieces of paper and then hold them up to the camera one by one. Maybe you’d like to try that as well. What’s good about the black and white photo booth is that you always look good in the slightly overexposed photographs – say goodbye to wrinkles and dark circles under your eyes. I’m sure that this is another reason for the photo booth’s popularity.
Address: Kastanienallee 98, 10435 Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg
9. Herta Heuwer – The inventor of the popular curry sauce
Berlin without the curry sausage? Outrageous! At first you won’t find anything in the Kantstraße that is reminiscent of the Herta Heuwer curry sauce’s inventor. Herta had a kiosk here and invented the unforgettable sauce on the 4th September 1949. The sauce consisted of Ketchup and twelve different Indian spices.
As the sauce became popular, her small business expanded and eventually she then had 19 employees. But if you walk around the building, where there is an Asian supermarket today, you’ll finally find a white plaque almost at the Stuttgarter Platz. You have to overlook the bleakness and shady nature of the square, with its adult cinemas and dodgy bars.
The plaque says “Her idea stands for tradition and everlasting pleasure”. It may be a little solemn, but it serves as a nice contrast to the atmosphere of the Stuttgarter Square. After you’ve seen the plaque, you’ll definitely want to try a sausage with the popular curry sauce. Well, go to the famous “Curry 36” kiosk in Kreuzberg (Mehringdamm 36, 10961 Berlin) for a sausage worth standing in line for.
Address: Kantstraße 101/Kaiser-Friedrich-Straße, 10627 Berlin-Charlottenburg
10. The famous neighbours David Bowie and Iggy Pop
In the first spot you should visit, I mentioned Ben E. King, so David Bowie and Iggy Pop shouldn’t be left out, right? David Bowie, used to live in Hauptstraße no. 155, in a two-bedroom house on the hillside, which is uncommon for Berlin. But that is quite fitting, as you wouldn’t call Bowie common, would you?!
After struggling with a drug addiction, David Bowie found his strength back in Berlin. And for me, Berlin always has that revitalising energy too. Have you also experienced that? If not, you may when you stand before David Bowie’s house and think about how he got inspiration for his albums “Low” and “Heroes”, which he then recorded at the Hansa Studios. He also wrote songs with Iggy Pop. Maybe you can even hear them sing together when you close your eyes, who knows?!
Just two houses up, at number 47, you’ll find a tavern called Neues Ufer (The new riverside). This restaurant was the first restaurant for homosexuals in Berlin. In the past, when Bowie used to go there, it was called Anderes Ufer (The other riverside), which also refers to homosexual people in German. In this tavern, everyone was free to be themselves.
Bowie once said about Berlin: “A city filled with bars and sad, disappointed people. I love it”. I would say Bowie had a point there. As happy as I was in Berlin, I was also sad. It is a city of extremes. I’m sure you’ve experienced that too. But what do you think of this: Whenever we’re sad we’ll drive to the “Hauptstraße 155” and hope we’ll hear David Bowie sing to us and comfort us.
After Bowie’s recent death, Hauptstraße was symbolically renamed to David Bowie Straße.
Address: Hauptstraße 155, 10827 Berlin-Schöneberg
I’d like to leave you with this: if you want to learn more about places in Berlin you shouldn’t miss, then I recommend you read a great book that has inspired me to write this post: “111 Places in Berlin You Must See” by Lucia Jay Seldeneck. It was the perfect addition to my love for Berlin and to the impressions I have of the capital.
Just drop a line in the comment section if you did.