12 Alternative Things to do in Berlin

by - Monday, August 01, 2016

If you're planning a trip to Berlin, you're probably already aware of the various things you can do while you're there. The amount of generic travel guides on the internet is endless and they usually mention places that anyone with even the tiniest knowledge of Berlin would've heard of. So, in protest, I have compiled a list of things I believe are worth checking out during your time in this beautiful city - many of which you won't find mentioned in all the main travel guides. Like in London, once you get away from all the tourist traps, you can find some real hidden gems.

1) Boxhagener Platz

Everyone knows about Mauerpark and, don't get me wrong I absolutely love the place. You can easily spend a whole day there sampling all the food on offer, browsing the vintage stalls and then winding down with a beer and some karaoke. But compared to Berlin's other markets, Mauerpark is definitely overpriced. It's obvious why - tourists and locals alike flock to the market on a sunny afternoon for socialising and to generally have a good time. However, you're serious about finding some good deals, you're better off visiting Boxhagener Platz. This flea market sells tonnes of things, varying from antique goods to vintage handbags. Because it's less popular, it gives you more room for haggling too.

2) Turkenmarkt

Another market you should definitely check out. Although a lot of vendors here only sell produce (which, 

I might add is usually priced ridiculously low), there's a variety of things you can pick up here. Stalls selling Turkish street food, handmade jewellery and clothes are also pretty common. It's the perfect place to really get a real sense of Berlin's Turkish community. There are also several permanent shops lining the market that are worth visiting, such as Brammibal's cafe which sells delicious vegan donuts everyone would drool over.

3) YAAM Beach Bar

Berlin is full of trendy clubs and bars, but this one has something special about it. YAAM, which was probably one of my favourite places in Berlin (but I'm Caribbean so I'm biased) is a tropical beach bar which sits on the banks of the Spree. As you walk into the outdoor bar area, you'll notice that the whole place is covered in sand. It's as if you've been transported to somewhere much more tropical than the centre of Berlin. The atmosphere coupled with the sounds of Reggae music playing in the background guarantees you'll have a relaxed evening here. If you're looking for something more lively, YAAM also regularly have club nights so you can continue partying until the early hours of the next morning.

4) Muggelsee Lake

Technically Muggelsee is just outside of Berlin, but it's still easy enough to get to from the centre. I mentioned this place in my last post on Berlin, so that just shows how much loved it here. A quasi-beach, Muggelsee is the place to go on a hot summers day for some much-needed r&r. Rent a pedalo and go for a swim, play sports on the sand or spend the whole time sunbathing - there's something for everyone. It's a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of Berlin and you can easily spend a whole day here. I'm honestly surprised more people don't know about this place!

5) Pasam Baklava

Any trip to Berlin without tasting some authentic baklava is a wasted one. For those that don't know, baklava is a rich, sweet pastry originating in the Middle East. The tasty treat is made from flaky filo pastry and is typically filled with chopped nuts and then sweetened with honey or syrup. There’s something special about the baklava they make here, as each bite is full of flavour and instantly melts in the mouth. You can be sure that quality is guaranteed, as their most notable clientele include the Egyptian embassy and the Hotel Adlon (the luxury hotel situated next to the Brandenburg Gate). It's worth every Euro - and I'm sure you'll be tempted to go back for more.

6) Fatoush

Anyone who knows me knows I am IN LOVE with falafel (I'm actually craving some right now). Introduced to me by a friend, Fatoush is a restaurant which specialises in some of the best falafel I've ever tasted. It's great value for money, serves up generous portions and has some wicked homemade tahini sauce to die for. If you're a falafel addict like me, you need to go here. It's a refreshing alternative to Berlin's burger and kebab joints, which you can find on practically every street corner.

7) Weinerei Forum

This one is a wine lover's paradise. A physical embodiment of Berlin’s laidback and alternative lifestyle, the Weinerei Forum is a wine bar where you essentially pay what you like. It sounds ridiculous and impractical, but it works. As you enter, you pay 2€ and receive a wine glass. There are several bottles of red, white and rosé wine to choose from, all of which are placed on a table within the bar. You serve yourself whenever it suits you, just as you would at a friend’s house. Once you’re ready to leave, you pay what you believe the wine was worth. It’s recommended about 2/3€ per glass but the beauty of this bar is that you decide! There’s absolutely no pressure to pay any certain amount. It's the perfect place to start off the night or spend a relaxed evening.

8) Prater Biergarten

Okay, this place is pretty well known, seeing as it's the city's oldest beer garden... so technically it can't fall under the heading of "alternative." However, while I was there, it appeared as if we were the only tourists there - practically everyone was staring at us, which makes me think perhaps it's more popular with locals. They serve a variety of beers as well as snacks (such as bratwurst and pretzels) to tide you over. My favourite beer was probably the "Berliner Weisse mit Schuß" which is basically beer mixed with flavoured syrup - I'm not a huge beer drinker so I needed something sweet! As there's an endless amount of benches available, it's a good place to hang out with a large group of friends.

9) Klunkerkranich

If your looking for somewhere to get that Instagram worthy panoramic shot of Berlin (without the effort of visiting the TV Tower), Klunkerkranich is the place to go. This rooftop bar provides scenic views of Berlin whilst offering some tasty cocktails. Although it's pretty hard to find (through a shopping centre and up and escalator), it's definitely worth a visit. The relaxed, indie vibe of the bar is only heightened by electronic music playing in the background. Just make sure you get there before 6pm to avoid the queues and secure yourself a seat!  

10) Clärchen’s Ballhaus

Clärchen’s Ballhaus is a blast from the past. With decor mirroring that of the 1920s and walls in serious need of maintenance (but that's a part of its charm), this decrepid ballroom cum restaurant will instantly transport you pre-WWII German life. On an average night here, expect to witness swing lessons take place all around you - to the sounds of a live band, of course - while you sample some items from their menu. Don't just be a voyeur though, let your hair down and get involved! With such a diverse crowd, it's clear that this place attracts people of all ages. And if you need a break, grab a drink and chill out in their eccentrically decorated beer garden.

11) Schwarzlicht Mini Golf

Who doesn't love mini-golf? I firmly believe it's impossible not to. Sure, they're not that popular anymore but here in London, they've definitely made a comeback. It might be gentrification gone mad, but I'm all here for it. Schwarzlicht is guaranteed to change any doubters mind. It's essentially a club and a mini-golf course in one. The whole place is unlit, with only a black light and glow-in-the-dark wall paintings to guide you through. And while you golf, the sound of electo-trance music blares from the speakers. Pretty sweet if you ask me, even though trance music really isn't my thing.

12) Pazzi x Pizza

Officially the best pizza I've ever eaten, hands down. Think Firezza's square pizzas, but better and cheaper. You buy it by the slice, all of which are priced at around 3€. I had two slices and was completely stuffed afterwards. The only downside is that all options are pre-made, meaning you can't ask for substitutions. However, because their selection is so large, you'll have plenty to choose from. Plus, you can grab yourself some authentic gelato as dessert. If you're planning a trip to Tempelhof, you definitely have to stop off here, it's just around the corner from the field.  

And that's it. I'd definitely recommend visiting any of these places, just so you can escape the usual tourist traps - even if you only manage to squeeze one or two. You won't be disappointed, promise!

Natalie x

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