Germany’s capital city is steeped in fascinating history. It was famously split down the middle after the Second World War by the Berlin Wall, which played a significant role in dividing families, communities and cultures until it fell in 1989 after standing for almost 30 years. Modern Berlin has left its old fractures behind and transformed into a hub of business and artistic expression. There is so much to see and do on a trip to the city today that visitors often find themselves overwhelmed as they try to cram as many of the best-known sights and sounds mentioned into their limited stay. If you truly want to experience the real Berlin, it is a good idea to make an effort to deviate from the beaten tourist track and look for things to do that give a taste of the rich cultural tableau the lies just beneath the surface. Before we embark on some unique activities with which to fill your trip, it is worth noting mentioning that visitors from the U.S. are set to benefit from the new ETIAS waiver scheme starting from 2021. Check out this guide to ETIAS for more information.
1. Catch a Glimpse of Subterranean Berlin
Just beneath the surface of Berlin still lies an incredible complex of tunnels and air-raid bunkers built by the Nazi government in the Second World War. The tours organized by Berliner Unterwelten provide a fascinating insight into what it must have been like to live through the nightly bombardment by Allied air forces. After the war, the tunnels played an important role in providing an escape route for East Germans fleeing to the West to escape political persecution.
2. Sample Some Asian Cuisine at Preußenpark Park
Every second Sunday Preußenpark Park, colloquially known as “Thai Park,” in West Berlin transforms into a vibrant Asian food market. Berlin’s sizeable Thai community has been meeting here for over 20 years to share authentic food from their homeland. The market has since attracted Asian food vendors selling Vietnamese, Indonesian, Filipino and Chinese dishes that are similar to what one might expect in a food market to find thousands of miles to the east. The food is very reasonably priced, and the buzzing atmosphere makes for a great afternoon out.
3. Catch Some Rays at Tropical Island Berlin
When you picture a tropical beach with palm trees and turquoise seas, Berlin is probably not the first place that comes to mind. You may be surprised to learn, then, that “Europe’s largest tropical holiday resort” (and, probably, only) is located here. Housed in the largest hanger in the world, Tropical Island Berlin has its own climate and is home to sandy beaches, a lagoon and a tropical rainforest with over 600 varieties of plants. There are great restaurants, hotels and waterpark that are open all year round.
4. Wind Down the Day at Liquidrom Berlin
Liquidrom Berlin is definitely one of Berlin’s quirkier attractions. It is basically a high-end spa with a twist – there is techno music playing through underwater speakers that allow you to enjoy a swim in perfect tranquility. Everything is extremely tastefully done, with dimmed lighting and underwater color effects making for a truly unique experience. Talking is not permitted in the main music pool, but there are others where you can talk to your heart’s content about the wonders of Berlin.
5. Go on a Street Art Tour
Wherever you go in Berlin, it is pretty apparent that the city is home to a thriving street art scene. If underground urban culture interests you, look no further than booking a street art tour at Alternative Berlin. The expert guides, many of whom are graffiti artists and painters themselves, will take you around the backstreets and tell you the story of Berlin’s most iconic street art pieces.
If you are fascinated by abandoned public spaces, Spreepark is somewhere that you should not miss. What was until 2001 a popular amusement park has since ceased operations and been allowed to fall into disrepair. Do not think for a minute that this has lessened the attraction, though! The park still attracts people who want to catch a glimpse of its massive model dinosaurs and rickety old rollercoasters.
When most people think of Berlin, the first images that come to mind are usually the city’s iconic monuments like the Brandenburg Gate and the Berlin Wall. Berlin, though, is so much more than that. With just a little extra effort, you can visit some sights that will really make your trip one to write home about!