GermanyTravel Guides

7 Quirky & Off the Beaten Path Things to Do in Berlin, Germany

By Matt Morelli

Germany's capital city, rightly attracts a large number of tourists. Drawn by its world-class museums, quirky neighbourhoods and poignant recent history, visitors are spoilt for choice for quirky things to do in Berlin.

To some extent, Berlin is an exception to our usual travel advice. Visitors should visit Berlin and should visit its most popular attractions. The Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Wall Memorial, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and Checkpoint Charlie are all essential attractions. Berlin and, more widely, Germany's history is too important not to revisit and think about.

Berlin though is a city of unique communities and there's plenty to see and experience besides the big name stuff. In this post, we've picked out a few of our favourite quirky and off the beaten path things to see and do for you to enjoy on your next visit.

This post contains affiliate links. Find out more in our Privacy Policy.

7 quirky things to do in Berlin to help you go off the beaten path

Berlin almost certainly has an endless list of quirky and off the beaten path things to see & do, thanks largely to its size and diverse population. Here's a selection of the things we discovered during our weekend city break.

Matt receives secretive communications via his spy gear
One of several rooms at the DDR Museum, kitted out with stuff from the era

Experience life in East Germany at the DDR Museum

Address: Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 1, 10178 Berlin, Germany
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

Up until 1989, Berlin was split into two parts by the Berlin Wall. Whilst residents in West Berlin enjoyed the rights, freedoms and trappings of a "westernised" democracy, those in East Berlin lived under the rule of, what some have described as, a paranoid and repressive dictatorship.

The DDR Museum, located on the opposite bank to so-called Museum Island, paints a compelling picture of what life was like in East Germany (known in German as the Deutsche Demokratische Republik or DDR). Using actual items from the era, realistic rooms have been created so that visitors can get a tangible feel for what life was like. A residential flat, accessible via a 'broken' lift, was our favourite exhibit. The entire place was fully kitted out - even the TV was showing programmes from the time.

Revel in the Ampelmann at the Ampelmann Shop

Obsess over the iconic 'little traffic light man'

Address: Unter den Linden 35, 10117 Berlin, Germany
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

One thing you might notice when wandering the streets of eastern Berlin is how cute the little guy on the traffic lights is. Known in German as Ampelmann, the 'little traffic light man' in his fancy hat quickly became a beloved symbol when he was introduced to East Germany's pedestrian crossings in 1961.

Seen almost as a mascot for East German nostalgia, the Ampelmann Shop, which is a short walk from the Brandenburg Gate, celebrates the little dude's continued presence with gusto. There's seemingly no limit to what the owners will stamp Ampelmann onto. If you're someone who needs a souvenir from every city you visit, this is a great place to pick one up whilst you're in Berlin.

Around 35 Photoautomat machines can be found all over Berlin

Go analogue with photos from a Photoautomat

Address: Multiple locations (see website)
Visit Website

Dotted all over Berlin are up to 35 ageing analogue photo booths, each lovingly restored back to working order. For €2 a pop, you can get a strip of four black and white photos, each taken a few seconds apart and dispensed after a few minutes of charming clunking noises. During our visit, we manage to track one down and our photos have taken pride of place stuck to our fridge door ever since.

Brammibal's delicious vegan doughnuts are absolutely unbeatable

Gorge on the 'best vegan donuts in town'

Address: Multiple locations (see website)
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

Self-described as 'the best donuts in town', Brammibal's ever-changing seasonal range of tasty doughnuts are all vegan and made with honesty, sustainability and environmental impact at the forefront. The company's conscientious values extend even to the type of energy they use in their six venues and to power their delivery vans. With portions of their profits also going to charitable causes, it's no wonder that their cafes are always so very busy.

Please note: the Google Maps link above is for the venue we visited, but you should check out the website to find out where their other cafes are located.

The Chapel of Reconciliation is made from clay mixed with with rubble from the former church
The chapel is small but is an important reminder of those who lost their lives during Berlin's division

Experience a poignant reminder of the past

Address: Bernauer Str. 4, 10115 Berlin, Germany
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

Part of the Berlin Wall Memorial (which itself is something you absolutely must visit), the Chapel of Reconciliation is a strikingly modern symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives during Berlin's division.

The chapel is small, but holds tremendous symbolic poignancy. The chapel is built on the site of a church (the Church of Reconciliation) which ended up on the DDR side of the Berlin Wall and eventually destroyed for 'security' reasons. The outline of the former church has been marked into the surrounding square and the rubble from its destruction was incorporated into the building material of the new chapel.

A variety of delicious Japanese loose-leaf teas are on offer at Chaya

Savour a pot of Japanese Tea at BIKINI Berlin

Address: Budapester Str. 38-50, 10787 Berlin, Germany
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

Not content with being just another shopping mall, BIKINI spurns the chain stores in favour of pop-up shops where start-ups and independent traders can set themselves up. In amongst the curiosity and high-fashion shops is Chaya, a store specialising in Japanese kitchenware, crafts and clothing. A large window looking out onto Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church and a small square is the setting for some seating where you can enjoy a pot of loose leaf Japanese tea, served in the tradition way.

One of the best quirky things to do in Berlin is Tropical Islands resort

Escape the city centre to Tropical Islands

Address: Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, 15910 Krausnick, Germany
Visit Website | Save on Google Maps | Save on Tripadvisor*

Berlin has more than enough to fill weeks of non-stop sightseeing. While we'd certainly encourage you to make the most of your time in this wonderful city, it's difficult for us not to suggest you also set aside a day to leave the city centre entirely.

That's all because of Tropical Islands, an enormous tropical water park housed inside a gargantuan former airship hanger around 50km to the south of Berlin. Inside, you'll find a beach and wave pool, multiple water slides, a small tropical garden where birds reside, restaurants and cafes and an adults-only spa area. The place is so enormous, that you can even stay for the night on the beach inside a cabin or the hotel. There's truly nothing else like it on the planet, which is why we heartily recommend that you go.

Getting there: Catch a train from Berlin Ostkreuz Station to Brand Tropical Islands station. From there, a free shuttle bus will take you to the front doors of the resort.

Top tip: Head to Tropical Islands on your birthday and, provided you can prove it's your special day, you'll get in completely free! They'll even give you a card.

Did you find this article useful?

We create and publish our travel guides and resources for free, so that they are accessible to all. If you’re able, a small contribution towards the running of our website will ensure more people can utilise our knowledge and advice.

About the author

Matt Morelli

I've travelled to 38 countries across 4 continents, both independently and with my wife. I've been writing travel guides and making videos since 2007, all based on my real-life experiences. Here To Travel is a place for travel advice and inspiration that encourages us all to make mindful decisions. If you want to have life changing adventures that have minimal impact on the places and people you visit, Here To Travel is for you.

Leave a comment