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Urban Exploration: A Withlocals Experience in Berlin

January 29, 2016
Berlin Lichterfelde Street View
(Last Updated On: May 20, 2018)

Urban Exploration: A Withlocals Experience in Berlin 

It was a really cold and rare sunny day in Berlin. It was also Saturday morning, a time I usually devote to sleeping in. Excitement prevented me from hitting the snooze button on my alarm clock, as I was about to do a Withlocals tour through Berlin’s Steglitz-Lichterfelde districts, a south-western part of the city I’d yet to fully explore.

Better yet, the experience would conclude with a tasty home cooked meal made from our tour guide’s great grandmother’s dutch recipes. So just like when I was in Brescia, Italy last month, I was more than happy to stuff my face with delicious food.

Urban Exploration: A Withlocals Experience in Berlin

My friend Adam and I met up with our tour guide Jeanette at Schwartzsche Villa, close to the S/U-Bahn Rathaus Steglitz. We spent a brief time walking through the area, learning more about its 19th century history, and checking out more modern monuments, like the mirrored wall memorial. The memorial lists the names of local Jewish people who were deported from Berlin in the time leading up to and during the second world war.

We then jumped on the S-Bahn to continue our WithLocals experience in Berlin Lichterfelde.

Berlin Lichterfelde

Getting off the train and walking into the square outside was almost surreal. This didn’t feel like the Berlin I’ve come to know and love. Where was all the street art? Why weren’t the streets lined with empty beer bottles, cigarette butts, and confetti?

Though I did have one of those “only in Berlin” moments, when we came across this guy winding up a music box which blasted a playful version of Nena’s 99 Red Balloons. It reminded me of the time I saw her play in concert at Brandenburg Tor three summers ago.

 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Platz

As we strolled to the residential area of Lichterfelde, we saw that the neighbourhood was beautiful, clean, and best of all, filled with tons of palatial Jugendstil and Grunderzeit villas.

 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Street View
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Walking Through Berlin Lichterfelde
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Palatial Villa

This area of Berlin was developed in the late 19th century as a “villa colony” and become the exclusive home to some of the city’s most wealthy of residents. All of the villas are unique in their architectural style, with some even containing castle-like drawbridges.

 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Villa
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde German Achitecture
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde German Home

Throughout the tour, Jeanette regaled us with facts about the area and stories behind some of the more notable villas.

 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde House with Drawbridge
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Castle Like Home
 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Door

Through our wandering, we also came across some Stolpersteine (stumbling stones) here and there.

These stones, by artist Gunter Demnig, commemorate people who persecuted under the Nazis regime. Small concrete blocks are laid into the pavement in front of various residents, in this neighbourhood, and all around Berlin. Their names and other information are listed on brass plates.

 A Withlocals Experience in Berlin - Berlin Lichterfelde Stolpersteine

I highly recommend this Withlocals experience in Berlin to anyone wanting to see a different side to the city. You won’t be bumping into tourists, only locals as you tour around the Steglitz and Lichterfelde areas. With Jeanette leading the way, you’ll see many of Berlin’s lesser known sights and learn more about the history of these specific neighbourhoods.

Our Withlocals Lunch

After our walking tour finished, we headed to Jeanette’s home back in Stegletz.

We happily warmed up and sampled some of her great-grandmother’s cuisine, including a cucumber soup, quiche with salad, and a dessert.

Berlin Lichterfelde - WithLocals Food Tour
Berlin Lichterfelde - WithLocals Food Sampling

Good to Know

  1. As of October 2016, this exact experience is no longer available. Check out the Withlocals website for tons of other things to do in Berlin.
  2. For more Berlin inspiration, be sure to take a look at my Berlin guide or browse through my Berlin archives.


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  • Reply kami February 15, 2016 at 7:28 am

    Those villas look incredible! I don’t know how come I’ve never discovered them, I’ve heard of Lichterfelde many times yet I’ve never thought of even googling it! I’m so going there next time when I’m in Berlin! Thanks for the tip!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard February 15, 2016 at 7:43 am

      Yes, they’re gorgeous! I wanted to tour inside them … you should definitely signup for the Withlocals tour if you can. The lunch or dinner you get afterwards is soooo good. 🙂

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