I’ve been living in Berlin for over a decade and whenever I write these kinds of city guides, I often only focus on the most popular and well-known places, like this list of 10 cool things to do in Berlin or this one about the most photographed landmarks in Berlin. This guide is entirely different, as I’m going to take you well outside Berlin’s city center to yes – outside of the Ring where there aren’t so many tourists if any at all.
This post also serves as a love letter to Berlin’s Eastern district of Lichtenberg (and neighboring Marzahn), my home for the past 5 years or so. During my first years living here, I often found myself always leaving the district for “cooler” parts of the city. The pandemic changed that and since then, I’ve made a concerted effort to get to know my area way more intimately.
5 Unusual Places In Berlin (Where There Aren’t So Many Tourists)
So with that in mind, here are 5 unusual places in Berlin that I recommend checking out:
1) Schlosspark Biesdorf
With 14 hectares of quiet green space, Schlosspark Biesdorf is one of my all-time favorite places in Berlin. With a 19th-century pink-colored palace, English-styled gardens, a pond, a cute café perfect for brunching, and an art museum, it’s well worth the visit. Easily reachable on the S5, the park is less than five minutes from the Biesdorf S-Bahn station. As you walk through the park toward the palace, you’re treated to a pleasant walk through a road flanked by tall coniferous trees on both sides. What’s more, the park is quiet and without tourists. You’ll see locals out walking their dogs, families having a picnic, and others sprawled out on a blanket reading a book.
Address: 12683 Berlin
2) Central Cemetery Friedrichsfelde – “The Socialist Cemetery“
This massive cemetery in Berlin’s Lichtenberg is home to well-known socialists, anti-fascists, and communists, including Rosa Luxemburg, Käthe Kollwitz, as well as the co-founder of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), Wilhelm Liebknecht. A visit to Central Cemetery Friedsrichfelde provides a fascinating glimpse into the city’s history. Signs direct you on self-guided tours of the park, where you can take in a number of memorials like the Monument to the Revolution, as well as the burial places of prominent figures from the worker’s movement. Head to the other end of the cemetery where you can view beautifully aging ornate headstones, tombs, and even a shrine (Kolumbarium) hidden on a small hill surrounded by trees.
My bonus tip! Head to the community/allotment garden (Kleingarten) located next to the cemetery and visit their restaurant (that they affectionately call the “clubhouse”). Open year-round, they serve up a very delicious and hearty Schnitzel dish. They also offer yummy asparagus dishes during Spargel season.
Address: Gudrunstr. 20, 10365 Berlin
3) Restaurant Yerevan
If you want to feast on authentic and delicious Armenian food, Restaurant Yeravan is the place. This newly opened Armenian restaurant hasn’t been discovered by any of Berlin’s major foodies … yet. Favorable online reviews are showing that this restaurant is only getting more popular, so get there before the hype arrives. The family-owned establishment’s most popular dishes include the xashlama and chinkali, which you can pair with a glass of Armenian wine. This local’s atmosphere is friendly, down-to-earth, and boisterous. They often play host to big parties, so be ready to smile and have a good time.
Address: Seddiner Str. 8, 10315 Berlin
4) Dong Xuan Center
The Dong Xuan Center is truly a unique place in Berlin. Here you can find all of the Asian food ingredients that you ever need, especially more unique ones that you can’t find at a regular supermarket like Edeka or Rewe. If you’re not interested in food shopping, there are some decent and fairly priced Vietnamese restaurants offering takeaway. It’s also pretty entertaining to wander through the halls and peruse the various stores offering everything from knock-off handbags, to cheap electronics, and more. I once purchased a lovely sushi dish set from one of the shops. You can even get your haircut or nails done there!
Address: Herzbergstr. 128-139, 10365 Berlin
5) The Rainbow Buildings
Last but not least, is every local photographer’s favorite set of Plattenbaus. These concrete prefabricated buildings became especially popular in former East Germany after WWII. While known for lacking a distinct design, a large number of Plattenbaus in Berlin have seen life breathed into them with brightly colored tiled facades, murals, and other works of art. These two darling white buildings in Berlin’s Fennpfuhl area are connected by a giant rainbow. Head there and take photos that will surely blow up on your Instagram feed.
Address: Roederplatz, 10367
What do you think about these unusual places in Berlin? Have we missed any good ones? Tell us about it in the comments below.
Use this customized Google Map to get an overview of all of the locations mentioned here and how to reach them.
All of these places are fairly close to one another. For example, you can combine a visit to the cemetery with a meal at Restaurant Yerevan. You can also visit the Asian market and walk to the nearby rainbow-themed Plattenbaus to sneak in some photos.
Berlin’s Transportation Options
The lowdown on your transportation options in Berlin, Germany:
1) To reach Berlin’s city center, you can go by train, taxi, or bus:
- From the airport – Berlin has a new airport, Berlin Brandenburg Willy Brandt Airport (BER), which is 18 kilometers outside of the city center. You can take an express train, either the FEX, RE7, or RB14, to the city’s main train station, Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Trains run frequently between 4:00 – 23:00 and the journey takes about 30 minutes. A one-way ticket is €3.30. You can also take public transit, using the S-Bahn lines, S9 or S45. The journey to Berlin Hauptbahnhof will take the same amount of time and an ABC ticket will fetch you €3.60. Buses are also an option, the airport shuttle BER1, X71, N60, and X7. Your journey to Hauptbahnhof will take about an hour and cost the same as taking the train. Note, the airport shuttle BER1 is pricey at around €11, so skip taking it if possible. You can take a taxi from the airport, with the journey into the city center being around 30 minutes, longer if during rush hour. A fare should run anywhere between €40 – €50.
- From the main train station – Berlin Hauptbahnhof is located in the city center. Take public transit, a taxi, bicycle, or use your own two feet to get wherever you need to go.
- From the main bus station – The city’s main bus station (ZOB) isn’t in the city center but in the city’s West End. You can make your way to the city center via public transit (there are S-Bahn trains and buses available) and the journey will take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. A single fare will run you €3. You can also take a taxi or use Uber or Bolt. A car journey to Hauptbahnhof will take you 15 – 30 minutes, depending on traffic and a taxi fare will cost €15 – €20.
2) How to get around in Berlin:
- Taxis – As with some other European countries, taxi scams aren’t that prevalent in Germany. You can safely and easily hail a taxi at any stand around the city or use the FREE NOW app to get a traditional taxi.
- Ridesharing – Uber and Bolt are both options.
- Bikes – You can rent bikes (even scooters) from Bolt and Uber. Other bike-sharing companies include nextbike and Call A Bike.
- Public Transit – Berlin has an extensive network of above and underground trains, trams, buses, and even ferries. The most convenient way to purchase tickets is through the BVG app. You can also buy tickets onboard trams and buses, as well as from machines on station platforms (you can select English when you start the purchase process). If you plan to use public transit a lot when visiting Berlin, skip out on buying single-fare tickets and purchase a pass for 24 hours, one week, and more. You’ll save a lot of money this way.
- Driving – If you want to drive in Berlin, consider renting a car from companies like Europcar, Sixt, or Hertz.
Where To Stay In Berlin
1) Check out your options on booking.com.
Paying For Things In Berlin
Our pro tips help you manage your finances when you’re traveling in Germany:
1) Germany uses the Euro:
- Visit xe.com to find out how your currency compares to the Euro.
- Unfortunately, many places in Berlin only accept cash and not bank or credit cards. If they do accept bank cards, they will only take EC cards and when it comes to credit cards, American Express is often not accepted. There are plenty of bank machines throughout the city where you can get cash.
- When paying by card, you may be asked which currency you want to pay in – choose to pay in Euros to save money on the exchange rate.
2) Germany is about average on the cost scale compared to other European destinations. Berlin is budget-friendly, so you’ll find accommodation, dining out, etc. very easy on the wallet.
3) If you can avoid doing xo, exchange your money in the city center, as exchange rates at the airport tend to be on the high side.
Good To Know About Berlin
1) If you plan on staying in Berlin for a longer vacation, I’d also recommend our guide to day trips from Berlin. If you need help in knowing how to get to some of these German cities, I highly recommend using Rome2Rio, a site that recommends the best way to get from points A – B.
2) One way to really experience Berlin is to go on a guided tour. See what things you can do with Get Your Guide.
3) For more German travel inspiration, read through some of our most popular posts:
- A Day Trip from Berlin To Görlitz In Photos – Take a day trip from Berlin to Görlitz, one of Germany’s prettiest towns. With a stunning old town & proximity to Poland, it’s worth a visit.
- Come To Germany And Stay At The Circus Hotel Berlin – The centrally located Circus Hotel Berlin has a rooftop terrace, a cool restaurant & bar area, and spacious rooms with super comfortable beds
- Who’s Bad? The Michael Jackson Memorial In Munich, Germany – The Michael Jackson Memorial Munich has been long maintained by adoring fans. Some locals would love to see it go away.
Thanks for hints. Also the post reads like tell me you’ve just moved to Lichtenberg without telling me that. Cheers, Cheryl.
Hi there! Glad you enjoyed the tips. 🙂
Um, I’m confused by your comment. The blog post clearly states that I’ve been in Lichtenberg for quite some time. ¯_(ツ)_/¯