Berlin is a city filled with centuries of history and over 175 museums covering anything and everything of interest from art, history, and even the quirky. There are books filled with the places we’ve all heard of, but some places aren’t listed in the books; some places are hidden gems that have to be discovered.
These are the hidden gems I found that are perfect for those studying abroad if you’re looking to get to know the real Berlin.
1. Central Kino in Hackescher Markt
Located just minutes from Humboldt’s main campus, and an even shorter distance from where most classes are held, is this small movie theater. Though the theater can be hard to locate, once you do, it’ll become a staple hangout spot. A marquee marks the entry to an alleyway in which the theater is located. The alleyway itself could be considered a hip spot; the walls and shop doors are decorated with graffiti style art, and a number of picnic tables are installed under the words: Central Café. The theatre shows movies in German, English, and other languages. It plays American films but also shows more independent films and documentaries that aren’t typically found in American movie theaters.
2. Tadshikische Teestube
This Tajik tea room is found right around the corner and down the street from Humboldt’s Philosophy building. When you enter the building, you immediately remove your shoes and take a seat on a pillow around a low table. It specializes in teas of all kinds, giving customers a variety of options, including Japanese, Russian, and the classic English breakfast. They also offer a full entrée menu if you’re hungry.
This restaurant provided my friends and me with one of the most satisfying brunches we have ever encountered. The menu is simple. You have the choice between the sweet, cheese, or mixed breakfast. We each ordered a different one. The decor looks like someone collected an assortment of rustic furniture. It comes together in a charming way, creating a quaint homey feel in the heart of Berlin Mitte.
4. Mauerpark Fleamarket
If you’ve done any research on weekends in Berlin you’ve probably seen this flea market listed among the best. Every Sunday booths are filled with records, old photographs, vintage dresses, fresh pressed-orange juice, furniture, and more. If you’re looking for something secondhand, it’s probably at Mauerpark. It takes hours to shuffle through each booth so be prepared to spend the whole afternoon there. Also prepare yourself for a crowd: locals and tourists alike are attracted to the event. It is worth it though, even if you don’t plan on buying anything. Just experiencing the atmosphere is a trip enough.
5. Street Food Thursday at Markt Halle Neun
This was by far one of the best events I attended in Berlin. If you’re a foodie like me, it is a must. Local and global professional and amateur chefs gather to feed the people each Thursday. You’ll find more than just German cuisine at this food market. I sampled foods from Poland, Italy, Belgium, Brazil, and Mexico. There are well over 50 booths packed into this indoor center offering food from different countries. Everything comes to you in sample sizes so you can sample from several vendors without feeling like you’ll burst.
6. Günter Litfin Memorial
One of the most eerie things about Berlin is the remnants of WWII and the Wall. This watchtower is one of three remaining of the original 302 watchtowers along this inner border. Günter Litfin was the second victim of the wall and the first to be shot to death trying to cross. The watchtower is located in the middle of a residential area and has limited hours. Günter’s brother Jürgen keeps his brother’s story alive through a memorial inside the tower. Visitors can witness a personal story of loss and see pictures of the Berlin Wall inside.
7. House of the Wannsee Conference
Located just outside of Berlin (but close enough that you can make it there by Berlin public transportation) is the House of the Wannsee Conference where Hitler and the Nazis met to propose a final solution to “The Jewish Question.” The house has now been turned into a museum and Holocaust memorial. The museum takes you through each room in the house. It holds documents and photos from the conference and dedicates several rooms to a memorial with testimonies from Holocaust survivors and their relatives.
This post was contributed by Emily Cole, who studied abroad with AIFS in Berlin, Germany.