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  • Hidden gems: Little-known spots to visit in Berlin


Hidden gems: Little-known spots to visit in Berlin

Head off the beaten track and visit these 12 cool places that most tourists to Berlin don't ever get to see.

Berlin has plenty of beautiful hidden spots, if you’re willing to go a bit further afield. Photo: IMAGO / Schöning

Most tourists to Berlin traipse around the same well-trodden routes – museums, clubs, restaurants, flea markets. If these all sound familiar, maybe it’s time to look further afield and discover some of the city’s more hidden gems. We’ve made a list of twelve places that you probably haven’t visited, so read on to discover Berlin’s lesser-known sights.

Karlshorst Race Track

Photo: Imago / Schöning

Berlin has a number of race tracks, but one of the most historically important is in the quiet district of Karlshorst, not far from the zoo. Races have been held since 1884. Like Berlin’s other race courses, Karlshorst ‘Trabrennbahn’ struggled financially after reunification. Nevertheless, there are still regular racing days held here, as well as other pop-up events. Karlshorst is a little-known area, but well worth a walk around on a sunny weekend afternoon.

  • Trabrennbahn Karlshorst, Treskowallee 159, Karlshorst, details.

Märkisches Viertel

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

Colourful concrete and thousands of prefab apartments. This area may only be of real interest to architecture buffs, but it is also an interesting slice of Berlin history. The urban housing estate was created in the 1960s, but since the expansion of the urban infrastructure, life in Märkisches Viertel has changed. You can check out what Reinickendorf has to offer, or visit the tranquil town of Lübars from here too.

  • Märkisches Viertel, Reinickendorf

Village church in Staaken

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

You can still find the remnants of old village centres in Berlin if you look closely – little vestiges of history, with church towers, village ponds and old houses with pointed roofs. While Berlin continues to grow, time has stood still in some quiet corners. A particularly beautiful example is the Spandau district of Staaken, with its simple village church whose history goes back centuries.

  • Dorfkirche Staaken, Hauptstr. 12, Spandau, details.

Café am See at Britzer Garten

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

The Berlin architect Engelbert Kremser, a passionate representative of organic architecture, designed this whacky building in the middle of Britzer Garden. It’s worth a visit not only for coffee and cake on the terrace of the restaurant, but also for the ponds, hills, lawns and woodlands of the park. The whole garden is a top spot to visit with kids on a sunny day – it’s even got its own train!

  • Café am See, Britzer Garten, Sangerhauser Weg 1, Neukölln, details.

Polo field in Frohnau

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

The Frohnauer Riding Club (founded in 1961) has, in addition to its leafy parks, an official polo field where the elite sport can be practiced. It’s a great location for horse fans, but all nature lovers will enjoy this green spot. The nearby Restaurant Landhaus am Poloplatz has really excellent food on offer. Enjoy a coffee or a glass of something stronger while looking out over the green fields. You’ll feel a million miles away from Berlin.

  • Am Poloplatz, Frohnau

Wolkenhain Viewing Platform in Marzahn

Photo: Imago / Schöning

In Marzahn in the northeast of town you’ll find the Gardens of the World. There you can explore garden traditions of different countries; China, Japan, Bali, Korea, Italy and more. For an overview, you can climb this futuristic-looking viewing platform. There’s also a cable car, if you don’t fancy the steps.

  • Kienberg, between Cecilien and Eisenacher Str., Marzahn, details.

Reinbeckhallen in Schöneweide

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

The Reinbeckhallen in the somewhat remote Oberschöneweide area exude post-industrial flair and a heavy dose of 1990s Berlin. The Reinbeckhallen Foundation Collection for Contemporary Art has transformed the old industrial buildings on the Spree, turning them into a destination for contemporary art. There is also a great cafe, and a hole-in-the-wall bar during the summer.

  • Reinbeckhallen, Reinbeckstr. 17, Oberschöneweide, details.

Schwerbelastungskörper in Tempelhof

Photo: Imago / Schöning

The ‘Schwerbelastungskörper’ (heavy-duty body), built in 1941, was part of a project related to Hitler’s plans for the ‘world capital Germania’, as Berlin was to be called after the Third Reich’s victory in the war. It was intended as one of the base pieces of a gigantic triumphal arch. The 12,650 ton concrete block is a listed building, located in the no man’s land between Schöneberg and Tempelhof. Other traces of Nazi architecture can still be found around Berlin.

  • Schwerbelastungskörper, General-Pape-Str. 34A, Tempelhof

Uferstudios in Wedding

Photo: IMAGO / Tom Maelsa

The conversion of industrial buildings to cultural hubs has a long tradition in Berlin. Whether its power plants that have turned into clubs, or former breweries converted into cinemas, theatres and galleries, when the chimneys stop smoking in Berlin, culture moves in. A prime example can be found in Wedding. Since 2010 a former tram site has transformed into performance and art studios. Events regularly take place, so check out their website below for details.

  • Uferstudios, Uferstr. 23, Wedding, details.

Hubertusbad in Lichtenberg

Photo: IMAGO / Hohlfeld

The magnificent Lichtenberg public baths opened in 1928, with two swimming pools, a sauna area, massage rooms, a gym and a sun terrace. Eat your heart out Vabali! Unfortunately the public baths were closed down in 1991 due to construction defects. Tons of rubble were removed, and electrical connections and sanitary facilities were restored in a huge renovation effort, with a wooden floor laid over the former women’s swimming pool. The building now houses the Lichtenberg ‘Anlaufstelle für Bürgerbeteiligung’ (contact point for citizen participation), which acts as an interface between politics, administration and citizens. Too bad it wasn’t made back into a bath house…

  • Ehemaliges Stadtbad Lichtenberg, Hubertusstr. 47, Lichtenberg, details.

The Buddhist House in Frohnau

Photo: Imago / Jürgen Ritter

The builder of the Buddhist House in Frohnau was the physician and writer Paul Dahlke. He ran a practice in Berlin, and became acquainted with Buddhism on his travels to Asia. In 1900 he became a Buddhist and a teacher of the religion. The Buddhist house was intended as a place of inner purification which, let’s be honest, us Berliners are in sore need of. In 2000 the building was fully renovated, and the building hosts lectures there on Sundays, as well as meditation sessions several times a week. Sounds like just the zen break we’ve been looking for.

  • Buddhistisches Haus Berlin, Edelhofdamm 54, Frohnau, details.

This article was adapted from the German by Poppy Smallwood.