From an eclectic after-hours to a creative art and gastronomical scene, Berlin is notoriously a diverse city – one that often pays tributes to the once declining buildings of its past. And whilst its charming and unrefined character has come to form a strong part of the city’s identity, there’s also a whole host of local hotspots that unearth its more unexpected side. Have a read on seven places in Berlin that get you living like a local, but one that knows the city inside out.
Unearthing Berlin’s Unexpected Spots
Mapping out the uncommon places that identify Berlin
Contemporary art in a private bunker
Located in Mitte, Sammlung Boros was once an air-raid shelter turned nightclub, celebrated for its techno and fetish parties – vibrations from which could often be heard from the underground station nearby. In 2003, however, the curious building attracted the eyes of art collectors Christian and Karen Boros, who purchased it for private use. The bunker was then renovated, renamed and now showcases the Boros’ expansive and impressive collection of contemporary artworks. Guided tours are offered, for which you must book in advance, but once inside, you’ll be led through a surprising kaleidoscopic maze of contemporary works that are housed in and placed in contrast to their concrete surroundings.
The modern indoor market
An indoor market that hosts a carefully selected array of international food vendors, wine, beer and shops, Markthalle Neun is the heart of modern Berlin. Come here for community events such as The Breakfast Market and Street Food Thursday, or to enjoy reputable food vendors such as the artisan butchers Kumpel & Keule or the Italian brothers behind Mani In Pasta who make homemade hearty dishes daily. Not to mention Sironi, the Northern Italian bakery where you can find fresh Italian pastries and breads (including the choice of mouth-watering focaccias). It’s the kind of place that takes the atmosphere of outdoor eating on a warm summer’s night, adds some excitement of the hustle and bustle, and couples this with the finest food and beverage options on offer. Whether you’re in town for the weekend or looking for a business lunch spot, don’t just take our word for it – hit them up.
A rare Brutalist structure
A stone’s throw from Markthalle Neun you’ll find another unexpected spot in Kreuzberg: St. Agnes, also known as the König Gallery. A pre-war church dating to the 1960s, St. Agnes was since refurbished in 2012 as an impressive concrete structure that now primarily serves as a home to contemporary art pieces. The result? St. Agnes is a building that binds its historical, religious character with a new, modern identity. With a wide-ranging programme of interdisciplinary events and exhibitions, entering its light-flooded, expansive interior will captivate you every time.
Do you read me?!
Berlin’s modern-day library
When we think of bookstores, the image of a dusty shop filled with unruly piles of publications might come to mind. Not in do you read me?! in Mitte. Browse through carefully selected magazines and publications from around the world, ranging from art, fashion, photography to architecture and culture, and displayed neatly against the shop’s jet black interior. Although there are a number of impressive libraries in Berlin, do you read me?! is definitely one for the books.
A Succulence haven
Heading to the Botanical Gardens is like heading to an impressively green and beautiful oasis. Located southwest of the city, away from the centre, there’s over 22,000 different plant species to eye up, housed both in large tropical conservatories and in the outside gardens. Stepping into the area is nothing short of grand and idyllic – making you wonder, of course, whether you’re even near a city at all. Come here if you’re looking for an unexpected haven from the hustle and bustle in town.
Travel back to the Twenties
Going to Reingold Bar is like a little journey back in time. And it starts the moment you ring the bell outside and its heavy iron door is opened, unveiling and welcoming you in to this 1920s rabbit hole. Inside you can expect, of course, ’20s music, but the theme doesn’t stop there. The bar has a glamorous Art Deco atmosphere thanks to the orange-gold lights that illuminate it. High bar stools are lined up along the bar and bartenders are well-clad in vintage suits and suspenders, serving classic and delicious drinks with charm and finesse. Whether for a nightcap or all night long, have a swig of the good stuff here and get transported to the Roaring Twenties in style.
The unexpected cinema in the limelight
Tucked away in a hinterhof just off of Karl-Marx-Straße in the Neukölln neighbourhood is Passage Kino. It’s positioned in such a way that no matter the season, you can’t help but look up at its bright film showings displayed in their primary colours. And it’s a cinema with character, featuring arthouse films which you can watch in their original version and rows of plush red velvet seats and red curtains. Most notably, however, Passage Kino mixes deluxe with the historical eerily well. You wouldn’t expect to find this distinctive movie theatre hidden away in the back alleyways of this side of Neukölln – and that makes it all the more special.