Experiencing any city as a tourist is only so fulfilling, so we’ve put together a guide to allow you to experience Berlin like a local. These five experiences are truly insider tips and will provide any visitor to Berlin with a unique insight into the life of locals in the city.
Schlachtensee Outdoor Swimming
Schlachtensee. Imagewiseguy71 via Flickr
This is a great break from hectic Berlin city life. Just half an hour out of the center of Berlin, and it feels like another world. The village-like houses on the edge of the forest and the 7-kilometer promenade along the lakeside invite you for a relaxing day of water and nature. You can rent boats near the beer garden on the east side of the lake (8 Euro per hour), and go swimming in the summer. The S1 S-Bahn train takes you straight to Schlachtensee.
Modersohn Bridge (Modersohnbrücke)
The Modersohn Bridge in Friedrichshain is pretty much off the normal tourist radar, but a popular hangout for young Berliners. The bridge runs over a wide railroad track, rather than a beautiful river, and probably wouldn’t get much attention except for the fact that it has a spectacular view to the west, and is a perfect place for catching some awesome urban sunsets. Many people come here in the afternoon and evening, sit on the bridge with friends and beer, and enjoy the views and the atmosphere. The bridge is part of Modersohnstrasse, and the easiest way to get there is by S-Bahn to the nearby Warschauer Strasse.
Who Killed Bambi
For those in Berlin for shopping, Who Killed Bambi is a designer clothing store with a wicked name, vibrant colors, absolutely no big brands and tons of style. They sell mostly women’s clothes and accessories, but they are known as much for the cool experience as for the quality of the clothes they have on sale. The staff in the store are often heavily tattooed and a bit quirky, but always friendly and welcoming. The main store is at Eberswalderstrasse 26 in the trendy Prenzlauerberg neighborhood, with others in Rosentahler Strasse 69 and Wühlisch Strasse 38 in Friedrichshain.
The three Weinerei bars within walking distance of each other share a similar trust-based payment system: pay 2 Euros for the first wine glass, and then help yourself to refills, paying whatever you think the wine was worth at the end of the evening. There are also tasty dishes on offer, and retro furniture with students and backpackers enjoying the atmosphere. The concept usually works, but you can expect the “waiter” to give you a frown, at the very least, if you try to abuse the place and don’t pay a fair price for what you’ve drunk. The three bars are Forum, Perlin and FraRosa, all within walking distance of the Zionskirchplatz in Prenzlauer Berg.
A bookstore quite unlike any other – the Pro QM “thematic bookstore” both sells books about modern design, culture, art and architecture, and also is all of those at the same time. The open layout of the store invites discussion and exploration, and the interdisciplinary collection of books and magazines is matched by a whole range of cultural events in German and English. They also sell some stylish semi-political bags and souvenirs. It’s worth going in to see what a bookstore can and should look like back home. The Pro QM is located at Almstadtstrasse 48, in the central Mitte neighborhood.