Last summer, the number of tourists to visit Berlin reached a record high. No doubt, some of its most well-trodden paths are quintessential to understanding and enjoying the city — we’re looking at you East Side Gallery — but what will make you truly fall in love with Berlin is taking the road less traveled. Let us tip you off with these six best-kept secrets.
Linh Thuu Pagode
Tucked on a quiet side street behind a row of shops and a department store in Spandau, a true hidden gem awaits those who know where to look. Turn the corner on Heidereuterstraße to find Linh Thuu Pagode, a Buddhist temple designed in traditional Vietnamese style. It provides the perfect oasis of serenity amidst the bustle of city commerce. Linger in the impeccably-maintained oriental garden before crossing the temple’s threshold marked by two regal stone dragons. The rich scent of incense beckons you inside where three meter-high Buddha statues, located front and center, smile down from their pedestals. Before moving onto a busy itinerary, stop here for a few moments of introspection disturbed only by the quiet shuffle of slippers as worshippers move in and out.
Heidereuterstraße 30, 13597 Berlin +49 (0) 30 36711287
Nestled just beyond the line of sight in the rather unsightly Moritzplatz, is Prinzessinnengärten. Back in 2009, residents transformed what was once an overrun vacant lot into a flourishing community garden. Now, all are welcome to experience the fruits of their labor. Even if getting acquainted with your own green thumb isn’t something that interests you, there is plenty of satisfaction to be had simply strolling amongst the dense vegetation that bursts out of its concrete surroundings. Definitely do make your way towards the back of the garden space to the café, which is set amongst a thicket of lanky saplings. Every day starting at noon, the kitchen serves a set menu of affordable dishes made from fresh veggies cultivated from the gardens and surrounding organic farms.
Prinzenstraße 35-38, 10969 Berlin +49 (0) 176 24332297
Situated just past Rummelsberg to the southwest of the city center, FEZ Berlin is a sprawling cultural center for youth and the largest of its kind in Europe. It is comprised of unusual architecture whose grounds hold many different surprises. Set within a forest, there is a large network of paths at FEZ Berlin for skating, running, skipping, jumping, and strolling around along with a cinema and even a small beach. While it is advertised as a youth center, the rich and varied activities program is not simply catered towards children. FEZ also serves as festival grounds for techno lovers looking to escape the smoky stuffiness of Berlin’s inland clubs in favor of an open air party experience. Speaking of which, it doubles as the site of the Wuhlheide Open Air where Berlin’s famed philharmonic plays concerts in the summer.
Str. To FEZ 2, 12459 Berlin +49 (0) 30 530710
Germany has long been known for its iconic yet functional Bauhaus aesthetics. The Bauhaus Archive is home to the largest collection of objects from this movement, cataloguing its development from its earliest beginnings in 1919. What makes this a secret spot is its location at the odd juncture between Potsdamer Platz, Tiergarten, and the eastern border of Charlottenburg — just at the edge of a lesser frequented part of the Landwehr Canal. The white building itself, with its successive sawtooth roofing, is stunning, and captures the spirit and prestige of this important and influential school of design.
Klingelhöferstraße 14, 10785 Berlin +49 (0) 30 2540020
Being that there are countless bars, clubs, and other venues erected in Berlin’s notorious bohemian ramshackle style, it may feel that if you’ve seen one of them, you’ve seen them all. Yet, what makes Rummels Bucht special is that it is set off the beaten path and perched at the shores of the lake, Rummelsburgersee. Unlike most lakes, though, this one is located just off of Hauptstraße not far from the heart of town and only a short bike ride from Kreuzberg. It’s relaxing and secluded surrounds mean that it is not as crowded with people as its aesthetically similar counterparts, but you still get the same hippy beatnik vibes we all crave along with an arguably better view.
Hauptstraße 1, 10317 Berlin
Da Jia Le
The utterly unpretentious exterior of this Chinese restaurant in Schöneberg makes it a place you might pass a million times without a second glance. We recommend looking twice, as Da Jia Le serves up some of the most authentic Sichuanese and Dongbei fare in the city. Start with the perfectly steamed-to-order dumplings —pork or vegetarian— served in bamboo baskets. Also be sure to opt for some cucumber salad as a side to quell the delicious heat of these spicy red and garlicky dishes. Oddly enough, Da Jia Le has an impressive array of craft beers that include a mixture of German and Asian varieties.
Goebenstraße 23, 10783 Berlin +49 (0) 030 21459745