Well haven’t we seen some “groundbreaking” new city tours and inspiring new attractions for visitors? Can you remember trends like kick scooter tours, segway tours or digital tour-guiding smartphone apps? It actually kind of makes sense – with travelling being a mainstream mass phenomenon it is understandable that many a traveller seeks to explore the German capital off the beaten track. The result: unusual city tours and extraordinary explorations are absolutely trending right now and make for unexpected encounters and new perspectives on the city. Industriepalast Hostel wants to make your stay in town anything but ordinary, thus we’ve put together 7 extraordinary ways to explore Berlin:
Canoeing the capital: Kayak Berlin Tours
Did you know that Berlin has four times the number of bridges Venice has? And although pleasure boat tours around the city have been around for quite a while, they do feel a bit like water under those bridges. How about a new take on the old river cruise? Kayak Berlin Tours () offers a river tour experience that couldn’t be closer to action. Paddle in hands you’ll share a comfy two-seater kayak on the Spree river and the canals of the capital. An experienced guide not only helps you navigate along famous sights and trendy boroughs, but will also share interesting facts and great stories. Be a river pirate in the big city!
Bird’s eye view: Welt Balloon at Checkpoint Charlie
Rooftop bars, panorama restaurants, and observation terraces are quite popular. Yet, to float in the sky 150 meters above the rooftops of Berlin, that’s a different story! How that works? The iconic Welt Hot-Air Balloon at Checkpoint Charlie makes it possible. Up to 30 people can share the spacious gondola, which is tied to a cable winch on the ground. A ride is 15 minutes and it makes for incredible views across the entire city. It’ll set you back between 10 and 23 Euro. Further information and tickets can be found online.
Mario Kart in real life: Hotrod Tour Berlin
Copyright: © Hot Rod Tour Berlin
When you were a kid, did you ever get to turn a soapbox into a racing car and maybe even compete in the local derby? If so, you will probably remember the frenzy of speed to your last day on earth. And now imagine riding one of those babies around the German capital. That’s basically what hotrods are all about – tiny motorized go-karts that are road legal and that you can speed at up to 80 kph over the asphalt. At Berlin Hotrod Tours, a trained guide leads you and a fleet of karts around the sights and attractions of town in 80 or 120 minutes. All you need is a valid driver’s license and some balls. Bringing a Mario, Luigi or Yoshi costume is optional – just please don’t throw any bananas.
Berlin Flavour: Fork & Walk Berlin Food Tours
Without the big fuzz or too many Michelin appearances Berlin has somehow managed to become one of the world’s top foodie destinations in recent years. Why that is? There’s an incredible variety of different cuisines and foods, a very rich dining culture, and a huge number of innovative chefs, who – often at very moderate prices – have turned Berlin into the land of milk and honey (and tapas). The scene is as vibrant as it is ever-changing, thus you might easily get lost among food blogs, gourmet magazines and restaurant reviews. Getting to know the scene requires a lot of time and appetite. To speed up this process, Fork & Walk Food Tours have come up with a great choice of specialized tours. Berlin’s culinary traditions as well as influences from east and west are on the menu, as well as street food or vegan cuisine. You name it, they’ve got the tour. All guides are well-established foodies, so they sure know what to show you. There’s an overview of the tours offered on their website. Don’t miss out on this delicious opportunity!
Berlin street stories: Querstadtein
When reading about Berlin as a travel destination you will often come across pictures of shiny new buildings, historical architecture, classic artworks, fancy restaurants and great entertainment. While this is a side of Berlin that obviously sells well, it’s only one side of the bigger picture. Especially since the “true” spirit of Berlin, the unique charm that makes the town so exceptional, is usually formed elsewhere. For decades (if not centuries), marginalised people and communities have shaped the face and culture of the capital. Thus it is actually the dark and dirty, the informal and sometimes even illegal, that makes Berlin what it really is: “odious, noisy, dirty, and gray; roadworks and congested streets wherever you go – but I feel sorry for everyone who does not live here”, as a famous quote goes. The initiative Querstadtein offers new perspectives on the city by offering tours guided by people who’ve experienced a different life in Berlin: formerly homeless people tell their stories and show you what it means to see Berlin from their point of view. Since 2016 there are also tours guided by refugees who are willing to share an account of their escape and what it means to start a new life in the German capital. If you really want to understand the city in all its facets, this is a great place to start.
Berlin below ground: Berliner Unterwelten
You’ve probably seen most of the city’s sights, at least on pictures. Yet there is a huge part of Berlin you might have not even heard of: the underground. Countless tunnels and bunkers are hidden beneath the surface of the capital, stretching for miles and miles. And if you dare, you can explore them! Berliner Unterwelten (“Berlin Underworlds”) offers numerous guided tours to the forgotten world below ground. There are historic flak towers and nuclear fallout shelters, secret escape tunnels from the GDR and giant underground water reservoirs. Berlin from below is just as exciting as aboveground. All tours can be found on the website.
Street art and subculture: Free Alternative Walking Tour
Berlin’s unique vibe derives mostly from its “alternative scene”, e.g. the thriving (street) art community, musicians and producers, the squatting scene, creatives, artists, and hedonists. You won’t find them around the “classic” sights though, thus Original Berlin Tours have made it their mission to take you on a journey to the wild universe of Berlin’s subversive counterculture. Their Free Alternative Walking Tour starts close to Alexanderplatz and does not end until you’ve seen more graffitis, galleries, street art projects and squats than you can count. Other than traditional city tours, this is not about the buildings and historical facts here, but about the manifold lifeworlds of the trendy boroughs Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. Parks and spätis, bars, clubs, and street vendors, as well as alternative lifestyles – this tour will take you to the heart of Berlin’s underground culture. “If you only take one tour in Berlin take this one!”, they claim on their website – and we couldn’t agree more. This is the most creative side of Berlin you’ll find.
Picture: Datei: #175702311 | Urheber: SakhanPhotography, Datei: #178800404 | Urheber: sveta_zarzamora Datei: #133843050 | Urheber: hanohiki, Datei: #194117156 | Urheber: beschreiber
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.