Unlike cozier capitals such as Amsterdam, Dublin, or Brussels, Berlin is big. So big, it has one of the largest metropolitan areas in all of Europe. That means there are plenty of unique things to do in Berlin – even just in the city center, Mitte.
Mitte literally means middle in German, which makes perfect sense when you look at the city map. Like a lot of mega-cities though, it has no true city center, but clusters of more condensed areas. Some are more happening with unusual places to visit than others, like booming Kreuzburg and hipster heaven Neukölln.
If you’re a first-time tourist in Berlin and don’t want to venture too far, you’ll still have a great time if you stick to Mitte. So, instead of trying to do EVERYTHING on your first trip to Germany’s capital, we’re here to give you a taste of all the unique things to do in Berlin’s geographical heart.
1. Enjoy a latte in an urban jungle
Right next to Alexanderplatz, one of Mitte’s most bustling squares, you’ll find a cafe that’s probably more greenhouse than coffee shop. The Greens Berlin is a plant-filled oasis full of life and delicious coffee (and food!). Aptly offering predominantly plant-based fare, this place is a very unique thing to do in Berlin, and exactly the kind of cafe you’d expect from the hipster-filled city. Sip a magenta latte made with beets, dig into a sourdough rye sandwich, and enjoy your leafy surroundings before you move on to the rest of the day’s activities.
2. Take a trip back to Berlin in the 90s
Since time machines haven’t been invented yet (well, as far as we know), we suggest you take a trip down memory lane to Berlin’s take on the decade of grunge, Michael Jordan, and the birth of the World Wide Web. The Nineties Berlin exhibition focuses on a city emerging from the (literal) rubble of its past and the beginning of its future. In the museum, you can DJ at a techno party, see underground art from the famous Tacheles collective, and even climb a section of the notorious wall that tragically divided the city for decades.
3. Get political and tour Berlin’s Reichstag
Home to Germany’s parliament, the Reichstag’s architecture alone is reason enough to take a tour inside. Built in 1894 to house the Diet of the German Empire (the political term referring to a general assembly of legislative bodies, not the nutritional restriction), the parliamentary building was used until it caught fire and was partially destroyed in 1933. Only in 1999, nine years after the German reunification did it become the seat of the government again, this time adorned with a dazzling dome made of glass and steel. Entry is free, but access must be booked in advance.
4. Learn what it takes to be a secret agent
Speaking of unique things to do in Berlin, the German Spy Museum is far from your typical history museum. Sure, the exhibit will take you through thousands of years of espionage history, but you’ll also get to participate in the action. With over 1000 interactive activities, this is also the perfect place to bring a teenager (or an adult) who would rather be playing video games than going to an educational museum. You’ll learn about the amazing secret service methods used by Oliver Cromwell, Napoleon, and other historical figures. Additionally, you’ll get to decipher secret codes transmitted through WWII, jump your way through a laser field and even hack a website. This wonderful take on the mysterious profession is a must-see while you’re in Mitte.
5. Enter chocolate heaven at ChocoWorld Berlin
After one too many currywursts, you’ll be craving something sweet. That’s your cue to head to this mini-museum/concept store/cafe. At Ritter Sport’s flagship store in Mitte, you’ll discover the world of the cocoa bean and learn what goes into making the most colorful chocolate brand on the planet. Delicious as German choco competitor Milka may be, the unique branding and flavors of Ritter Sport will delight, excite, and leave you with a major sugar rush. Not satisfied with the 30+ flavors available at any given time? You can create your own unique bar of chocolate at the store’s lab and have it ready by the time you leave. Pretty sweet.
Kids will get the chance to become tiny chocolatiers at ChocoWorld Berlin, too. They offer a confectionary workshop specially designed for children. Bonus tip: You can purchase flavors that are still in the testing phase and won’t be available to the general public until the following season.
6. Experience life as an East German in Berlin
In the small, but immersive DDR Museum, you’ll experience the realities East Germans faced living under the communist regime until the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. Simulations such as being interrogated by the Stasi and voting in a (rigged) election are some of what you’ll encounter in this unique space. After a couple of hours here, the bleak reality of extreme socialism and tyranny will make you all the more appreciative of the freedoms that modern Germans (and you) enjoy today.
Experience all the unique things to do in Berlin
Are there any unique things to do in Berlin we haven’t mentioned in this post? Feel free to let us know on Instagram or Facebook. For more things to in Berlin (in Mitte or other neighborhoods), check out our other posts about Berlin.