Berlin's Hidden Pockets

There's nothing like getting out of town to find the other side of Berlin, the hidden Berlin.

It’s so easy to get lost in Berlin. It’s huge, it’s vast and so often the simple things like a doorway, laneway or a particular piece of street art will invite you off the well travelled path to discover its hidden delights.
It's easy to lose track of  time as you wander through Tiergarten, which stretches on forever, and you can spend a whole day on Museumsinsel alone, but if you have the time, the best way to actually get lost in Berlin is to discover the side streets and local suburbs. If you step out of the main tourist areas and head to pockets like Moabit, Pankow or Lichtenberg you’ll accidentally come across gorgeous little local cafes, second hand shops, bars or local designers whose shops are literally in between apartment buildings and a stone’s throw from the main local shopping drag. Only an extra couple of U-Bahn stations will get you there and you feel like you’re out of the city confines and walking around the suburbs. 
RAW Gelände
Sometimes, these businesses are so spread out and removed from any such passing traffic that you wonder how some of them make a living. But walking in Moabit past somewhere like Eisbox on Elberfelderstraße, which have organic ice cream flavours that change with the seasons or the relatively hidden, but glorious Markthalle in Arminusstraße, you’ll feel like you are the first person to unearth such an amazing gem that no other traveller has seen before or is likely to discover again! Pankow has some lovely tucked away cafes that only the locals would know about like Vilja on Maximilianstraße, (try their thick dark hot chocolate) or if you take the short trip out to Lichtenberg, you can get some authentic Vietnamese food in the Dong Xuan Center. The suburb of Wedding is not somewhere you’d usually be recommended to go for sightseeing but they have a great local craft brewery there called Eschenbräu, which is worth a night of beer tasting.

In the Berlin suburbs there are parks on most corners with a Spielplatz (playground) for the kids or benches to sit on and read a book or eat an ice cream.  Keep an eye out for the various Kleingarten (small garden) blocks. Berliners own these small sections of land to do what gardeners do. As so many people live in apartment buildings with no or limited grass areas, Berliners rent a small block of land to use at their discretion, for growing and tending to flowers or veggies, chilling out on a sunny day or grilling next to their own small private cabin with family rather than joining the masses in the public parks. I have gotten a little lost before walking through a Kleingarten block of land, I came out the other side not exactly sure which way I was facing, but happy all the same. In Spring, it’s amazing to see the giant tulips and colourful roses, not to mention the gnomes and garden furniture some of the blocks have!

Take a walk or two S-bahn stops past Neukölln and you may find the impressive and beautiful Krematorium Berlin (Treptow Crematorium) on Kiefholzstraße or just go for a walk or a bike ride around the streets outside of Prenzlauer Berg and see where the wind takes you. You just might end up at the old WBB Willner Brauerei beer garden where the Pizzeria L’Antica Dogana is or find small pockets of surprises in the form of good coffee and cake, quiet leafy spots or pre loved bargains and hand made goods. Apart from these out of town places, even just heading down a side street from the central Hackescher Markt or Rosa Luxembourg Platz lets you come across shops that perhaps weren’t even on your radar before. These shops sit and wait for a visit from you like a little secret waiting to take you away.  Image below © blackdragoncat (flickr)
This is the real hidden Berlin, the local kind. So get out there and explore and let us know if you uncover any hidden gems!
Krematorium Berlin