I have been in Berlin for more than 4 years by now and I have shown this city to a lot of people. These experiences made me realize that are places in Berlin that are advertised as really cool but that are just tourist traps. If you have been to Berlin a few times, I believe that you already picture some places inside your head. This article is focused on the worst places to visit in Berlin or how to ruin your Berlin experience in 5 places.
This article was somehow inspired by a guy that I met while I was in Aland, in a small island called Lappo. I was there to learn what is the deal with frisbee golf and I started talking to the guy that was showing me around. He is a young guy that came to Berlin once and that couldn’t understand why people liked this city. For a moment I couldn’t understand why he didn’t like Berlin and then I started asking where did he go and which places did he see while he was here.
He started talking and everything made sense. He saw a Berlin that I doesn’t exist for me. After living here for a while, there are places that you learn to ignore and this article will be about these places. Lets begin with the worst place to visit in Berlin…
Yes, Checkpoint Charlie is easily the biggest tourist trap that exists in Berlin. Really. There is nothing there to see and you will only waste your time if you choose to go there. If you are asking yourself why, I gonna tell you why Checkpoint Charlie is the worst tourist place in Berlin.
First, nothing there is original. Nothing. The tiny house with the soldiers in front? Fake. The sign telling you are leaving the Russian or the American sector? Fake as well. The original can be seen in the Allied Museum in Dahlem. If you like paying to take pictures with guys dressed as soldiers, you might love this place. For everybody else, this is it.
Some people might say that the Checkpoint Charlie Museum is worth the visit and I disagree again. Most of what you can see there can be seen somewhere else around Berlin with better context and way more content. You should skip this part of Berlin, I know you are not going to miss it.
Flea market at Mauerpark
When I first came to Berlin, most people were telling me to visit Mauerpark. I did it and I couldn’t understand why so many people told me to go there. I still wonder why people like this place so much and I cannot find an answer.
Mauerpark can be translated to english as the Wall Park. It has this name because it stands where a part of the Berlin Wall used to be and this is the most interesting thing about this park.
Most people visit Mauerpark on Sunday and this is when this park hits is lowest point. There is a flea market there and it is the worst flea market that Berlin can offer you. Unless you are looking for some touristic tote bags, overpriced vintage clothes and a lot of trash, this is not the place for you. If you don’t want to go to the flea market, you can also try some overpriced beer in a crowded park that feels more like a shitty football field.
And don’t forget the music! There is a karaoke pit at Mauerpark where you care going to listen to the worst singers in the world singing bad songs from their home countries. Amazing right? Do you want to listen to some drunk french guy singing some weird french song you never heard before? This is the place to go. Do you want to listen to a group of screaming girls ruin a song that used to be popular in the 80s? The karaoke in Mauerpark might be the place for you. But, if you have some regard for you time, wallet and ears, just go somewhere else. Anywhere else.
Potsdamer Platz is an important square in the center of Berlin. Some people say that it used to be the heart of Berlin in the 30’s but these days are long gone. Today, you have some tall buildings, a lot of lost tourists and a cinema with a cool looking ceiling. What else? Nothing.
Unless you want to see a movie, there is nothing to see at Potsdamer Platz. Some people might say that Sony Center is cool but it is only a cool looking ceiling and a cinema. There are some overpriced bars and restaurants around the area and this is it. There is also a former observation tower but nobody goes to the area to see it.
The best thing about Potsdamer Platz is that it is really close to interesting places like the Reichstag, the Holocaust Memorial, Tiergarten and the Brandenburger Tor. This way you can leave this square as soon as you get there because there isn’t anything to see there. You can trust me on this.
Mustafas Gemüse Kebab
Mustafas Gemüse Kebab is famous for being famous. Supposedly they have the best döner Berlin has to offer but I can tell you 3 different places that have better food and smaller queues in a blink of an eye. The first one would be Imren Grill in Neukölln.
It is not that their food is bad, what they offer is alright. My problem with this place is that everybody thinks the food there is so good that it is worth to stay on queue for more than 30 minutes just to eat a regular chicken kebab filled with vegetables. You can do better than that with your time.
For me, Mustafas Gemüse Kebab is just hype. Unless you want to queue for half an hour just to eat a regular kebab. If this sounds like something you want to do, please, just take a subway to Mehringdamm in Berlin Kreuzberg and get ready to wait for a long time.
Berghain, where being an asshole is cool
You probably read somewhere that Berlin has the coolest club on the planet. If you didn’t read about it, now you know that there are a lot of people saying that there is a club in Berlin that is the coolest place on Earth. That club is called Berghain.
The problem with this place – and most of the “OMG I need to go now” clubs – is that they have a really strict door policy. Sometimes you can queue there for more than 3 hours and still be turned away from the club for no reason. Other times they will keep you out because they didn’t like your clothes or because you don’t speak German. Yes, this can happen.
Back in 2012 or 2013, I had to go to Katerholzig, another of those OMG clubs in Berlin that now it is permanently closed, and I saw, first hand, three friends getting denied at the door because that didn’t dressed cool enough and another friend because she forgot the name of the DJ playing between this and that hour. Yes, the question was THAT specific. And the first 3 friends I am sure that it was because they stutter to answer in proper German some questions the hostess did since they were with the same clothes as everyone else on the group.
Nobody knows for sure what is the door policy and a lot of people think that it’s xenophobic, sexist, racist and discriminatory in a lot of ways. I’m one of these people but I don’t plan to go there so I’m just here to inform you about this.
You’re probably gonna queue at the door for some hours and then you’re just going to get back to your hotel without knowing what is inside the walls from a former power plant. And if you manage to get in, you’ll see that all that magic is nothing but a lie. The main dance floor is quite small, the sound system is good but it is not something from another universe and the amount of stairs VS the amount of drugs and alcohol inside, for me sounds like a dangerous combination.
Berghain was fairly important back in the days and I’m not going to lie, it is kinda cool to know that you’re going to a club in an abandoned soviet power plant BUT, low your expectations from 10 to 1, ok? They take pride in being assholes. If you’re the kind of fella that likes to be mistreated just because of the hype, we’re clearly on different pages on the book of life.
And if you decide to skip this don’t worry, beer is cheap in Berlin and you can have a nice time everywhere.
Based on my experience living and showing Berlin to a lot of people, these are the popular traps that can turn you Berlin experience into something bad. Maybe you like some of these places. Maybe I have to give another chance to them but… Who knows for sure?
If you have more tips from places to visit just to ruin your Berlin experience, leave them on the comments below. I’m pretty sure there are more tourist traps that I forgot to mention here.