I was chuffed to discover so many unusual things to do in Berlin when I visited recently. I actually really like visiting traditional sights when I am on holiday, but finding alternative things to do is often even better. 5 days gave me plenty of time to find some things to do in Berlin that were more off the beaten tourist path. Here is my top 3!

  1. A visit to the Currywurst Museum
    No visit to Berlin is complete without sampling Berlin’s signature dish – the Currywurst (curried sausage). It is a really unusual dish for Germans considering its exotic ingredients, and being a sausage lover, I was keen to find out a bit more about this famous sausage.currywurst in berlinThe quirky Currywurst Museum was the perfect place to do just that. It is dedicated to the Berliner’s beloved Currywurst and is very interactive museum where you can stand in a typcial Currywurst cart, learn why and how the Currywurst was invented, smell spices that are used to make the sauce, and of course sample the famous sausage. The Currywurst was invented by Herta Heuwer in 1949. After the war, prices for food went up massively and the eating habits of the occupying forces were a big influence on the locals. So when a British soldier gave Herta some curry powder, she started experimenting with it.  Little did he know that Herta would use the powder to create one of Germany’s most famous dishes.Helga inventor of the currywurstcurrywurst stand at currywurst museumIt is such a fun place to discover and certainly one of the most entertaining things to do in Berlin. My only regret is that I didn’t buy a Currywurst cuddly toy! 🙂currywurst cuddly toy
  2. Getting my passport stamped at Checkpoint Charlie
    Ok, this is actually quite a touristy thing to do, but quirky nonetheless. Berlin used to be divided into four occupied zones and each zone had checkpoints . At Checkpoint Charlie, which used to be the American checkpoint, you can get various stamps put into your passport that you used to be able to get when the Berlin Wall was still up. Stamps include a visa for the former GDR (East Germany) and stamps from the former allies (France, the US, Great Britain, plus also the Soviet Union). I love the fact that I now have stamps in my passport from countries that don’t exist anymore. stamps from checkpoint charly checkpoint charly berlin
  3. Meeting Osman in his tree house
    I think out of the 3 quirky things to do in Berlin this was by far the coolest. I met a charming old man named Osman and visited him in his very unusual home – a tree house (Baumhaus an der Mauer). Osman is a Turkish immigrant who has been living in Germany since 1963. The tree house  is located in the district of Kreuzberg, where the Berlin Wall used to run through.

    Meet Osman

    Meet Osman

    When Berlin got separated, the grounds where the house is now situated were a kind of no-man’s land. Neither East nor West German authorities took responsibility for it, so over the years a lot of rubbish piled up. In 1983 Osman, who lived in West Berlin, made it his mission to clear the site and turn it into a community allotment. He didn’t throw any of the rubbish away though. He used the rubbish to build a little hut for his gardening tools. When the wall came down in 1989, he was even able to build an extension and a second storey around the two trees that were on the ground (which is why it is called a tree house).

    tree house berlin 3 things to do in berlintree house berlin 2 3 things to do in berlinIt is incredible that all of his building materials are “rubbish” found on the site. He actually moved into the house permanently and still lives there now. The tree house hasn’t got running water or electricity, but Osman seems to be very happy in his little tree kingdom. He told me that he doesn’t need much in life to be happy. What a wise man!

So these are my top 3 quirky things-to-do in Berlin. What have been your favourite off-the-beaten-track experiences?

 

 

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

32 Thoughts on “3 quirky things to do in Berlin

  1. Cool things to-do. Tammy. I felt in love with German food during my trip last year. Can’t wait to sample more. I’ve brought home a postcard with those stamps (didn’t have a passport on me). I didn’t meet Osman. Maybe next time 😉

    Not sure if you would consider this as “off-the-beaten-track experience”. But, I got a city tour on the River Spree, very relaxing evening sail around Berlin. German beer was available from an onboard bar 😉
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  2. Imagine that, an entire museum dedicated to currywurst! Fascinating!

  3. I have actually been to Checkpoint Charlie, but I didn’t realize you could get your passport stamped there! I feel like I really missed out; as someone who hardly buys anything when traveling, I am one of those people who feels like my passport is one of the best souvenirs (along with photos, of course!) from my travels. Oh well, I guess this is an excuse to just go back one day, right? 😀

  4. I didn’t even know about 1 and 3…Berlin is so cool!
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  5. I enjoyed Berlin’s Currywurst Museum; the folks tweeting for them are funny and informative about Berlin, too. However, some folks in Hamburg also claim to be the creators of what is known presently as the German currywurst. A number of places in that big port city by the river Elbe also ply their own tasty version of the humble currywurst. Many don’t like the stuff, but I can’t get enough of the heart-clogging stuff. 🙂 Thanks for your post!
    fotoeins | Henry recently posted…Berlin’s Old Jewish Cemetery, Spandauer VorstadtMy Profile

    • Tammyonthemove on June 20, 2013 at 2:48 am said:

      Oooo, a counter-claim from Hamburg. I sense a big argument on the horizon. But surely they must have invented the hamburger, not the Currywurst! 🙂 (I genuinely don’t know whether or not there is some truth in that or not!)

  6. Great selection. They’re all definitely quirky! I love a really random museum. There’s a pencil museum in the Lake District that’s always appealed and I’m hoping to visit a sock museum in NZ! Watch this space!! 🙂

    • Tammyonthemove on June 20, 2013 at 2:49 am said:

      I’ve been to the lake district a few times but never had the pleasure of visiting the pencil museum. My favourite pencil was always the 2H for writing, or 2B for drawing. Anything above a 2 either way and it’s just too damn hard or too damn soft for my liking. And please let me know if you ever visit the sock museum. I find there’s nothing more sophisticated in this world than a man who coordinates his socks with his shirts. So classy.

  7. Hhahaa, I didn’t even know what a currywurst is. But to have a whole museum dedicated to it makes me think that the people are there must be really into it 🙂

    • Tammyonthemove on June 20, 2013 at 2:53 am said:

      You didn’t know what a Currywurst is? A little part of me has just died inside out of sadness for you. 🙂 It’s the most important food in the whole of Germany, and some (though not many, in truth) argue that it is the real fuel behind both our economic miracle and the reason why we are so good at penalty shootouts.

  8. I’ve been to Berlin twice and didn’t know there was a Currywurst Museum even though I should have expected it.
    Meeting Osman and hearing his story must have been amazing. For me things like that make traveling way more interesting, unique and special. 🙂
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    • Tammyonthemove on June 21, 2013 at 1:23 am said:

      The museum is great Franca, and you even get a free Currywurst sample at the end. What more could you want? 🙂

  9. Great post! Though after a few not so fun passport problems with some intense border control people we decided not to get stamps in our passports as we’d had enough confusion 🙂 Though normally we would also totally be into this!

    If in Berlin a great quirky bar to check out is the Cafe Zapata, actually I’m now not sure, because upon looking up the address I’m finding conflicting information on whether it is open. It is/was in the Mitte district and has/had a fire breathing dragon!
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  10. Great post! I love Berlin! Those currywurst toys are so cute! I’ll have to check out that museum the next time I’m there 🙂

  11. I’m a big fan of German sausages. Although they are not as good as Polish, but they can be a great snack :). I am back in Germany this summer so the Currywurst Museum is on my list now.

  12. I love Berlin especially during summer period. Great unique things to do you recommend here. Somehow you first tip makes me want to have a currywurst with fries right now 🙂
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  13. Wow, this post makes me want to Berlin JUST to visit Osman in his tree house. That is definitely highlight-of-a-trip material!
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  14. As your article mentions, Currywurst was invented by Herta Heuwer in Berlin in 1949 as an affordable but filling meal for the people of Berlin at a time when food was in short supply.

    When you order your Currywurst you can ask for it skin on “Currywurst mit Darm” or without skin “Currywurst ohne Darm”. Sausage casings were in short supply in the Soviet-controlled side of the city. If you grew up in East Berlin, you like sausage without skin; if you grew up in West Berlin, you probably prefer sausage with skin.

    I’m not from Berlin, I prefer Currywurst without skin and in my opinion the best place to get it is from Fritz & Co (a Currywurst stall) on Wittenberg Platz in the Schöneberg area of Berlin.
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    • Tammyonthemove on October 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm said:

      I have never tried it without skin I think. Thanks for tip, will check that place out next time I am in Berlin.

  15. In Berlin I got to party at a club retrofitted from an old power station. Its pretty normal there to stage clubs at old industrial warehouses, but this one in particular was pretty cool because they still kept all of the old machines and power turbines!!
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    • Tammyonthemove on January 24, 2014 at 1:29 pm said:

      I love that kind of industrial look. In the Ruhr area they have also converted a lot of mines and factories into clubs, museums or restaurants. I think it is called upcycling and I love that concept.

  16. Hi!

    I’m very curious of the turkish man you wrote about. Since I’m going to Berlin for the weekend and planning to film there, he would be a perfect main character.
    You don’t happen to have his email or something like that?

    I would be very happy if you replied!

    Kind regards,
    Nike Ossler

    • Tammyonthemove on September 16, 2015 at 8:38 am said:

      Hi Nike, I don’t have his contact details I’m afraid, but if you go to his house he will probably be potting around in his garden anyway. He was very approachable when I went and is happy to chat with people.

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