7 alternative sightseeing tours in Berlin
Skip the hop-on-hop-off bus! Rather take an alternative sightseeing tour in Berlin. As a major go-to destination, Berlin offers many special sightseeing tours to make your experience unique. Although I lived in Berlin for 7 years, I have only done 3 different city tours. That’s the reason why I teamed up with other amazing travel bloggers to show you the best alternative sightseeing tours in Berlin.
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We don’t want that you spend all your precious money on a boring double-decker bus ride, on which a grumpy tour guide rattles off his information about this unique capital. Some busses don’t even have a tour guide, which makes it even worse. So if you want a unique Berlin trip, skip the typical tourist tours and rather take the tours presented in this article.
Cheap sightseeing bus routes in Berlin
by Anne Steinbach and Clemens Sehi from Travellers Archive
Berlin has, like any other European city, various tour operators that offer sightseeing tours through the city. They’ll take you around the main sights, such as Brandenburg Gate, TV tower or Reichstag – for probably around 20 Euro. But how about saving your money and simply hopping on one of the public buses? The bus line no. 100 and bus line no. 200 have routes, that will actually take you to the exact same sights like the proper tour operator busses. The only difference is the price. You can either get yourself a normal ticket for 2.70 Euro that lasts for two hours and is valid for trips in one direction or get a day pass for 7 Euro and enjoy this nice sightseeing option all day long.
Here’s a little personal advice of a true Berliner: If you take the bus line number 100 to get from Alexanderplatz to Zoologischer Garten and the bus line number 200 to get you back to Alexanderplatz, you have seen every important sight of the German capital. Also: Make sure to sit upstairs in the front and enjoy the views.
All information can be found on the website of Berlin’s public transport company BVG.
Costs: 2.70-7 €
Street Art walking Tour with Alternative Berlin Tours
by Craig O’Brien from Vagabond Disposition
Alternative Berlin Tours were hands-down the absolute best city tour I have ever done, in any city! For well over 3 hours, I was lead through several different neighborhoods of East (and briefly West) Berlin, learning about various street art methods, incredible folklore, and the true history of how and why subculture grew out of East Berlin in the early 1990s and prospered into what it is today.
Although I did not know what to expect when I showed up for the tour, I was absolutely blown away by just how awesome and informative it was. I had Dave as a guide and he was very thorough in terms of explaining each piece of street art, as well as telling the stories behind them. He was also very knowledgeable about the history leading up to the birth of Berlin subculture in the early 1990s and tied it in extremely well with what he was showing us. I really appreciated his passion for what he preached, and by the end of the tour, I too could see just how unique and special Berlin truly is thanks to a preservation of its subculture over the years. If you want to dive headfirst into the true history of Berlin subculture, this tour is for you!
Costs: Tips based or 20 €
Food & Culture Tour with Eat the World
by Maria Berz from Global Brunch
The food scene in Berlin is a lot like the city itself: trendy, alternative and diverse. One of the districts that I have only been to a handful of times (despite having grown up near Berlin) is Neukölln. What better way to get to know a place than through its food? So I decided to find out more by doing a Berlin Neukölln Food Tour with eat-the-world.
Eat-the-world is a German tour operator that offers culinary and cultural walking tours across Germany. Many of their popular food tours in Berlin are run in both German and English. The Berlin Neukölln Food Tour is run every Friday and Saturday at 1/2pm and lasts approximately three hours.
The food stops along the way are a flavorsome mix of international and regional specialties representing the diversity of the district Neukölln. My favorite stop was the utterly instagrammble Coco Liebe, where the food is as delicious as the exterior is colorful.
In just 3 hours you get to try 7 tasty dishes from around the world and Germany, and time travel from the Bohemian village Rixdorf to the trendy heart of Neukölln.
Costs: 33 €
From the very small to the gigantic – Street Art in Berlin with Berlin on Bike
by Sascha Möllering from Berlin on Bike
Urban or Street Art is an integral part of Berlin. Wherever you go, you find giant murals, classic graffiti, small statuettes in yoga poses made of a wine cork and colorful paste-ups.
On your own and using Google you only find out so much, so we decided to book a guided bike tour with Berlin on Bike. Since they don’t offer their street art tours on a regular base (at least not in English) we chipped together with 4 others to book a private tour (in the end the price is not much more). The company is located in an old brewery complex in the central district of Prenzlauer Berg.
Our guide is (or was) a street artist himself, so he really knows what he is talking about and has strong opinions on the art he shows. Before we went exploring properly, we received a quite enlightening overview of what street art actually is and where it comes from. I especially enjoyed his remarks about typography. He went on to explain some specific styles unique to Berlin and introduced us to dozens of artists whose names I can’t all recall.
The best about this tour was how it opened my eyes to things I otherwise would have overlooked. Once you know what to look for, you find amazing stuff in the unlikeliest places.
Costs: 24 € (2018)
Queer Tour through Berlin with Original Berlin Walks
by Stefan and Sebastien from Nomadic Boys
Whilst in Berlin, we took a LGBTQ tour with Berlin Walks, focusing on the Schöneberg neighborhood, which was the first gay district in the world in the 1920s.
Our guide was the awesome Finn McCool, a female to male trans from Northern Ireland, who moved to Berlin because it is one of the best cities for the queer community. Finn is also a fountain of knowledge about everything to do with queer Berlin and also does tours to the gay concentration camps during the Nazis: Gay men were taken to the Sachsenhausen camp and gay women to the Ravensbrück camp.
Costs: 14 €
Visit former Airport Tempelhof and take a tour
by Margherita Ragg from The Crowded Planet
Berlin is one of my favorite cities because the more I visit, the more I want to explore. I am lucky I have several friends living in the city, and they always give me their advice on what to see and do. One of the best Berlin insider tips was visiting Tempelhof, the former city airport now turned into a park. I visited the outside several times, went running, skating or just chilling, and finally last year I took a tour of the interior of the airport as well.
Tours take place several times a week, both in English and German, and can be booked on the Tempelhof website. There isn’t a set itinerary, it kind of depends on the guide, but usually, you’ll visit the former Departures hall, some of the gates (with views of planes parked up on the tarmac), the former US military base located within the airport and the hangars or basements of the airport. Tempelhof is a truly remarkable building and we found that touring the interiors really made us appreciate how unique it is. Highly recommended!
Costs: 15 €
Refugees show their Berlin with Querstadtein
When I was a social work student, I arranged a tour for my class that was guided by a refugee. It was a great way to experience Berlin in a different way. Over the past years, there have been many issues and concerns of citizens regarding the immense refugee flow into Europe. The association Querstadtein built a project to show people the life of a refugee from their own perspective and not from the public media perspective.
I found the tour extremely interesting and packing because you will hear the story of fleeing from home, navigating through many countries, and then dealing with German bureaucracy and culture, esp. navigating in Berlin in the beginning. As we all know, my native tongue, German, isn’t easy to learn… Therefore, it is tricky to get along in Berlin. However, the tour guide made us feel the same way with a little game. I can highly recommend the tour as it will open your eyes and helps you understand the struggles of a refugee better because it is a personal story, not a newspaper article. You also will see a part of the districts Kreuzberg and Neukölln, which usually aren’t the “tourist areas”.
Costs: 13 €