5 Manly Things To Do In Berlin
Here comes Berlin in a nutshell as put into words by a gay man. Namely, Klaus Wowereit, Berlin’s former mayor of more than 13 years:
Berlin is poor, but sexy
Germany’s capital is big, wordly and brimming with energy and innovation. Needless to that the city of about 4 million people comes with almost endless options for the male traveler.
The current episode of the Top 5 Things To Do in Berlin: Men’s Edition comes with 5 carefully selected activities that represent the best of what Germany’s capital has to offer. Proclaimed as ‘poor, but sexy’ by its former mayor Berlin our selection attributes to Berlin’s unique vibe that comes about through the city’s ability to unite history with culture as well as arts with high-class workmanship.
Top 5 Things To Do In Berlin As a Man
With Berlin’s versatility in mind it is no wonder that our hand-picked venues cater to multiple fields of interest: historical sites go hand it hand with cultural events while exhibitions and German Wertarbeit do just alike.
The unique blend of culture, history and art can be seen as one of Berlin’s trademarks and thus it is no real surprise that the majority of our Things To Do revolve around these fields. Get ready for going underground, some vintage means of transportation and one location in East Berlin that will make your heart sink.
Here is the Men’s Edition of the Top 5 Things To Do In Berlin.
1 | VISIT THE CLASSIC REMISE
Speaking of versatility the Classic Remise Berlin is as versatile as the city itself. Opened in 2003 and located in a historic tram depot the Remise is a unique blend of a vintage car exhibition, spare parts dealers, auto repair shops as well as one of Berlins largest event location.
A “Hands-On” Experience
The permanent exhibition shows an astounding variety of cars, ranging from a 1953 Jaguar C-type XK 120C that won the 24 hour race of LeMans the first time it ever took part in it to a 1993 Lamborghini Countach with a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph).
One thing you have to leep in mind is that the Remise is a hands-on car salon, meaning that – within reason – all cars are to be touched and inspected. Most of the cars even invite you to have a seat in them. Prepare for selfies galore with some of the most impressive automobiles ever to touch the asphalt.
Try The Sunday Bruch
The Remise is open for visitors every day from 8.00 to 20.00 with a slightly later start on the weekend at 10.00. There is no entrance fee. My personal tip is to go there on a sunday as the restaurant will offer a splendid brunch buffet for 19,60€ that lets you combine state-of-the-art dining with a visit to one of the most alluring car salons in Europe.
The Classic Remise Berlin
2 | GO UNDERGROUND
Consequences of a war-ridden history
Since the year 1939 up until 1989 Berlin has practically been in a state of either war or a emergency. Boths eras of the five year state of emergency during World War II as well as the over forty year-long state of emergency during the Cold War left unique traces in the city.
Being a constant victim of Allied air raids during WWII and the prime target of a possible nuclear war it is no wonder that that one of the unique traces is Berlin’s widespread network of underground facilities. Air raids, a possible nuclear attacks and the attempts to flee Eastern Berlin in the time of 1949 to 1989 have led to an abundance of bunkers, tunnels and underground habitats that are scattered all over the city with many of them yet to be discovered.
Experience Berlin’s underground
Since 1993 Berlin-based Unterwelten e.V. is offering guided tours that take you to deep down into the underground realm of Berlin. With a total of 12 different underground tours do you get every chance to make the chilling first-hand experience of what it might have been like to dwell in a sparsely lit shelter while 20 meters above your head the end of the world might have broken loose.
As impressive as the guided tours are they are not necessarily for the faint of heart. Cchildren below the age of 7 are prohibited from taking participating in a tour. For good reason, I say, as even the toughest individual will have shivers crawling up and down his spine when he gets to see a deserted yet ready-to-go 1944 operating table in a moist and intimdating bunker room that is looking as if it could have been put to use just yesterday.
Tours are 11€ per person and are held every day at differing location throughout Berlin. Their website comes with a calendar bringing you the daily break down on what tour is taking place at what location
Berliner Unterwelten e.V.
3 | VISIT A CULTURAL FESTIVAL
Germany’s cultural capital
Poor but sexy Berlin is by far not Germany’s financial capital. It is, however, to be considered Germany’s cultural capital and that by a large margin. Nowhere else in the country will you a density of world-level cultural events as high as in Berlin. Of all of the festivals taking place in Berlin one sticks out.
If your travels to Berlin are taking place in the month of February then Germany’s largest Film Festival, the Berlinale, will be pinging on your radar.
Established in 1951’s West-Berlin and drawing from Berlin’s long ranging history as a city of movie productions – the world-renownded Babelsberg Film Studios where movies like Tom Cruise’s Valkyrie or Grand Hotel Budapest were shot lie just outside the city – the Berlinale attracts more than 450.000 visitors each year making it the biggest public film festival in the world.
Over 400 movies
Refering to the Berlinale as the German equivalent to the Academy Awards would not fully do it justice. The Berlinale is a film festival of immense size and popularity showing more than 400 movies of all genres throughout all larger cinemas in the city. Everything from B-movies over literary films to Germany’s latest big-time productions find its movie premiere at the Berlinale. Jury members include actor Daniel Brühl (The Bourne Ultimatum, Inglorious Basterds) as well as producer Martha De Laurentiis (Hannibal, Red Dragon).
Berlin International Film Festival: Berlinale
Credit: Internationales Film Festival Berlin
4 | VISIT AN EAST BERLIN STASI PRISON
Credit: Gedenkstätte Berlin Hohenschönhausen
One of Germany’s best selling inventions besides the automobile has been that of the surveillance state.
Drawing heavily from the means, procedures and experience of the Nazi Gestapo the East German Staatssicherheit, or Stasi as is their popular acronym, has been applying secret service tactics on innocent citizens for nearly half a century.
While the collaboration with Stasi by now-established Eastern German politicians to this day is not fully discovered the destructive impact of the Stasi on everyday life of citizens opposing the oppressive Eastern German state is relatively well-researched. The Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen, located in a former Stasi prison in East Berlin, is an impressive resource for anyone interested in history of a state that spied on its population with a secret service the size of the British Army.
Hohenschönhausen Memorial Site
Established in 1993 the Hohenschönhausen memorial site provides in-depth look into how the Stasi treated its victims. Incarcarated for “crimes” such as assisting others in their flight to Western Germany inmates were tortured by isolation, sleep deprivation and the absolute uncertainty about their location or their future (there were no trials, of course). As a secret prison that was presented as a warehouse to the public – hence the surveillance van disguised as a delivery truck in the picture to the left – being an inmate of Hohenschönhausen meant that neither you nor anyone else knew where you actually were. Once locked-up, you simply “disappeared”.
The Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen offers guided tours both in German and in English that will give you a spot-on insight on what it must have been like to be interrogated by people that forced you to stick your palms onto the seat during interrogation so that the dogs would have an odour sample of you.
Again, a mind-blowing experience that might not be fully suitable for children, veterans or anybody else who has made the important experience that the state as such never is your friend.
Stasi Gedenkstätte Hohenschönhausen
5 | SPEND A MORNING AT DUSSMANN’S
As Germany’s inoffical cultural capital is it any wonder that Berlin is home to the country’s first department store solely devoted to articles related to literature, philosphy and social events?
Going by the almost tongue-in-cheek name of a ‘Kulturkaufhaus’ – a German neologism that would translate as a cultural department store into English – Dussmann actually is a massive and well-sorted 5-story bookstore that features a ticket sale for upcoming lectures and Jazz concerts.
Meet Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann
Located on Friedrichstraße, the former frontline between East and West Berlin Dussmann is located in the absolute heart of the city. Just a stone’s throw away from other sights like Berlin’s Humboldt University or the world-famous Museumsinsel the Kulturkaufhaus is residing at a prime location and can be reached easily from any other major sight in downtown Berlin.
La Mur Végétal
What makes Dussmann special is not only its size and central location. And not even the fact that it offers the largest assortment of English books in the center of Berlin. The one striking feature about Dussman is its splendid Café that is located on the ground floor and that is the proud owner of a mur végétal, a Living Wall as invented by the French architect and artist Patrick Blanc.
Also known as a Vertical Garden the Living Wall is a collage of tropical plants and flowers that are apt to grow and live in a vertical position. The Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann has installed one of Blanc’s Vertical Gardens in the Café Ursprung, the store’s own café that can be reached through stairs in the rear part of the building.
With the picturesque Living Wall that besides all kinds of tropical plants even features a waterfall the Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann will act as you very own locus amoenus inmidst the haste of downtown Berlin. I can personally vouch for the tropical smell and the sound of the water cascadesas as coming close to miniature vacation while in the city jungle of one of Europe’s largest cities.
As a rarity in Germany the Kulturkaufhaus is open every day of the week, even including the weekend, and will close for the day at midnight on top of that.