Berlin is one of the world's most eclectic, enigmatic, and eccentric cities.
On this carefully curated five-day tour, we’ll ignore the city’s traditional tourist sites in favor of its hidden wonders, and we’ll focus our explorations on Berlin’s three iconic time periods: World War II, its Cold War division into East and West, and its current moment as a global creative capital.
This trip is limited to a small group of 15 explorers.
- Abandoned and subterranean history: Explore Berlin's history both above and below ground, from air raid and refugee shelters to an abandoned NSA listening station that overlooks the city skyline.
- Art and urban innovation: From historic ballrooms and quirky museums to cutting-edge street art, Berlin is home to creatives young and old, local and international.
After bidding farewell to Berlin, consider joining us as we continue to Budapest for six days of thermal lakes, countryside vineyards, and explorations of the birthplace of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Note: If this will be your first trip to Berlin, we recommend staying a few extra days before or after the tour to visit the more traditional tourist sites. These include the Jewish Museum, the Berlin Cathedral, Kurfürstendamm, Charlottenburg Palace, Potsdamer Platz, Pergamon Museum, Grunewald Forest, Soviet Memorial, Alexanderplatz, the old Reichstag building, and the Gendarmenmarkt.
A $500 deposit is required to secure your spot; this deposit is nonrefundable after three days. We have limited capacity, and we expect the trip to fill quickly. The trip will cost $2,480—the $500 deposit plus $1,980 final payment—and will cover all fixed costs including accommodations, meals as mentioned in the itinerary, and all the activities listed below.
Please email us at trips@or call us at (646) 961-4857 with any questions about the itinerary, logistics, and payment.
Welcome to Berlin!
- You'll arrive in Berlin and check into the Hotel Oderberger at your leisure. Now a funky, art-filled boutique hotel, the Oderberger was originally built in 1898 as a public bathhouse.
- This evening, we'll start getting to know our two guides, Atlas Obscura representative, and fellow travelers at a group welcome dinner at Berlin’s oldest and most charming beer garden, The Prater. After dinner, we'll be treated to a piano concert at Piano Salon Christophori, a piano workshop complex in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Wedding that converts several nights a week to an intimate concert hall. Surrounded by piano paraphernalia and antique chandeliers, we’ll begin to sink into the unique magic of Berlin.
State Security & Tapped Wires
- After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll hop into antique GDR vehicle and start exploring the complex history and sites of a city once divided by a wall. Our guided tour will end at the Stasi Museum. Formed shortly after the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was founded, the Ministry for State Security (Stasi) was a means for the government to secure its monopoly on power. During this fascinating tour, you'll learn how the Stasi carried out its mission as the “shield and sword of the party” and actually see the massive amounts of surveillance data collected.
- Afterward, we'll all gather together for lunch and an aperitif at Clärchen’s Ballhaus, one of the city's most special venues. After lunch, we'll be participating in a Berlin rite of passage—a proper dance lesson—and together we'll waltz our way through this memory-filled space.
- In the afternoon, take some time with one of our guides to visit some of the classic Berlin tourist sites nearby, including Museum Island, Unter den Linden, Bebelplatz (site of the Nazi book burning), Gendarmenmarkt, Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Brandenburg Gate, and the Reichstag. (If you'd like to spend more time at these and other more typical tourist locations, we recommend planning a few extra days outside of the tour.) Or, if you prefer, join our other guide as she explores the uber-trendy Mitte and Prenzlauer districts to sample some third-wave coffee, a weekly street food market, and Berlin’s largest flea market and outdoor karaoke venue.
- After dinner on your own, it'll be time for some after-dark exploration: a torchlight tour of Teufelsberg, Berlin’s highest hill and home to an abandoned NSA listening post used during the Cold War. On this special tour, you'll get a fascinating glimpse into Teufelsberg’s history, see its wild street art, and enjoy the best nighttime views of the Berlin skyline.
From Airport to Air Raid Shelter
- After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll travel by subway to Tempelhof Airport. Our private tour will give us a fascinating glimpse into a historically protected landmark and symbol of Berlin's turbulent history. Built as an expression of Nazi ideology, Tempelhof has a history as complicated as the city itself. It was once home to both forced labor and weapons production, but is also a symbol of freedom because of the important role it played in Berlin Air lifts of 1948 and 1949. It’s equally complicated today: More recently, the airport runways and fields have been converted into a giant and lively public park, while the airport building itself is home one of the largest refugee shelters in the city.
- We'll be treated to a Syrian lunch prepared by one of Berlin’s newest residents, which will also give us a chance to find out more about the experience of refugees in Berlin. Afterward, we’ll set off to explore Berlin’s most diverse neighborhood, Neukölln.
- We’ll gather back together to venture underground at Berliner Unterwelten (Subterranean Berlin), where an expert guide will take us behind an inconspicuous green door to explore one of the last remaining civilian air raid shelters left in Berlin. In the dark passages and confined rooms of the shelter, we'll learn about the experiences of average Berliners during World War II.
Art & Mobile Sustainability
- Today, we’ll focus in on how the city is being transformed into a mecca for creatives. Our first stop will be a private tour of "The Bunker." Originally built in 1942 as an air raid shelter, this historic bunker has had many lives—as a prisoner of war camp, a textiles storeroom, a fruit storage facility, and later a popular techno club. The Bunker is now a beautiful 32,000-square-foot exhibition space housing a personal art collection.
- Take lunch on your own today, and enjoy some free time to explore the Kreuzberg district including fashion boutiques, outdoor and indoor markets, and converted spaces.
- We'll meet back up at the Princess Gardens. A mobile urban farm launched as a pilot project in 2009 by Nomadisch Grün (Nomadic Green), Prinzessinnengärten (Princess Gardens) is a place of discovery where those curious about sustainable living can come together to learn about and explore alternative visions for their city—and also a great urban oasis for coffee and cake!
- Next we’ll visit St. Agnes, a brutalist church built in 1967. It fell into disrepair only to be reinvented as a light-filled modern art gallery.
- Our last stop of the day will be the spectacularly surreal Design Panoptikum, a long-time Atlas Obscura friend and favorite. Half design museum and half horror house, this “space carnival atmosphere” is filled with bizarre figures designed out of historical objects from aviation, medicine, and film.
- Tonight, we'll enjoy a final dinner together at a surprising Berlin location.
Berlin Farewell — or on to Budapest!
- If you are departing today, enjoy breakfast at the hotel and then set out for home or onto your next destination.
If continuing with us to Budapest:
- We'll transfer together to the Berlin airport after breakfast for our morning flight to Budapest, Hungary (flight and transfer can be arranged at an additional cost—please inquire for details.)
- Click here to be taken to the Budapest itinerary.
YOUR ATLAS OBSCURA BERLIN EXPEDITION INCLUDES
- All lodging in double-accommodation rooms in modern, well-equipped hotels throughout the trip. (Single supplement for a private room is available for $225. Otherwise we'll work to place singles of the same sex together.)
- 4 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners.
- Two experienced English-speaking guides to accompany you throughout the trip in addition to an Atlas Obscura representative.
- Admission to all proposed activities and events.
- A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that Berlin has to offer!
This tour requires a medium fitness level and the ability to walk and/or stand for long periods of time. Guests should expect to walk upwards of 5 to 7 miles over the course of any given day and spend significant time outdoors. All transportation will be by foot or by public transit.
You should plan to arrive in Berlin by 5 p.m. on Saturday, September 1. Your departure can be planned for anytime on Wednesday, September 5. If continuing with us to Budapest, we will arrange the proper transfers and flights.
NOTE ON ITINERARY
Itineraries and pricing are subject to change. This particular tour has been designed with specific activities and events in mind, whose schedules and availabilities may change in coming months. If any activity or attraction that is advertised is missed or not available, then we will always replace it with another activity or location of significant interest and value.
You will be charged a $500 deposit to hold your space. This deposit is nonrefundable after three days. The final balance of $1,980 is due by June 25, 2018. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $225 will be included in the final payment.
TRAVELERS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR
- Transportation and flights to and from Berlin.
- Airport transfers.
- Travel insurance (optional).
- Baggage charges.
- Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including two dinners and all alcoholic beverages.
- If applicable, applying for a German visa (not required for E.U. and U.S. citizens).