Get off the beaten path » Seeing the world from a different point of view

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  • Get off the beaten path

    It's so easy to stick to the tourist trail, stay in hotels the Lonely Planet recommends, eat where everyone else eats and visit all the famous sights you've seen on telly and in magazines. While these experiences can be nice, you'll have the best adventures if you wander off the trail. Who's to say that just because a sight is famous, that it's actually any good? In fact, as soon as you discover what else the world has to offer that is not in the guide book, you'll realise that most famous sights are astonishingly underwhelming - if you can get through the crowds to see them.

    As well as the fact that the greatest sights you'll see, people you'll meet and experiences you'll have are off the beaten path, it's also much cheaper to get off the tourist trail than to stay on it.

    I realise that as soon as you find a place that’s genuinely off the tourist trail you want to keep it to yourself, but if you share, then others will share, and the world will open up around you. I’m not talking about taking three flights, two boat rides and a lift on the back of a donkey cart just to find an empty beach, I’m interested in the gems that are simply hidden away from the regular tourist areas, be it a lesser-known Thai island, a unique area of a big city, an unusual hotel or just a sight that no one seems to have noticed.

    If you've ever come across anything like this, let me know and I'll share it on this site!

    That's me, by the way, jumping in the air at a sand dune in Punta Gallinas, the most northerly point in Colombia.

Secret squats, daytime raves and crazy locals – discover the hidden Berlin

Fancy partying in a bombed-out train depot? Or getting messy with the street artists? How about getting to know the local crazies a bit better? Then pop along to one of these free city tours, run by local lovers of Berlin, who will give you a unique and personal tour of the wonderful German city – but not the usual tourists sights – there are no big walls, shiny gates or boring museums here. The tours focus on the music, art, shops, skate parks, abandoned neighbourhoods and party spots that only the locals know about.

The tours start at 11am and 1pm every day, last for 3.5 hours and are completely free. Of course if you feel like buying your guides a few pints afterwards I’m sure they’d oblige!

These guys also run tours of the best bars (called the Anti-Pub Crawl); Street Art Workshops; the Real Berlin Experience, which looks at Berlin’s society from all angles (not just underground subculture), taking in the gay districts, the Turkish quarters and alternative music and art scenes; and a Twilight Tour, which is arguably the craziest tour in the city, and explores places hidden even from locals, such as abandoned sites, freakish exhibitions (including everything from body suspension expos to crude body art), meeting people on the outer rims of counter culture (hackers, left-wing hardliners and other unusual characters) as well as visiting notorious neighborhoods.

A really awesome way of getting to know the city beyond the usual tourist haunts, you’ll certainly come back with some unusual stories – and photos – to share with your friends.

I would like to note that I don’t work for Alternative Berlin, have not been paid to write this and have nothing to do with them – I just feel that this is a brilliant opportunity for anyone travelling to Berlin who wants to genuinely experience the city.

Alternative Berlin’s website

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September 3, 2010 - 9:28 am

MattB - I just came back from Berlin after reading this blog and went on this tour. It was awesome! The guides were really knowledgeable and my girlfriend enjoyed it too. Def recommend it to anyone. matt

September 11, 2010 - 11:51 pm

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September 25, 2010 - 3:20 pm

Upen - Hi Anna,

Thank you so much for this wonderful site. I am fellow traveler and love experiencing the places I travel to from the eyes of a local,explorer and not from how the tourist guide books suggest I do…Infact however famous the spot may be..I have a little disdain for tourists clicking their cameras in glory..and ruining the whole point of visiting the place..

I cant appreciate you enough for all these little gems you have discovered and shared with us :)

Thank you very much Anna…Have a wonderful time traveling


October 18, 2010 - 10:16 pm

Anna Downing - Hi Upen,

Thanks so much, I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog and it’s nice to hear from someone who feels the same way about travel as me! If you have any suggestions and would like to submit a post, feel free to email me at


July 4, 2012 - 11:22 am

sj - Hey guys- how do i find these tours as i will be in Berlin next week and what is the name of it? Thnx

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