We all have secrets—and sometimes those secrets require us to meet up with others in the outside world without anyone taking notice of our rendezvous. Maybe you need to hold an important business meeting that your other colleagues or professional competitors can’t know about. Maybe you’re keeping a romantic affair quiet and want to meet with your lover. Or maybe, just maybe, you’re one of a number of spies on a mission, lurking in the shadows.
Whatever the reason for your discretion, Berlin has plenty of suitable settings for your secret meeting, unsurprising as its a city well-versed in covert operations. Just look to its history during the Cold War Era, and you’ll find numerous accounts of espionage as both sides of the conflict went about gathering intelligence. Enough, in fact, to earn Berlin the nickname of “Capital of Spies” – check out our Cold War Berlin tours to learn more…
In the spirit of the city’s history with secrets, Berlin Experiences contributor Cindy Brzostowski has gathered together 7 places in Berlin perfect for your covert meeting:
1. Go for the classic option and meet in a cafe
Throughout history, cafes have been a classic choice for secret agents and liaisons. Wherever you are in the world, you can be pretty sure that you’ll have at least one cafe to use as a public meeting spot. But your best bet is to pick a cafe with a high customer turnover. If you go for one where customers are known to lurk, like a popular co-working cafe, you run the risk of sticking in the memories of those sitting around you. You’ll be better off keeping a low profile in a busy cafe where the staff aren’t likely to notice who’s there or how long they’re staying.
Recommended Location: Café im Bode-Museum
Café im Bode-Museum is a little bit different from your average neighborhood cafe seeing as it’s actually located inside a museum—the Bode Museum, which has sculptures, Byzantine art, and one of the world’s largest coin collections. Most importantly for our purposes though, it checks the boxes of a place where you can meet publicly while still laying low. Enter the museum and go up the stairs to the inner balcony to find the cafe. This location offers a unique vantage point where you can easily keep an eye on who’s coming and going up and down the stairs. At the same time, you’re surrounded by a stream of patrons coming from the museum, many of whom are likely to be tourists who won’t be sticking around, so you won’t necessarily be on anyone’s radar.
Bodestraße 1-3, 10785 Berlin
2. Cross paths in a museum
As a space where speaking above a loud whisper will probably get you some dirty looks, a museum may not be your first thought when it comes to finding the perfect spot to hold an important meeting. But quiet conduct aside, museums do have plenty of places to hide in the open. Choose a specific exhibit to meet in front of and pretend to be analyzing the piece while holding your conversation. If you start feeling conspicuous, just shift to the next display like any other museum-goer would naturally do without having to worry about drawing suspicion.
Recommended Location: Deutsches Historisches Museum/Germany Historical Museum
With a planned rendezvous in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, you have centuries of German history to hide in—about 1,500 years to put a number on it if you’re referring to their permanent exhibition. The museum is also one of the most frequented in the city (which says a lot seeing as Berlin has over 170) so there will be plenty of other visitors around to blend in with. If you’re feeling particularly cheeky, choose a spot in the Divided Germany and Unification section on the ground floor so you can hold your secret meeting surrounded by pieces from a historical period particularly known for its covert operations. Otherwise, there’s no shortage of other options among the 7,000 exhibits dating back to the Middle Ages.
Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin
3. Pay your respects at a cemetery
Have you ever heard a version of the phrase, “Two can keep a secret if one of them is dead”? However dark it may seem, there’s no denying the nugget of truth in it. That’s what makes a cemetery such a smart choice to meet in secret. You’re surrounded by those who have taken their last breath—and who are most definitely not in the position to eavesdrop on your conversation. Any onlookers who stroll on by during your meeting might just assume you’re paying your respects and leave you to do so in private.
Recommended Location: Soviet Cemetery in Schönholzer Heide
Head up to the Schönholzer Heide recreation area in Pankow and you’ll find the Soviet War Memorial which has a cemetery that’s not only the largest Soviet cemetery in Berlin but also the largest Russian cemetery in Europe outside of Russia. These grounds are the final resting place for over 13,000 Red Army soldiers who died fighting in the Battle of Berlin, also called the Fall of Berlin, which was the momentous Soviet victory during World War II that resulted in the German army’s surrender and Adolf Hitler’s suicide. Aside from its place in history, the cemetery has also snagged a spot in cinema as it was featured in the Oscar-winning film Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others). Centered on the story of a Stasi officer spying on a playwright and his lover, the movie has a scene where the playwright, George Dreyman, uses the Soviet War Memorial to meet with other dissidents.
Germanenstraße 17, 13156 Berlin
4. Get lost in the chaos of a train station
Train stations provide ample cover with their big crowds and the constant bustling of people in and out of trains. Since everyone is preoccupied with catching their train or getting to the right platform, chances are they won’t be concerned with what exactly it is that you’re up to. Not to mention you won’t look suspicious hanging around for your meeting with all the other people also waiting around. For the best concealment, choose a central station that’s guaranteed to be busy so it’s even harder to pick you out from the crowd.
Recommended Location: Berlin Hauptbahnhof/Berlin Central Station
In Berlin, it doesn’t get much busier (and better for your rendezvous) than the central station or Hauptbahnhof. While construction of this modern station began in 1995 and ceremoniously opened in 2006, Hauptbahnhof offers a symbolically strategic location, right in the line of where the Berlin Wall used to extend. This is in comparison to other high-frequented train stations like Alexanderplatz, which is located in former East Berlin, and Zoologischer Garten, which is in former West Berlin. Berlin Hauptbahnhof has multiple levels of platforms so you won’t be short on options when it comes to choosing your specific meeting location. It’s also open 24 hours so you can pick the perfect time for your meet-up, whatever time of day may be best for your furtive outing.
Europaplatz 1, 10557 Berlin
5. Hide in plain sight in a popular restaurant
With the proper precautions, a restaurant can give you the meeting spot you need—but there are certainly some considerations you need to take. Sitting down to eat a meal in a restaurant is inherently a prolonged, stationary activity; the same people will be around you for a good amount of time, giving more opportunity to be noticed. So try and choose a table off the side or in a separate room to minimize your visibility, preferably in a restaurant where you can keep a constant watch on the exits. Being at a restaurant, you won’t be able to avoid directly interacting with the waiter, making for another person possibly keeping tabs on your activity. But the plus is, Berlin is notorious for its lack of customer service, so if you don’t want attention, chances are your waitstaff will be all too happy to oblige.
Recommended Location: Brauhaus Georgbraeu
You’ll want a big, busy restaurant so as to remain unnoticed during your meeting, and Brauhaus Georgbraeu is just that. This popular restaurant and beer garden is situated in Nikolaiviertel (or the Nikolai Quarter), which is the old heart of Berlin that was rebuilt through major renovations by the GDR in 1987. Choosing a restaurant in this area seems particularly appropriate for concealment given the fact that Nikolaiviertel’s postmodernist buildings are marked by facades and replicas. Being in this prime central location also means tourists are constantly milling about to grab a meal before or after seeing the local sites like St. Nicholas Church, Berlin’s oldest church, or Ephraim Palace. While playing the part of any other regular customer, order a traditional German hot dish like schnitzel along with one of their specialty beers—you’ll blend right in.
Spreeufer 4, 10178 Berlin
6. Get out of the public eye in an private apartment
If your confidential meeting is too risky to host in a public space, then why not go somewhere private like an apartment. As long as you take care with your comings and goings, an apartment gives you a closed place to meet totally hidden from prying eyes. The Stasi often used konspirativer Wohnungen or conspiratorial apartments, private dwellings mainly used for clandestine purposes, as a location for their meetings. With many of their owners being recruited, reliable comrades, these apartments offered a high-level of secrecy necessary for the matters at hand.
Recommended Location: Plattenbau-Museumswohnung
The local apartment of any trusted co-conspirator may do, but you can get a sense of what a possible konspirative Wohnung might have been like at Plattenbau-Museumswohnung, a unique apartment-turned-museum. Part of a housing estate built in 1986, this flat was preserved from renovation to serve as a time capsule of GDR housing culture. The flat is signature of that of a WBS 70 building, which was a prefabricated dwelling popular in the GDR and developed to help with the housing shortage. While it wasn’t necessarily used by the Stasi, Plattenbau-Museumswohnung is completely furnished in the style of an East German flat during the 1970s and 1980s. The attention to detail across its three bedrooms is really something with its original fixtures, common East German products like Rotkäppchen champagne, and small authentic touches like the wall art such as “Am Strand” (On the Beach) by Walter Womacka. Free to enter, the museum is open on Sundays from 2 to 4 pm and otherwise by appointment.
Hellersdorfer Str. 179, 12627 Berlin
7. Carry on covertly in a city park
Sometimes the best place to hide is in plain sight, and for that you can go to an open, public space like a park. When meeting up with your fellow conspirator, you can easily pretend like you just accidentally ran into each other if anyone spots you, a believable enough claim at such a place that’s open to and visited by all. You can also go for the classic move of sitting on a bench where your co-conspirator already is, whispering or subtly handing over your message and then moving on.
Recommended Location: Tiergarten
Massive in size and centrally located, Tiergarten is a great park for rendezvousing. The green space was formerly the royal hunting grounds for the Elector of Brandenburg in the 16th century and then in the late 17th century it was opened as a public park. During the Nazi period, it was also a place where people could hide from eager ears if they wanted to be critical of the state. Among Tiergarten’s 210 hectares, you’ll find various tree-covered pathways and lawns to stroll around—letting you make as many twists and turns you need to evade onlookers. The park is popular with locals and tourists alike so chances are you’ll be surrounded by others focused on their own recreation like jogging, cycling, or picnicking.