There are still plenty of things to do in Berlin this summer, even if everything is different.
Summer in Berlin is the season everybody loves. But this year, things are going to be different, and of course, travel is out of the question. So how can we still enjoy the warmer weather? If you like being outdoors, read on for my top things to do in Berlin this summer.
Get a bike
The first rule of lockdown is to get a bike. The distances in Berlin become much more manageable, and if you don’t have a car, you will feel freer right away, and not be confined to the 2-kilometre radius around your home. I was lucky enough to get a hand-me-down bike from my boyfriend’s mom, and it has changed my entire outlook on Berlin and lockdown. If you have a bike that you love, tell us which one in the comment section!
June update: we are now allowed to go on biking tours! Of course, keeping social distancing in mind. Guided excursions, such as this 3-hour secret bike tour, are a great way to see the city through a local’s eyes, and get some exercise while you’re at it.
Get lost in a forest
An amazing thing about Berlin is that we are surrounded by forests. It doesn’t matter if you are in the West, where Grunewald beckons, or in the East, where the Wuhlheide Forest offers an extensive network of trails. Either way, these forests give off the impression of being millions of miles from civilization. Wuhlheide is my latest discovery, a haven for joggers, dirt bikers, and walkers – and there are so many paths, both paved and unpaved, that you can wander along for ages without running into anyone.
Another wonderful forest is Plänterwald, housing an abandoned Soviet era amusement park. This stretch of woods connects to Treptower Park, with riverfront paths, a small harbour, and an island featuring half-timbered structures.
Go back to childhood
In a recent chat with a friend, she remarked that all our social activities have become rather innocent lately. This summer in Berlin will be a bit like reverting to childhood, where eating ice cream and playing outside were definite highlights. Of course, in the current context, purchasing ice cream from a small shop has the added benefit of helping a local business.
Last weekend, I biked over to Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, where I was almost dazzled by all the eateries offering takeaway options (living further out in the suburbs, I forgot what the hustle and bustle of more central areas was like). A friend and I were enticed right away by Delabuu‘s rolled ice cream – an extravagant but well deserved treat, we thought.
See the monuments without the crowds
If you’ve been living in Berlin for a long time, you might, as I do, try to avoid the crowded, touristic areas. But now with lockdown restrictions in place and no travel allowed, Berlin’s famous sights are unsurprisingly quiet. Take the East Side Gallery, for example. When I ventured over there one Sunday afternoon, there were no selfie takers and no tour groups anywhere.
I had this strip of the Berlin Wall pretty much to myself, whereas when I brought my parents there a couple of years ago, we could hardly get a shot of one of the murals without someone’s head getting in the way. This was at 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. If you love photography or just want those perfect insta shots, now is the time to pay Berlin’s top sights a visit.
Give yourself a weekly discovery mission
My boyfriend and I moved from West to East Berlin a few months ago. So we have plenty to discover around us. Almost every weekend, we take a look at the map, pinpoint an area we want to visit (we love nature), and head over there by bike. Upon reaching our destination, we crack open a beer or Radler (for me) and relax a bit. Some of my favourite East Berlin destinations include:
- Biesdorfer Baggersee: a cute swimming lake, mostly visited by local families, with a volleyball court. Though I have not witnessed this, Google tells me it is a great place to watch the sunset.
- the 3 Karlsdorfer Seen: pretty blue lakes surrounded by sandy beaches, which you have to ride through a picturesque country neighbourhood to reach.
- Wuhletal Wanderweg: a bike and walking trail meandering along the Wuhle river, flanked by parks, small lakes, pastures and pretty developments, before it rejoins the Spree.
- Köpenick: the Berlin district where the Dahme River meets the Spree, so there is water everywhere. There are several riverfront parks to choose from, with beautiful views over the Old Town, the castle, or small islands a few hundred meters away. Köpenick deserves its own blog post – to come!
Take a cruise
See Berlin from the water and be a tourist in your own city! There’s something so relaxing about slowly cruising past the Regierungsviertel or along the Landwehr Kanal. Berlin has so many waterways, and you’re bound to learn something new about the city as you go.
I love the classic, 1-hour city tour, going by the Berlin Cathedral and government district, which I’ve been on twice, with guests and solo. For a longer, more remote excursion, you can take a 3.5-hour cruise to Müggelsee. You’ll pass by Köpenick’s palace and lush parklands, before reaching the largest lake in Berlin.
In conclusion: there are still plenty of things to do in Berlin this summer
We may be going through a strange time and looking at a summer without open air events, concerts or clubbing. But Berlin is still Berlin, and the city has not lost its unique character. The current situation may help us re-discover our home, one riverside trail or scoop of gelato at a time.
Let me know in the comments: what are your top things to do in Berlin this summer?
Wow, what a beautiful place, and great shots! Thank you for sharing.
Wow these are incredible! Great photos.
Potsdam looks picture perfect & so much history! We are still yet to visit my ancestors native land Germany from…
You should absolutely visit, Lisa! I keep on discovering new places here, even after 3 years in Germany!
Thanks Ann! I also hadn’t heard of these places before I moved to Germany!