Live Your Best Berlin Autumn with These 11 Fantastic Fall Activities
While spring (aka Berlin’s cherry blossom season) is my absolute favourite time of the year, fall is a close second. There’s something so special about Berlin autumn: firey ivy clinging to red-brick buildings, crunchy leaves underfoot, sipping a hot beverage in a cozy cafe, and so much more.
Fall in Berlin will always have a special place in my heart for personal reasons, too. 5 years ago in early September, I moved across the ocean on a one-way ticket and decided to make Berlin my new home.
So in this blog post, you’ll find my 11 local-approved Berlin autumn activities to help you get in the spirit of the season.
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Berlin Autumn Activities For Groups & Being Social
With friends back in town after the summer holidays, fall is a great time to be social as you try something new and different. And Berlin weather is usually less muggy, making it comfortable to be outside for extended periods of time.
Here are some unique Berlin autumn activities that will appeal to newbies and long-term residents alike, best enjoyed in a group.
Join a Micro Historical Walking Tour
If you’re intrigued by Berlin’s past and want to go way off the beaten path while staying at the heart of the city, make sure to check out Beyond and Beneath Tours.
This female-led startup specializes in micro tours, shedding light on exciting yet underrated spots in Berlin that you might otherwise walk by without a second glance.
I was recently invited to join their Beyond the Graves tour at Invalidenfriedhof, located right along the death strip that used to divide East and West Berlin.
On this tour, I learned about Germany’s first female pilot and badass travel girl who lived by the motto “fly or die” (also inscribed on her grave). I discovered the tragic, miraculous and touching stories of people who attempted to escape to freedom through this cemetery. And I wandered along a forgotten strip of the Berlin Wall, far removed from crowds of tourists.
For anyone looking to go well beyond typical sightseeing, with the goal of intimately getting to know Berliners of yesteryear, I highly recommend Beyond and Beneath Tours. Chills and goosebumps guaranteed!
Play an Outdoor Escape Game
Imagine going on a treasure hunt around Museumsinsel, solving puzzles to reach the next clue, and diving deep into the fabric of Berlin Mitte’s heritage at the same time. This is what you get when you join one of Maranja Adventures‘ outdoor escape games, meant for teams of 3 to 6.
For a unique group activity, spend the afternoon with friends trying to crack Maranja’s brain teasers. After your game, you’ll also know a lot more about Berlin. Whimsical props and vegan candies included.
Will you be able to solve the riddles on Maranja’s treasure hunt?
Sign up for a Spin or Barre Class (in English)
As the weather cools off, you might prefer to work out indoors. Even if you aren’t a fan of traditional gyms, I have the perfect place for you. I’ve been going to the spin studio BECYCLE for over 4 years (on and off): a great place to burn some calories in an entirely English setting!
As fellow expats, you’ll know not to underestimate the value of disconnecting from a foreign environment for a little while. BECYCLE provides a lovely little expat bubble, with spin, barre and yoga sessions all in English. Classes are themed, too, so you can join a hip-hop ride, for example.
And the best part of this spin studio? The sense of community that develops after you’ve visited a few times and recognize faces or even get to know people by name!
P.S. Before or after class, hang out in the stylish lobby as you sip on a smoothie or try one of the delicious bowls. The wifi is strong, too!
Make Friends in Your Neighbourhood
Another thing I’ve noticed about fall (and winter) is that I’m less interested in venturing far from home – unless I’m jumping on the plane to Portugal or Malta. So when I’m in town, it’s nice to be able to spontaneously connect with others who live in my area.
If you don’t have any Kiez friends yet, you can sign up for free on UrbanTalkie, a web app that automatically connects people in the same neighbourhood for a quick coffee. This service is meant to be purely platonic, too, so it’s generally used by people looking to make new friends and not hookups.
Rent a Boat
On a clear sunny day, why not take advantage of Berlin’s many waterways? You’ll find boat rental facilities pretty much in every outer suburb.
My first year in Berlin, a friend was celebrating an autumn birthday, so we hired a boat and went sailing off into the sunset at Pichelsberg. In early fall, you can get lucky, in that the water can still be warm enough to swim in.
Free Outdoor Activities
Outdoor autumn activities abound! What’s more, there are plenty of free things to do, so you can make the most of the season while on a budget.
Admire Fall Foliage in Berlin
Checking out Berlin’s fall foliage is definitely at the top of my list in 2021, as it is every year.
Climb to the top of the Victory Column in Tiergarten to see rows of golden leaves flanking both sides of Straße des 17 Juni. Wander along the Kupfergraben Canal to admire historic facades covered in ivy. Or get your fill of old-neighbourhood charm and autumn scenery as you explore lovely Friedenau.
You’ll discover plenty of gorgeous fall scenery as you amble about the city, but if you’d rather head straight to some of the most colourful spots, make sure to read my guide to fall foliage in Berlin.
Visit the Open Air Berlin Wall Memorial
The Berlin Wall fell on November 9th, 1989, but Germany officially became reunited on October 3rd, 1990. Both significant events took place in autumn, so there’s no better time to find out more about this turbulent episode in the city – and country’s – history.
One of the best places to do so is the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße – a public park and outdoor exhibit in the former no-mans-land between East and West.
The exhibit focuses less on Cold War events and more on the lives, hopes and struggles of real Berliners. If you pay attention to the signs dotting the park’s paths, you’ll be able to dive into the stories of locals who attempted to, or succeeded in, escaping to the West. Flat, rectangular stones on the ground also trace the exact routes of several underground tunnels used in escape plots.
Go on Long Autumn Walks
Berlin is one of those cities that – in my opinion – is best experienced on foot. And autumn is the perfect season to truly enjoy a long walk.
One of my favourite walks starts at Bornholmer Straße (also a fantastic place for fall foliage), meanders through the Scheunenviertel and ends at Jannowitzbrücke. I love this 7 km stretch because I get to see a mix of urban architecture, parks, and historical spots, with plenty of delicious cafes to refuel in along the way.
Attend the Berlin Festival of Lights
Berlin’s Festival of Lights takes place each year in September or October, perhaps acting as a consolation prize as the sun begins to set earlier.
Many of the city’s monuments, museums, government buildings and businesses put on a light show that is hard to miss, full of colours and augmented reality effects that liven up their facades. Each year has a theme, such as inclusion or sustainability.
Of course, icons like the Brandenburg Gate, TV Tower and Cathedral are participating, but so are many lesser-known buildings. The shows aren’t limited to Mitte, either. You’ll find illuminated buildings from Lichtenberg to Spandau. To plan your evening, take a look at the Festival’s official map.
In 2021, the festival officially begins precisely at 8:23 pm and runs until midnight from September 3rd to 12th.
New in Berlin
As is any major metropolis, Berlin is constantly evolving. Here are some new Berlin experiences to be had in the fall of 2021.
Explore the Berliner Schloss
If you haven’t yet made it to the newest (old) Berlin monument, there is no better time! Berlin’s Royal Palace, referred to as Berliner Stadtschloss, was rebuilt as a replica of the Hohenzollern castle that once stood there. The area is finally open to the public.
Damaged by World War II bombings and demolished during the communist era, the palace has now regained its rightful place in Berlin’s downtown skyline.
This beautiful building on the Spree’s edge is also a great spot for a photoshoot. Depending on your angles, you can get the TV Tower, Berliner Dom and Schloss in the same shot. Don’t forget to walk through the stately courtyard, too, which fuses modern and classic architectural elements.
Take the U5 Line
Recent additions to Berlin’s public transport network are the “sightseeing express” dotting the underground train line U5.
While I normally shudder at the idea of riding the U-Bahn (I’m not a fan of underground trains), I loved seeing what the BVG had done with the new stops of Unter den Linden and Museumsinsel. The stations’ decor is a sleek combination of minimalism and industrial chic, watched over by a starry midnight blue ceiling.
These stops definitely live up to the modern yet classic image of Berlin’s most regal district – and are worth a stop if only to take some pictures!
Ultimate Berlin Autumn Day Trips
Aching to get out of town, even if just for the day? Autumn is the perfect time to explore other nearby cities, like Potsdam or Görlitz.
Potsdam is a go-to day trip destination year-round, only 20 minutes from Berlin’s western districts. In autumn, however, the town of 150,000 inhabitants offers even more to visitors.
There’s nothing like wandering around Park Sanssouci, amidst stately pavillions crawling with red ivy. Or making your way up Ruinenberg through the crispy leaves to visit Roman-inspired, Prussian-built ruins. After a long stroll, you can grab a warm drink in the Dutch Quarter (or visit my favourite cafe, Miss Greenbean.)
Those who love fall foliage will absolutely adore Görlitz in the autumn. This city on the Polish border truly radiates fall vibes. The best thing to do is go for a walk along the Neiße River and admire the red and orange foliage. For some peace and quiet, make sure to visit Andrzeja Błachańca Park, but be wary of falling chestnuts!
If the weather suddenly changes on you (like it did when I visited), head to the Upper Lusatian Library of Sciences and visit the Historical Library Hall featured in movies like the Book Thief. This is widely considered one of the most beautiful libraries in the world and definitely strikes the fantasy of book and film lovers alike.
It takes about 3 hours to get to Görlitz from Berlin, pretty much the maximum distance I will travel for a day trip. This being said, I managed to pack in all of the major attractions in about 8 hours, including spending some time on the Polish side of the border.
Get Ready for Berlin Autumn Fun
If you’re looking for inspiration to help get in the fall spirit, try out one of these 11 Berlin autumn activities, many of which are free, all of which are local-approved. Whether you want an evening full of outdoor festival vibes or an escape game around Berlin’s most famous monuments, there is something for everyone! Have fun discovering all the hidden gems in Berlin this season. Which activity will you be trying first?
P.S. If you liked this post, you might also enjoy these related articles:
- 5 Fascinating Berlin Courtyards You Don’t Want to Skip
- Where to See Fall Foliage in Berlin (And Potsdam)
- 4 Berlin Historical Sites Under the Radar