While at least one weekend spent at one of Berlin’s many surrounding lakes is an essential part of summer fun in the city, there are still many outdoor areas worth exploring, even as the autumn-chills set in. Our top pick? Grunewald Forest. Loaded with plenty of historical sites, and a variety of vantage points to enjoy glorious views of Berlin’s skyline, Grunewald Forest is the ideal way to escape the daily grind for a dose of nature-induced serenity in the form of a jog beneath stunning foliage or a visit to the gallery, Haus am Waldsee. Plus, Grunewald Forest is close enough for a day trip, but secluded enough from the hustle and bustle to serve as a full-on weekend retreat.
If the nippy weather just isn’t something that you can tolerate, there are also lots of things to do indoors, thanks to the fact that Berlin is home to a staggering number of museums and galleries. Immerse yourself in high-brow culture—often for free—at the latest contemporary gallery opening and brush up on who’s set to emerge to prominence in the art world, or get in touch with our ancestral origins at the Altes Museum. Feast your eyes on some of the city’s best historic gems like the Nefertiti bust at the Neues Museum. October also features the European Month of Photography, with an abundance of exhibitions showcasing artistic expressions within this medium.
Probably one of the most difficult transitions to deal with as the seasons turn is that the days are getting markedly shorter. It’s time to cozy up in the evenings with exciting plans to catch an indie film at one of the many vintage Yorck Kinos around the city, or even to invest in a classic card, particularly considering that opera season begins each year at the end of September. The Classic Card provides the opportunity to catch a smattering of classical symphony concerts, opera performances, and ballets, at discounted prices. Getting dressed up and enveloping yourself in the splendid architecture of these buildings on a cool fall night is enough to make the experience worthwhile. Alternatively, catch a cozy gig at an intimate venue like Passionskirche.
One cultural habit we all ought to heed from the Germans is their propensity to enjoy their seasonal produce. Indeed, if summer garners happy people toting cardboard carafes of fresh strawberries, then the autumn is reserved for chanterelles, apples, and pumpkins. Embrace the seasonal bounty of the harvest months by heading over to one of Berlin’s many weekend markets and trying out a new fall recipe featuring these seasonal goods. Better yet, relish in the bounty of the season at the annual Berlin Harvest Festival. Nothing helps to warm the soul as the air grows crisper like a bowl of warm soup or spicy chili con carne. The time spent indoors presents an excellent an excellent opportunity to get more creative in the kitchen.
Every season in Berlin harbors its own special events. In the summer, there are music festivals and events such as the Berlin Atonal and the Young Euro Classic. The winter ushers in the warm glow of iconic Christmas Markets. In between, the Festival of Lights marks the start of the fall in Berlin. In October, you can witness the spellbinding wonder of artists who create light installations that illuminate many of Berlin’s iconic sites. Each year, these displays grow more imaginative, and the Festival of Lights offers people a chance to see the city in a new light; no pun intended, of course.
Admittedly, Berlin’s weekend markets are probably just a tad bit more enticing when the weather is better, but luckily, there are plenty of indoor markets as well. Be sure to check out the indoor flea market in Treptow for some unique new home-goods and other products. For the foodies among us, Markthalle Neun hosts many indoor events including the regular weekend market and Street Food Thursdays. Even spending a weekend wandering through Berlin’s many vintage shops in search of some cozy autumn sweaters sounds like a pretty great way to pass the time in our books.
One of the most quintessential customs upheld by Berliners is the ritual of enjoying a coffee and cake. Virtually every café in the city has some sort of offer for enjoying this invigorating and indulgent activity. If the idea really appeals to you, it could even become a quest to discover the best place for enjoying this treat around the city. Plus, the autumn is the best time to savor some apfelkuchen (apple pie), and Berlin is home to some pretty phenomenal third wave coffee shops, to boot. Not to mention, there are tons of places that offer cakes for vegans, as well as gluten-free options.
Another way to conjure up that good old sense of Gemütlichkeit is by gathering up some good company and heading out for some authentic German waffles, a customary breakfast in the country as the weather cools. Our top picks in this regard include the perfectly crisp waffles doused in icing at Waffeleisen in Friedrichshain or the beautifully decadent varieties at LUX in Neukölln. To really earn some points on the authenticity scale, get your own waffeleisen and make homemade waffles with friends right from the comfort of your own flat.
No season in Berlin would be complete without some solid excuses to engage in its thriving underground techno club scene. The summer promises sunny terraces and balmy nights spent at places like CDV, but the fall harbors Halloween festivities, which are just as exciting. Keep an eye out, as many clubs hold special bashes and extend their hours for the holiday. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to make the offbeat Berlin clubbing attire just that much weirder. Our top pick for Halloween festivities is the party held most years at ultra-glam Yorck Kino International in the former East Berlin.