When the weather heats up and the sun finally comes out from wherever it’s been hiding all winter, Berliners begin to emerge from the woodwork. Indeed, the city takes on a new character as the streets fill up with people who are just happy to be getting some vitamin D. Here are eight essential rules for experiencing summer in Berlin.
When the streets become crowded and the asphalt starts to get hot, most Berliners will begin seeking out a therapeutic dose of greenery. With enormous parks and public areas like Treptower Park, Körnerpark, Tempelhofer Feld, Gleisdreieck, Tiergarten, and much more, there is plenty of space to go around. The shade of leafy trees offers an accessible refuge from the stifling summer heat. The city does an excellent job of maintaining these various picnic grounds, too, meaning that they are lush and welcoming all summer long. So gather some buds and whatever food you can muster for an afternoon of picnicking. It’s a must.
To experience Berlin like a local, it’s imperative to cruise around the city by bike. In fact, many tourists travel on two wheels nowadays. Luckily, bikes in Berlin can be quite affordable when purchased at flea markets or on sites like eBay Kleinanzeigen. For those visiting from out of town, there are even more options for renting a trusty fahrrad for various timespans. Going by bike provides an excellent chance for people watching, it is affordable enough for the average Berliner’s budget, and there are plenty of beautiful bike routes throughout the city that are practically made for cruising around without a care.
Judging by the fact that there are often so many people there, a trip to one of Berlin’s many surrounding lakes is a mandatory part of any summer spent in this city. Whether you wind up at Müggelsee, Schlachtensee, Krumme Lanke, or Langer See, consult friends for the scoop on which lakes are filling up each weekend. For the adventurous types, it’s always possible to explore secluded swimming spots on the lakes where most tourists and newbies wouldn’t dare to venture. There is only one way to see what all the lakeside hype is about: grab a towel, and go find out.
Save the allure of Berghain for when the weather isn’t so immaculate, and spend a night at an outdoor club instead. Some of the best venues in this regard include Sisyphos, Club der Visionaere, and Badeschiff, which has its own pool on the Spree. Maybe it’s just the glow of the technicolor lights dancing across the crowds, but open-air spots like these really do encapsulate some of the magic distinct to summer nights in Berlin. Either way, it’s not something to be missed. Just be sure to beat the tourists by going a bit earlier than usual when things are less crowded.
We all know that it’s important to stay hydrated as things heat up in the summer months, but in Berlin, you’d best substitute that boring water with a Club Mate. These outrageously cheap fizzy tea drinks can be found at just about any bar or Späti. Nothing will make you look more like you’re part of Berlin’s in-crowd than being seen sipping on one of these at any given hour of the day. What is said to have made Club Mate so popular in the first place is that all the sugar and caffeine in each bottle keep both clubbers and backend developers at Berlin’s most promising startups fully energized.
If it wasn’t already apparent, there are few things Berliners love during the summer more than ice cream. From popsicle stands and rainbow arrays of sorbets to gelaterias and signs for the classic kugel in der waffel, there are hundreds of Eiscafés located throughout the city. As a result, there are ice cream treats to please just about everyone, even the pickiest of vegans. Plus, many shops are committed to using only natural, sustainably-sourced ingredients. One of our favorites in this regard is Die Eismacher. Try their vivid purple Ube flavor, made from a kind of yam native to the Philippines. Really, each Eiscafé offers an original experience, so attempting to try them all is a noble cause in our books.
One important element of German culture is a propensity for celebrating seasonal produce. Seeing giddy Berliners walking down the street with a bunch of white asparagus or a cardboard container of perfectly ripened strawberries is quite common throughout the summer months. The city’s many renowned outdoor farmers’ markets make partaking in the trend very easy. While many are open year-round, in the summertime the red and white canvas stands are bursting with things like fresh greens and berries. Find the best markets in the city each Saturday in Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg, and Neukölln’s Die Dicke Linda.
Even though looking the part in Berlin is all about acting cool and nonchalant, only a fool would fail to prepare against the elements. It is tempting to become overzealous after reveling in those first few warm weather days, but Berlin’s rains even outweigh its snowstorms in both frequency and intensity. Invest in a slick raincoat and some proper boots, each preferably in black. After witnessing the torrential hailstorms and subway flooding that are common at this time of year, it’ll become apparent that the rain gear is not optional.