The start of August means the beginning of the end of summer. But don’t worry, there is still plenty of summer in Berlin to enjoy. It’s been a strange one, with mild temperatures until now, and, most importantly, corona.
The corona crisis has put a bit of a damper on what was supposed to be my first Berlin summer. As everyone told me: summer in Berlin is amazing. Even though there are no clubs, raves or festivals this summer, I still have to agree. I haven’t been able to experience the true Berlin summer, but there are still lots of summer Berlin activities for me to indulge in.
Here are some of the best things to do and places to visit in Berlin in the summer and classic Berlin activities to do.
Swim in a lake
Summer in Berlin can be a scorcher. Luckily, we haven’t had a heat wave like last year, but the temperature definitely climb to 35 C in August. To escape the city heat, take a day trip to one of the Berlin lakes. There is nothing like cooling off at a lake on a hot day and spending the day at a lake is a classic Berlin summer activity.
There are over 3000 lakes in Berlin and Brandenburg, so lots of options. Even within the city or just outside of it, there are plenty of great places to go for a dip. Some have sand beaches, other are surrounded by trees. Facilities are usually minimal, so no public bathrooms or changing rooms. Some of the most popular lakes in Berlin are Wannsee, Plötzensee, Krumme Lanke and Müggelsee. All of these are easy to reach with public transport or by bike and free.
Nudity at Berlin lakes
Berliners love to spend a day at the lake. Bring some food and bears and enjoy the sun and cool water. Don’t be surprised to see naked sunbathers either, Berliners aren’t shy. Some lakes have designated FKK (Freikorperkultur = nude) sections, but even outside those it’s not uncommon to see people swim naked. Live and let live.
Berlin swimming pools
Would you rather dip in a swimming pool than a lake? No problem, there are several outdoor swimming pools in Berlin to choose from. Because of corona, some beaches and all of the swimming pools require a ticket for a time slot and have reduced capacity. You can buy those tickets here. The coolest pool in Berlin is Badeschiff, a beach bar with floating pool in the Spree river. It’s very popular and tickets sell out quickly.
Chill in a park
Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Europe. Between the rows of flats you’ll find lots of parks, small and large. These parks are a popular place to go for a walk, have a picnic, lounge and even BBQ. When the weather is nice, people hang out at the park all day.
Some of the most popular parks in Berlin are Tiergarten, Volkspark Friedrichshain, Tempelhof and Treptower park. But there are lots of smaller parks to be discovered as well. Every neighborhood has a park and each have their own style and character. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the nice weather while socially distancing.
Daytrip to Potsdam
For a perfect Berlin day trip, go to Potsdam. Potsdam is a very charming and picturesque town. The historic city center and the palace gardens in Potsdam are UNESCO World heritage and absolutely gorgeous! A great place for a leisurely stroll and a bit of culture.
Have a drink in a Biergarten
The best way to cool off on a hot summer day is with a cold beer. Cue the amazing Berlin beer scene. Beer is the drink of choice for Germans and Berlin is no different. From cheap pilsner to craft IPA, there’s a beer for every taste and occassion.
Sit down at one of the many Biergartens in Berlin to try the local brews. Most micro and craft breweries in Berlin have their own beergarden and some of the bigger ones serve their beers in other bars as well. Hipsters will love BRLO Berlin or Birgit & Beer, for a classic biergarten experience go to Prater Garten. All biergartens in Berlin are now operating at reduced capacity and require you to leave your contact info behind. Masks are mandatory when moving around.
Or have a späti crawl
Want to explore and drink at the same time? Try the quintessential Berlin activity of a späti crawl. Späti’s (short for Spätkauf) are the all night corner shops only found in Berlin. They sell basics and snacks, but mostly beer. To do a späti crawl, simply buy a beer from a späti and drink it while walking around. Once your beer is empty, get a new one from the nearest späti and so on. Drinking in public is allowed in Berlin, except in the metro, tram or bus. Remember to leave your empty beer bottle next to the bin, homeless people collect these to get the deposit.
Go to an open-air cinema
Tired of Netflix? Enjoy a balmy evening and watch a movie at an open-air cinema in Berlin. There are several Freiluftkino’s around Berlin with a showing every night at 21.30. They usually rotate the movies, occasionally in the original language or with English subtitles for international moviegoers.
The cinema’s have reduced their number of seats and you have to reserve them in advance. You can bring your own drinks and snacks or buy them at the concession stand. Masks are mandatory when moving around. Bring a blanket, it gets chilly at night!
Shop at the flea market
One of my favorite things to do in Berlin is to hit a flea market. All other shops are closed on Sunday, except flea markets. All summer long you can find them throughout the city.
Most flea markets sell a mix of vintage clothing, old stuff and arts and crafts. There’s also street food and drinks for when you need a break Some of my favorites are the flea markets at Boxhagener Platz, RAW and Flowmarkt Nowkoelln. Masks are mandatory but rarely enforced. Keeping distance is pretty tricky at the flea markets as they can get crowded, so go at your own risk.
As you can see, even during a pandemic, you can’t get bored in Berlin. There are so many great places to escape into nature or enjoy the unique Berlin culture. Summer in Berlin is fun no matter what!
What are your favorite things to do in Berlin in summer? Any activities your are missing now because of COVID-19?