10 Things To Do In A Berlin Summer

Berlin's a treasure chest in the summer (well, at least while it lasts). Standard procedure: get outside and do something. If you ran out of ideas, here's a quick list to get you going.

by Sara · 18.07.2013 · Kiez Life, Places · 19 comments

As most of you have prob­ably noticed by the nasty smell in the U8: it’s sum­mer. For at least another two days we are spared from thun­der­storms and ice bliz­zards. But since this (and by this I mean GODDAMNIT IT’S SO HOT AND MY T-SHIRT IS SOAKED IN SWEAT) is also a very rare occa­sion, most of you have prob­ably for­got­ten what to do with all that mag­ni­fi­cent weather.

Trust me. I’ve only just passed my last exam at uni­ver­sity and I’m already bored to death. I have three more months of lazy­ing around! (I don’t know why I wrote that, it’s just not true. I work and I have essays to write. Maybe I’m just try­ing to identify with you lazy lot). What to do in a Ber­lin sum­mer when it’s actu­ally sum­mer and everybody’s over­whelmed? I’ve tried to sum­mon a couple of ideas. If you have other ideas, let us know in the comments!

1. Rave

A go-to option for any Ber­liner. People love to rave, but it’s basic­ally too freak­ing hot to even con­sider a closed club. There a few options that might not be too bad (Water­gate bal­cony?), but most of them (Club der Vis­ionäre, Chalet, Badeschiff) have become the Ber­lin equi­val­ent to whatever bad club you can find in Rimini. But: all is not lost! You just have to know when to go. Here’s a hint: not when every­body else does. There’s also Ipse oppos­ite Club der Vis­ionäre (the new­est addi­tion to a list of shitty club names in Ber­lin), there’s the Else, there are open air raves and fest­ivals all over the place. Möhrchen­park has had a soft open­ing and Kiki Blofeld moved to Nieder­schöne­weide. If you’d prefer less rave and more chill-out, see the new YAAM for a deluxe hangout in the sun at the Spree.

There is also a pleth­ora of “under­ground” spots which we decide not to share on here, because, obvi­ously, uh, it would cease to be under­ground and and effect­ively I’ll be lynched with pitch­forks by the out­raged people who organ­ize the secret open airs just to be closed down in five minutes by police. That’s why we can’t have nice things. But if you look around I’m sure you’ll find them.

2. Swim­ming Pools & Lakes

I love the Columbiabad in Neuk­ölln EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE RAISED THE PRICES TO A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT OF A MILLION EURO. The Columbia is my go-to choice: large and with lush green lawns. The pools are clean and you can either jump from a 10 meter rank or slide down the exor­bit­ant waters­lide (that is, if you care to wait in line for hours and hours and have all those little kids over­take you in the queue). If you’d rather go fur­ther, check out the lakes around Ber­lin. Not all of them are per­fect. Don’t go to Müggelsee. Just– don’t. I’ve seen more dead fish in there than at my local Sushi joint. Plötzensee seems to be a fair option, but I def­in­itely feel in love with Liepn­itz­see. The water is crys­tal clear and refresh­ing. You’ll prob­ably need a car unless you love bik­ing (it will take you at least one hour depend­ing on where you start).

Here’s a bonus point if you decide to go to a pub­lic pool like Columbia or Prin­zen­bad: Pommes with Ketchup. Every Ger­mans child­hood memory starts with Pommes with Ketchup at the Freibad mixed with plenty of sun­cream topped with a stu­pid fris­bee injury.

3. Rooftop­ping

Okay, now this is tricky because not every­body has an access­ible rooftop, but bear with me. If you have any friends who live in glor­i­ous Alt­bauten or have access to their rooftop or even your own: do it. Do it RIGHT NOW. Climb up those stairs and enter a new sum­mer life with a view over the city. When I still lived in Wed­ding I’d throw parties up there (not really though)! I’d pick­nick up there (also not really)! I’d have friends over and watch the sun go down and have a drink and be too tipsy to get down (that did hap­pen)! If you don’t have a rooftop, there are a couple of pub­lic options, the latest being on top of the Neuk­ölln Arkaden in a rooftop bar that’s called Klunkerkranich.

If you’re look­ing for another kind of excite­ment, go north, back to Wed­ding: at Kurt Schu­macher Platz there’s a mall with a park­ing deck. From there, you’ll be able to watch the planes land at Tegel from really close. Not really a good place to make out or any­thing, but an amaz­ing spec­tacle if you’re a nerd about planes.

4. Pick­nicks & BBQs

The best advice is not to try pick­nick­ing in Görl­itzer Park. You WILL feel like a cheapskate loser next to the super large Turk­ish fam­ily that brought a whole truck load of meat, chairs and chil­dren. Also chances are you’ll suf­foc­ate in dense smoke. Bet­ter options are Tem­pel­hof and Tier­garten for BBQs. I love pick­nick­ing at Hasen­heide though — without the grill and the BBQ. Hasen­heide, as opposed to its bleak repu­ta­tion, is a won­der­ful exile. It’s large but doesn’t feel like that vast desert that Tem­pel­hof is. It’s also intim­ate, so you won’t have to sit on top of someone else just to get a good spot like in Görl­itzer Park. Not being able to see or hear the street or even look bey­ond those tall trees gives the impres­sion of being some­where far away from the city.

If you belong to that kind of group that is espe­cially lazy (hello, my name is Sara and I am the founder of this group), please go ahead and visit the ready-made culin­ary fest­ivals of the city. The Thai Park is a per­fect excuse to not pack any­thing and still eat out as if it’s a proper picknick.

5. Urban Exploring

pic­ture by Stefan Kaz

Hop on your bike and see what the city has to offer. And I don’t mean the occa­sional shitty graf­fiti phrase, I mean the real deal. Have you been to the Eis­fab­rik (in fact, I haven’t — it’s on my list though)? Have you been to the Aban­doned Hos­pital? To Spreep­ark? To Teufels­berg? While all those places aren’t new, they still tend to impress and they’re a good waste of time if you’re try­ing out your pho­to­graphy skills or look­ing to get inspired in an urban way. While you’re at it, see if you can find your own objects of interests — court­yards, build­ings, shops. For­get the map!

6. Sell your stuff

It’s flea mar­ket sea­son. I hate flea mar­kets unless I’m selling my own redund­ant stuff. Those who have a base­ment where they can lock up their trash prob­ably know what I mean when I say SPRIIING CLEAAAAANING. After hav­ing col­lec­ted the most bizarre stuff down there, it’s time to pack up and sell. Mauer­park is still one of the most pop­u­lar and prof­it­able flea mar­kets to sell, but if that’s too stress­ful (it is), try the RAW flea mar­ket in Friedrich­shain or the Nowkölln Flow­markt. Not to say that they are less crowded, but come on, Mauer­park is a hor­rible night­mare for every per­son on this planet.

Not only does that earn you a couple of bucks (hope­fully), but also you’ll spend the day out­side, meet people and prob­ably (because it’s sum­mer and why not) get wasted with your friends. The 50 bucks you got for your old ana­log cam­era and the spe­cial edi­tion tote bag can be inves­ted respons­ibly at the next Späti.

7. Hang around the Späti

Bars are totally over­rated. In mild sum­mer nights, nobody wants to squeeze them­selves into a crowded room filled with smoke and sweat. Half an hour of stand­ing in line for a cool beer? Shout­ing over each oth­ers heads to com­mu­nic­ate over the obnox­iously loud music? Here’s a big fat NOPE for you, dear bars! Why spend jew­els on drinks if you can just head to your next Späti of trust, buy a cheap Sterni, a pack of sun­flower seeds and have the time of your life in front of the store? Most Spätis in Kreuzberg now have benches that offer com­fort­able space for groups of people. And don’t even think about for­get­ting the sun­flower seeds, it’s just not the same without it.

8. Enjoy the sum­mer rain

pic­ture by Stefan Kaz

It’s bound to hap­pen any­way, let’s not pre­tend this will last forever. We’ve come to point 8 of this list and if you’ve done all the lis­ted activ­it­ies it’s prob­ably rain­ing again. But the tem­per­at­ure might still be in our favor, so don’t hide away from the refresh­ing thun­der­storm. Stand right in the middle of it! Let the rain clean your soul and watch how the fra­gile losers are try­ing to run away. YOU CAN’T RUN AWAY FROM RAIN (that is espe­cially true in the Ber­lin rain sea­son which usu­ally lasts from Octo­ber til August. All jokes aside, I have once read in a Chinese guide­book — which was trans­lated to me obvi­ously– that tour­ists shouldn’t visit Ber­lin unless in July because it’s rain­ing sea­son in the rest of the year. They are prob­ably right)! But you might just enjoy it for a little while before you dry your­self off, crawl up into your cozy bed and listen to those fat drops against your window.

9. Visit the Baltic Sea

pic­ture by Nico Niermann

What the Hamp­tons are to New York is prob­ably the Baltic Sea to Ber­lin (or whatever). Every­body escapes to the sea at some point, but it doesn’t feel like escap­ing Ber­lin. In fact, it’s just the exten­sion of the city, except it’s a two hour train trip away and it’s got an ocean (it’s not the Medi­ter­ranean sea, but it’s good enough for me). Be spon­tan­eous about it, though. If you book ahead with too much time in advance you’ll prob­ably end up in rainy weather. Just pitch your tent, for Gods sake, and see what hap­pens. Sleep­ing in the sand, listen­ing to the waves, that will take the bur­den of the city away from you. I prom­ise. It’s not over­whelm­ingly expens­ive to do this trip (if you’re one of those act­ive people that allegedly exist, you might even want to do a bike trip up there). Enjoy the typ­ical Ger­man archi­tec­ture or the quirky local hot spots.

10. Book your Fest­ival tickets

Some Fest­ivals seem to com­bine the most favor­ite hob­bies of Ber­liners into one great escape: a couple of days of non-stop party­ing, under the stars and in tents, wether it’s rain or sun­shine (it’s usu­ally rain though), with your friends and people who will become your friends. The Fusion Fest­ival has become fam­ous for being the “Ber­lin” fest­ival; dur­ing its pre­par­a­tion days, the cap­ital runs out of Club Mate. To score a ticket, you have to sell your first­born child in advance and suck someone off for half an hour. It doesn’t seem worth it that much any­more.
But there are plenty of more fest­ivals. Fest­ivals that are a lot smal­ler and thus maybe more intim­ate, and fest­ivals that are a lot big­ger if you’re look­ing for heavy line ups (such as the MELT!) and a bunch of pro­vin­cial teen­agers to make fun of while you hold your Ber­lin badge up (aww, come on, it’s fun to be a pre­ten­tious Ber­liner asshole). Any­way, I’m not a big fest­ival fan (“Dixie Klos”) but I can highly recom­mend doing it at least once. If you, just like me, hate camp­ing, there’s still the Ber­lin Fest­ival, some­thing we col­lect­ively love to hate.

pic­ture by Stefan Kaz

Bonus: Things you shouldn’t do in the Ber­lin summer

- Don’t swim in the Spree. (you will die from poi­s­ion­ing)
 – Don’t swim in the Kanal. (see above)
 – NEVER ride the U-Bahn.
 – Never for­get your mos­quito repellant.

  1. Hi, I’m curi­ous about “NEVER ride the U-Bahn”, what trauma is behind that advice ?

  2. Her­bert, this might be just a per­sonal thing, but it’s just way too hot. There’s lit­er­ally no oxy­gen. And you get to smell every­bodys most intim­ate sweat­spots.
    That said, I still ride the U-Bahn some­times. I shouldn’t be so cyn­ical. I love the Ubahn. <3

  3. nice

  4. Worth to check out is also the pool ‘Som­merbad Am Insu­laner’ in Steglitz. The pool isnt made out of tiles but (I guess) alu­minum which makes the water look extra tur­quois and sparkly. Also found it a bit less crowded then Columbiabad and if you go there by bike you most likely pass the great park ‘Schöne­ber­ger Südgelände’ on the way.…

  5. I know what you mean about the UBahn — I guess it depends which one you take. The U2 is almost always packed. I once fain­ted on there because it was so claus­tro­phobic :( Hanging around a Spaeti is good advice — espe­cially if you’re broke! My mate wrote a post on what to do in Ber­lin, which is quite inter­est­ing: http://​blog​.low​cos​th​ol​i​days​.com/​2​0​1​2​/​0​8​/​1​6​/​5​-​e​s​s​e​n​t​i​a​l​-​t​h​i​n​g​s​-​t​o​-​d​o​-​i​n​-​b​e​r​l​in/

  6. Oh shit, are there mos­qui­toes in Ber­lin in sum­mer? Why didn’t someone tell me before I uprooted my whole life and moved here?

    Yeah, thank the gods I have my per­sonal jet­pack to get around this vast city amaz­ingly quick and without hassle.
    Kind of a stu­pid advice if you ask me.

  8. Show me your Pommes or I call you on your Handy with my Beamer! ;) Und dem­nächst dann gerne mal zusam­men ins Columbiabad, is ja um die Ecke!

  9. come across as spoiled little 23 y.o. brat hip­ster advice. thanks for all the enlightenment.

  10. I won­der if people think I’m funny at all… let me con­tinue my list of doing things in the summer:

    - avoid read­ing this web­site if you’re look­ing for actual advice!

  11. I know everyone’s into bikes, but hav­ing a scooter is the golden ticket!
    It’s hugs all the way if you take someone, the liberty of bike (never no park­platzprob­lems) with the motor­ized com­fort of a car (though cab­ri­olet­ishly enhanced and with a more biker­gang gone homo-vibe that’s entirely dig­gable).
    Only down­side is noone can admire your lovely soul­glo perm in the wind.

  12. 10. Book your Fest­ival tick­ets: ufAir Fest­ival Berlin/Tempelhof| on stage: Okta Logue, Jonathan Kluth, Trüm­mer, Elenka & Comb­ings. Learn more: http://​www​.ufair​-fest​ival​.de/

  13. amaz­ing. your cyn­icism is fun and refresh­ing. love this post and many of the links to your oth­ers. i like how you said that mother nature is digest­ing the old hospital.

  14. what is a good hostel to stay at?

  15. Well, it’s cer­tainly an hon­est post, hahaha! That’s refresh­ing… although some spe­cific details and recom­mend­a­tions would also be help­ful to the tour­ists read­ing it. I also like to pass on tips about Berlin’s non-commercial, free and under­ground events on my blog:


    Be sure to check it out dur­ing your next visit / night out on the town!

  16. Except U1 I don’t see an issue with U-Bahns. At U2 you will always bump into French pupils singing the French anthem or Span­ish groups, that is fun. U5 and U6 are my favourite.

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