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.
– I repeat: NEVER RIDE THE U-BAHN.
– Never forget your mosquito repellant.

16 comments
  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.lowcostholidays.com/2012/08/16/5-essential-things-to-do-in-berlin/

  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?

  7. “NEVER RIDE THE UBAHN!”
    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-festival.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:

    unsceneberlin.blogspot.de.

    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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