Dear tourist, I am so, so sorry that you chose to come to Berlin in rain season. If you’re one of the unlucky Berlin visitors who doesn’t have anything else to do but be a frolicking, cackling tourist, then, quite frankly, you’re fucked. If you’re reading this on the 25th of July 2017, the weather forecast is especially dire: 48h of nonstop rain.
For the rest of us, life goes on as usual. I won’t lie – I don’t miss summer. I’m ecstatic about the fact that it’s not -15°C. But some people actually spent real, hard cash on Airbnbs and oversea flights to be here, and now they’re stuck taking cover in Starbucks, mourning their holidays. WELL CATHERINE WHY DIDN’T YOU GO TO BARCELONA
Specifically composed for rainy summer season, here is my list of what you should do if you’re visiting Berlin but it keeps on raining forever and ever.
Embrace the rain, get wet anyway
Look guys, if you want the bitter truth: you’re going to get wet and it’s better to accept it now rather than later. Buy a poncho and wear your plastic beach slippers wherever you go, and just dance in the rain like everyone else is used to. Don’t run. Don’t try to hide. The fall is inevitable. And if it gets really crazy – just swim, I guess. Actually, no. Please don’t swim in the floods.
Enjoy an actual swim at Berlins public pools
Swim in the pools instead. True, you won’t get tan in this overcast climate, but you’ll be ALL BY YOURSELF in an otherwise super overcrowded public pool. It’s warm enough to swim, and you can even swim while it’s raining. And although the water may feel colder than in the heat, I want to inject that the water in Berlins public pools is always horribly cold. So what’s the difference? At least you won’t have to stand in line for hours. My favorite public pool is Columbiabad, as everybody already knows, BUT the newly opened Tropez kiosk (an art gallery and Pommesbude) at Humboldthain is reason enough to venture to Wedding. Mary recommends it, so it must be fabulous.
Columbiabad, Columbiadamm 160, 10965 Berlin, 8AM – 8PM
Tropez at Humboldthain, Wiesenstraße 1, 13357 Berlin, 8AM – 6PM
Learn skills, impress your art school friends
You can take cooking classes in Asia and you can do wine tastings in Italy and you can spend big time money at the Casinos of Vegas and Atlantic city and learn that you’re a secret junkie, but what really can you learn from Berliners besides the proper art of Schwarzfahren? Aydoo sessions is a new workshop platform that helps you find your Berlin thing. Learn how to tattoo a rain drop by hand, create your own “Rain in Berlin” perfume or build your own wooden stool from old, classic Berlin floor boards. Not only do you get to pass the time while the swamps are taking over the city, you also get to bring a souvenir back home.
Learn about Berlin from wholesome magazines & books
You can learn easily about Berlins history without leaving the comfort zone of your stylish Airbnb – any piece of information is only a click away, after all. But I recommend you steal an umbrella and get on your way to the nearest bookshop that also caters to English speakers, sit down, have a coffee and choose a pile of books and magazines about Berlin. Whether it’s a novel, an academic paper or a travel guide, I’m sure you’ll learn more about the structure, spirit and style of Berlin from a properly published piece of edited paper than from any Berlin blog (apart from maybe The Needle, whose author incidentally just released a book). A great book store / café combination to visit is the centrally located Westberlin café, but you can also check out our other favorite bookstores in Berlin.
If you’re lazy, you can also soak up that free Wifi and watch one of those ubiquitous Berlin / Hitler documentaries on YouTube. My absolute favorite is the 24 episode BBC series “The Cold War”, which will definitely get you through this rainy summer.
Visits the Reichstag on a spontaneously booked tour
I am a big fan of the Reichstag because it combines many things: architecture, food, art, politics and history. It’s also a popular hostage of amateur photography, so if you haven’t obnoxiously pointed your selfie stick at anything yet, this may be your chance! Usually, you will have to book a space in advance (or you have to go 2 hours ahead to see if there are still tickets available for your preferred spot, i.e. stand in line in the rain) if you want to get inside, but there are many tour operators that let you visit the Reichstag spontaneously if you book through them. You will have to pay a fee (as opposed to visiting the Reichstag for free) but it’s usually worth not standing in line.
Visit the Reichstag with GetYourGuide
Go to Berghain
Berghain, Friday night, Saturday night through Monday and occasionally on Wednesdays at the new Säule Club
Book a custom (bus) tour through the city
If I’ve learned anything while traveling it’s this: don’t skim on a good tour if you’re really interested in learning about the city. Is it more expensive? Hell yeah. It’s still better than ending up on a contemptuous Hop On Hop Off bus (which also isn’t cheap). If you don’t mind the stuffed atmosphere and the long ride, you could also opt to take a boat trip through the city’s plentiful canals.
Bring your Netflix session outside, add alcohol
Small indie theaters are increasingly merging their business with the typical features of bars. Basically, you can spend all day at Il Kino or Wolf, simply transitioning from movie to movie with a drink and a snack during the breaks. Because all of the titles are screened in their original language, you won’t have to learn German either, and screenings usually start in the afternoon already (Wolf has screenings from 10:30 AM!)
Take a long walk along the U1 tracks
I admit the idea has more merit when there are no constructions going on, buuut as far as I know, you can still walk from Kottbusser Tor to Warschauer Straße on this route. Since the U1 is built as an overhead railway, there’s a whole path across Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain which is somewhat sheltered from the rain. I’m not saying you won’t get wet, but you can still enjoy a little time outside without getting soaked. Bonus bars, cafés and places to check out on the way:
Have a cutesie breakfast at the beautiful concept store Hallesches Haus
– Take a few morning laps at the Prinzenbad Kreuzberg
– Take a picture of the famous ROA mural on Oranienstraße
– Eat cake, take a break from walking and heavily abuse the free Wifi at Estate coffee
– Rummage through piles of interesting magazines and books at Motto
– Eat Chilli Cheese Fries at Burgermeister
– Go shopping for sneakers (or graffiti paraphernalia) at OVERKILL
– Take a muddy picture of the Spree and the Fernsehturm at Oberbaumbrücke
– Get a drink at Monarch or Südblock on your way back