What to do when it’s winter in Berlin

Berlin winters aren’t terrible and exhausting because they’re cold – they’re terrible and exhausting because they’re long. The perpetual -2°C are a special category of suffering: horizontal rain, blistering skin, and endless grey skies. All of this – until April. Here are a few ideas to warm you up when it’s cold in Berlin this winter.

Wine, Foccacia & Arthouse at Il Kino

I adore Il Kino in Kreuzberg. Although small and tatty, it’s a wonderful winter location for a good glass of red wine, some tapas, a bit of popcorn perhaps and an exhilarating foreign movie. It’s open in the afternoons and has late showings, too – highly recommended if you need to get out of the house but don’t want to be in the cold.

Il Kino, Nansenstraße 22, 12047 Berlin

Spaziergang through Tiergarten

Certainly an activity for both winter and summer, Tiergarten is especially romantic on a gloomy and frosty Sunday afternoon. Every step you take is an excuse to stuff yourself on delicious Westberlin cakes and coffees afterwards, maybe at Café am Neuen See or at Schleusenkrug.

If you can bear a longer walk, I suggest you also look at the beautiful architecture of the Bauhaus-era Hansaviertel neighborhood on the way, as well as pay a visit to the wonderful contemporary art institution Haus der Kulturen der Welt. Why do this to yourself in winter? Because you’ll be able to take architectural style pictures without having tree crowns in your way.

Cafe am Neuen See , Lichtensteinallee 2, 10787 Berlin

Hearty Chicken & Waffles at Southern Vittles

You know where it’s never cold? In the Southern States of the USA. (Actually don’t quote me on that, I have no idea). Chicken and waffles, fried tomatoes, an excellent brisket or ribs will set you into a food coma that perhaps lasts all through winter 2020. Grab your piece of a humid Nashville summer at Southern Vittles in Prenzlauer Berg – thank me later.

Southern Vittles,  Lychener Str. 6, 10437 Berlin

Spend Christmas at Das Stue

Last year, we spent Christmas bundled up in the cozy rooms of /so Das Stue hotel. The exquisitely decorated hotel was the perfect base for a romantic vacation in the spirit of Christmas. For three days, we explored the Tiergarten surrounding us, lounged in the library and adored the perfect Christmas tree.

Das Stue Hotel, Drakestraße 1, 10787 Berlin

Visit the Gemäldegalerie

There are plenty of museums in Berlin, but there’s just something about strolling through the classic paintings of Europe’s greatest artists – like, of all times. You don’t have to be an expert on the fine arts to appreciate how the skills of painting have evolved over hundreds and hundreds of years. Sure, you could easily Google some of them, but when you see a huge painting with such intricate features – such as Jan van Bijlert, Das Gastmahl von Alexander und Kleitos, which I must have looked at for half an hour before getting over it.

Gemäldegalerie, Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin,
open 10AM-6PM Daily, Monday closed

Tour the Museumsinsel (again)

“Museum island” Berlin is an ensemble of museums in Mitte, housingthe Staatliche Museen zu Berlin’s unique collections of art and cultural artefacts from Europe and the wider Mediterranean region. “Neues Museum” and “Pergamonmuseum” and “Alte Nationalgalerie” are must visits, both in terms of architecture as well as collections.

Throughout November and December 2019, the Pergamonmuseum is offering short, guided tours through the highlights of the museum. I want to wholeheartedly recommend this specific tour for all the readers who, like me, have no idea what they’re looking at and need pointers for their “oohs” and “aahs”. The tours are very affordable at 4 € per adult (plus general admission) and take place every weekend without advanced registration. You can buy tickets online though.

This is also a great opportunity to see the newly opened James Simon gallery, an architectural feat for Berlins Museumsinsel designed by David Chipperfield.

Museumsinsel Berlin, Bodestraße 1-3, 10178 Berlin
Entrance to the Museumsinsel (including all museums) is around 20 Euro per adult – if you live in Berlin, you might just as well get the 25€ annual ticket.

Feel the heat with spicy Chinese noodles

I always thought I didn’t enjoy Chinese food, but I was wrong: I simply don’t enjoy shitty Chinese food. Thankfully, Berlin is making slow and steady progress towards a better (and spicier) range of restaurants that serve extraordinary Chinese cuisine. Two of those I’d like to mention: ChungKing noodles, a former pop-up thing that has recently opened their own joint on Reichenberger Straße, and Liu 成都味道 noodle house. I can’t really tell you much about what makes both offerings so special individually – I don’t have the vocabulary for it – but if you want to set your brain on fire with Sechuan spices, incredible flavors and a sweaty forehead, you’ve come to the right spots.

ChungKing Noodles, Reichenbergerstr.35, 10999 Berlin
Liu Nudelhaus, Kronenstraße 72, 10117 Berlin

Take a tour through the former Tempelhof airport building

Most people flock to the Tempelhof park – the tarmac of Berlins iconic airport – but have never seen the inside of the impressive, neoclassicist building. The tour, which takes around 2 hours, is not just insightful in terms of architecture, but also gives visitors a sense of historical context: after all, Tempelhof was designed and built under Hitler’s regime as part of the greater Germania plans that were never realized. Tours have to be booked in advance.

THF Berlin, English tours Wednesday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday

Self-care in the sauna

Your skin is dry, your shoulders are tense and you haven’t seen the sun for weeks: it’s time to do something nice for yourself. There are plenty of spas in Berlin, popular among them Liquidrom and Vabali. I can highly recommend Vabali spa. The company has recently expanded and now feature a bigger terrace and more cozy lounges to sink into. Only caveat: you have to be comfortable feeling naked.

Alternatively, if you’re loaded and want to escape the dire Berlin climate, head out to Brandenburg’s Bleiche, where the spa includes a cinema, three pools and a chimney room.

Eat Knödel at Knödelwirtschaft

One of my favorite places in Berlin is definitely the cozy restaurant Knödelwirtschaft. As you know, I have a slight obsession with South Tyrol, where Alpine food is at its best. If you’ve never had proper Knödel, now is the time to make a reservation. Everything is set up very simple – there’s only Knödel on the menu and a few beverages – but that laser-like focus on what’s really essential only adds to the experience. Nobody’s got energy to waste on choices in winter, anyway.

Knödelwirtschaft will make you feel sexual about Alpine food

Visit the Feuerle Collection

My most recent enlightening experiences took place at a new, private collector’s exhibition space. You do not have to be an expert on South East Asian art (as that is what’s on display predominantly), because a visit to the former bunker is more than just a tour through an exhibition: the Feuerle collection is a once in a lifetime experience for all senses. I could tell you more about it, but I actually think that the less you know, the better it is. Don’t spoil yourself by reading reviews. If you have any love for WWII bunkers, amazing contemporary architecture, intricate design and a place in your heart for eccentrics, you should book your tour now.

 The Feuerle Collection, only guided tours, only on weekends (1-2 hours, 18€)

Discover the Bocci 79 light installations

Bocci 79 is a Canadian product and architecture design company that has recently opened its Berlin flagship store in a former courthouse on Kantstraße (and right behind it, a new hotel is being built where once stood a prison for women). Although I don’t expect anyone to actually feel inspired to buy anything, the exhibition – which spreads across five floors and in different sized rooms of the 2,200m2 building – is nothing but exceptional. Bocci have focused mainly on very intricate and mesmerizing light installations, adapted to the specifications of the rooms and going back decades.

If you’ve got an eye for design or a passion for architecture, this should be very high up on your list of things to do this winter in Berlin (and here’s a hint for my fellow bloggers and photographers: it’s also a great setting for an impromptu photo shoot).

Bocci 79 have focused mainly on very intricate and mesmerizing light installations, adapted to the specifications of the rooms at the former courthouse.
Bocci 79 have focused mainly on very intricate and mesmerizing light installations, adapted to the specifications of the rooms at the former courthouse.

Bocci 79, Kantstraße 79, 10627 Berlin

Shopping at GATE 194

While GATE on Köpenicker Straße looks like something Kanye West came up with in his YEEZUS phase, it’s actually quite an intriguing and contemporary concept store worth a visit. For those who want to stay on top of exclusive street wear fashion straight from the core of Berlins dark and gloomy rave scene, but also kind of inspired by international Instagram fuckboys? The space is definitely a specific Berlin moodboard translated into fashion, but I kind of dig it. Filed under: Darklands, Voo Store, Berghain.

GATE 194, Köpenicker Str. 194, 10997 Berlin

6 thoughts on “What to do when it’s winter in Berlin

  1. I agree, on NYE, Berlin resembles a war zone.

    I love winter, e v e n in Berlin, but I still think the best thing to do during the winter is just stay in and keep cozy. The Tiergarten one sounds really nice and romantic, tho, I will try that out.

  2. I worked at Teufelsberg in the late ’80s and my first New Years in Berlin I had to work the midnight shift while most of my friends went to parties. I was not happy. Right before midnight, someone grabbed a few of us and took us onto the roof. (It was the only time I was ever allowed out there in the entire time I worked there.) I thought this was pretty cool in and of itself. But, at midnight, with a 360 degree view of the city, the neighborhoods set off their fireworks. It was an amazing sight and remains my favorite New Years ever.

  3. With snow in Berlin, you are lucky if the S-Bahn trains work at all. So I wonder how the first photo was captured ;)

    Nonetheless, I can’t wait to see the first actual snow this year.

  4. “This year, it already feels as if winter is set out to des­troy us.”

    Without wanting to tempt fate here, temperatures have been way above average so far. It’s going to be 10C+ at the weekend. And if you get freaked out by the fireworks in Germany, I suggest you take a look at how they do things in the Netherlands and reconsider.

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