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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.