It’s that time of year again in Berlin. The sky has taken on a uniform shade of grey, the mercury has plummeted to single-digit figures, and it’s raining so much that you could be forgiven for thinking you were in England. But it’s not all bad. Autumn is the perfect time to cosy up in your favourite gemütlichkeit café, walk among the colourful leaves, and remind yourself that although it feels cold, it’s nothing compared to what’s to come — Berlin’s winter, which will freeze your späti beer to your hand and turn the walk to your nearest U-Bahn into a kind of death-defying version of Dancing on Ice. Until that happens, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in autumn in Berlin.
Embrace the weather with an autumn stroll
One of the best parts of autumn is, of course, the changing foliage. The tree-lined streets of Berlin are home to 438,000 of our wooden friends, with an average of 80 per kilometre. Add to that the countless trees in the city’s many parks and you have a metropolis that’s perfect for an autumn jaunt.
Thanks to this abundance of trees you can enjoy the gorgeous hues of the autumn foliage pretty much anywhere, but for a truly relaxing stroll it’s best to visit one of Berlin’s fantastic parks. Luckily, we’re spoilt for choice: Hasenheide in Neukölln, Viktoriapark in Kreuzberg, Volkspark Rehberge in Wedding, Volkspark Friedrichshain, and Tiergarten are all exemplary choices; as is a saunter through Treptower Park and into the calming woods of Plänterwald.
The Landwehrkanal, one of my favourite places in the entire city, is also a superb option for an autumn stroll. Start at Lohmühlenbrücke and work your way west along the waterway, grabbing a coffee zum mitnehmen from the excellent Concierge Coffee along the way.
Cosy up in a café
Although there are many chic coffee shops throughout the city, when it comes to autumn in Berlin what you really need are the places that give you the comfort of a living room — perfect for sinking into a sofa with a good book. Featuring an interior crammed with mismatched flohmarkt furniture that looks more like your grandma’s living room than a modern café, Wohnzimmer in Prenzlauer Berg provides exactly that. Macondo, located on Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain, is another great choice. Aside from being full of old sofas that swallow you up in the most comforting way, they do some pretty good Spanish food too.
Café Dritter Raum in Neukölln is another super cosy café. Not only is it a great place to escape the ever-worsening weather, but they also have a SNES. That’s right, a god damn Super Nintendo. But be warned, you might face some stiff competition from the local kids. Café Bilderbuch, popular for their German-style brunch on Sundays, is an excellent choice if you’re in Schöneberg. Head into the quieter back room, grab one of the comfy armchairs, and settle in for a good read by candlelight.
Go see a film in one of Berlin’s kinos
With the passing of summer, the open air cinemas that grace the city’s parks are now gone. Fortunately, there are tons of great cinemas in Berlin where you can see films in their original, non-German-dubbed form, or with English subtitles. The Yorck group of cinemas are spread across Berlin and have both blockbusters and independent movies, as well as special events. There are also first-rate independent cinemas such as Kino Babylon at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, or Eiszeit Kino near Görlitzer Park.
Check out the Festival of Lights
Now in its twelfth year, Berlin’s annual Festival of Lights is currently taking place. Between the 7th and 16th of October the major landmarks of the city — from the Brandenburg Gate to the magnificent buildings of Gendarmenmarkt — are lit up with some pretty impressive light and video projections. Although it’s quite touristy and busy (it could just as well be named for the sea of lights emanating from people’s phones as they take photos) it’s worth checking out if you’ve never been before.
Words and photos by James Fancourt.