The days are short, there’s an icy wind in the air, and the city seems unusually quiet – it is winter time in Berlin. Locals have made it a tradition to complain about the “long, cold winter”, but actually the German capital loses nothing of its charm during the cold months. Quite the contrary: it is on sunny days in January or right after some snow fell that the streets lined with old buildings and the many parks and forests of the city unfold their whole magic. And there are plenty of things to do: Go ice skating or sledding if you feel like it, or check out some other great winter activities. When traveling to Berlin during winter you get to see a laid-back, authentic side of town that most summer visitors will never know. And what’s the best way to explore Berlin on a beautiful winter’s day? Easy: a nice little winter walk. Slip on those warm boots and wrap a scarf around your neck and you are good to go out and enjoy the tranquility of winter in the capital. Looking for some inspiration? Here are Industriepalast Hostel’s three picks for delightful winter walks in Berlin, designed to show you the different faces of the diverse city:
one: Along the banks of the hipster canal
Kreuzberg is one of the trendiest boroughs worldwide and the banks of Landwehrkanal are said to offer some of the most beautiful places in town. Numerous little bridges span the canal lined with willow trees and make for a lovely blend of the hipstertown’s street style and the romantic atmosphere of Venice or Paris. To start your little “hike” take subway U1 to Prinzenstraße,from where it is just 5 minutes by foot to Urbanhafen, a former river port that is now dominated by restaurant sailing vessel Van Loon. Start strolling along the canal until you reach the bridge of Kottbusser Damm where you can enjoy a sublime view of the river alongside yummy snacks at Ankerklause. From now on you can constantly switch between the little footwalk along Kreuzberg’s northern bank and Neukölln’s Maybachufer, a popular street packed with coffeeshops and tapas bars. It should take you about half an hour to reach Kanaldreieck (“Canal Triangle”) where you should turn left in order to follow the slightly smaller canal all the way to Schlesische Straße. Before you cross Oberbaumbrücke passing East Side Gallery in order to get back to the hostel, make sure to stop by at Die Rebellion des Zimtsterns, a cozy little vegan-friendly café offering fantastic food and hot beverages.
| approx. 5 km or 2 hours. Starting point: U1 station Prinzenstraße. |
two: Islands of Soviet remembrance
Treptower Park is often considered one of the most beautiful and interesting parks in East Berlin, especially during winter time, when the huge leafless trees stand out from the snow-covered meadows like somber skeletons. Your walk here will take you to two very unique sites that couldn’t be more different: the Soviet War Memorial and the Island of Youth. But first things first. Leave the train station to the left and enter the park by passing under the train bridge. Keep right and follow the gravel path between the enormous trees until you reach the southern gate of the Sovie War Memorial. Slightly hidden you will be surprised to find a colossal complex including a 12 meter bronze sculpture of a sword-wielding soldier, built by the USSR in 1949. It’s an eerie, unearthly place that even among Berliners is still considered an insider’s tip. Once you feel you’ve spent enough time exploring the site leave by the same gate and take one of the eastbound paths until you reach the large street again. Cross it and you will get to Island of the Youth (“Insel der Jugend”), a small river island connected to the banks by a beautiful ferro-concrete bridge. It offers great views of the partly frozen Spree river. When you’ve returned to the “mainland” keep following the riverside promenade back to the train station. If you don’t have cold feet yet you might want to walk the way back to the hostel passing White Trash Fast Food via Schlesische Straße and Oberbaumbrücke. Otherwise just take the metro back.
| approx. 6 km or 3 hours. Starting point: S-Bahn Treptower Park. |
three: Winter wildlife
Ok, so this may not be a classic “hike”; rather a visit at the zoo. But then again, Tierpark Friedrichsfelde is really not your average zoo. Being Europe’s biggest parkland zoo it offers pathways on over 160 hectare for multi-hour strolls along the enclosures of some 800 different species. If you’re traveling with your family, the kids will just love how a “boring” winter walk turned into an educative adventure. And if you’re just a big kid yourself, who loves to observe animals digging in the freshly fallen snow, this is your place, too. The spacious outdoor enclosures are embedded beautifully in the quaint landscape and if you do feel cold at some point you might just want to visit the heated house of the wild cats. There’s a cafeteria in the exact centre of the park where you can purchase a little snack and some hot beverages before returning to the wolves and elephants. During winter the Tierpark is open daily from 9 am through 4:30 pm, admission will cost you 13€ (reduced: 9€) or 6.50€ if you are a kid. To get there just take the tram to Frankfurter Tor and from there subway U5 to Tierpark (some 20 minutes).
Have a great time in winterly Berlin,
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.