Whatever the season, Berlin has so much to offer – but the Spree metropolis is undoubtedly at its best when the summer sun is shining down brightly from radiant blue skies overhead. Whether it’s outdoor entertainment, an adrenalin rush or pure relaxation you are looking for – Berlin has it in spades.
Berlin’s open air cinema season runs from May to September and the films and venues are as rich and diverse as the city itself – from black & white classics to cult films and the latest summer blockbusters (and lots of movies in English or with English subtitles); in secluded squares, historical settings or at the heart of the city; on picnic blankets, deckchairs or benches – there’s something for everyone. The most popular venues include the Freiluftkino in Volkspark Friedrichshain, the Freiluftkino Kreuzberg in the gardens of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien and the Sommerkino at the Kulturforum am Potsdamer Platz – there are outdoor movie theaters all over Berlin, combining one-of-a-kind movie experiences with Berlin’s balmy summer evenings.
At the Amphitheater im Monbijoupark the world is not a silver screen, it’s a stage. The theater’s summer season offers performances every day between May and September – and this year’s program includes entertaining pieces by Goethe and Shakespeare. On the banks of the Spree River, directly opposite the Bodemuseum, the audience laughs together, cries together and, once the curtain has descended, heads over to enjoy the mediterranean flair, music and cocktails at Strandbar Mitte.
For those who prefer a bit more physical activity during the summer, Berlin is definitely the place to be. A multitude of big city oases are perfect for leisurely bike trips, for example around Müggelsee to the south-east of Berlin, which also happens to be Berlin’s biggest lake, with 7.4 square kilometers of water. Encircled by stunning villas, your route around the lake takes you through tranquil woodlands to the perfect spot for a well-earned break, the floating SpreeArche restaurant, before you make your way through the idyllic Neu Venedig, past the numerous cafés that make it hard to resist stopping again and again.
Another favorite route for cyclists is the Pfaueninsel tour to the south-west of the city. Along the Havel and around beautiful lake Wannsee, past the district’s famous villas and the Max Liebermann garden, which is home to hundreds of his paintings, the route then proceeds to the ferry that transports guests across to the Pfaueninsel – where, with a little luck, you will be greeted by one or more of the island’s countless peacocks, who enjoy life in this nature conservation area and give Peacock Island its name.
Refreshing water, solitary bays, warm sand – there are countless lakes in and around Berlin, guaranteeing that swimmers and water sport enthusiasts alike have numerous destinations to choose from. From pedal boating with friends on Plötzensee, to casually windsurfing on Wannsee; from canoeing down one of the numerous rivers or streams, to hiring a rowing boat from the Café am Neuen See, whatever your idea of fun, you’ll find it in Berlin.
Whether you are an enthusiastic swimmer or just want to paddle around in the water, Berlin’s lakes, sandy beaches and outdoor swimming pools are just the thing. Plötzensee in Wedding is one of the best-loved city lakes, boasting a long sandy beach, wide-ranging open spaces, and an incredibly central location. At Krumme Lanke in Zehlendorf, where the secluded trees provide the perfect setting for wiling away the day, the ambience is much more tranquil. Then there is Tegeler See to the north of the city, with its clear, invigorating water, sandy beaches and natural bathing spots. As an offshoot of the Havel River, the lake is open to sailing and motor boats, attracted by the lake’s seven small islands that can only be reached from the water.
There is another popular destination in Berlin, one with a very traditional and almost regal flair: Hoppegarten. Germany’s most important racecourse, situated just outside Berlin, hosts around a dozen race days between March and October each year, with a range of world-class racing stables joining the action. Whether you are a serious, analytical gambler, or simply pick the horses with the best names, you are sure to feel the adrenaline building as you clasp your race day program, place your bets and cheer on your chosen horses as they gallop around the track. Inspired by Royal Ascot in Great Britain, it is not just the elegant horses and exciting wagers that lend a day at the races a unique color. Amazement and entertainment are provided in equal measure by the extravagant hats that adorn the heads of some of the course’s female visitors.
Adrenaline rushes of a different kind can be enjoyed at a host of climbing and high-wire parks across Berlin. Nestled among the branches of the countless trees in Volkspark Jungfernheide, Berlin’s second biggest park, you will find the Waldhochseilgarten Jungfernheide, which provides 13 courses of climbing fun for the brave (and not quite so brave) – it even has its own beer garden, the ideal place to recover from the day’s high altitude excitement. The Kletterwald Wuhlheide in the south-east of the city blends into the forest and allows visitors to have fun climbing among the trees. For those looking to have their fun in a more central location, the high-wires at MountMitte are just the ticket. Sharing a location with BeachBerlin, there is more than just climbing and balancing on offer here – the bravest of the brave can plummet from 13 meters on the Skyfall, or swing to dizzying heights on the oversized Skyswing. This is a perfect spot to spend yet another beautiful summer evening in Berlin, and to hatch your plans for the warm and sunny days ahead.
Photos and photo credits:
01: Freiluftkino in Volkspark Friedrichshain © Volkspark Friedrichshain
02: Müggelsee © Press
03: Krumme Lanke © Press
04: Hoppegarten © Hoppegarten