When a character on HBO’s Game of Thrones proclaims yet again that, “Winter is coming,” it’s never a ringing endorsement. Instead of snowball fights, fields covered in pristine white, and steam rising up from cups of hot chocolate, these people imagine a dreary season of desolation that has them hole up in their houses to wait out the worst.
In a lot of ways, Berlin has a similar reputation. To some, the thought of spending the winter here, sends a shiver down their spines, as they think of grey architecture covered in even greyer sludge.
Others, however, know that the Winter in Berlin is a season unlike any other and holds its own charm. They understand that wandering in the snow-covered city is an entirely unique experience, as it blends a winter-y sense of serenity with the continuous hustle and bustle of big city life. These people have learned to embrace the winter in Berlin. Also, these people are just plain right.
So, here’s some inspiration for things to do while on your winter visit. Just make sure to bring a warm outfit!
The Pfaueninsel, German for Peacock Island, is an island in southwestern Berlin and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About 1.5 kilometers long and 0.5 kilometers wide, the island’s central building is its castle, built in the style of an antique Roman villa fallen into disrepair. There is just no accounting for taste.
One of Berlin’s most popular spots for daytrips, the Peacock Island acquires an enchanted atmosphere when covered in snow that just can’t be found anywhere else in Berlin. Coming here during the cold season feels like you’re travelling back in time, and the island becomes an oasis of tranquillity before you plunge back into the big city life of Berlin. Serenity now!
Let’s be honest here: Not everyone is born with the talent of gliding gracefully over the ice. Those that are can be sure of our eternal admiration and envy in equal measure, and they have ample opportunity to showcase their talents, or just go for a romantic skating session under the fairy lights, at one of Berlin’s many ice rinks. But those of us who would just prefer to sit down and ride a sled down a snow-covered hill like a civilised person, thank you very much, can do so on hills and mounds dotted all across Berlin. The perhaps most spectacular site for sledding, and perhaps even a good, old-fashioned snowball fight, is the Teufelsberg.
Located in the forests of Berlin-Grunewald, the view of Teufelsberg – Devil’s Mountain – is dominated by the remnants of an old U.S. listening station from the Cold War period that is now used as an event space and can even be visited with prior registration. It’s also one of Berlin’s steepest sledding spots where you get to feel like a John le Carré character letting loose for a moment.
Now bear with us here! Going out into Berlin’s nature to discover a white wonderland is obviously great. But not only tolerating, but truly embracing a grey winter day in the middle of the city can be just as rewarding. And no better place to do so than the famed Alexanderplatz!
Located in the the Bezirk Mitte, the Alexanderplatz has been the site of countless historical events. Almost entirely destroyed during World War II, the square was originally rebuilt in the grey, brutalist architectural style of the GDR. Today, the square is in a state of constant re-construction and -design and just screams to be explored on a grey day in the city. Also, there are tons of attractions, cafés, and bars nearby to escape to if the grey becomes too much after all.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg, pun very much intended, of the things to do in Berlin during the winter! Even better if it’s a bit cold; after all, what’s more comforting than basking in the warm glow of having found your own special place in Berlin off the beaten track?