David Bowie famously proclaimed that, “Berlin is a city made up of bars for sad, disillusioned people to get drunk in.”
Now, he can hardly have hated the city quite that much; Berlin was Bowie’s home for a number of years and the place where he wrote his Berlin trilogy in the late 1970’s, consisting of the albums Low, Heroes, and Lodger and considered to be Bowie’s crowning achievement (personal hot take: Station to Station is the best).
But when you wake up to a grey winter morning in Berlin, it’s hard to say that he was entirely wrong, either. While the city has plenty of things to offer that might actually be best enjoyed during the dark and cold months from December to March, the feeling of getting drenched by the perpetual slanting rain can just be all too real sometimes. Thankfully, you have several great options to escape the winter and bars are only one of them!
The Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum really are a must-see during any season but offer a great respite from the cold during the winter that your shivering bones will be eternally grateful for. Take a walk in the outdoor gardens where you’re always guaranteed to find one of the countless plants from around the globe in bloom or pop into the tropical greenhouses. Among the biggest, and dare I say most beautiful, greenhouses in the world and with a section that the website describes as “oppressive tropical heat?” Yes, please! Marvel at the colorful vegetation, learn up on botanical history in the museum, and warm up before braving the weather outside again.
Hop on the subway and head over to Markthalle IX in the Kreuzberg district. In a historical setting that’s well worth a trip in and of itself, this indoor market hall offers you all kinds of delicious foods and drinks, most of them locally and organically sourced. Stroll the different booths, get lunch (or a late breakfast, we don’t judge), or grab a drink and watch the people go by; you get the perks of the most charming farmer’s market you can imagine without actually having to be outside.
One of the things that make a Berlin so exciting is the city’s vibrant multicultural atmosphere. Particularly the influx of Turkish culture has made many an invaluable addition to life in Berlin and has become an integral part of the city. What we all should be especially thankful for is that this has caused a number of hamams, or “Turkish Baths,” as they’re often referred to, to pop up.
Lie on the warm stone benches around the “göbek taşı,” the central hot stone, and take in the energy before going for a ritual water cleanse. But keep in mind that most hamams are segregated by gender and may only be open to one gender during certain hours, so make sure to check their calendar!
The hamam in the Schokoladenfabrik, the old chocolate factory, is run exclusively by and for women to provide a particular safe space for female guests, while the Sultan Hamam has opening hours for both men and mixed groups.