Berlin isn’t just one of Germany’s greenest cities – it also offers a growing number of sustainable activities for you to enjoy. Let yourself be inspired by innovative urban planning concepts and exciting community projects. Join the annual Umweltfestival (environmental festival) or one of Berlin's many conferences like the Berlin Questions. You can do your part too: Use eco-friendly mobility providers, eat in organic restaurants and shop sustainably: we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for your sustainable trip to Berlin.
Tip 1: Get inspired - innovation and sustainability
Berlin is always worth a trip, especially if you are interested in sustainability and innovation. Because the two go hand in hand in Berlin. Here, sustainable ideas and concepts are not only discussed, but also implemented. Conferences like the Greentech Festival, the Green Week or the Berlin Questions provide food for thought and introduce green solutions for a better future. How can the growth of metropolises be developed sustainably and urban coexistence be designed in a meaningful way? At the Climate & Culture Weekend N°01, independent thinkers, doers and creators from the fields of design, architecture, art and food will discuss sustainable lifestyles.
Green startups also find the perfect breeding ground in Berlin, for example at the EUREF Campus or the Urban Tech Republic on the site of the former Tegels Airport. One of Berlin's best-known green startups is Ecosia, a search engine whose revenues are invested in planting trees. Get inspired on site in Berlin, for example at these 11 sustainable places.
Tip 2: Travel - Arrive relaxed by train
Berlin is easy to reach by train from all points on the compass and a train trip with the whole family isn’t just a relaxing experience – it also helps protect the environment. Travelling by train is more environmentally friendly than taking a plane or the car.
We’ve put together a range of unbeatable travel deals that can be found at Bahnhit Berlin. And there’s nothing stopping you from making your journey to Berlin sustainable. And you can now also reach Berlin by night train from many destinations.
Is a flight unavoidable for your trip to Berlin? Then learn all about atmosfair and making a contribution to compensating the emissions that a flight causes.
Tip 3: Overnight - Stay at sustainable hotels
More and more hotels in Berlin are placing an emphasis on sustainability. Less plastic, more seasonal and regionally sourced produce in the hotels’ own restaurants, less food wastage, more awareness of greenhouse gas emissions, vegetarian and vegan hotels and organic hotels: you can stay in this type of accommodation with a clean conscience. Many hotels are drawing up ambitious sustainability standards to help you get acquainted with their practices.
Tip 4: Mobility - Use public transport
When you use the underground trains (U-Bahn), city trains (S-Bahn), trams and buses operated by the BVG (Berlin’s transport company), you can travel everywhere you like, even as far as Potsdam.
You can also travel short distances with a clear conscience and save time and energy, and we can guarantee you won’t get stuck in traffic. There are a range of different S-Bahn, U-Bahn and bus lines, such as the 100 bus line, which allow you to go on your very own tour of the city and pass by many of the main attractions. Currently, 1500 electric buses are already on the road in Berlin, and the number is growing! Some BVG ferry lines are also already electric and can even be solar-powered if there is enough sunshine: Line F11 connects Oberschöneweide, Wilhelmstrand and Baumschulenstraße all year round; Line F12 connects Wendenschloß, Müggelbergallee and Grünau, Wassersportallee. You will love the BVG!
You’re going to love the BVG!
Our tip: when you’ve got the Berlin Welcome Card, you don’t have to worry about buying tickets – simply purchase a card online before starting your trip, or once here, stop in at one of the Berlin Tourist Infos to buy one, and travel from A to B without any hassle while profiting from discounts available at 200 partners.
Tip: With the BVG Jelbi app you have all mobility offers in Berlin at a glance: Public transport, car sharing, rental bikes, electric scooters and, of course, the Berlkönig shuttle service. Even a cab call function is integrated.
Tip 5: Safe paper and use our digital cityguides to explore Berlin on foot or by bike
Berlin’s flat topography makes it wonderful to explore on foot or by bicycle.
Due to the proximity of many of Berlin’s attractions to each other, the city is ideally suited to sightseeing tours by the most sustainable means of transport of them all – your legs. The 12 districts of Berlin are worth exploring on leisurely walks and sightseeing tours on foot. Download our About Berlin app or Going Local Berlin app and discover the German capital while walking. Save paper and use our digital city guides! Both apps are free of charge for you.
With ABOUT BERLIN, we take you on a journey through time in the city. In pictures, text, audio and video elements, we bring historical moments to life for you and show you visions of the future for the city of tomorrow.
Going Local lets you discover Berlin's 12 districts and invites you to take extended walks and sightseeing tours. Download our apps and discover the capital on foot or by bike.
There are also a large number of guided city tours to choose from.
Would you prefer a more dynamic way of getting around the city? Then why not hire a bicycle or e-bike from one of the numerous bicycle rental shops and bike-sharing providers and explore the city on two wheels. You can also join a guided bicycle tour offered by local guides.
A real highlight is the Berlin Wall bike tour: follow the course taken by the Berlin Wall, and learn all sorts of interesting facts about the history of the city. The Green Bike Tours take you to places where sustainable urban planning is already being implemented in Berlin: Green roofs, solar installations, circular economy and energy-efficient buildings are just a few examples of this tour through Berlin's greenest sides.
We’ve also put together a large range of other bicycle tours that will take you around some of the city’s most exciting areas, along with shops that hire out bikes and bike sharing stations.
There’s one thing to keep in mind though: many Berliners love cycling and use their bikes to complete all their trips. Please ride with care and consideration – for your own safety as well. More tips on riding around Berlin safely can be found here.
Tip 6: Enjoy mouth-watering meals in sustainable restaurants
Berlin has long since become a stronghold of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and you’ll be hard pressed to find a restaurant that doesn’t have delectable alternatives to meat and fish on the menu. Vegan-only restaurants can also be found all over the city.
Berlin’s culinary scene keeps going from strength to strength, and more and more restaurants are focusing on regional and seasonal organic produce, made responsibly and traded fairly, along with running their businesses in environmentally sustainable ways. Some restaurateurs even grow the fruit and vegetables used to prepare irresistible delicacies themselves. Others are working to combat food waste, such as SPRK Deli. The aim is to get surplus food back into the supply chain - and ultimately to consumers. The dishes prepared from surplus goods can be enjoyed directly on site at the Deli and at an increasing number of other participating restaurants. At the heart of the concept is an AI-driven distribution platform that identifies and redistributes surplus food in the supply chain.
Another real trailblazer in all things sustainable is unarguably the zero-waste restaurant FREA in Mitte: the little bits of leftover food are composted in the restaurant’s own composting machine, and are taken back to the farms that supplied the produce within 24 hours. We can also recommend Nobelhart & Schmutzig, the sustainable, regional and seasonal star-rated restaurant in Kreuzberg, as well as DingsDums Dumplings, which has joined forces with organic supermarkets to declare war on food wastage.
If you’d prefer to do your own cooking, then we’d also like to recommend all the different packaging-free shops in Berlin, such as Original Unverpackt in Kreuzberg. This is a great place to stock up on regional produce without packaging waste.
And with the app Too Good To Go, you can help save leftover food during your Berlin vacation while enjoying delicious dishes from Berlin's gastronomic scene for a fracture of the original price.
Tip 7: Shop for sustainable fashion in Berlin
Along with all the sustainable culinary delights it has to offer, Berlin also has plenty of places to shop for fair clothing with a clear conscience. Sustainable consumption, second-hand fashion, slow fashion and ethical fashion are also becoming increasingly popular among Berliners.
Many small fashion boutiques and Berlin-based fashion designers place great value on sustainability, ecological and ethical production, as well as on recycling and upcycling. This ensures you can dress yourself in organic clothing from head to toe – and not only make a really stylish impression, but also do something good for humanity, animals and nature.
If you are interested in sustainable fashion, you can explore the scene with Green Fashion Tours.
Fans of vintage and second hand also get their money's worth in Berlin. In Schönhauser Allee you will find numerous second hand stores. And with the NochMall, Berliner Stadtreinigung has established its own second-hand store, where you can find fashion as well as all sorts of other nice things that deserve a second chance.
Tip 8: Explore Berlin's green side: Hiking routes and Parks&Gardens
With 2500 parks and over one million trees, Berlin is one of the greenest metropolises in Europe. In addition to the Grunewald forest, numerous other wooded and green areas entice visitors to take long walks and at the same time ensure a pleasant urban climate. Stratups such as Green City Solution and Solaga set further innovative accents for air quality and environmental protection. Green City Solutions' Green City Tree is a type of green street furniture that invites people to linger while providing clean air via natural moss filters and IoT technology. Solaga have developed an air filter element made from algae that can be used both indoors, but in the future can also be used on outdoor facades to provide more green and better air.
If you’d like to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city for a while, then spend a few hours relaxing in one of the more than 2,500 parks and green spaces in Berlin. Pack your picnic blanket and head off to the park. If you have a little more time with you, you should definitely also discover the extensive forest and water areas in the surrounding area of Berlin. We have compiled the most beautiful hiking routes for you, from the city center all the way out to Brandenburg.
The Grün Berlin Gruppe (Green Berlin Group) is responsible for ensuring Berlin’s parks and green spaces are managed sustainably. And remember to take your rubbish with you when you go. Did you know that there are currently 43 nature reserves covering an area of around 2,668 hectares in Berlin?
Relax at one of Berlin’s lakes
“Pack your swimsuit and take your little sister by the hand, and let’s all go out to Wannsee...” – back in 1951, songstress Conny Froboess wasn’t the only one singing the praises of heading off for a swim, with many Berliners enjoying the summer heat at the numerous lakes in and around the city. Wannsee, Müggelsee, Krumme Lanke and Schlachtensee are just a few of the countless lakes in which you can swim, paddle canoes, splash around and spend the day having a great time.
Berliner Wasserbetriebe (the municipal water company) are responsible for ensuring the water quality is perfect for swimming with their sustainable management of the city’s water resources, thereby protecting the natural equilibrium of the ecosystems. Please take your rubbish with you after a trip to the lake as well.
Take a look at our swimming map and remember to pack your swimsuit when you’re heading to Berlin.
Our tip: Most of Berlin’s swimming lakes are easy to reach by bike or on public transport.
Tip 9: Waste-free to go
Just like every other big city, Berlin is also fighting a battle against all the rubbish that piles up, such as disposable coffee cups.
170 million of them land in the rubbish every year. The Better World Cup initiative has declared war on this mountain of rubbish, and offers a sustainable and reusable alternative for all caffeine fiends who like their coffee to go. The system is straightforward: either bring you own takeaway cup with you, or pay a small deposit to borrow a RECUP, which you can return anywhere in Germany, while saving money on your purchase and savouring a great cup of coffee or another hot beverage with a clear conscience. The Better World Cups or RECUPS are, of course also available with a Berlin design.
Has all the sightseeing, walking, strolling around and cycling made you thirsty? Refill Berlin provides a sustainable alternative to disposable PET and glass bottles: bring your own bottle with you and fill it up with tap water in any number of cafés, restaurants and bakeries – free of charge. You’ll also come across drinking fountains provided by the Berlin water company in a number of public squares, where you can also refill your bottle with water.
Tip 10: Shop at markets and give urban gardening a try
Weekly markets, flea markets, organic markets, vegan markets, Christmas markets, indoor markets – Berliners love their markets, which is why there’s barely a day on which someone somewhere isn’t buying or selling some type of unique speciality at one market or another in Berlin.
The weekly markets have regionally sourced, seasonal organic produce grown by farmers from Berlin and Brandenburg on offer. Within the historic walls of the Markthallen (covered markets) you can also take a trip through time while doing your shopping, and make environmentally friendly and health-conscious purchases at organic markets and vegan markets. For more than 20 years, traders from Berlin and the surrounding area have been offering their organic products every Thursday from 12 to 7 p.m. on Berlin's Kollwitzplatz. At the eco-market on Kollwitzplatz you will find fresh fruit and vegetables, wild herbs, bread made from home-ground flour and eggs from chickens that live a happy free-range life.
The flea markets are where one-of-a-kind treasures, second-hand fashion and arts and crafts change hands, and the atmospheric Berlin Christmas markets are the best place to find out-of-the-ordinary, and often lovingly hand-made, specialities. So grab your cloth bag and join the fray at one of Berlin’s markets.
Whether at Prinzessinnengärten, on Tempelhofer Feld, in Mörchenpark or high up above the roofs of Berlin at Klunkerkranich: this is where ecologically-aware Berliners are teaming up to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs. You can learn about all the different urban gardening projects at them, and find some inspiration of your own. You can also enjoy tasty dishes made using the fruit and vegetables grown at Prinzessinnengärten when you stop by for lunch.