Walking around Berlin is a wonderful – and socially distanced – way to spend a winter’s day. Crisp, cool air and dazzlingly bright winter light cast the city’s landmarks, leafy parks and modern architecture into sharp relief. Get out before it gets dark and beat the blues, check out an unforgettable Berlin winter sunset, or see how the lights transform the city by night. Wrap up, fill up your travel cup, and explore everything Berlin in winter has to offer.
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1. Tip: Visit Jagdschloss Grunewald palace and the surrounding estate
This grand former hunting estate played host to local royalty in its illustrious history. It sits on the leafy banks of Grunewaldsee lake and has plenty to offer fans of nature all year round. Start at the Jagdschloss itself, Berlin’s oldest Renaissance hall – a striking white palace that’s well worth a visit when open to explore the art and treasures inside. Then move on to the atmospheric estate grounds, a popular shooting location for film and TV, with wonderful woods and secluded spots to get lost in.
Where: start at Jagdschloss Grunewald palace
Tip 2: Leafy parks meet modern architecture: explore two worlds on a walk from Hansaviertel and the Tiergarten to Berlin Kulturforum and Potsdamer Platz
This walk starts and ends at some of Berlin’s most famous attractions – and still finds time for a slice of the city’s stunning greenery. Begin at Hansaviertel, a marvel of modernist architecture with a fascinating history. Designed in response to a competition in the 1950s, this neighbourhood showcases works by some of the period’s most respected and adventurous architects. It’s a little time capsule in the heart of Berlin. Meander through the iconic Tiergarten park to enjoy a little wintry fresh air before resuming your culture trip at the Kulturforum. This cluster of museums and arts spaces offer a treasure trove of cultural delights in normal times and a smorgasbord of architectural styles even when the buildings are closed. The walk ends in the heart of the action at Potsdamer Platz.
Start: outside the iconic Walter Gropius House in Hansaviertel
Tip 3: Take a trip around the Schildshorn by the river Havel
The Schildhorn peninsula is a lovely peaceful spot for Berlin winter walks. Increasingly popular among visitors, it’s a great spot for bathing, sailing and exploring the tranquil Grunewald forest – though do test the water before you take a dip. The star attraction here is Berlin’s other river – the Havel.
Start: Pichelsberg S-Bahn station is a gateway to the area on public transport.
Tip 4: Discover the natural world at Pankow’s Blankenfelde Botanical Park
This former school garden in Berlin’s Pankow district is now a lush public park. Home to 6,000 plant varieties – including some endangered species – it’s the perfect spot to explore nature on a bracing winter’s day. There’s plenty to discover beyond the plants and the arboretum, too. Check out the Geology Wall to learn all about German rock or admire the architecture of the listed greenhouses. Just make sure to start early on those short winter days – the park closes at sunset.
Start: at the entrance to Blankenfelde Botanical Park
Tip 5: Discover nature and history at Schönholzer Heide park
This stunning public park and conservation area is a magnificent place to spend the day sauntering through leafy landscapes and exploring the more tranquil counterpoint to Berlin’s buzzing centre. The park’s Soviet War Memorial is a sobering reminder of history. The tree-lined avenue that leads to it looks particularly dramatic on a Berlin winter day with snow crunching underfoot.
Start: join the park near the Soviet Memorial at Germanenstraße
Tip 6: See a different side of Mitte on a riverside walk by the Spree
See Berlin landmarks from a different perspective as you wend your way along the Spree, the city’s most famous river. The river’s refreshing waters offer a moment of peace to reflect, far from the hustle and bustle of Mitte’s busy major streets. On a crisp, clear day, the magnificent institutions on Museum Island look particularly imposing and the riverside stroll offers impressive views of the Humboldt Forum.
Directly opposite you will see the Berlin Cathedral as another highlight. The excursion ends at the Friedrichsbrücke. This walk is particularly picturesque in the late afternoon or evening when the sun goes down and many historic buildings are illuminated.
Start: by the Berlin Cathedral at Museum Island
Tip 7: Step back in time in Spandau’s Kolkviertel
There are plenty of historic gems to be found in the Berlin district of Spandau. It looks particularly handsome on a crisp Berlin winter day. Kolkviertel might be the (tiny) jewel in its crown. Start your walk at Hoher Steinweg and pass along the last surviving section of Spandau’s six-metre city wall. Then stroll along ‘Kolk’ street itself and admire the carefully restored half-timbered houses that give the area its character. Round off your walk at the Marienkirche, a Catholic church with a fascinating history: signs of a Stone Age settlement were uncovered beneath the building. In the north-eastern part you will pass the Spandau lock. Here you can enjoy a beautiful view of the wintry Havel and the citadel.
Start: on the street at Hoher Steinweg
Tip 8: Experience country living in the city at Alt-Marzahn
In winter, heritage site Alt-Marzahn looks like a picture plucked from an old Christmas card. The historic village nestled among tower blocks is the perfect place for a contemplative stroll in the heart of Berlin. Passing beautiful old buildings, you might happen upon inquisitive sheep and goats at the animal farm or locals selling fresh produce, arts and crafts. The magnificent old windmill is the perfect spot for a festive selfie. Incidentally, flour for bread is still ground here.
Start: at the KulturGut Marzahn farm garden, which offers tours every day of the week
Tip 9: Discover the former fishing village of Rahnsdorf
A Berlin winter looks wonderful by water. See for yourself at Rahnsdorf, a peaceful fishing village (Fischerdorf) that has existed where the river Spree meets lake Müggelsee for centuries. Stroll around the village, try a spot of paddle boarding in the Spree, then hop on the tiny ferry to Müggelheim for a ramble in the surrounding woodlands.
Start: at Rahnsdorf S-Bahn station
Tip 10: Check out Schloss Britz and the Gutspark
Just south of the hip Berlin district of Neukölln, step into another world at Schloss Britz. This handsome former manor house has a history dating back to the 17th century. Explore its stunning grounds, the Gutspark, then roam further afield for a change of architectural scene. The iconic Britz Horseshoe Estate, a modernist housing estate named after its distinctive shape, is just a stone’s throw from the palace. Round off your walk with a visit to the vast Britzer Garten, a delightful park that’s popular with locals.
Start: at Schloss Britz palace
Tip 11: Explore Schlachtensee lake
Discover a winter wonderland by the water at Schlachtensee. Surrounded by stunning forest, this lake is a popular spot for Berliners and visitors alike. Sailors and fishing fanatics can be found enjoying its clean waters all year round. But watch out – a dip in the lake at this time of year is not recommended for the faint-hearted. A Berlin winter gets pretty chilly!
Start: at Paul Ernst Park by Schlachtensee S-Bahn station, or the convivial Fischerhütte on the east bank