If you’re from somewhere warmer and sunnier than Northern Europe, there’s a good chance you won’t have experienced the particular brand of damp, bone-chilling cold that Berlin offers each winter. Pack away flimsy jackets and non-waterproof shoes and invest in a big, proper coat, thick-soled boots and woolly hat. Have a rummage through one of the city’s flohmarkts if you’re on a budget.
To the summer visitor, Berlin’s abundance of saunas and hamams (Turkish baths) might seem a little curious. But give it a few months and you’ll be first in line to steam yourself warm and escape the bitter darkness at one of the city’s picturesque baths. Be aware that the German tradition of Freikörperkultur or ‘free body culture’ is alive and well, so going nude is the norm.
Our tip: For a fully regal experience, book yourself into the Sultan Hamam in Schöneberg.
3. Don’t forget to exercise
As the nights draw in it can be tempting to abandon all forms of exertion in favour of complete hibernation, when actually, winter is precisely the time we need those exercise endorphins. Invest in some running gear and join the hardy souls who pound the streets come rain or snow, sign up for the gym or try a yoga class to keep yourself trim and Zen.
Our tip: Yoga Sky in Kreuzberg offers a beautifully light and airy loft studio with a range of classes.
4. Dance the weekend away
As wonderful as it is to dance in the dawn at an outdoor club in June, surely there is no better time to commit to a 48-hour techno extravaganza at Berghain than when it’s -15°C and dark outside. Whether or not Berlin’s legendary clubbing scene is a direct consequence of its long winters is arguable – but there’s no better way to shake off the January blues than by throwing some (cool and understated) shapes in a huge concrete bunker.
Our tip: If you need to Google Berghain, you probably shouldn’t be going. But heck, everyone’s gotta start somewhere.
5. Try traditional German food
Midwinter is also the perfect time to familiarise yourself with sensible German comfort food – food that can only have evolved in a cold, dark place. Typically heavy on carbs and meat, this much-maligned cuisine really comes into its own when hearty winter fuel is required. Try some pasta-like Spätzle, Königsberger Klopse (meatballs in creamy sauce) or an array of Würste (sausages) to warm up your evenings.
Our tip: A perennial favourite for some warming German winter food is Kreuzberg’s Mädchen ohne Arbeit.