Let’s face it: summer was grand. Maybe even a little too grand. But, it’s over now and Berlin’s notorious dark months lie ahead. Before the grey settles in, we have six outdoor adventure tips to make the most of these last golden days.
Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum
Curious minds will discover a plethora of rare plants; everyone else can enjoy the colours.
Here, you can both see and smell autumn. Berlin’s botanic gardens are currently awash with fallen leaves, wet wood, and the mushrooms growing here. 1,800 trees and shrub varieties make for an astonishing diversity of colours in all shades. A feast for the eyes from lush green conifers, golden leaves, deep red berries, and Chinese chestnut trees with delicate feathered leaves.
The gardens and botanical museum are part of the Freie Universität, making it an educational institution — but not the boring kind. Instead, a walk will take you across several continents, as the flora is arranged according to geographical origin. Oh, and the lush, steamy conservatories are far more than something to do on a rainy day.
Address: Unter den Eichen 5-10, Lichterfelde | daily 9am-8pm, €6/€3 concession
Directions: S-Bahn station Botanischer Garten
From Sanssouci and the Russian colony to the ‘Bridge of Spies’: Potsdam has so much to discover.
If you want to discover Potsdam’s history via its most beautiful monuments, it’s best to start at Park Sanssouci station. From there take the street Am Neuen Palais to the palace gardens, where you can also pop into the stunning botanical gardens. After a visit to the Rococco palace, Voltaireweg and Jägerallee take you to the remaining Russian colony Alexandrowka. Prussian monarch Friedrich Wilhelm III had it built in 1827 for Russian singers. One of the wooden houses is home to a lovely museum.
Then take a walk along Beyerstraße and Große Weinmeisterstraße to see Leistikowstraße Memorial Foundation, a former Soviet prison, and reach the banks of the river Havel. The Neuer Garten is home Cecilienhof palace, a grotto, and a hermitage. The walk ends at Glienicker Brücke, yes the one from the film. During the Cold War, spies were exchanged across the bridge. And if you’re still not tired, simply continue on until Peacock Island, which is beautiful in every season — especially in autumn.
Directions: RE1 from Berlin to Potsdam Park Sanssouci railway station
Head to the Uckermark
In Lychen idyllic landscape meet relics of a dark past.
Crackling leaves and a lake that radiates the tranquility that’s sorely missed in Berlin during autumn. Or anytime, really. Lychen, a town located at the northwestern end of the Uckermark, at the border to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, is the ideal starting point for a break. The town is home to plenty of charming little cafés, but also to the abandoned GDR restaurant Ratseck that’s waiting to be torn down. Those travelling with children (of the small or the grown-up kind), should consider a trip to the Christmas village Himmelspfort, only 13 kilometres away. Memorial museum Ravensbrück is also close by. During the Nazi regime, mainly female prisoners were held at the concentration camp.
Directions: RE5 from Berlin to Fürstenberg (Havel), then continue with a bus to Lychen
Get close to nature at Schorfheide
Breathe in, breathe out, head out!
Forests and autumn are simply a dream pairing. When sunlight filters through the tree tops, feet sink into fallen leaves, and everything smells like, well, forest, the pulse automatically slows down. Trendsetters call it ‘forest bathing’, and, in Japan, ‘Shinrin Yoku’ is an accepted medical therapy. Whatever you call it: it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
One of the classic destinations is Wildpark-Schorfheide: there’s a paddock with wild horses, and beautiful sections of woodland populated with wolves and boars. If you like to get off the beaten track, explore Plagefenn: an enchanted moor that’s pretty certainly occupied by forest fairies and other magical creatures. To warm up again, end the day with coffee and cake at the Brodowin farm shop.
Directions: RB27 from Berlin to Groß Schönebeck or RE3 to Eberswalde, then continue with a bus to Eichhorst or Brodowin
Resting place with a view
The idyllic woodland cemetery on Heerstraße offers old trees and dead celebs.
Some people — understandably — steer clear of cemeteries. They’re creeped out by these final stations of past lives, and don’t wish to be confronted with death. But others appreciate the stillness of graveyards and value them as public spaces to contemplate life, the universe and everything else.
All those who found their final resting place here can enjoy quite a view. Or rather, plenty of visitors. The graves are terraced around Sausuhlen lake, and it’s a who’s who of German public life. Sculptor Georg Kolbe is buried here, who conveniently created his own tomb before his death. The most spectacular grave, however, belongs to German comic Loriot: it’s always adorned with plenty of rubber ducks.
Address: Trakehner Allee 1, Charlottenburg
Direction: S- and U-Bahn station Olympiastadion
Letting off steam
Pool boats, sauna rafts and illuminated excursion vessels take over Berlin’s waterways.
For a few weeks, a rather unusual boat has been moored at Treptower Park: it’s a floating whirlpool, heated by wood. Between Grunewald and Spandau a sauna raft called ‘Berliner Saunafloss’ is anchored in the Havel, while another, the ‘Finnfloat’ is based by Müggelsee. All of them can be rented directly from their owners and are a great way to spend an autumn day. Far cheaper but not quite as cosy is a night tour on one of Berlin’s tourist boats, for example the ‘Glitterboat Citytour’.
Translated by Aida Baghernejad