Berlin - This city may be the uncontested fun capital of the world but that was before a tiny virus terrorised the entirety of humanity into hiding behind face masks and locked doors.
After the harsh lockdown in March, the city slowly opened up during the summer, only to go back to a ‘light’ lockdown in November. The latest lockdown means that while most activities that make this city special aren’t permitted (read: clubbing), one is still free to roam around and, if lucky, stumble upon some truly fun things to do.
To save you the hassle of figuring it all out on your own, here's seven things we've discovered to have fun in Berlin without breaking the law during lockdown:
Drink Glühwein and go spazieren
Glühwein (mulled wine) is to Germany what tea is to the Brits: a somewhat useless necessity. The city at first glance may seem completely dead at night, but any walk longer than 10 minutes will lead you past at least one Glühwein stand. Literally all but most Spätis or kiosks are selling it, for between €1.50 and €4. The deliciously spiced warm red wine, often mixed with fruits and raisins, is one way to feel warm and energised enough to take on the cold, seemingly empty streets of Berlin – but what to do next?
Catch a street performance
Berlin is a city of artists. From visual artists and musicians, all the way to classically trained theatre professionals, this city has it all. It’s quite common to find yourself at the front seats of a great performance simply by walking down the street. And some of them are actually good! After filling up with Glühwein, stroll through the city to get your dose of art for the night – easiest to find around main streets and stations. Oh, and don’t forget to tip.
You know the preacher likes the cold
Just bear with me, okay? First, they’re often architecturally stunning, somewhat empty (sorry, God), and, most importantly, they’re OPEN. That’s correct; Berlin’s light lockdown mean that churches are permitted to receive guests. So if your inner tourist is craving some sight-seeing, a church is the way to go. The choices are virtually limitless – however Zionskirche in Mitte is a great place to start because of its unique architecture and 67-metre tower that also functions as a viewing platform above Prenzlauer Berg.
Watch the sunset in a park
At the risk of stating the obvious, one of the best perks about Berlin is the endless sprawl of parks and nature. Though to be honest, sometimes people in parks (looking at you, Mauerpark) couldn’t care less about social distancing. So, if you do end up in a park, just make sure you’re keeping your distance. Other than that, many fun things could spontaneously happen there– campfires, live music, or any number of things that may make you feel distantly alive again. Operative word: "Distant", please.
There’s never a bad time to be looking good and feeling fine – as one now-irrelevant pop star would put it. Berlin is not a place to play it safe when it comes to wardrobe choices, and it has the shopping infrastructure to prove it. From the world’s biggest brands to the edgiest thrift stores, the city has all it takes for a massive overhaul of your wardrobe. The best part? They’re all open! Do we need to say masks and distance again?
While we must acknowledge (trigger warning!) that Berlin isn’t the most exciting city on the planet culinarily, it still has a diverse variety of restaurants, serving dishes from almost every cuisine on earth – with varying degrees of success. The current allows restaurants to stay open, but only for takeaway and delivery. And we’re totally here for it. How to make the best out of it? Grab a Sunday brunch and take it to the nearest park.
Rent an e-scooter
Like many cities, Berlin has extensive cycling infrastructure, making it relatively safe to get around with a bike or e-scooter. Pick a sunny afternoon and choose from the variety of e-scooters casually thrown about all over the city, download the app for it, and start riding. It’s a bit pricier than getting around in public transportation, but it’s so damn fun and will you get you acquainted with the city and its landmarks much faster.