Berlin: Germany’s capital is Europe’s greenest city. More than a third of the nearly 900 sq km of the city is green space. The cityscape is shaped by extensive woodland, the sprawling web of rivers, canals and lakes.
A melting pot of cultures and ideas, Berlin is home to young people, creative and unorthodox thinkers from all over the world, and a city for environmental trends. For many Berliners, the bicycle has replaced the car as a status symbol, and sustainability is a way of life.
Here’s our PDF printable to plan your fabulous eco-friendly vacation-
Seven per cent of the total metropolitan area of Berlin belongs to the Natura 2000 network of European conservation areas. What Central Park is to New Yorkers and Hyde Park to Londoners, Tiergarten – the green lung of the metropolis, represents the same to Berliners. Located in the city-center, next to the Brandenburg Gate, it is larger than Hyde Park’s 210 hectares.
The Recreational Park Marzahn with its Gardens of the World, showcases the largest authentic Chinese Garden in Europe, with pavilions, ponds, waterscapes, a Japanese Zen Garden, atriums, a Hampton Court-style maze & labyrinth, an Italian Renaissance Garden.
The 90 hectare Britzer Garden offers garden art, gastronomy, concerts, and solstice festivals. Don’t miss the spring trail, an approximately two km route lined with glorious blooming daffodils, tulips, grape hyacinths etc. A highlight of the events in the park is the ‘Fire Flowers and Classic Open Air’ classical concert featuring a major fireworks display.
With 22.000 types of plants, Berlin’s Botanical Gardens rank among the three most important botanical gardens in the entire world. At Schöneberger Südgelände, untamed nature has taken over forgotten technology. On the site of the former railway switchyard in Berlin Tempelhof a unique natural landscape has evolved with striking relics of the Age of Steam.
66 Lakes Trail– a 417 km hiking/cycling trail that begins and ends in Potsdam and runs the circumference of the nature areas around Berlin. The landscape varies throughout this trek, which is broken into 17 stages, with options for public transport and nightly accommodations along the way. The route leads through deciduous to coniferous forest, from picturesque villages to the castles and palaces of Potsdam, heaths, swampland, rivers, meadows and fields.
Biking– About half of all Berlin households manage without owning a car. Berlin’s favorite: the bicycle accounts for more than 12 per cent of all journeys, thanks to the 1,030 km long network of bicycle paths. Visitors to Berlin are also increasingly embracing this eco-friendly means of getting around. Companies like Berlin on Bike, Fahrradstation, Fat Tire Bikes and Berlin Insider offer bicycle discovery guided tours on architecture and urban history. Visit Berlin has also made about 50 free suggested tours with integrated maps available.
Water Sports– The lakes of Berlin and Brandenburg form the largest connected water area in Europe. Recreation boaters can be found out on their motor and sailing boats right into autumn, along with rowers and pedal boats, surfers and canoeists on the Wannsee Lake and the Havel and Spree rivers.
Tempelhofer Park– The former Tempelhof airport, closed down in 2008, was converted into a huge, centrally located park. The Tempelhofer Feld, has since become a giant playground for Berliners and tourists alike. People can practice various outdoor activities such as skating, biking, running, sport classes, rollerblading, along with kiters and wind skaters enjoying the airport’s former runways.
Adventure Sports– Berlin offers exciting tests of courage like kitelandboarding, parkouring and roof speeding, urbanian run to name just a few challenges. Changing surfaces and gradients give the trail an extra kick – just the right ingredients for urban big city adventure.
Carnival of Cultures has been celebrated every year on Pentecost weekend with opulent costumes, makeup, masks, and decorated hand carts. The highlight of the carnival is the street procession on Pentecost Sunday with around 4,700 participants from 80 countries who boldly celebrate the cultural diversity of Berlin with traditional costumes and ritual dances. Around one million people attend the Carnival of Cultures every year, making it one of Berlin’s largest open air events.
Berlin has many Christmas markets including 42nd Traditional Spandau Christmas Market with the largest continuous pedestrian zone, around 400 stalls, a large illuminated Christmas tree towering over the picturesque huts, fire baskets and crafts stalls on the square around the St Nicholai Church. Other notable Christmas markets- market at Winterfeldtplatz, the Berlin environmental and Christmas market, the market at Domäne Dahlem (open-air agricultural and food museum with a focus on ecology).
Berlin celebrates New Year’s Eve in style with a spectacular open-air party at the Brandenburg Gate! With two kms of fun stages for shows, party tents, light and laser shows as well as a mass of food and drink stands. The spectacular firework display starts at midnight – with the clinking of glasses as Berliners and visitors toast the New Year in. The party takes place across the Tiergarten between the Brandenburg Gate and the Siegessäule (Victory Column).
The Museum Island in Berlin is the northern tip of the Spree Island. Part of UNESCO world heritage, it is also a magnificent work of art itself, involving five world-renowned museums gathered in an extraordinary ensemble.
A trip to Berlin is incomplete without the Berlin Wall walk. The route, over 5.7 kms through the city centre, goes from the East Side Gallery to Bernauer Strasse passes memorials, Berlin Wall remnants, former border watchtowers and documentary panels with photos and details of the area’s history.
The Berlin Spring festival season kicks off this year on March 25, and the Berlin Easter Market on the March 26 and the world renowned Oktoberfest in Berlin between September 23 and October 16.
Döner kebabs, currywurst und meatballs have long been favorite foods in Berlin. But dining tastes are changing and increasingly chefs are shopping for organic and locally grown ingredients and putting vegetarian or vegan dishes on their menus. There are even “Vöner” (vegetarian kebabs) and organic currywurst on offer at certain street stands.
Vegan restaurants in Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg district, carry dishes like apricot-walnut kofte, pumpkin ravioli on a red onion emulsion, and lemongrass crème brûlée. The superfood detox trend has now arrived in Berlin’s Mitte district offering power smoothies with beetroot, cucumber, spinach, lime, coconut water, spirulina algae and other detoxifying ingredients. Other dishes are based on lentils, pasta, quinoa or rice with various toppings, such as a sweet-and-sour combination of almond and lime.
Fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses and freshly baked bread from certified organic farms can be purchased on Kollwitzplatz in Prenzlauer Berg, Lausitzer Platz, Chamissoplatz, Winterfeldplatz. Open throughout the week and also focused on regional and ecological products is the Marheineke Markthalle in Kreuzberg’s Bergmannstraße neighborhood.
Every year, the largest European vegan summer festival is held on Alexanderplatz. And Green Market Berlin, Berlin’s first vegan lifestyle market, attracts visitors in spring and autumn to Arena Berlin.
Also lovingly called “Pusch”, Spreewald is beyond doubt among the most fascinating landscapes in Central Europe. Following the last Ice Age, the subsiding ice in the area between Dresden and Berlin provided space for a landscape consisting of hundreds of small and big water ways (called streams, in German: Fluss) that were once weaving through dense primeval forests. The area was slowly populated in the course of the past 1000 years. Sorbian tribes (the smallest Slavic minority in Europe) settled and made the soil arable. Today, the Spreewald is an example of a unique cultural landscape, in line with genuine nature and agricultural land, absolute calmness and cultural drive.
As part of the Guerilla Gardening Movement, more and more inhabitants are helping to create little green oases in the city. Whether on the central reservation of a main road, in neglected plant boxes or around the bases of trees, there is always space for a few flowers. The Princess gardens, the Domaene Dahlem are worth a look.
Urban gardening is not just an outdoor trend. Gardening can take place indoors, too, as can be seen at InFarm in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. This indoor farming specialist grows plants and herbs in its 310 sq m greenhouse for sale to restaurants.
Park am Gleisdreieck was also created from where trains used to rumble through the grounds of the Gleisdreieck U-Bahn station. The U-Bahn viaduct was built in 1903. In the post-war period, there were plans to build a highway here, but the residents eventually prevailed in their efforts to have the area turned into a park. Since opening in 2011, it forms a green counterpart to Potsdamer Platz. And the result is a showpiece for successful contemporary landscaping against the urban backdrop of elevated rails and skyscrapers.
The Berlin public transport company is now doing something to make its lines even more sustainable: Some buses are already equipped with hydrogen-power internal combustion engines and the first electro busses run through the city now. The trams run on specially built lawn tracks that reduce air and noise pollution. Also very popular with residents is car sharing, where an app lets you find a car nearby which you can rent within minutes. Providers include Drive Now, car2go, and Multicity.
On the Berlin Green Meetings website, you can find listings of a wide range of Berlin hotels and touristic service providers that are already actively putting environmentally sustainable measures into action and have committed to a responsible use of natural resources for the benefit of the environment.
- Supermarket ‘unwrapped’ or ‘Original Unverpackt’ in German offers a new way of shopping without packaging.
- Use the Shared Urban Refrigerators scattered all over the city – as a collaborative means of to fight against hunger and waste.
- Public bike rentals can be found all over Berlin, car sharing (Car2go, DriveNow, Cambio, Flinkster).
- Visitors can use the city’s environmentally friendly U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses. Try the Berlin WelcomeCard from visitBerlin. This allows free and flexible use of public transport and also offers discounts from about 200 tourist highlights of the city.
- Since 2015, the Berlin shipping company Reederei Riedel offers tours on the SunCat, Berlin’s first solar passenger ship. The Solarpolis tour also takes you on a solar-powered boat through the government district and through the Landwehrkanal. You can also rent and sail your own solar boat at Solar Water World, even without a license.