Berlin in the Summer: Five ways to cool down

Berlin Badeschiff
Catching some rays (and looks) in Berlin's central Badeschiff. Photo: Anjeve

By C H Kwak—

Summer in Berlin is glorious, but the heat can really get to you. Air conditioning is virtually unheard of (including in hotels in Berlin), and the subways and buses start feeling more like saunas. When the thermometer starts rising, try these popular ways to cool down, local style.

1. Bathing: Au naturel

When summer rolls around, half the city heads to the lakes that dot Berlin and its surrounding area. Consult this list of lakes and forests and head out to nature. (And by “nature,” I mean that clothing is optional.)

2. Bathing: To see and be seen

But if you’re more the type to lounge than lunge into the water, a quiet lake in a rustic forest just won’t do. Slip into something sexy and head to Badeschiff (pictured, top), a small bathing platform floating in the river smack in the middle of the city. This is where “scenesters” come to strut their stuff and check out one another. Evening concerts and parties are especially popular.

Ice cream truck Berlin

Look out for ice cream trucks. "Ice cream makes you happy." Photo: Scottog

3. Ice cream

You can’t seem to walk a few blocks without walking past an ice cream parlor in the German capital. Homemade, all-natural ice cream is the norm, not the exception–there are countless independent shops like this one that serve frozen treats in all shades and flavors. At around €1 a scoop, ice cream is an instant cooling method for Cheapos.

(My favorite? Tarragon and asparagus from the tiny store in Kreuzberg at the corner of Zossenerstr. and Bergmannstr. that’s so old-fashioned that it doesn’t have a website.)

4. Fight fire with fire: Hot Currywurst

A glaring omission in my past post about Currywurst was Curry & Chili, which has the hottest wieners in the city (and I don’t mean the clientele).

5. When all else fails: Street water pumps

Berlin sits on a huge underground water reserve, and until the 1930s Berliners used hand-operated pumps on the streets to clean, put out fire and even drink. Some 2,000 pumps remain functional today, and though they deliver untreated water straight from the ground underneath, 2/3 of them deliver drinkable quality water. (Berlin’s tap water, by the way, is excellent.)

So pump out some water, splash it on yourself and go on your merry way. It won’t cost you a thing.

About the author

C.H. Kwak is a translator in Berlin.
Posted in: Berlin Planning
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