No city delivers on the freedom of urban oases quite like the German capital. Berlin, in all its gritty graffiti-and-techno glory, might not be the first location that comes to mind for green space. But almost half of the city is green, open space, including about 2500 public parks and gardens.
Lounging around in parks while drinking späti beer on blankets is how legendary “summer in Berlin” stories might begin. Prepare for endless choices, doses of cool factor, history hunting and idyllic beauty. These are Berlin’s best parks.
Tempelhofer Feld embodies Berlin’s bohemian spirit – when the airfield here closed in 2008, Berliners fought to keep all 890 acres (360 hectares) for the public instead of commerce and housing. After a referendum, the dream came true and Berlin’s largest park has been relished by the masses ever since.
These days, bikers and inline skaters weave down former plane runways, and kites skirt the skies. Berliners roam free across barbecue and picnic areas, urban gardens, and at techno parties on grassy knolls.
The former Tempelhof airport, built by the Nazis, is still there. The site was a concentration camp that later served as a US Army base during the Cold War era. Its sprawling hangars have more recently been refugee housing and a vaccination center.
Volkspark Friedrichshain is prime real estate for picnics and romance. Everywhere you stroll is storybook, from the twinkly lake to the Märchenbrunnen (Fountain of Fairy Tales) where Brothers Grimm figures and frogs carouse around tiny cascades.
There’s also quite a neighborly, down-home feeling here. Excitement includes buskers performing, and swans and squirrels antagonizing poor pups on leashes.
You can visit one of the city’s best open-air cinemas with an amphitheater-style setup and the delightful Schoenbrunn beer garden where wood-fired pizza comes from a mushroom-shaped oven. The park lies between Mont Klamott and Kleine Bunkerberg, two hills that were created from wartime debris.
Park am Gleisdreieck
Once a railroad site, Gleisdreieck (Triangular Junction) is an epicenter for carefree Berlin cool. Between greenery and leftover tracks, activities abound: table tennis, skateboarders on the half-pipe, beach volleyball and swing dancing too.
Families often wander in from the German Museum of Technology on the park’s outskirts, stopping for Kaffee und Kuchen zeit (coffee and cake time) at the Tor Eins café before ambling about.
One of Gleisdreieck’s highlights is the BRLO Brwhouse, a modern craft beer garden with a taphouse and brewery built from 38 shipping containers. Over recent years, the park has hosted parties and events like the summer street-food market Bite Club.
Tiergarten is Berlin’s Central Park, 519 acres (210 hectares) of inner-city green nestled up against all the major sights like Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Once a happy hunting ground for nobles trailing wild boar and pheasants, Tiergarten became a public park in the 17th century. Today it's one of the world’s largest urban greens, popular for jogging, throwing a Frisbee and table tennis – rabbits and foxes still gallivant around.
This park holds a special place in the hearts of Berlin’s queer community too. During Berlin’s annual pride celebration, Christopher Street Day, thousands of people roam in and around Tiergarten and the surrounding downtown dance party covered in glitter and leather straps.
Hasenheide is the wild child of Berlin parks. Young, multicultural creatives lounge around listening to techno on speakers and rolling cigarettes. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the park was in the news for large illegal gatherings and raves that were frequently shut down by police.
The atmosphere shifts noticeably after dawn, though: Hasenheide has a petting zoo, old men in suits playing boule, Sunday morning Zumba and an open-air cinema where couples cuddle under the moonlight.
Treptower Park is your perfect coastal getaway in urban Berlin. Its most famous draw is the huge and striking Soviet War Memorial. But waterside strolls, paddleboat rides and houseboating adventures abound along the Spree River and points like Treptower Hafen and the Insel der Jugend.
There’s no need to dock in Hamburg when you can dine on the Klipper, a sailing ship-restaurant that serves smoked fish, or visit the modernized Zenner beer garden, with club vibes, art installations and craft beer.
Mauerpark is named after the section of a Cold War-era death strip that partially surrounds it. It’s not Berlin’s prettiest park, but it’s among its coolest thanks to a Sunday flea market where talented buskers, vintage shopping and karaoke converge.
Don’t miss catching Bearpit Karaoke, where crooners belt out their favorite songs to crowds of hundreds. Up above, the remains of the Berlin Wall have been commandeered by budding artists for spray-paint practice.
Görlitzer Park (Görli for short) reflects the Kreuzberg neighborhood’s rebel heart. The scene ranges from hippy-dippy to sporty, with drum circles, sunset yoga and Frisbee tossing.
The park had gained a bad reputation for nighttime drug dealing. But police have cleaned it up in recent years, leaving Görli to be enjoyed by a variety of residents: Kreuzberg’s Turkish and Arab families, lounging next to shirtless exercisers and techno enthusiasts.
There are good restaurants on its outskirts, like the Levantine snack spot Café Mugrabi and the Spanish tapas bar Bar Raval. During Berlin’s annual May Day festivities, when radical-left demonstrations and techno stages take over Kreuzberg, Görli is ground zero to enjoy a little ruckus.
Viktoriapark is a grown-up park, preferred by families and couples from the quiet Bergmannkiez neighborhood. It’s tidy, smells fresh and doesn’t get too rowdy.
Although this park is low-key, there’s a lot to take in, including the views from Berlin’s highest natural elevation and a waterfall.
The Golgatha beer garden is full of locals and always promises a good time. Drop by after checking out the park’s vineyard where you can try the homegrown Kreuz-Neroberger white wine for a donation.
The park surrounding Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace) is opulent and manicured, an anomaly among Berlin’s free-for-all green spaces. The landscaping across shady paths, gardens and even around a carp pond create the perfect baroque-era oil painting.
Despite this, there is still plenty of privacy to be had across secluded picnic spots and the famous Orangery. In the winter, kids take full advantage of sledding down Trummerberg hill again and again.
Volkspark Humboldthain is a green oasis on the surface, from rose gardens to ancient shady trees – but down below is a different story. Several bunkers and the underground networks beyond flak towers have been found beneath the park, which was a major target for air raids during World War II, and are now preserved by Berliner Unterwelten, a local society offering tours of the city’s underground history.
Day to day, Berliners don’t notice any of that, though – the northern hill, Humboldthoehe, offers great city views and winter tobogganing. The park also has open-air swimming baths and a vineyard.
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