Cool tips for a hot day

In a Berlin heatwave, it’s easy to stay cool – in every sense of the word. If you look down on the German capital from the air, the vast swathes of trees and water are startling; in fact, one third of the city’s area is made up of forests, parks, gardens, rivers, and lakes. In the city centre, the streets are lavishly planted with tall trees shading the wide pavements and the stone construction and spacious proportions of pre-war ‘Altbau’ buildings ensure that indoors you can find plenty of places to chill, even without air-conditioning.

Hallesches Haus

Start with breakfast at ‘Hallesches Haus’, a unique café and general store in a historic building on Tempelhofer Ufer in Kreuzberg.  Dating back to 1901, this redbrick Gothic-style started life as Post Office 61. After reunification in 1990 it was used as a venue for various night clubs. In the 2010s the counter hall was extensively renovated; the original skylights were reinstated and now the stylish ground-floor rooms are open to the public from Wednesday until Monday from 10am until 5pm.

Café space in the former post office building

Brunch is served until 3pm and home-made cake is available all day.  You can eat indoors in the airy former counter hall or outside in the pretty decked courtyard. A ‘Hallesches Haus Brunch’ features eggs on a sourdough waffle, Greek yoghurt, grilled vegetables, roasted walnuts, confit garlic and extras such as fennel sausage, thick cut bacon or sweetcorn and coriander fritters.  Or you can go for granola, a rainbow rice bowl, or a refreshing salad. The hot and cold drinks menu is equally imaginative and includes organic wines.

A perfect summer’s brunch

After brunch, you may feel like a browse in the general store at the front of the building. This space is filled with carefully curated design objects and accessories for the home, kitchen and garden, most of them with ecological pedigree and sourced from far and wide – an interesting and eclectic selection.  Don’t miss the view from the large windows where you can see the elevated tracksof the U1line running behind the Teltower Canal – a signature Berlin urban scene.

Lifestyle store

From Hallesches Tor underground station on the other side of the canal, it is easy to whizz off in any Berlin direction. The elevated U1line links the smart West End of Berlin with Warschauer Straβe over the Spree by the East Side Gallery. Or you can travel in a north-south direction on the U6 which crosses from West to East Berlin at Kochstraβe below Checkpoint Charlie. On a hot day you could head north to the beach at Alt-Tegel (U9 line) or go west for a spot of air-conditioned shopping in Berlin’s iconic department store, KaDeWe (Wittenbergplatz U1 line). The food hall on the sixth floor is apparently the size of two football pitches is a must. Among the 30 gourmet food stalls, I would recommend the ‘Fischkutter’ which now has an outside terrace perfect for summer days.

Fischkutter’s newly opened terrace in KaDeWe

If you fancy just chilling out in a green space, take the U7 line from Mehringdamm to Südstern and discover Volkspark Hasenheide, a huge park with a distinct Berlin vibe. Among its attractions are a rose garden, a children’s zoo, and an unpretentious retro Biergarten with a DDR flavour. On summer evenings films are shown after dusk in the outdoor theatre – but bring a cushion as the seats are hard! It’s here that the German gymnastic movement, headed by Friedrich Luwig Jahn began and it still has a sports area as well as large open spaces for playing football. Its name meaning ‘rabbit heath’ goes back to 1678 when it was used as a rabbit warren and the Great Elector came here to hunt. The highest point of the park is the Rixdorfer Höhe, a 69-metre pile of rubble, with a memorial to the Trümmerfrauen (rubble women) who cleared the rubble from the streets of Berlin after the Second World War.

Plenty of shade in Volkspark Hasenheide (photo credit - visitBerlin.de)

In the heatwave last week, we finished our day with early supper by the river Spree, followed by a film at the outdoor cinema on Kulturforum. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from on Schiffbauerdamm opposite Friedrichstraβe Station and I featured most of them in one of my earliest blogs from June 2015. This time we chose ‘Ständige Vertretung’ and I would still place it high on my list of recommended Berlin haunts. Its name means ‘Permanent Representation’ and refers to the years when the capital of the German Federal Republic was in Bonn and the West German government only had ‘representation’ in East Berlin.  The restaurant was established after Germany was reunited and the government moved back to Berlin in the 1990s. It was originally a haven for the Rhinelanders who had left their homeland and all the food and drink is typically ‘Kölsch’ – from the Cologne area. Even the terrace is called ‘Die Rheinterrasse’. The walls are plastered with posters of politicians and events from West German days and the atmosphere is distinctly upbeat. The menu choices are all traditionally German and include lots of sausage and pork, but if you fancy something light go for the Zanderfilet (local fish) or Flammkuchen (tarte flambée).

View from the Rheinterrasse

The Kulturforum Sommerkino (summer cinema) is opposite the Philarmonie concert hall, a short walk from Potsdamer Platz and only two stops on the S1 or S2 lines from Friedrichstraβe. Tickets are 10 euros either online or at the door, blankets cost an extra 4 euros and there’s a stall selling drinks and popcorn. Gazing up at a clear starlit sky from a comfortable red deckchair, it was the perfect end to a hot day. Most films shown in Berlin’s open-air cinemas are either in English or have English subtitles. 

‘C’mon, C’mon’ (2021) at the Sommerkino

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