Our Berlin green travel guide, for travellers who want to experience eco-friendly and sustainable Berlin.
When we arrived in Berlin, the first thing we saw was abandoned buildings and graffiti everywhere. This wasn’t the green metropolis I had been imagining and expecting at all. Then I realised, I had barely scratched the surface.
Berlin is a city that’s constantly being reconstructed, redesigned and re-purposed. You won’t meet a Berliner who doesn’t say: “You should’ve seen Berlin one year ago – it’s changed so much.” We heard that phrase over and over from different Berliners.
The more you learn about the city and the deeper you explore, the more you realise just how green Berlin is – and how protective the locals are of it’s green and sustainable status. Many Berliners follow LOHAS, a “lifestyle of health and sustainability” that involves living, eating, shopping and getting around in the most responsible way they can.
But just how do you set about getting involved in LOHAS and exploring this eco-city? Our Berlin green travel guide has you covered.
Green Walking Tours in Berlin
Day one in Berlin, you need to get your bearings. There are absolutely loads of different green walking tours in Berlin, but check ahead of time as the tours only run on specific days and sometimes only with advanced bookings.
- Co-housing and Sustainable Architecture Tours
- Creative Sustainability Tour
- Green Art and Design Tour
- Future of Berlin Bike Tour
We excitedly came across the Green Tour with Alternative Berlin Tours, but when we enquired about booking they replied that their “green Berlin tour is not running since the city is not green yet.” We enquired about a few other tours but found most of them were either not running or beyond our budget.
After failing to find a green walking tour that was either running or affordable, we just hitched onto an alternative free walking tour. Even though there were some interesting nuggets about life as a Berliner in the tour, if you’re really interested in Berlin’s green side, I’d recommend just plotting your own walking route.
Green Sights in Berlin
Berlin’s Reichstag is the greenest parliament building in the world. The glass dome is designed to bring natural daylight into warm the meeting rooms below and biofuel generators in the basement produce 40% of the building’s energy.
If you book online ahead of time, you can head up onto the roof of the Reichstag and explore inside the dome.
Green Spaces in Berlin
Berlin has a huge 900km2 of green space, parks and forests dotted around the city. These green areas are social hubs and it’s not unusual to find Berliners spending their time lounging in parks, frequently markets held on green areas, practising yoga on the grass or getting hands on with some guerilla gardening.
Perhaps the most famous of Berlin’s green spaces in Tiergarten, situated in the West next to Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag. It’s the second largest green space in Berlin and attracts day time wanders to its paths and evening drinkers to it’s beer garden.
Berlin is an extremely flat city but there’s one green space where you can actually get a decent view over the city – Viktoriapark. Located in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, Viktoriapark is home to a national monument that sits on top of the hill and an artificial waterfall that runs down from the foot of the monument.
Berlin’s largest green space is Tempelhofer Feld, a green development on the site of an old airport runway. Tempelhof Airport closed in October 2008 and the land has since been converted into a central park. A community gardening project, more fondly known as guerilla gardening, has emerged here. Amateur gardeners have created a cluster of higgledy-piggledy allotments where they grow fruit, veggies and plants.
Park am Gleisdreieck
Park am Gleisdreieck is another incredible example of Berlin’s repurposing of derelict land. Gleisdreieck is a former U-Bahn station which has now been transformed into a green oasis. Train tracks still run through the green grass of the park, criss-crossing with the paths. A nearby allotment has also been incorporated onto the edge of the park.
To the east of Neukolln in Berlin’s Treptower district is Spreepark, an abandoned amusement park along the banks of the River Spree. The park has gained itself a bit of a cult status, but the council have fenced off the area and employed security guards and dogs to stop trespassers. Spreepark is set in a lush woodland area and you can see into the park whilst strolling along the riverside. There are no redevelopment plans yet.
Unfortunately we found out about the Himmelbeet too late to visit, but if you’re in Berlin’s Wedding district then you’ll want to check out this public park. The local community grow fruits and veggies on-site, sell their harvest locally and invest the proceeds in cultural events in Berlin.
Green Eating in Berlin
Berlin is a hub of mindful eating places, boasting more than 300 vegetarian and vegan restaurants across the city. I’m not going to go into all the amazing vegan restaurants in Berlin in this post, but I do want to share some cool local initiatives and green eating markets in Berlin.
Twice a month, this communal housing projects hosts a vegan buffet. There’s an absolutely mind blowing spread of savoury dishes like roasted stuffed peppers and baked potatoes. There’s also a big second course of crazy cakes. It’s a pay by donation type of place, where you pay what you can afford (recommended donation is €5-8).
Located in Kreuzberg, Markthallen Neun is a revived market hall that hosts various markets and foodie events. One of the most popular with locals and travellers is Street Food Thursday, when the market is buzzing with stalls cooking up food from around the world. We chowed down on some vegan tofu currywurst and Korean baobab, washed down with local organic wine.
Every Thursday in Prenzlauer Berg, local farmers gather in Kollwitzplatz to sell their organically grown fruit, vegetables and other produce.
Green Shopping in Berlin
If you’re really into the concept of LOHAS, then like many Berliners you’ll be conscious of the places where you shop. Fortunately, green Berlin is a city full of ethical, eco-friendly and second-hand shops and markets.
For anyone who likes eating vegan as much as we do, Veganz is the place to shop. The first vegan supermarket in Europe, Veganz stocks exclusively vegan products from food to cosmetics.
If you happen to be at the Veganz in Warschauer Strasse, then don’t forget to stop by avesu, a vegan shoe seller located upstairs.
Loveco is the place to shop for ethical, vegan clothes in Berlin. As you might expect, the price tags are a bit high but the clothing range is beautiful. They also stock very cool SoulBottles, recycled water bottles.
If you’re rather buy secondhand than brand new, then Mauerpark’s Sunday flea market is the place to get your hands on pretty much anything. You’ll find antique and upcycled furniture, clothes that look like they came out of your grandma’s closet and a range of other random objects.
Green Transport in Berlin
Berlin is a reasonably spaced out city and even though there are lots of beautiful green areas to walk in Berlin, you’ll need to use public transport to get between them. Fortunately, Berlin is working on a more environmentally-friendly transport system.
Berlin’s public transport authority is working on making the transport network as sustainable as possible. Some of Berlin’s buses are equipped with hydrogen combustion engines and the first electro buses are already up and running in the city. The trams run on special green tracks embedded into the grass that reduce air and noise pollution.
If you’re travelling around Berlin for a few days, definitely grab yourself a Berlin WelcomeCard. This travel card lets you travel as frequently as you like on public transport, including the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses. It also provides discounted entry to a number of sights.
“A chic bike is for many Berliners a far more important status symbol than a car, which they forego,” says Berlin’s Tourism Board. And it’s totally true. Cycling around Berlin is a really popular way to get from A to B for locals. You can rent bicycles all around the city.
Green Developments in Berlin
There are a number of green developments planned for Berlin’s unused space and brownfield areas. A green neighbourhood project called the Eckwerk is being planned for an area along the River Spree. The project consists of five energy efficient high-rise buildings constructed from wood, as well as a fish farm and vegetable garden. Another cool green development is Green8, a proposed vertical garden city, designed to house and feed a local community.
You can read about all the latest green developments and project proposals in Berlin on Inhabitat.
Berlin Green Travel
Are you planning a trip to Berlin? Let me know about your sustainable and eco-friendly travels in Berlin.