A Weekend in Berlin: Don't forget your helmet... and watch out for the bells!

Carol wearing a helmet and standing in front of the Berlin East Side Gallery with a bike.
Carol with her bike and helmet at Berlin's East Side Gallery.

Current MPP student Carol has been exploring Berlin via the city’s many bike paths.

One of the greatest things about Berlin is the bike culture. Either in summer or winter, you will see people biking to work, to meet friends, as a sport or just for fun. Especially during summer, when the city is vibrant and full of people, bikes are everywhere.

One of my favorite things to do on the weekends in Berlin is to bike somewhere new. I was lucky enough to have found a group of Hertie people who love biking – some more, some less – but we always find something to fit everyone's needs. And of course, there is always the bike wagon in the train, where you can put your bike if you are too tired to come back cycling – we've all been there.

During summer, biking to lakes is a solid weekend plan. If you want to try something adventurous, depending on where you live, lakes like Krumme Lanke, Schlachtensee and Tegeler See are beautiful. But be aware: get there early so you can find a good spot. If you want to test your biking skills, you can always try longer distances to places such as Dämeritzsee, Müggelsee and Liepnitzsee. The latter has amazing turquoise waters and a nice forest to find a shadow and get some rest.

Outside of the most obvious destinations, one thing that really helped me to get to know new places in Berlin is the app Komoot, where people can share biking and hiking routes. A great thing about the app is that it shows you a lot of interesting bike routes in Berlin or in neighboring cities.

Red and orange trees in front of a red church tower.
A person biking down a dirt bike trail surrounded by green and trees.
A person sitting on a bike with a backpack on a cobblestone street.

It may look like summer is the one and only season for you and your bike. But fall is special in Berlin. For a few weeks, you are lucky to live in a city colored in red and orange. Biking to Brandenburg and Potsdam or to other small cities around Berlin is a great experience. In winter, you might think it is too cold for biking, but somehow, after watching so many people come and go with their bikes, you are convinced that it can be done. And after putting on 10 layers of clothes so you can barely move your arms and legs, you are there, biking too.

I will give you one last and very important tip on biking in Berlin: if Google Maps tells you it only takes 15 minutes from one place to another, make sure to add 10 more. For some reason, they seem to have set the average biking time for racers in the Tour de France, because unless you break all traffic rules and have a cycling superpower unknown to others, you will be sending this message to your friends: "Hi, I am running late, almost there."


Chat with Carol to find out what life as a graduate student in Berlin is like.

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