Art festivals and foliage: an autumn guide to Berlin


Art festivals and foliage: an autumn guide to Berlin

Make a break for Berlin to go gallery hopping and mushroom picking, then sidle up to the bar in a former pharmacy for cocktails mixed with beetroot and fig juice.

Allison DiLiegro

BY Allison DiLiegro25 September 2018

Though it’s alluring throughout the year, there’s something particularly sublime about an autumn trip to Berlin. All the cosy bar banquettes, the golden light and the locals’ penchant for oversized outerwear are just a few things that add to the city’s charm this time of year. While the sun is warm and the air is crisp, here’s how to explore Berlin inside and out.

Berlin is one of the greenest cities in Europe, thanks in part to the serious square footage of Tempelhof Feld. Set on the site of a former Nazi airport (you can still tour the terminal), this park is lined with pathways ideal for an afternoon stroll or a more ambitious bike ride.

If it’s autumn foliage you’re after, try Tiergarten – one of the city’s most elegant options. Pick a tree-lined path and stroll under the leaves. On the weekends you can hunt for vintage finds at Berliner Trödelmarkt, the oldest flea market in Berlin.

Seeking a more pastoral pastime? Try mushroom picking. Set just west of elegant Charlottenberg, Grunewald Forest teems with mushrooms from mid September through November. You’ll need to hire a guide (or download a mushroom-picking app) to identify which are edible. Anyone who has seen Phantom Thread will understand why that’s crucial.

If you’d rather have someone else pick your produce – which might be a safer bet – head to one of Berlin’s buzzing farmer’s markets. Winterfeldt Markt in Schöneberg is one of the best, with fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers and lots of snacks. The market is best on Saturday mornings.

Tiergartengewässer Lake in Tiergarten Park, Berlin

Use a cloudy day to dig into Berlin’s art scene. Autumn sees festivals like Art Berlin, a modern and contemporary art fair (27-30 September), and the Berlin branch of the European Month of Photography (30 September-31 October). Both festivals are housed in galleries throughout the city, so prepare to spend the day on the move.

Berlin’s art scene isn’t just about cutting edge art – it’s also about unexpected gallery spaces. The König Galerie is set inside a former Brutalist church in Kreuzberg. The heavy concrete St. Agnes church was designed by German architect Werner Düttmann in the late 1960s. It has housed the gallery since 2015.

Art Berlin, Germany

Another is Sammlung Boros, set in a former Nazi bunker that became a banana warehouse and a techno party space. The owners, who live in an apartment on the roof, have amassed a collection that they rotate every two years. Snag a spot on a guided group tour (note: these book up months in advance) or reserve a private showaround on the official website.

Come fall, cocktails migrate from the riverbanks to cosier spaces. One of the most inviting new bars is Mitte’s Mr Susan, a plush underground hideaway with velvet barstools and rich navy walls. Cocktails are made with fun flavour combinations and mixed by some of the most respected bartenders in town.

Housed in a former pharmacy that dates back to 1861, Ora has unique surroundings. The antique apothecary cabinets have been repurposed to shelve glassware. The dining room is open all day, but Ora is particularly perfect for a drink and a snack at the bar.

Panama is a hotspot restaurant frequented by fashion elites, but the team’s Tiger Bar next door might be even more special. The cocktail menu is based on four spirits aged in four German terroirs. The spirits are paired with regional ingredients to create unique cocktails that are location and season specific.

If you’re looking for comfort food, you’ve come to the right town. Einstein Unter den Linden is a classic Berlin coffeehouse that’s famous for its schnitzel. After a takeover by the restaurant group behind Pauly Saal and Le Petit Royal, Einstein Unter den Linden now has a chic dining room with cozy green leather booths and bowtie-clad waitstaff.

Set in Kreuzberg, Shishi is a new venture by the owners of Israeli favorite Yafo. There is a courtyard, but the playfully pink dining room is just right for cooler months. The menu features seasonal Mediterranean dishes and a natural wine list.

Berlin is home to some of the best Asian restaurants in Europe. Perhaps the most sophisticated is Kin Dee, a relaxed fine dining venture by young Thai chef Dalad Kambhu and artist Rikrit Tiravanija. The family-style tasting menu features authentic but innovative dishes served in a warm space.

Berliners love lingering over coffee and cakes. While it might sound on the nose, Café Strauss is a lovely cafe where you can sip your coffee while overlooking a cemetery. ‘Tis the season.