By Amélie Gagné
In Berlin, sustainability is not just a trending topic — it is ingrained in the city’s culture. Berliners have always supported green and sustainable ideas. For them, the city’s abundance of public parks is essential to their way of life. Many Berliners are less interested in automobiles and more in bicycle commutes. Rather than surrounding themselves with industrial mass-produced goods, they learn how to make furniture or clothing in DIY workshops. You can eat vegetarian and vegan almost anywhere, shop sustainably and second-hand, and stay in certified eco-hotels. Indeed, there are many eco-friendly things to do in Berlin for travelers!
This article celebrates everything environmentally-friendly and sustainable in Berlin that is also interesting to environmentally-conscious visitors. Berlin is not only one of Germany’s greenest cities; it also has an increasing number of sustainable projects and activities for you to enjoy — ideally by bike. I hope you do!
Sustainable Activities in Berlin
When the old Tempelhof Airport closed in 2008, it left a large open space in the city center. This 355-hectare site was designated a park in 2010, making it the second-largest inner-city park in Germany. For Berliners and tourists alike, Tempelhofer Park is a space for sports and fun for all, as well as an ideal location for large events. A six-kilometer cycle, skating, and jogging track, various barbecue areas, a four-hectare dog meadow, urban gardening, and a large picnic area are all available. The vast meadows are also a haven for skylarks and many other bird species. Come summer time, grab a few Späti beers and head to Tempelhof for sunset — an eco-friendly, free, and quintessentially Berliner thing to do. Tempelhofer Park is one of our recommended cycling sightseeing routes in Berlin.
The glass dome of Germany’s Bundestag needs no introduction, but did you know it’s a very sustainable construction? Once a controversial sight, it now attracts thousands of tourists each year. 360 mirrors project natural light into the plenary room downstairs. They not only provide natural sunlight to the building (as well as affording amazing views all around), but they also house a heat recovery system that uses the air from the plenary room to heat the rest of the structure. For first-time visitors to Berlin, a visit to this historic, eco-friendly building is a must.
Natur Park Schöneberger Südgelände
Natur Park Schöneberger Südgelände is a former railyard repurposed into what is called “Berlin Urban Nature” — a crossroad where local residents’ aspirations, contemporary landscape culture, and the manifestation of a profound ecological awareness for the city all came together in a magical way. Today, the area has grown into a large public space, helping to redefine the concept of an inner-city park. Its abandoned railway structures, vast expanses of wild vegetation and art installations highlight the dialogue between signs of human presence and ever-evolving nature.
Malzfabrik is a vibrant island that emphasizes creativity, culture, environmental awareness, and long-term thinking. Since 2005, a new, sustainably optimized usage concept has given the nearly 50,000-square-meter monument new life. Historical tours are held twice a month on Saturdays to explore the factory and its history, and there are always activities planned. Check out the calendar here.
Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use GPS and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers known as “geocaches” or “caches” at specific locations marked by coordinates all over the world. Berlin has a few that are easily accessible by bike and are focused on sustainability! The Sustainable Berlin project series, for example, is about places in the capital that use fewer resources and produce less CO2 in order to protect our environment. It should also provide incentives for us to take action on climate change and even save money. The round can be done jogging or cycling.
Sustainable eats in Berlin
FREA is not only one of the very few fully vegan fine dining outposts in Berlin, but they are also zero waste: they don’t use any plastic and all leftover food is composted in-house and returned to supplier farms within 24 hours.
The restaurant creates elegant and imaginative vegan dishes using sustainable ingredients sourced exclusively from regional organic farmers. Customers can enjoy homemade sourdough bread, homemade pasta with pumpkin, and chocolate and hazelnut milk from their own production. This is the place to go if you want to eat all-around environmentally-friendly dishes in a beautiful interior.
A magical permaculture garden turned farm-to-table restaurant with organic certification lies inconspicuously nestled away from the streets of Rixdorf, in old Neukölln. Café Botanico serves traditional Italian cuisine made from wild herbs and vegetables, such as fettuccine with black truffle and dishes made from nettles, cabbage, and more. All picked from the very garden where you are sitting. A magical experience on a balmy Summer evening.
The Daluma team has three goals: nourishment, flavor, and sustainability. Aside from freshly prepared food, the shop is particularly well-known for its homemade juices and smoothies, which are bottled locally in glass bottles and labeled with a nutritional table and color codes for optimal nutrient concentration. From the ingredients to the packaging, they only use sustainable resources. There’s also a new range of eco-cosmetics and health supplements. The prettiest eco-friendly café in Berlin.
Kopps, located in the heart of Mitte, serves beautifully-prepared regional, seasonal, and organic fares in a romantic setting. To create extraordinary compositions, the kitchen staff combines high-quality ingredients with creative craftsmanship. The restaurant does not use any animal ingredients and focuses on health and freshness. The weekend brunch is especially great!
Sustainable stays in Berlin
The Circus Hotel
Ran by a group of folks who are passionate about their city and about introducing you to its hidden little, The Circus Hotel is as eco-friendly as it gets. Everything in the hotel, from the heavenly toiletries to the free, custom-designed guidebook to the ultra-comfy Birkenstock mattresses to the eco-friendly climate control, has been carefully considered to help you discover parts of Berlin you may not have known about. If you choose to stay in and enjoy the lovely rooms, the mini-bar is full of regional delicacies and drinks that won’t let you down. The inner garden and cocktail bar are the ideal spots to start and end your days. The Circus is also very accommodating to vegans.
Right on the bustling Warschauer Straße, also known as Berlin’s party district, is where you’ll find the Michelberger Hotel. This hotel guarantees its visitors a distinctive experience with its setting filled with contemporary, eco-friendly, and eccentric architecture. For guests to fully immerse themselves in the artistic ambiance of Friedrichshain, each room has a distinctive artistic décor. Don’t worry if you don’t want to party; this area offers more than just that. The hotel’s restaurant offers great (and vegan-friendly) fares created with organic products and local ingredients. A great choice for anyone interested in sustainable design.
Amélie is all about the journey: the literal traveling ones, the self-development and spiritual ones, and the veganism and wellness ones. She’s constantly trying new things, has no problems changing her mind, and is not a big believer in following the easy, expected, or well-trodden path. She likes to write everything down on her blog Mostly Amélie — whether that’s curating hostel and hotel guides for Europe’s best cities including Berlin (her home for seven years), taking a deep dive into yoga philosophy, or researching the realities of vegan nutrition.