How to Survive a Berlin Winter

by James Glazebrook

We’ve said it before: Berlin only has two seasons, summer and winter. As soon as it’s too cold to spend whole weekends in a beer garden or barbecue every meal, Berliners start ominously whispering “winter is coming”, as if they were Ned bloody Stark. Sometimes this is meant as a hint – “time to go back to your tropical homeland, sunboy” – but some of us are genuinely concerned for the wellbeing of Berlinoobs. If you’ve only been to the city during one of its long, blissful summers, and you come from a hot country – one that doesn’t even have winters – then you’re going to need all the help you can get.

So here’s our handy guide to surviving a Berlin winter, illustrated by Josh Bauman, the talented bastard behind Caffeinated Toothpaste:
Layer up! by Josh Bauman

Layer up!
You’re going to need a killer winter wardrobe of fur, capes, long johns and serious boots. For inspiration, look to this outfit Zoë put together, or, well, Ned Stark. But until those fleamarket trips pay off, you’ll have to make do with what you have. Upend that single suitcase you brought when you moved here, and lay out all those bikinis, bermuda shorts and belly tops. Now put them all on. As soon as you find a cape or a Jack Wolfskin coat big enough to cover all that shit, you’re set!

Stay inside! by Josh Bauman
Stay inside!
Even though we get out more now than when we lived in London, we’re still complete homebodies next to most Berlin party people. Here are some tips to help you stay warm by replicating our shut-in lifestyle:

  • Quit your job! Or freelance from home. Travelling to work is for suckers
  • Rearrange your apartment. Cluster all your furniture so you can live within a square metre of the one radiator that really works, or failing that, the oven. While you’re there, preheat it to 200°C for your underwear
  • If you do work from home, forget any pretence of getting out of bed and drag your coffee machine, fridge – and an empty 2 litre bottle 😉 –  into your Schlafzimmer
  • Buy a Beamer. Fuck travelling to a cinema to see whatever Christmassy crap has just been released – just hold your own film screenings
  • Live on takeaway. Services like and lieferando (or bloomsburys for the Yukis) let you order online, without even attempting to speak German. Also, the extra fat is great insulation if you do decide to go outside…

Get outside! by Josh Bauman
Get outside!
The only way to avoid cabin fever is to break up time spent indoors with brief spells of outdoor awesomeness. We’ve found that spending just 5% of your time outside is enough to avoid becoming Jack from The Shining. Here’s how to inject some strategic outside into your life:

  • Do it in the daytime! Going outside while it’s dark is more depressing than staying indoors
  • Walk on a frozen canal, or even the Spree. Best thing you’ll do all winter
  • Geek out at awesome indoor attractions like the Computer Games Museum or Loxx – this miniature railway version of Berlin is the best way to see the city without having to be out in it!
  • Glühwein. I could ride out a life sentence in a Siberian labour camp if they gave me a mug of mulled wine every couple of hours

Grow a beard!
Like you need a reason…

Trust science!
Don’t panic, but this is about to get scientific. Having spent the second half of the year predicting the worst winter on record, Berliners *always* say, “That was nothing – last winter was much worse.” So either global warming is working in our favour, and pretty soon we’ll spend our winters complaining about the sunburn and mosquitos, or these harsh winters are something you just get used to. Either way, good news. Thanks science!

Summerfy it!
Speaking of science, I can’t believe no one’s offered to buy the patented technology behind our Summerfy app. Summerfy uses augmented reality to layer summery sunshine over the grimmest winter scenes, and even turns Berliners’ frowns upside down. As soon as startup founders start gravitating here from Brazil instead of London and Scandinavia, we expect this to be snapped up. Look out for it in the app stores!

Remember: it’s not forever!
Berlin winters last for four-and-a-half months – six at most. Half a year of blistering cold and near constant pitch-blackness is a small price to pay for living in the greatest city in the world… right? Before you know it, you’ll be shaking your shit on a faked-up beach bar with a cocktail in each hand. Maintain.