Great Runs in Berlin

Photo Credit: Nico Trinkhaus. www.sumfinity.com

Berlin has become one of the most interesting and exciting cities in Europe to visit. You can go back in history to a church from 123o A.D., to the more recent history of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the ever-changing city and rejuvenating neighborhoods. Berlin is a terrific city from a runner’s perspective, but it takes some planning because it is big and sprawling. You can run almost anywhere in Berlin — the sidewalks are wide and there is an unbelievable network of bike paths (but note they really are for bikes…).

From the city’s center, there are wonderful runs around some of the most important sites and monuments, along the Spree River, and into some wonderful parks, notably the Tiergarten and Volkspark. Just outside the city, highlights include the Grunewald Forest, Spandauer Forest, Tegeler Forst, and some wonderful parks for running near the convention center and airport. If you have the time, hop on a train and go to Potsdam and run in on of their wonderful parks, including our famous ‘Palace Run’.

Berlin is very spread out — about 5x the size of Paris, and distances are big. So, best to plan your runs and where to stay, and use the

fabulous transportation system with extensive subway and rail (U-Bahn and S-Bahn), and bus lines. This allows you to do a run one way and hop the U-bahn back!

Topographically, the city is fairly flat. For some hills, go to Volkspark Friedrichshain.

Berlin climate is typical of continental Europe. Winters are cool but not frigid and there is rarely persistent snow or ice. Summers can be warm and humid but not hot, with lovely long days. Rain is plentiful and os spread throughout the year.


The Iconic Routes

  1. Tiergarten
  2. Central Berlin Sites
  3. Grunewald Forest
  4. East Berlin: Kanal, Treptower Park, Mitte
  5. Potsdam

The Routes

Tiergarten

14 miles of paths. Start: Brandenburg Gate. MAP
Nice add-on: Schlosspark Charlottenburg, ~2 miles west. Baroque castle surrounded by beautiful gardens, with paths along the River Spree. ~2 mile perimeter run and ~2 miles of paths.

The Tiergarten is the running capital of Berlin. A vast, 545 acre green space right in the city, Tiergarten is a running paradise for locals and visitors alike. There are about 14 miles of mainly gravel trails. A ‘straight’ option is to take the paths alongside Strasse des 17 Juni, past the Victory Column. There are several small lakes, lovely English Gardens, and paths along the Landwehrkanal and Spree River. Several of Berlin’s important landmarks are also part of this run: Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag building (seat of the German parliament), Bellevue Palace (German President’s residence), the Congress Hall, the Kanzleramt (Chancellor’s Office), some remnants of the Berlin Wall, and the Soviet War Memorial. Our embedded map shows a nice 7k tour of the park, courtesy of the Sheraton Grand Hotel, and our linked map shows the park’s entire trail system. There are maps well situated throughout the park, as well as WCs, water, and places for snacks or an after run beer.

Schlosspark Charlottenburg

2 miles or more. Start: Park. Access: Ubahn Richard-Wagner-Platz. MAP

The largest palace in Berlin and its lovely gardens are a popular tourist attraction. The park surrounding the palace makes for a lovely run, with grand paths approaching the palace and then along the water. The perimeter paths add to ~2 miles, with a couple more miles possible using all the interior paths. Closest subway access is Richard-Wagner-Platz or Sophie Charlotte Platz. A nice add-on is to run west along the Spree to Tiergarten, which is ~2 miles. Then you can run even more in the park, or along the water.

A great ‘long run’ option is to start at Brandenberg Gate, run through Tiergarten to the end, and then take the canal paths to Schlosspark Charlottenburg. Do a tour of the park and take the lovely tree-lined Schlosstrasse to the Sophie Charlotte Platz U-bahn for a return. About 7 miles one-way.

Berlin Central Sights

7.5 miles. Start: Alexanderplatz. MAP

This is a “jogging sightseeing” tour, incorporating some of the visitor highlights of Berlin. It’s about 7.5 miles, and you can jump on or off depending on whatever location is most convenient. Our route starts at the centrally located Alexanderplatz — a major transport and shopping center, and near the Berlin Congress Center. There are several examples of important German architecture and history in this area. Head west, running by the Aquarium, East Germany museum, and on the river, just across from the Museumsinsel — an island with several of Berlin’s important museums. Head south, passing by the Berlin opera and the Communications Museum, to Checkpoint Charlie. Pass by a the Topography of Terrors (actually a very serious exhibition of Nazi atrocities), up to the Potsdamer Platz — a square at the heart of the city’s history, and area with several concert halls and theaters. Head north, on the outskirts of Tiergarten to the Brandenberg Gate and German Parliament (Reichstag). The run concludes with a 2 mile jaunt east, through the University of Berlin, along Unter Den Linden, a wide street with many important buildings and museums (and tons of construction). Easy add-ons to this run are the paths of Tiergarten. See river paths, or west along the Kurfürstendamm.

Museuminsel.

This is an island right in the heart of Berlin that has several important museums and buildings. One can run on the island, and on paths along the river on either side, using the many pedestrian bridges to cross over. It is a good 3.5–4 miles on the paths around the island. Lots of ways to add on with river paths in area. Note: lots of construction in the area.

Kurfürstendamm

4.8 miles out and back along the Kurfürstendamm. Start: western end in Hallensee, or eastern end at Wittenbergplatz subway. MAP

This is Berlin’s most important commercial street, akin to the Champs Elysees. The Ku’damm, as it is called, has been the heart of west Berlin, lined with cafés, clubs, fashion stores, car dealerships (nice looking ones) and restaurants. It is pleasant to run along this wide road, especially in the morning before it’s too crowded. Also a good night running option. A there and back along the main sections of the road is ~4.8 miles. Good options to continue south of Kurfürstendamm into the Wilmersdorf area and lovely Volkspark. Also, the side streets off Kurfürstendamm are pleasant for running. An interesting site here the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Treptower Park and Spree Paths

5 mile Loop w/shorter options. Start: S-Bahn Treptower park stop. MAP
Longer option
or separate run: Over bridge and along Spree River paths. MAP

Treptower Park is a good anchor point for running in east Berlin. It’s a bit of a ride from the city center but easy to get to via S-Bahn. The pleasant park has numerous paths that can be combined with a run along the Spree River. Our route starts at the S-Bahn station, through the Treptower Park trails and the Planterwald nature preserve. An important landmark is the Soviet War Memorial, which commemorates the 80,000 Soviet soldiers who were killed in the Battle of Berlin. Then loop back along the river paths, viewing remaining elements of the Spreepark amusement park, which operated from 1969–2001. Our run is 5 miles. For a nice add-on, cross the bridge over the river and run along Spree River paths of the Rummelsbergarea. It’s a This is mostly waterfront running, with some 7.5 miles RT possible. A 3.5 mile loop would be the finger out to Friedhof Alt-Stralau. Nearby is the massive Arena Berlin, and good running options along the Landwehr Canal trails.

Landwehr Canal and Gorlitzer Park

6.25 mile loop. Start: U Hallesches Tor U-Bahn or other stops. MAP

This is another pleasant run in east Berlin, taking in the trails along the Landwehr Canal and Gorlitzer Park. The dirt path goes along the water here, with weeping willows and by beer gardens and restaurants, including Restaurant Boat van Loon. There are lots of restaurants and cafes along Maybach-Ufer or Paul-Lincke-Ufer. Our route includes a tour of Gorlitzer Park, with its big open fields and paths. This run can also be combined with Treptower Park, about 1 mile away. On Tuesdays and Fridays there is a wonderful Turkish market, which makes for a great post-run stop.

Grunewald Forest

Many trail options. 3 lakes w/good perimeter paths
Access: Grunewald station (closest to the city), Nikolassee station (south end), or Wannsee station (closest to the beach)

At 7,000 acres, this is the largest park in Berlin. Nearly 100 miles of roads and trails. Some fairly rugged for running. Hard to proscribe a particular run since there are so many options. Some lakeside path perimeters include 2.5k around Grunewaldsee, 4k around Krumme Lake, and 8k around the Schlachtensee. One option is to do a long run, such as to the south end of Lake Schlachtensee, and then the S-Bahn Nikolassee station. A good hill option is to follow the trail called Teufelsberg, which is a 350-foot high mountain made out of rubble from WW2. Now that’s a one-of-a-kind ‘er.!

Neighborhoods

Prenzlauer Berg

A nice neighborhood for running. Combine this with Volkspark Friedrichshain. Lots of pleasant streets with cafes, parks, and playgrounds. Stay west of Prenzlauer Allee and east of Brunnenstrasse. Good streets include Kollwitzplatz and Kollwitzstraße.

Source: Best Western Hotel President

The Wilmersdorf. Pretty neighborhood in the southwest part of the city. Volkspark Wilmersdorf is a lovely linear park that has a tour of 5–7k. Western end is along small ponds. Access via subway: Rathaus Schöneberg. Others nearby. MAP

Berlin Outskirts Parks

Volkspark Rehberge. Nice park which, combined with Goethe Park to the southeast is nearly 300 acres or ~3 miles of pleasant biking and walking trails, and a nicely manicured memorial garden. ~4 miles west of the city and only 2 miles from Tegel aiport. Can be combined with Volkspark Jungfernheide, which is 1.5 miles east. Access: Rehberge metro.

Volkspark Jungfernheide.Nice 300 acre park with sporting facilities. Great option near Tegel airport.

Volkspark Friedrichshain. a path-packed melange of wooded rolling hills, grasslands, a Baroque fairy-tale fountain, and two good-sized hills made from surplus rubble. Berlin’s oldest park. Combine with nearby Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood. MAP

Spandauer Forest. Access: Spandaur U-Bahn. This is a huge park about 10 miles west of the center of Berlin. Closest public transport access is Spandauer, 1.5 miles from the park. It is nearly 4 miles from the southern end of the park to the northern end. There are tons of trails, with a good variety of woods, fields, and waterside paths. Good maps and loop options right off the parking lot at Schoenwalden Allee. A couple of highlights are to run along the stream paths one way, and then along the Brandenberg Wall path on the way back. If 10+ miles of running in this park isn’t enough, Tegeler Forest, with its more wooded, rugged trails, is just to the east. Spandauer Forest is a good running option near Berlin’s international airport.

Tegeler See. Access: U-Bahn Tegel. Just north of Tegel airport. Wonderful waterfront run along the Tegler See. Run across Borsigdamm towards Greenwichpromenade. Once past the mooring sites, you’ll reach the beautiful park of the Tegel Palace. Just past Villa Borsig via Schwarzer Weg, you’ll reach the Tegeler See and a beach & swimming site. This out and back is just over 4 miles, and can be combined with trails in the Tegeler Forst. MAP

Potsdam

6 miles RT. Start: Potsdam Train Station. MAP

About 15 miles from Berlin and an easy train ride, Potsdam is the capital of the German state of Brandenberg and was the residence of Prussian kings and the Kaiser until 1918. Running options here abound — there are wonderful palaces, paths along the Havel river, and wonderful parks. Our route highlights the famous castles and landmarks of Potsdam. Start at the train station and take Friedrich-Ebert-Straße to the northern city gate. Then take the park path to the main city gate, and into the Marlygarten and the main palace area. Use the northern end paths of the park, running by the Sanssouci (Frederick the Great) palace and gardens, the Orangery Palace and Botanical Gardens, and then along Hauptalee to the Neues Palace — enjoy the stairs! Return along the other area paths. There are great options to add on here: University of Potsdam, paths along the Havel river 2k just to the south, Babelesberg Park and several other wonderful parks, particularly to the east.


STAY

There is a huge selection of hotels in Berlin. The city is very spread out, so best to plan you stay near one of the routes and near a metro station. Recommendations:

  • Western section of Berlin. Large cluster of hotels just south of Tiergarten, and the Kurfürstendamm
  • Lots of hotels in area between Tiergarten and Museum Island.
  • Mitte area. Access to Spree trails, and many sites. Radisson Blu Berlin has Blu Routes
  • East: Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood, also good access to Volkspark Friedrichshain
  • Near airport: Don’t despair. Good running here in Volkspark Jungfernheide and Tegler See.
  • Convention Center. Conveniently located. 3km north of Tiergarten, 3km south of Volkspark Rehberge.
  • Spandau. Quite a number of hotels here, and close to forest/park.

Running Stores and Group Runs

Many of the running shoe companies have running stores in Berlin.

Runners Point. Has 5 stores in the Berlin area. They have a very centrally located store right on Kurfürstendamm A fast growing group run culture, with events nearly every day.

Nike Store. Near Tiergarten. Group runs.

Spreeläufer. Good running store in Prenzlauer Berg area.

Puma Store and Adidas Store, Potsdamer Platz, and a couple of other locations.

Group Runs

Mike’s Sight Running. Has wonderful running tours of Berlin.

SFB running club that meets every Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Siegessaule in the Tiergarten. Groups break up into all levels, from a slow 15-minute run to longer than an hour at a faster pace.

Runners Point and the Nike Run Club store also host group runs.


Events

Running in Germany. Good site for info about marathons and other interesting races in Germany.

Berlin Marathon. September. One of the world’s three largest and best marathons. It has two gentle inclines at miles 17 and 21. Otherwise, it’s a fast, flat course through the whole city, and 800 years of history with a spectacular new finish, through the Brandenburg Gate.

Berliner Half-Marathon. April. Nearly 15,000 runners take a 13.1-mile sight-seeing tour of the city. Visit www.berlin-marathon.com.

Big 25 Berlin. May. An undulating urban route that starts and finishes at the Olympic Stadium. Great race, going back to 1981, through Berlin sites.

Berliner City Nacht. Summer. This summer evening 10-K starts at the Europa Center Mall and runs down the Ku’damm.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Mark Lowenstein’s story.