The best of Berlin in January

Exberliner, Berlin’s leading English-language magazine, in January tells you where to go batty, finds the knitty gritty in Mitte, and gets cozy in Kreuzkölln.

The best of Berlin in January
Photo: Exberliner

Berlin bloodsuckers

If Batman were real, we would be the first ones to recommend that he settles down in Berlin. No less than 17 different species of bats – out of the total 24 in Germany – would assure he would feel right at home. With so many bats, it’s no surprise that there are so many organizations either trying to profit from or trying to rescue the tiny bloodsuckers. Berlin Artenschutz Team (BAT) fits both descriptions. In the Fledermauskeller, their basement headquarters in Zitadelle Spandau, visitors can view 130 bats, which flap around behind a Plexiglass wall. None of the three species in residence are native to Germany (they come from Africa and Latin America), because the indigenous varieties are protected by German law. But local bats are an important part of the BAT operation; they treat some 150 injured bats per year, often for injuries caused by close encounters with seemingly friendly cats. Another source of danger for the flying rodents: gentrification. For some of the bats, the commie Plattenbau and it’s non-existent insulation was the perfect hibernation hideout, and with all the recent tearing down, a lot of habitats have disappeared. Whether the condo carnage affects the heartbeats of the bats is doubtful, but with 500-1000 beats per minute, it easily surpasses that of the most drug-driven Berlin heart. With that kind of intensity, it’s no wonder that the 10,000 bats hibernating within the humid air and thick walls of the Zitadelle need their winter sleep. And since the BAT headquarters is open to the public daily from noon to 5pm there is no good reason why you shouldn’t go check out the sharp-toothed night flyers yourself.

Fledermauskeller | Haus 4, Zitadelle spandau, U-Bhf Zitadelle, tel 030 3675 0061, Daily 12-17,

Knitting makes you thirsty

Next time you walk past the systM Bar on Torstraße, listen carefully: you might hear the delicate tinkling of knitting needles. A couple of times every month, a small society of knitting devotees gathers here. They talk and laugh, filling and refilling their drinks and working away at their colourful creations as the yarn balls slowly dance across the wooden floor. In spite of the pale blue-grey light, the atmosphere is cosy. Blink twice and you’ll swear you’re curled up under the glow of grandma’s hearth. Maybe it’s the yarn. An outpost of Paris-based knitting collective Collectif France Tricot, StrickenBar was imported by French natives Oryanne Dufour and Emmanuelle Esther when the latter moved to Berlin around a year ago. After changing locations a few times (the summer was spent at Jacki Terrasse), the girls settled on Mitte’s systM Bar. Knitting is free and if you happen to be a yarn virgin, they will even help you get started. They even provide the wool which is paid for by some mysterious sponsor and the money they make through various knitting projects – like working for designers or Esther’s online knitwear shop. And since, as the saying goes, Stricken macht durstig (knitting makes you thirsty), there’s the bar to quench your needs whether you’d rather knit over coffee, tea or a dry martini. And contrary to ‘knitting circle’ stereotypes, StrickenBar is no estrogen-fest. Real men know how to get domestic.

strickenBar | systM Bar, torstr. 68, Mitte, U-Bhf rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, For dates visit

Kreuzkölln multicafé

Kultursalon Roderich is a huge expanse of a café, Videothek and bookstore in one, that just feels like your perfect cultural retreat for the winter months. Tucked away in a courtyard just off Paul-Linke-Ufer, it opened last October when Martin and Moemet took over the former lamp factory. They ran a video store in Friedrichshain but rising rents had them flee to the less gentrified West, bringing their books and DVDs along. The two-ton concrete counter holds magazines and newspapers (an international section is on the way), and the wooden shelves are stacked with Martin’s choice of €1.60 artsy rental films (from Allen to Wenders – most have English subtitles), as well as just-released UK-import videos that haven’t finished their journey through the German dubbing machine. In the book corner you’ll find German and English lit at bookstore-prices – or simply get comfortable on Roderich’s 1950s furniture and read all day for free. Martin, a staunch defender of the old school Milchkaffee in the face of the soy-latte invasion, keeps his menu simple – albeit at gentrified prices (we all have rent to pay!): a few low-fuss beverage options, a small selection of cakes, rolls with cheese or ham (€3) and only one choice for dinner: Moemet’s €3.90 vegetarian soup. There are also two daily breakfast options (€5-9, served all day) made from whatever’s in the fridge, usually manchego or camembert and olives, as well as the perfunctory bread, butter and marmelade. In the later hours, candles set the mood for one of the weekly events: readings by local authors, performances on the big, black piano in the corner, film screenings or theatre by the Berlin-based

Hexenkessel troupe. Keep an eye on their website to keep up with their programme. Although Roderich’s regulars are mostly Yukis™ (young urban kreative internationals) and academics, you can also run into the eccentric Turkish neighbor who sometimes stops in to tell Martin and Moemet stories about how he wants to shoot his son(!)

kULtUrsaLOn rODericH | Glogauer str. 19, kreuzberg, U-Bhf schönleinstr., tel 030 4199 7165, Daily from 10,

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.