Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
This is an unprecedented autumn in the history of running. Over the course of the next seven weeks, five of the six World Marathon Majors will be held. All eyes will focus on Berlin, London, Chicago, Boston, and New York. In honor of this marathon-palooza, Great Runs is partnering with PodiumRunner on a series of running guides for each of these cities: A bit about their running culture, details on the best places to run, and marathon course highlights. Each guide will be published the week of that city’s marathon.
Berlin is one of the largest cities in Europe and has one of the continent’s most vibrant running cultures. Typical of a European city, extensive paths along rivers and canals, spectacular parks, and pedestrian-centric neighborhoods make running a joy.
But three things stand out about running in Berlin specifically. First, the city was built on a grand scale, with wide avenues, huge squares, and imposing monuments. Second, more than nearly any other city, Berlin presents the opportunity for a 5–6 mile ‘runseeing’ tour that passes by several of the city’s signature sights, revealing many layers of history. Third, Berlin’s uber-efficient public transportation system makes it super easy to get to a favorite running spot, do a one-way run, or even venture to an out-of-town location like Potsdam for a destination run. Visitors to Berlin can find regular group runs from SCP Runners, Berlin Runners, and Run-Pack.
Here are some of our favorite places to run in Berlin:
This Great Runs special is a 12 km (7.5 mile) tour of Berlin’s highlights: Alexanderplatz , Aquarium, East Germany Museum, Museumsinsel , Berlin opera, Checkpoint Charlie, Potsdamer Platz, outskirts of Tiergarten, Brandenberg Gate, Reichstag, University of Berlin, and more!
The signature run in Berlin takes you though the 545-acre, centrally located greenspace with everything from grand allées to more intimate, wooded paths.
Head to the Schlosspark Charlottenburg to enjoy a run along grand paths approaching the palace and its classically landscaped gardens.
Start at Treptower Park to see the important Soviet War Memorial, then head along several miles of paths beside the Spree River. Connect to the Landwehr Canal trails for even more. Numerous bridges allow for loops of various lengths.
This path with numerous displays of information about the Wall extends along 1.4 kilometers of the former border strip in an open-air exhibition. Combine with Park am Norbahnhof for a longer run.
Get inspired with a run around Berlin Olympic Park, the well-preserved site from the 1936 Summer Olympics. Pass by fields, a running track, a memorial park, and other recreational facilities. For longer, combine this path with the extensive Grunewald Forst.
Lose yourself in this 7,000-acre forest park, with its 100 miles of roads and trails. The forest offers everything from lake paths to more rugged interior trails, even a 350-foot high mountain made out of rubble from World War II — one of the only ‘hills’ in Berlin!
In central Berlin, run along the Kurfürstendamm (Kudamm), Berlin’s answer to the Champs-Élysées in Paris. Create your own route in the gorgeous neighborhoods of Prenzlauer Berg/Volkspark Friedrichshain or Wilmersdorf, which also has a linear park.
If you have the time, take a ½ hour train ride to this former residence of Prussian kings and the Kaiser for a great run around breathtaking palaces, paths along the Havel river, and beautiful parks.
The Marathon Course
The Berlin Marathon is a 26.2 mile run through 800 years of history with a spectacular finish at Brandenburg Gate. Because it’s flat and has few corners, this is known as the fastest course of the five majors. Eliud Kipchoge ran the world record of 2:01:39 there in 2018.
Starting in the famed Tiergarten, the course has many highlights, including wide-tree-lined boulevards, three crossings of the Spree River, and passing the outskirts of many parks, forests and scenic neighborhoods. There are two gentle inclines, at miles 17 and 21. The last few miles are along the wide, famed Kurfürstendamm (a major shopping street), Kleistrasse, and Potsdamer Strasse, passing through Potsdamer Platz (a historic square rebuilt since fall of Berlin Wall), finally finishing grandly and appropriately at the Brandenburg Gate.
Usually, there are waves of spectators along nearly the whole route, and some 45,000 participants. This year the field is limited to 35,000.
About the Author