The five most beautiful lakes around Berlin
September, 16 2017
If you have ever been on a city break to Berlin before you will know what this metropolis has to offer: markets, nightclubs, affordable bistros, second-hand shops, art and plenty of culture. But if you go to the German capital in the (late) summer, you may find it gets so warm that you need to escape to the great outdoors or even go for a refreshing swim. That’s what happened to me this summer …
Once you pass Berlin’s ring road, you soon find yourself in the serene and abundant countryside with quiet villages, forests and country houses. There is also plenty of water around in the form of dozens of lakes with sandy beaches; the metropole consists of 7% water! Most of the lakes are branches of the Rivers Havel and Spree.
See the sun set in the ‘See’
When you see a sign for ‘See’ for the umpteenth time, don’t expect to find a coastline within the city borders. If you ever studied German at school you will know that the German word ‘See’ actually means lake (the word for sea is ‘Meer’)..
Plenty of choice!
The water quality gets a high score within the European guidelines each year. But of all the lakes, which to choose and why? An important criterion is of course the natural beauty of the lakes. You are on holiday after all and you are best recharging your batteries in beautiful, natural green and inspiring surroundings. I will help you to choose where to go by giving you my top 5 of the most beautiful lakes around Berlin.
1. The clear Schlachtensee
You will find the quiet and clear Schlachtensee to the south-west of Berlin, still within the city borders and close to the popular Großer Wannsee. The lake is encircled by forests and you will find several large grassy fields and small sandy beaches there. If you want more privacy then I advise you to seek out a cosy little bay and throw down your towel. You will see an occasional swimmer, Stand Up Paddle boarder (SUP-per) or some calming coots passing by between the overhanging trees.
The Schlachtensee is not a ‘beach resort’ as such but a ‘bathing lake’, which basically means it’s a lake you can swim in. There is no (constructed) beach with amenities so, make sure you bring enough to eat and drink. There is a lovely beer garden (with a view!) and there are places to hire a boat or SUP board. Due to the excellent public transport connection, the Schlachtensee is becoming increasingly popular. If you arrive at the train station, walk a bit further along and you will be sure to find a nice quiet spot.
2. The green Liepnitzsee
This lake is north of Berlin, about 10 kilometres from the city border. And although it is not as easy to get there with public transport (and you have to buy an additional ticket because you are in zone C) it is more than worth your while. Because there is a large wooded island in the middle of the lake, the ‘Großer Werder’ that you can get to by ferry (until October), you will always be able to find a quiet spot to enjoy the sun, blue water and the surrounding countryside. The woods are also a nice quiet place, for example on the north side of the lake.
It can get quite busy on nice days around the Liepnitzsee beach resort, where there is boat hire and the ‘Waldbad Liepnitzsee’ kiosk. If you like activity and are looking for more amenities, then this sandy beach is recommendable (admission: €4.00, open daily from 10 am to 7 pm). Historical fact: Until the fall of the Berlin wall (1989), the beach by the lake was a private resort for the leaders of the DDR, who lived in a commune in the neighbourhood and came here for family recreation.
3. The stylish Großer Wannsee
The Großer Wannsee (large Wann lake) is one of Berlin’s largest and most well-known lakes. Just like the Schlachtensee, this lake is located just within the city borders to the south-west of Berlin. There are beautiful (country) houses around the lake and on the island. Many Berliners and non-Berliners come here to go swimming, sunbathing, sailing and boating. There are various water sports shops around the lake. As the Großer Wannsee has an open connection to the River Havel you can sail further into or out of the city from the lake
Most visitors, however, stay on shore. You will find the famous Wannsee beach resort on the eastern bank of the lake. With its kilometre-long beach it offers space for 30,000 beach lovers. The resort stems from the twenties, which you will experience when you lay back in one of the many old-fashioned, yet comfortable, deckchairs. Admission is €5.50 (open daily from 9 am to 8 pm) and for that you get plenty of amenities such as toilets, showers and places to eat and drink. Of course, you can also enjoy the area beyond the beach resort by the Großer Wannsee. This is in a more wooded area so there are plenty of quiet shady bays by the water where you can fold out your own deckchair.
4. The sporting Langer See
The name of this lake – ‘langer’ means ‘longer’ – betrays something about its shape. Because the Langer See is so stretched out the name lake isn’t completely appropriate, it’s more of an extension of the Dahme River which then opens into the Spree. You can find this beautiful, refreshing spot to the southeast of the city. It is still within the city borders, between Schönefeld Airport and Berlin’s largest lake: the Großer Müggelsee. Due to its length, the Langer See is a popular location for rowing, canoeing and kayaking. So, if you are a sporting type, the Langer See is a great place for paddling for miles and waving at likeminded people.
There are two beach resorts by the lake: the Grünau beach resort on the south side (admission: €8.00, open daily from 10 am to 6 pm) and the Wendenschloss beach resort on the northern bank (admission: €4.00, open daily from 9 am to 8 pm). By the Langer See you can optimally enjoy the countryside if you can find yourself a private romantic beach. There are numerous wonderful sandy beaches where the sun rises and sets free of charge.
5. The vast Großer Müggelsee
I have already mentioned the Großer Müggelsee (Large Müggel lake), Berlin’s largest lake with a depth of eight metres. The lake attracts many city residents and tourists to the southeast of the city. Just like the Großer Wannsee, the Müggelsee is a popular location for (pleasure) boating. Due to its width, the distant views and the various possibilities around the lake, the Großer Müggelsee has earnt itself the final spot in the top 5.
There are various options if you want to go swimming around the lake. Due to lake’s enormous caves, you can always find a quiet spot despite the popularity of the place. The Müggelsee beach resort on the north bank is somewhat neglected as the owner has left, but you can still use the showers and toilets and there is a small snack bar. A major advantage: you no longer have to pay admission to the Müggelsee beach resort (open daily from 9 am until sunset). You can find the managed Friedrichshafen beach resort (admission: €1.60, open daily from 9 am to 8 pm) a little further east. Here there are plenty of amenities such as boat hire and a place to hire the requisite beach equipment.
I’m curious as to which lake you will pick for a swim!
There are also several ACSI campsites in the vicinity of Berlin and its lakes. Select your campsite here.
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