Did you know Berlin is home to 3,000 lakes? That’s a whole lot more than one person can visit during a short stay, so we spoke to our hostel manager and local Berlin expert, Heidi, to fill us in on the very best lakes in Berlin for a swim. Lake swimming has been part of the local culture in Berlin for hundreds of years due to the vast number of ‘sees’ there are scattered around the city. So do as the Berliners do in the summer, and venture out for a refreshing dip in a beautiful swimming lake just outside the city centre. Pack a picnic lunch, a couple of beers, your swimsuit (or not) and soak up the carefree atmosphere on the outskirts of . For one of the best days out in the German capital that doesn’t include museums or beer gardens, check out these incredible wild swimming lakes in Berlin for a real local experience.
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Grunewald forest on the western edge of Berlin is a place to visit for a few good reasons: Teufelsburg - an old spy station and one of the city’s fascinating , and Teufelssee - perhaps the most beautiful of the lakes around Berlin. Teufelssee translates into ‘Devil’s Lake’ and can be found right in the middle of the forest full of Berlin locals making the most of hot summers, many of them opting for a skinny dip (Germans love ‘FKK’ - free body culture). It’s not permitted to swim anywhere in this lake that you wish, but if you stroll down to the southern edge you can jump in and out as much as you please.
Heidi, our Berlin city expert, says: “The wild forest animals are used to sunbathing visitors and are always looking for little snacks, stealing and searching through their bags. So if you choose to sunbathe (particularly if you’re in the nude), make sure you keep your belongings pinned down!”
One of the most beautiful lakes in Berlin is located in the southwest, conveniently close to an S-Bahn station to make for a fun, easy day out away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Set up camp for an afternoon of soaking up the sun by the calming water, taking a dip to cool off as and when you feel like it. Schlachtensee is the lake to visit for a more active day out. There’s a seven kilometre boardwalk surrounding the lake, ideal for a long but relaxing walk to get moving amongst nature in peace and quiet, plus a historical guesthouse which rents out paddleboards to use on the lake itself.
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Lake Muggelsee is amongst the most popular lakes in Berlin during the summer and is the largest of the lot. Located in Treptow-Köpenick in southeast Berlin, this lake is four and a half kilometers long and half a kilometre wide with three huge areas you can wade in and go for a swim. There are a number of boat rental huts around the edge for you to explore the lake from the water, zooming around in a speedboat or taking it easy gliding along on a canoe. Not every swimming spot around the lake is free, but Muggelsee lido is one place you don’t have to pay an entry fee to, with snack bars and activities like beach volleyball set up. It’s a popular spot for this reason, but also for the golden sand that gives a European holiday-vibe, attracting young crowds with their crates of beer bobbing up and down in the water to be kept cool. It’s another ‘FKK’ beach (i.e. skinny dipping is permitted), so you can sunbathe worry-free of any unwanted tan lines. Muggelsee is well worth a visit for beautiful views and a fun, carefree atmosphere along the water's edge.
Hire a bike in the city centre and make your way northwest to the buzzing Plötzensee lake. Being just a short journey from the buzzing Mitte district, it’s definitely one of the more atmospheric lakes in Berlin with people across the city flocking to the waterside as soon as the sun comes out. Hire a bike from the city centre and cycle just half an hour to Volkspark Rehberge, a large park hosting a bunch of fun recreational activities, and hundreds of cyclists getting some fresh air before parking up by the lido entrance to enjoy the water.
Heidi, our Berlin city expert, says: “Part of the beach called Freibad Plötzensee is the only place where it is officially allowed to go for a swim (otherwise you’ll have to pay an entrance fee) but the other Berliners seem to not care too much, enjoying their swim on the other side of the water entry-free.”
5. Tegeler See
Tegeler See is the second largest lake in Berlin, boasting some of the most beautiful views and a bunch of hidden gems that make it a great choice for a day of exploring. Hike around the edge of the lake, walk along the stunning Greenwich promenade and hop on board a steamer boat for a cruise on the water. Tegeler See is also home to Berlin’s oldest oak tree known as Dicke Marie - at 900 years old that’s older than the city itself. Some swimming areas require entrance fees however others do not, so scope out a spot you can wade in for free and enjoy the freedom of an open water swim in Berlin’s outskirts.
The most famous swimming lake of the lot and known throughout Germany for being so popular, Wannsee is a must-visit if you’re looking for sandy shores and a buzzing atmosphere. Wannsee has been used as a bathing lake by Berliners for over a hundred years, kicking off the city’s now massive wild swimming culture. The designated swimming area has over a kilometer of soft golden sand from the Baltic Sea, which easily fills with locals during the summer months. Rent deck chairs, hire a boat for an hour or make new friends in a game of beach volleyball, just be prepared for the crowds on particularly sunny days.
Clear water, a sandy beach and a big winding water slide: Orankesee is one of the best swimming lakes near Berlin city centre. Located in the northeast of the city, Orankesee is a popular spot for young locals to hang out, either making themselves at home for the day on the sand or on the green lawn. Swimming is only permitted within the boundaries of the lido, however it’s still a perfect place to visit after a day of touring Berlin’s must-see sights for a refreshing dip in the late afternoon.
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