Berlin and its surrounding state of Brandenburg is sometimes called “the land of 3,000 lakes.” With nearly 100 lakes in the city itself, going for a swim feels as natural as getting on a bike, but choosing a perfect lake from so many can also feel overwhelming.
Photo by: The Gentle Temper
With more than 30,000 Kilometers of waterways, Berlin-Brandenburg area is the largest water landscape in Germany and, together with the northern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, forms the largest closed inland water system in Europe. It definitely has enough water to get refreshed during the long-awaited summer days.
Berlin lakes are incredibly silky and clear. They are not dark or terrifying lakes that we know from when we grew up. They are smaller, prettier, and so manageable and accessible. There’s something about being able to bike or take a train to a lake in the woods on any given day – it’s a kind of freedom not many big cities offer.
Whether you’re after some peace and quiet away from the hustle and bustle, looking for a way to cool off in the summer months, or are on the hunt for some hidden gems off the beaten path, here are our top choices for Berlin’s lakes.
Wannsee – The Classic
Most popular waterside retreat, Großer Wannsee is located southwest of Berlin and has one of Europe’s longest inland beaches. Built in the 1930s, Wannsee has long since enjoyed popularity with locals and tourists alike. What makes it special is that its 80-meter-wide beach has white sand imported from the Baltic Sea, and the many 1920s-style wicker beach chairs, known as ‘Strandkörbe’, line the shore. You can also rent paddle boats and have your children play at a lake’s playground.
Krumme Lanke – The Quiet
On the edge of the Grunewald Forest lies another beautiful nature spot, and it’s hard to believe that Krumme Lanke once housed Nazi officials and their families (from 1938 until the end of the WWII). But now, as street names carrying the past have changed, the lake feels like a timeless summer scene. The suburban streets near Krumme Lanke give the impression they are a world apart from Berlin’s center, and the peacefulness of the forest seems at odds with the fact that, via U-Bahn, it’s so near to the city. The water at Krumme Lanke is incredibly clean and, in fact, used as a water source for its residents.
Templiner See – The Summer Holiday Spirit
Little over 90 years ago, Albert Einstein built a quiet summer house here, when it was just a village. Today, this massive and busy lake, even though never making you feel like you’re escaping, gives you a sense of summer celebration, and on a hot day the cool water is a relief. The lake is popular for water sports, so it’s a perfect place for kayaking, sailing, wake boarding and trying out new water activities, like balancing yourself on a paddle board.
Liepnitzsee – The Turquoise
Honecker’s and GDR elite’s favorite lake, it was once off-limits for the ordinary citizens. But when Germany was reunited, the lake and the camping grounds on Großer Werder, the island rising in the middle of the lake, quickly became popular spots. The lake is big, but with the island at its center it feels safe, sheltered, and wild. The trails here are plentiful and wind through a fairytale-like pine forest, so after or before swimming, you can set off into the woods and trek parts of the 66-Lakes Trail.
Orankesee – The City Lake Alternative
Just five minutes from its bigger brother Weißer See, an overcrowded city lake of Weißensee neighborhood, Orankesee is beautiful, small, and tree-lined, with a pleasant beach at one end and nature sanctuary at the other. It is busy but not overwhelming, and the water looks far more inviting than its neighboring lake. It’s very clean and clear for the inner-city lake. Destroyed during WWII, closed during the early Soviet era, and destroyed again by fire in the late-1990s, the beach’s facilities have been frequently rebuilt and now feature a small snack bar, changing area, and a lifeguard shed.
Lubowsee – The Solitude
This lake sits in the middle of what feels like nowhere and reveals itself only after a long walk through a stretch of woodland. From Birkenwerder, it’s 10 kilometers to Lubowsee, and you can reach it walking the 66-Lakes Trail. If you want to be alone, this is the place for you.
Müggelsee – The Wannsee of the East
Located near Köpenick, Müggelsee is the largest of the Berliner lakes with a length of 4.3 km and a width of 2,6 km. It is very popular summer hangout and also one of the main water suppliers to the eastern part of the city. You can combine your swim with a visit to nearby Friedrichshagen, where you can shop for your picnic (there’s even Bio Company supermarket) or have an after-swim meal (options are plenty). Müggelsee also has tons of little restaurants and bars/Biergärten around it to choose from.
Rummelsburgersee – The Party Vibes
Only a short bike ride from Kreuzberg, the Rummelsbucht has countless bars, clubs, and other bohemian venues, yet they are set off the beaten path and perched at the shores of the lake. Unlike most lakes, though, this one is located just off of Hauptstraße, not far from the heart of town. Relaxing and secluded here means that you get Berlin party energy with an arguably better view and can engage in water activities, such as kayaking or paddling, swimming and sunbathing.