Get us in your inbox

Boat piers on Wannsee lake in Berlin, Germany. Wannsee (or Grosser Wannsee) is a bight of the Havel river near the locality of Wannsee and Nikolassee in the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf in Berlin
Photograph: Shutterstock.comBoat piers on Wannsee lake in Berlin, Germany. Wannsee (or Grosser Wannsee) is a bight of the Havel river near the locality of Wannsee and Nikolassee in the borough of Steglitz-Zehlendorf in Berlin

The 5 best lakes in Berlin for wild swimming

Whether or not wild swimming’s your jam, the best lakes in Berlin offer the perfect antidote to all that excess

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

Wild swimming is all the rage, so it is no great shock to hear Berlin is ahead of the curve. While you aren’t finding much in the centre of the city, the best lakes in Berlin for wild swimming are easily reachable by public transport, affording the intrepid explorer their own private patch of paradise at the height of summer. Brandenburg (the state that encircles Berlin) is known as the land of 3,000 lakes, giving plenty of options for revitalisation after the intensity of the German capital.

Okay, an afternoon of wild swimming isn’t going to fix all of the damage caused by Berlin’s vices, but it is an experience and a half for anyone willing to jump in.

Best lakes in Berlin

Best for families

Lie on the sandy beach at Strandbad Wannsee to watch the sailing boats dart up and down the River Havel, and you’ll be partaking in an experience enjoyed by Berliners for nearly a century. The waters of the Wannsee (an inlet of the river) are extensive and, in summer, warm enough for comfortable swimming; there’s a strong current, though, so don’t stray beyond the floating markers. Between May and September, there are boats, pedalos and two-person wicker sunchairs, called Strandkörbe, for hire, plus a playground and slides. Service buildings house showers, toilets, shops, cafés and kiosks. Children love it here.

Best for hiking 

Officially Berlin’s largest lake, Müggelsee in the east is over 4km (2.5 miles) long and 2.5km (1.5 miles) wide, so hiking around the lake is a great way to stretch your legs. If you’re planning to do the whole circuit, you’ll have to take the tiny ferry between Müggelwerder and Müggelhort, which runs once an hour in summer; the crossing takes 10 minutes. Once over, follow the lake around, and after 30 minutes, you’ll come to a lovely beer garden. There are plenty of sandy little spots to take a dip, but if you’re looking for facilities, head for Strandbad Müggelsee – although the large colony of ducks here can make swimming a challenge! 


3. Teufelssee

Best for skinny-dipping

This small lake in the Grunewald is surrounded by a pleasant green meadow, ideal for stretching out. On the lake itself, floating rafts draw swimmers who compete for space with the ducks. Prudes beware: naked swimming and sunbathing are common here, and we aren't just talking about the ducks.

Best for rowing 

A circuit of the Schlachtensee is 5.5km (3.5 miles), which is the perfect distance to work up an appetite that you can happily sate at the excellent Fischerhütte (no prizes for guessing what they serve there). In summer, there are rowing boats and paddle boards for hire, and the clean waters are ideal for a dip. The lake is just across the road from the station, but you may have to walk a few minutes along its perimeter to find a secluded spot.


Best for sunset swimming 

Only 30 minutes from Alexanderplatz, Plötzensee is the perfect spot to relax with a swim after a strenuous day’s exploring. The Strandbad has 740m of sand, and there are plenty of refreshments on offer, so you can have a dip, crack open a beer – and still be back in the centre in time for dinner.

    You may also like
    You may also like