5 years, 9 months ago
They’re all doing it in Berlin, even now as the sun is losing its power and the days start with a chill in the air, they’re still doing it. And you can do it too. What crazy new Berlin hipster trend am I talking about? Long-boarding? No. Hip-hop karaoke? Nope. Swimming. That thing you used to do.
Believe it or not, Berlin is one of the best cities for finding somewhere special to swim, from forest-lakes to quirky floating pools. Here are ten of our favourites that you should consider if you’re heading to Berlin and want to pack your goggles and swimming trunks. But please, leave the Speedos at home.
The ultimate swimming pool in Berlin, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg’s Badeschiff is the one that everyone knows about, which can be both a good and a bad thing. It’s good because it provides a lively atmosphere and the ultimate people-watching location, with lots of splishaing and splashing and laughing. But if you’re looking for something a little more clandestine and hidden away, or if you’re nervous about getting your spandex on in front of the whole city, it can be a bit of a downer. That said, the Badeschiff, or “swimming ship” which relates to its origins as the hull of a 32-metre long ship, presents a unique swimming experience and many will go just for the striking views across the Spree as night falls.
Bad am Spreewaldplatz
One for families to seek out, Bad am Spreewaldplatz is a swimming complex tucked away in the corner of Spreewaldplatz in Kreuzberg. With a wave pool, a couple of saunas and deckchairs to relax on, this is a great spot for children of all ages to escape the cold weather or take a break from sightseeing.
credit: Isabel desde Berlin
Out on the western fringes of Berlin lies Grunewald, a picturesque forest that Berliners often escape to. While home to a number of lakes that aquatic types enjoy swimming in, Schlachtensee is one of the cleanest. It can be reached in less than 30 minutes from Berlin’s city centre on the S1 train.
Like Ferrero Rocher: strikingly stark on the outside, but stunningly grand inside. Stadtbad Neukölln is one of Berlin’s most beautiful public swimming baths, steeped in neo-classical design. It was reopened (in 2009) after massive refurbishment and you should go more to soak than to swim, as it’s really a place for relaxation with a thermal bath, saunas and jacuzzis on offer too.
Strictly speaking, the Straußsee is not in Berlin but in the nearby city of Straußberg, but it’s still worth visiting if you’re looking for a child-friendly spot for open-air swimming. This lake is popular with families who enjoy the clean waters and beaches (and the water slide!), set against idyllic views of Straußberg on one side and the Straußberger Wald on the other.
Another centrally located public swimming pool, Stadtbad Mitte is also housed in a memorable building that is flooded with light thanks to the tall windows that line the walls and ceiling. This is a good place to get a few laps under your belt (the pool’s length is 50m) while also admiring some incredible Bauhaus architecture that any non-swimmer will miss out on seeing. Who says it’s a waste of good travelling time to exercise?
If you’re looking for a beach near Berlin, Kleiner Müggelsee is as good and sandy as you’re going to get and is surprisingly authentic. Found in the southeastern suburbs of Berlin, expect yellow sands and blue water that create a beach-like atmosphere along the banks of the Müggelsee, the biggest of Berlin’s lakes.
Berliners have a love-love relationship with disbanded airport Tegel and if you head there for a visit on a sunny day you’ll find locals and tourists hanging out and hoping for its eventual reopening. But bring your swimmers with you as nearby is Flughafensee (Airport Lake), much more pleasant than it perhaps sounds, with sandy banks and boat-free waters.
Also known to some as Prinzenbad, this open-air swimming pool in the heart of Kreuzberg should be top of your list for some serious swimming as it consists of not one, but two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Open from late April to late September each year, reward your butterflies and backstrokes with coffee and cake, as it’s close to some of the most popular cafes and bars that Kreuzberg is famous for.
Considered the oldest “beach” in Berlin, swimming at Strandbad Wannsee has been a Berlin institution for over a century. With a swimming area of over 80m, it’s also one of the biggest lidos in Berlin and many locals will embark on the two hour bike ride to get there just to take a dip in the waters and have an ice cream on its shores after. Fear not, public transport will also take you there.
There are many more opportunities to soak or swim in Berlin at any time of the year but we hope this list goes a little way to whet… or wet… your appetite.