Travel in Germany: A guide to Berlin’s best lakes

Throughout the summer (and beginning of autumn), it is common practice for Berliners to flock to the capital’s waters for some much needed respite.

Travel in Germany: A guide to Berlin’s best lakes
There's still time to enjoy Berlin's many lakes

Predominantly known as a bustling metropolis, many backpackers and city breakers are surprised to discover that the city of Berlin and its surrounding state Brandenburg are collectively home to a total of 3,000 lakes.

Berlin’s water is monitored regularly by the local public health department, and so visitors can rest assured that the lakes are safe for swimming. 

READ ALSO: Is it safe to go swimming in Germany this summer?

And don’t be surprised to see Berliners bathing au naturel…. Freikörperkultur (FKK) is a significant aspect of the German lifestyle.

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 is our guide to Berlin’s best lakes.

Großer Wannsee

Photo: DPA

Kicking off with Berlin’s most popular waterside retreat, Großer Wannsee is located southwest of Berlin and is one of Europe’s longest inland beaches.

Built in the 1930s, Wannsee has long since enjoyed popularity with locals and tourists alike. The 80 metre-long beach is characterised by its white sand imported from the Baltic sea and the many 1920s-style, wicker beach chairs, known as ‘Strandkörbe’, which line the shore. 

READ ALSO: Germany's top 10 most beautiful summer swimming spots

Pedalos and boats are available for hire, and the children’s playground makes this the perfect spot for families.

Getting there: Wannsee station is easily reached with the S-Bahn on lines S7 or S1, followed by a 10-minute walk to the lake.


Photo: DPA

Nearby, Schlachtensee is a well-loved swimming spot and the largest lake within the Grunewald forest. An angler’s paradise, various different species of fish can be found in the waters.

Another unique selling point is the lakeside restaurant and beer garden, situated on the east bank.

Getting there: Take the S1 to Schlachtensee, where you’ll arrive almost directly at the lake.


Photo: DPA

Hailed as the cleanest lake in Brandenburg, Liepnitzsee is known for its high water clarity and turquoise hue. Enclosed within a small forest, a shady spot is always within easy reach for those especially warm days in Germany’s capital. 

Despite being slightly more further afield, the journey is well worth your while for the reward of a typically less crowded spot.

READ ALSO: A guide to Berlin's hidden swimming spots – from the woman who wrote the book on it

Getting there: Travel on the S2 to Bernau and either cycle the remaining 15 kilometres, or take the 903 bus to Ützdorf and walk a short distance to the lake.


Photo: DPA

Popular among east Berliners, Müggelsee is the capital’s largest lake. With sandy beaches, tree-lined, shady spots and two concrete piers, Müggelsee offers a whole host of ways to relax in the sunny weather.

The lake is also popular for its watersports, with sailing and surfing both on offer.

Getting there: Take the S3 to Friedrichshagen

Krumme Lanke

Photo: DPA

Popularly frequented by students from the nearby university, this lake is named after its uniquely curved shape and is located southwest of the city centre. 

The circular path around the water makes this lake popular with walkers and joggers, while the surrounding lawns provide idyllic sunbathing and picnic spots.

Getting there: Arriving at Krumme Lanke on the U3, the lake is just a five minute walk from the station.

Tegeler See

Photo: DPA

As the name suggests, Berlin’s second largest lake lies a stone’s throw from Tegel airport, offering city-dwellers seven islands and four, secluded bathing spots. You might even spot a plane or two flying overhead.

To the east of the lake, Greenwich Promenade is the perfect place for a quiet stroll or for renting a rowing boat. Alternatively, if simply sitting back and relaxing sounds a more appealing way to take in the sights, river cruises depart approximately every 30 minutes and take you back to the city centre, returning right to the heart of Berlin’s government district. 

Getting there: Situated 20km north of the city centre, Tegeler See can be reached by travelling on the U6 to Alt-Tegel, where the lake is just a short walk away.


Photo: DPA

Situated in the district of Wedding, Plotzensee offers a tranquil escape not far from the city centre. With a beach spanning almost 800 metres, plenty of deckchairs and kiosks selling drinks and snacks, this lake poses Berliners the perfect getaway from the surrounding urban area.

Getting there: Take the U9 to Seestraße, then either the M13 or M50 tram to Virchow-Klinikum


Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Marcus Cyron

With a small, sandy beach area leading to a bay enclosed by aromatic pine trees, this hidden gem in Brandenburg provides a taste of the Mediterannean in an otherwise urban labyrinth. Boats are often seen floating on the bay, and the lake is a prime spot for watersports due to its depth of up to eight metres.

Getting there: Take the S3 to Rahsdorf, and continue on tram 87 to Schleuse Woltersdorf

Heiliger See

Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Matthias v.d. Elbe

At the heart of Potsdam, a cultural city with a rich history on Berlin’s northern border, Heiliger See offers a unique combination of architecture and landscape which makes for an idyllic day in the sun. 

The lake stretches over 1 kilometer and offers picture-perfect views from its two sunbathing lawns, both of which offer direct access into the water. 

Secluded and enveloped in history from all angles, the Cecilienhof Palace stands on the lake’s northern shore and the Marmorpalais (Marble Palace) on the western. 

Getting there: Take the S1 to Potsdam Hbf., then tram 93 to Ludwig-Richter-Straße or bus 603 to Am Neuen Garten / Gr. Weinmeisterstr.



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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.