Escape from the concrete jungle during hot summer days seems to define the season. All winter and spring I heard the long fantasies for long days of light bathing in cool pools. On the hottest days the city empties and you know exactly where everyone has gone.
There are a few small lakes near Berlin but I’m told they’re accessible but dirty.
Caputh Lake Potsdam (West)
This is my favorite lake near Berlin so far. I’m not poster child for hiking and camping so I appreciate when a few services are available on hand. With a 9 Euro entrance fee you can get a beach bed, access to an excellent cocktail bar, a shower, little changing area, and slightly maintained swimming area. There was a bit more a family crowd here but the sand (in and out of the water) was very soft and the children well behaved. There are two routes below but honestly they both felt like a zip because the whole ride is through the trees. There’s one especially good spot to eat nearby, I don’t know the name off the top of my head but I can get it for you. Foursquare kept yelling to me not to eat in the restaurant. I liked the lake because it felt slightly more private, cleaner, and had a little extra care. The mojiots were a dream come true and without planning all the logistics you’ll have time to make a bomb picnic.
for a more local feel..
Liebnitzsee Lake (North)
This spot north of the city is a favorite to Berliners. It has calm, beautiful trails around, an island for camping, and an overall joyful vibe. A lot of swimmers bring rafts so they can swim from the main lake over to the island that has campers. The island has a tarzan style rope where you can swing off and land into the lake. Too fun. From the nearest train station it’s a 12km bike ride partially on the road and partially among the trees.
Flos und Los Boat
Of course some days are not for swimming in which case hopefully you bet on the weather, planned far in advance and rented a boat. Flos Un Los 10er Cabrio + Grill is our favorite ride. Good price, two floors, plenty of room for a sound system, a toilet, covered area, and doesn’t require a driver. It’s a little annoying to get here but that seemed to be the case with all the boat companies near Berlin. From their pickup you can take a very route through the greens or industrial former East Berlin.
And now onto something so obvious you might forget…
The “tour of Berlin” boat tour is an obvious move for parents, but actually I too had a great time. The BWSG Spreefahrt Tour was in English and German which is the first plus. They have drinks and food service and different length tours. The one-hour tour was a bit short for European style relaxing but still good. The pickup is centrally located near Hackershermarkt so you can fit into any kind of tourism you probably have that day. The best part? The tour guide didn’t talk the entire time. There was ample quiet time to enjoy the beautiful scenes of Berlin actually chat with the people you’re with.
And if you can’t make it on a boat, there’s one more option:
Leave it to Berlin to drop a pool in the middle of the Spree. Amongst the waterfront clubs like Club der Visionare, Ipse, and Watergate is this swimming spot. It’s open all day, serves food, drinks, has a beach, and most importantly a pool (overlooking my office). If you can’t or don’t want to do all the planning that comes with a boat, swim in the pool and watch them and the kayakers float by.