Eliza Petit and Laura Harker round up some of the city’s best Sommer- and Strandbäder…
The abundance of water in Berlin can often be a surprise for visitors and new arrivals. Not only is the city surrounded by lakes and criss-crossed by rivers and canals, but there is also an excellent network of municipal Sommerbäder (large outdoor pools open only during the summer months) and Strandbäder (beaches sited next to lakes).
While atmospherically quite different both types of location provide the same key ingredient: the opportunity to cool off, which comes in very handy during summers that can climb to the mid-late 30s (celsius) on the hottest days and not much below 25 the rest of the time.
From an official list featuring dozens of these establishments, we have selected a handful of our favourites, all of them within easy striking distance of the city centre.
One the most popular pools in town is Sommerbad Kreuzberg, more commonly known as Prinzenbad. Used in the the opening scenes of Leander Haussman’s screen adaption of Herr Lehmann, this 50s-built public pool attracts a broad demographic that reflects multicultural Kreuzberg itself.
In addition to its two 50-metre swimming pools and smaller non-swimmer pool—equipped with a slide and fountains—there is a shallower children’s pool and a paddling pool, plus a large adventure playground for children and a small meadow for sunbathing.
Its central location means it can be intensely crowded on sweltering summer weekends, so get there early to avoid the crowds. Bring your own lock if you want to use the lockers, and some spare cash if you want to buy snacks at the reasonably priced cafeteria.
Not far from its Kreuzberg neighbour above, Sommerbad Neukölln is a slightly smaller, less busy affair. Situated in the top right corner of Tempelhofer Park—the disused airfield of the old Tempelhofer Airport—it’s just a short walk from Boddinstrasse U-bahn station.
It too boasts a large 50-metre pool; however, unlike Sommerbad Kreuzberg, the pool here isn’t a conventional rectangle shape (see picture above) and thus is better suited to casual swimmers.
As well as a children’s pool with slide, the deal clincher here, for some at least, is the 83-metre high water slide in the main pool; there is also a snack bar and a lawn for sunbathing in between dips.
In the northern district of Wedding, tucked away in the Volkspark Humboldthain, Sommerbad Humboldthain offers a large 50-metre pool and twirling slide, as well as a popular metre-high diving board.
Half the pool is marked with lanes while the other is clearly indented for kids and more casual swimmers (the diving board is in this section), and young children can be kept entertained in either the playground or the large paddling pool.
The simple restaurant can come in handy for hungry dippers, though there is a large lawn that’s perfect for picnics and poolside lounging. The surrounding park offers a host of additional attractions, from the lovely rose garden to the hulking World War II flak tower (which can be officially toured) that doubles as a popular gathering place for sunset-spotters.
If it’s a more serious swim you’re after, head out to the historic Sommerbad Olympiastation, which was built for the 1936 Olympians of the Third Reich.
Situated next to the actual Olympic stadium, the slightly imposing concrete structure has a 50-metre lap pool and a 10-metre diving tower for the pros but two non-swimmers pool and a children’s slide keep things family friendly.
A trip out here can be combined with a tour of the stadium, though bear in mind that you will need to purchase a separate ticket.
Located on the Eastern side of the Wannsee Lake in the southwest of Berlin, the beach has an impressive history stretching back more than 100 years. Particularly popular during World War II, today the beach pulls in about 230,000 a year, making it Berlin’s most popular Strandbad.
As one might expect of a beach that can hold 50,000 people it can feel incredibly busy, so as always its best to get here early to beat the crowds. Rowing boats are available to hire, as are wicker chairs. There is also a restaurant and multiple kiosks selling lido staples: ice cream, beer and bratwurst.
Some 740-metres in length and with a lovely 15,000m2 stretch of sandy beach, Wedding’s Strandbad Plötzensee is one of the city’s most central lakeside beaches, and subsequently attracts crowds from all over the city.
With an average depth of 3.5-metres it is fairly shallow and therefore popular with families and casual swimmers. There is also an adventure playground, waterslide and trampoline to keep the kids entertained should the swimming get boring.
If beach sports are your thing, take your pick between volleyball, table tennis and football, or make use of the extensive lawn for badminton and frisbee.
The place seems to still be finding its feet again recently after a series of different owners, but at the time of writing sunbeds and deckchairs are available to rent and there’s a beach bar and separate area for nudist swimming.
Nestled between Lichtenberg and Weissensee, the Strandbad Orankesee opened in 1929, but closed for some time after the World War II to house Soviet war commanders. It reopened in 1957, much to the joy of East Berliners.
With beach baskets, sun loungers and deck chairs available to rent, Orankesee also has a 52-metre long water slide and a nice green lawn for sports and sandphobes.
There a small playground, a couple of table tennis tables, a volleyball net, and a snack bar too. Worth noting that it’s not as close to public transport links as the other Strandbads though the M4 tram will get you pretty close.
As popular with kids as it is with parents, strandbad Weissensee is only 15-minutes by train from Alexanderplatz and is one of the city’s funkiest beach bar spots with its pizzeria and bar, beach yoga and poetry slams.
A café serves breakfast and lunch (you can’t bring your own food here), and as well as the lake to wade and swim in there’s a separate paddling area and playground for kids. A section of the beach is also equipped with sun loungers.
Tucked away in the depths of east Berlin, not far from the S-bahn Grünau, Standbad Grünau is hailed by some as the most charming of Berlin’s many lovely lake-side beaches.
The water here is deep enough for proper swimming and the crowds aren’t quite as horrendously busy on hot summer days. There are striped Standkörbe (beach baskets) to hire, while a volley-ball net, climbing wall and playground provide some activity options.
There’s also a decent café and snack bar on site, and a nudist area for those so inclined. The entire area was modernised in 2020.