When summer really hits Berlin, you start to search for options to cool yourself off. And Berlin has no shortage of green areas, lakes and other places that can make you feel in the heart of nature and not in one of the biggest European cities.
What was difficult for me was to choose one lake around Berlin where to go in one of those it-is-summer-in-berlin-for-real days. Finally, I’ve decided to try Wannsee, the place where Berliners go when they are looking for a day at the beach experience. (To be honest, before starting to search for a lake around Berlin, a trip to the Baltic Sea was my first option, but it seemed too far away for a lazy Sunday.)
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Wannsee is definitely a place with tradition in Berlin, being the favorite Berliners’ bathing spot for many years.
The lido there was first opened in 1907, and after the First World War, the bath gained more and more importance among both the Berliners and the inhabitants of the surrounding areas of Berlin.
A very popular song on German television in 1951 made Wannsee Lido known in all of Germany: “Pack up the swimwear, grab your little sister, and get the heck out to the Wannsee. Yes, we’re cycling like the wind through the Grunewald swiftly and then soon we’ll be at the Wannsee”.
Now, the Wannsee lido it’s the largest inland swimming area in Europe, with a water surface of 130.000 m2 and a wide beach with sand taken from the Baltic Sea. Compared with other bathing options in or around Berlin, Wannsee is quite well-organized: you can find chairs, umbrellas, and the typical German Strandkorb rentals, dress rooms, showers, many food options, a water slide, children’s playground, boat rental service and, on the eastern part of the beach, also a family-friendly no-clothes area (Freikörperkultur or FKK). Yes, in case you didn’t know, Germans don’t have a problem with nudity.
The lido and also the buildings around the lake are built in the New-Objectivity style (Neue Sachlichkeit), a modern architectural style that emerged in Germany and in other German-speaking countries in 1920 – 1930, with simple and almost minimalistic exteriors, using steel framing glazed concrete, bricks and glass.
The beach is wide enough and up to 30.000 people can enjoy it, but even so, on weekends, it can get a little crowded. If you want to avoid the crowd, go early in the morning or in the afternoon, after 3 o’clock.
Before going there, I had my doubts about bathing in a lake and not knowing how deep and steep it is; but Wannsee it’s a safe choice because the water gets deeper very gradually, and even the small children can swim safely.
From the first moment I got there, I had the feeling I had stepped back in time, and I expected to see women wearing vintage swimsuits, children playing in the sand with old toys, and German songs playing on the radio.
Wannsee can give you this kind of feeling, but also it has everything you need for a relaxing day at the beach. And you can reach it within 45 minutes from Berlin city center.
How to get there:
Take S-Bahn S7 or S1 to Wannsee from the city center and then it’s 10 minute walk to the Strandbad Wannsee. If you come here by car, there is also free parking.
Late March to mid-September; 9:00 – 20:00 (Friday & Saturday until 21:00)
5.50 euros (3.50 euros reduced)
For more info, see the official website.