Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to rediscover Berlin’s most scenic spots for waterfront fun – and there’s a lot to choose from.
Don’t know where to start? Here’s our list of the city’s prettiest places on the water, from beaches and boardwalks to boats and beyond. Dive in!
Mitte can get pretty hectic, but the harbour there can serve as a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle. Sit by the docks and watch the boats bob peacefully on the water – or combine your field trip with a tour of the Fischerinsel. The opposite direction has a lot to offer, too, the Stadtmuseum being just a few minutes’ walk from the Märkische Ufer.
When the weather is good, both people and waterfowl flock to the Greenwichpromenade in Tegel, which inherited both its name and its iconic red phone boxes from the famous London district. Cruise ships like the Mississippi steamboat-esque MS Havel and Berlin’s beloved motorised whale Moby Dick make for an impressive sightline during a stroll along the water.
Between the Soviet memorial, the remnants of East Berlin’s now-defunct premier amusement park, and the DDR-era water playground (or Plansche), the Plänterwald still oozes Eastern charm even decades after reunification.
The forest itself is a pretty sight and offers several hiking trails, but the nicest one has to be the one along the riverbank, flanked on each side by two different but equally beautiful landscapes. You may even see a BVG ferry float by on its way to Oberschöneweide.
Ongoing construction around the Europacity, one of the last remaining guide towers of the former East/West border with a memorial in honour of Günter Litfin, who died at the Wall, the Invalidenfriedhof where famous Prussian military men are buried – there’s a lot to see around the Nordhafen.
Of course, that includes the Nordhafen park itself, which is the perfect place to lay in the grass and soak up some sun as you take in the picturesque view of the water.
From Oranke to Obersee
Yes, we’ve all been to the Weiße See – but the Orankesee is just objectively nicer. With sandy beaches and a waterslide for little ones, it’s the perfect summer bathing spot. It’s also just a stone’s throw from the Obersee, which is where esteemed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohre (1886-1969) built the Lemke Villa – now a museum dedicated to his work.
Watch water buffalos by the Tegel Fließ
These impressive animals are naturals at maintaining the landscape around the Tegel Fließ, as well as attracting attention from passersby over the years since they were first implemented. But they’re not the area’s only highlight: Where there’s water buffalo, there’s water – in this case some scenic stretches of a more-than-30-kilometre brook running through the city.
The nicest is the area between Ziegeleisee, home of Strandbad Lübars, and the Eichwerder Moorland. The so-called Eichwerdersteg is a 145-meter-long boardwalk that leads along the floodplain, with an informative nature trail for inquisitive wanderers.
Grunewald has been a favourite recreation spot among Berliners for generations, and it’s not difficult to see why. From the forest’s edge, the historic Jagdschloss Grunewald and lake make for a gorgeous view, and have even been the site of numerous film and television production crews. This spot also isn’t far from the Brücke-Museum and Kunsthaus-Dahlem, two other fun day trip destinations.
- Jagdschloss Grunewald Hüttenweg 100, Dahlem.
The banks of the Panke
The flow of the Panke differs depending on where in the city you look, no more than a trickle in some spots and even running underground in others. But if you follow it North for long enough, you’ll notice it gets stronger the further you go – and that it can lead you to some unexpectedly picturesque places, as it does in Wedding.
The riverbanks in Bürgerpark and Schlosspark in Pankow aren’t bad places to sit and relax by the water, either.
The Landwehrkanal at Urbanhafen
When it comes to Berlin’s waterfronts, the Urbanhafen is probably the chillest. When the weather warms up, people dot the shores of the Landwehrkanal with beers in hand to watch the sunset or hop on inflatable boats. The stretch between Baerwald and Admiralbrücke is especially nice for afternoon and early evening strolls.
History along the Havel
One of Berlin’s best hiking trails leads from the Glienicker Brücke – where once upon a time East and West exchanged spies – to the Pfaueninsel (or ‘peacock island’). Follow the course of the Havel river and glimpse the Heilandskirche on the other side, or sip a coffee at Wirtshaus Moorlake. For another great view of the river, peer over the terrace at Blockhaus Nikolskoe.
Paddle through New Venice
Need a vacation, but don’t have the budget? Wilhelmshagen is home to so-called ‘New Venice,’ an idyllic estate made up of countless bridges and canals. Explore it on foot, or better yet, hop on a paddle boat and stare at the picturesque panorama of property in barely-contained envy as you float past.
It probably goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: You can’t go wrong with a trip to the Neue See in the Tiergarten. But in addition to that popular spot, the myriad of brooks and streams flowing through the park offer plenty of other pretty sightlines, including hidden pools and little islands.
This article has been adapted from the German by Seraina Birdsey.