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Berlin by the water: 12 beautiful places you need to know about

Being *miles* from the sea is something you get used to in Berlin. But, if you know where to look, the city has many spectacular lakes, cosy harbours and picturesque river banks along which you can walk, lounge or sunbathe. Here are 12 of the most beautiful waterside spots in Berlin to visit this summer.

Family-friendly relaxation on the banks of the redeveloped Nordhafen

Der Park am Nordhafen gehört zu den schönsten Orten in Berlin, die am Wasser liegen. Dort trifft man bei gutem Wetter eigentlich immer Anwohner, die auf der Wiese liegen und sich sonnen. Foto: Imago/F. Anthea Schaap
The park at Nordhafen is one of the most beautiful waterfront spots in Berlin. When the weather’s good, you’ll find locals sunbathing on the grass. Photo: Imago/F. Anthea Schaap

There’s a lot to discover around Nordhafen: Europacity (a new city quarter currently under construction), the Günter Litfin memorial to those who died fleeing from East to West (one of the last remaining watchtowers of the former Berlin Wall), the Invalidenfriedhof with its notable Prussian military graves. And, of course, the Nordhafen itself; extensively renovated in recent years and on whose verdant banks friends and families settle in summer. Here there’s hardly any shipping traffic and the noise of the surrounding streets is absorbed by the greenery. So you can relax in peace in the middle of the city.

Address: Sellerstraße 17, Wedding
U6 to Reinickendorfer Straße, bus 142 to Friedrich-Krause-Ufer.

Stroll along ‘Greenwichpromenade’ and see ‘Moby Dick’

"Moby Dick" gehört zu Berlins bekanntesten Ausflugsschiffen. Foto: Imago/Jürgen Ritter
‘Moby Dick’ is one of Berlin’s most famous sightseeing boats. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

Certainly no insider tip, but always beautiful. The U6 will take you from Friedrichstraße in Mitte to Tegel in less than 30 minutes. From there, the pedestrian zone with its impressive density of ice-cream stands is only a few minutes’ walk from the so-called ‘Greenwichpromenade’ (complete with its own red London-style telephone booth), where, in good weather, residents stroll and swans cavort. With a little luck, you’ll spot ‘Moby Dick’ anchored by the jetty, a quirky sightseeing boat in the shape of a whale.

Address: Eisenhammerweg 19, Reinickendorf
U6 to Alt-Tegel

Discover the other side of Mitte at Historischer Hafen

Blick vom Historischen Hafen in Mitte auf den Fernsehturm. Foto: Imago/Jürgen Ritter
The view from Historischer Hafen in Mitte to the famous TV tower. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

Those who think Mitte is always loud and busy have yet to experience Historischer Hafen. Here, boats bob calmly on the water. All is quiet. It’s best to combine an excursion here with a visit to Fischerinsel. In the other direction there’s also lots to see: it’s only a few minutes’ walk from Märkisches Ufer to the Stadtmuseum Berlin.

Address: Fischerinsel 3, Mitte
U2 to Märkisches Museum

Discover relics of the GDR in Plänterwald

Dreht sich ab und zu noch gespenstisch im Wind: Das Riesenrad des ehemaligen Spreeparks. Foto: Imago/Kraehn
Still spinning eerily in the wind from time to time: the Ferris wheel of the former Spreepark. Photo: Imago/Crown

Even 30 years after reunification, Plänterwald retains its Eastern charm. This is mainly due to the remains of ‘Spreepark’, fenced off over a large area but whose remaining attractions are still clearly visible from afar, as well as to the ‘Plansche’, a kind of water playground popular in the GDR. The forest itself is beautiful and has many walking trails, with one of the most beautiful leading along the shore. From there the Ferry 11 also starts its tour towards Oberschöneweide.

Address: Neue Krugallee, Treptow
S8, S9, S85 to Plänterwald

Hohenschönhausen deluxe: Experience Berlin by the water from Lake Oranke to Obersee

Graue Platten? Von wegen. Rund um Oranke- und Obersee geht es luxuriös zu. Foto: Imago/CHROMORANGE
It’s luxurious around Lake Orange and Lake Obersee. Photo: Imago/CHROMORANGE

Nearby Weiße See is more famous; Orankesee more beautiful. But the local lido impresses with a fine sandy beach, while for kids there’s a slide. The shore promenade has been extensively renovated in recent years. And: from Orankesee it’s only a stone’s throw to Obersee. The highlight there is Villa Lemke, built by the famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) and now a museum dedicated to the former Bauhaus director.

Address: Gertrudstraße 7, Lichtenberg
Tram lines 27, M13 or M17 to Stadion Buschallee/Suermondtstr.

Water buffalo graze around Tegeler Fliess

Kehren bald wieder zurück: Die Wasserbüffel vom Tegeler Fließ. Foto: Imago/Jürgen Ritter
Coming back soon: The water buffalo from Tegeler Fliess. Photo: Imago/Jürgen Ritter

It won’t be long before the water buffalo return to Tegeler Fliess. Here, the impressive animals are used as natural landscape gardeners. A project that has caused much excitement in recent months and that will hopefully be financed beyond this year. By far not the only highlight, however. The more than 30-kilometre-long stream, 10 kilometres of which run within the city limits, has some beautiful sections. Among the most picturesque is the stretch between Ziegeleisee, where Strandbad Lübars is located, and the Eichwerder Moorwiesen. The so-called Eichwerdersteg is a 145-metre-long boardwalk that runs along the floodplain. There’s also a nature trail for those who are curious.

Address: Am Rohrbusch 1, Reinickendorf
Bus lines 222 or N2 to Am Vierrutenberg

Walk from Jagdschloss around Grunewaldsee

Beliebte Film- und Fernsehkulisse: das Jagdschloss Grunewald. Foto: Imago/Rolf Kremming
Popular film and television backdrop: the Jagdschloss Grunewald. Photo: Imago/Rolf Kremming

Berliners have been going to Grunewald for generations to relax and unwind. It’s beautiful at the edge of the forest by Grunewaldsee, and the hunting lodge there has served as a backdrop for many film sets. In our case, it’s the starting point of an enjoyable walk. Worth knowing: this tour can be combined with a visit to two institutions worth seeing: the Brücke Museum and Kunsthaus Dahlem.

Address: Hüttenweg 100, Wilmersdorf
Bus 115 to Pücklerstr.

Berlin by the water: Discover new facets of the city along the Panke

Idylle statt Tristesse: So schön kann der Wedding am Pankeufer aussehen. Foto: Imago/Schöning
Idyll not dreariness: Wedding along the banks of the Panke can look so beautiful. Photo: Imago/Schöning

In Mitte it’s often barely a trickle and runs partly underground. But if you follow its course to the north, you’ll see how the Panke becomes more and more powerful — and perhaps discover some quiet corners you’ve never explored. Thus, the otherwise drab Wedding shows a serene, almost picturesque side. It’s also very pleasant to sit down along the bank in Bürger- or Schlosspark, both of which are located in Pankow. If you’re not afraid of a long walk, follow the river further in the direction of Buch until you reach the city limits.

Address: Schulzendorfer Str. 19, Mitte
U6 to Reinickendorfer Straße

Watch the sunset at Urbanhafen with a cool beer in your hand

Chillen am Urbanhafen macht vor allem im Sonnenuntergang Spaß. Imago/Carsten Thesing
Chilling at Urbanhafen is particularly fun at sunset. Imago/Carsten Thesing

Of all Berlin’s shores, few are as chilled as Urbanhafen. When the weather is warm, locals sit by Landwehrkanal with a beer or take a relaxing lap in their inflatable boats. Settle somewhere between Baerwaldbrücke and Admiralsbrücke to watch the sunset.

Address: Prinzenstraße 1, Kreuzberg
U1 or U3 to Prinzenstraße

Hike along the Havel and dive deep into the city’s history

Vom Ufer aus deutlich zu sehen: die Heilandskirche Sacrow. Foto: Imago/Martin Müller
Clearly visible from the shore: Heilandskirche Sacrow Photo: Imago/Martin Müller

One of the most beautiful hiking routes in Berlin leads from Glienicker Brücke to Pfaueninsel (Peacock Island) along the water. The route begins on the bridge where spies from East and West Germany were once exchanged. Past the casino of the Glienicke Palace, follow the course of the Havel. Halfway along the opposite bank you can admire Heilandskirche Sacrow, and, in good weather, you can stop for a coffee at Wirtshaus Moorlake. Another worthwhile place to visit is Blockhaus Nikolskoe, from whose elevated terrace there’s a great view over the river. From Pfaueninsel, an hourly bus will take you back to Wannsee S-Bahn station.

Address: Königstraße, Zehlendorf
Bus 316 or N16 to Glienicker See

Canoeing through New Venice

Idylle pur in Südosten Berlins, wo sich die Siedlung Neu-Venedig befindet. Foto: Imago/Chromorange
The waterside paradise to the southeast of Berlin where ‘New Venice’ is to be found. Photo: Imago/Chromorange

Italian flair in the middle of Berlin? At Wilhelmshagen there’s a small settlement named ‘New Venice’ — and you’ll soon see why. The idyllic retreat owes its name to the network of small canals and numerous bridges on which it stands. You can walk through the area on foot, but it’s nicer to take your own boat for a spin and look enviously at the surrounding gardens.

Address: Rialtobrücke Neu Venedig, Köpenick
Bus lines 161 or N61 to Hubertusstr.

Discover the many small lakes and streams in Tiergarten

Das Café am Neuen See ist wahrlich eine Großstadtoase. Foto: images / Stefan Zeitz
Café am Neuen See is truly a big-city oasis. Photo: imago/time

Tiergarten isn’t really an insider tip. But, off the beaten track, there are still many idyllic spots to discover from small streams flowing through the large park to secluded pools and hidden islands. Those who wish can, of course, simply relax on the banks of Neuen See. In summer, there’s no more beautiful oasis in the heart of the city. Berlin by the water: where everyday worries are quickly forgotten.

Original text Max Müller

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