The best lakes in Berlin
An insider guide to swimming Berlin’s lakes
Did you know that Berlin is home to a plethora of serene waters? 3,000 lakes, in fact, scatter the outskirts of the German capital, offering off-the-beaten-path destinations replete with secluded beaches, lush forests, and vast camping spots. Curated by Karolina Rosina, co-author and publisher of Take me to The Lakes, a series of guides to Germany’s best lakes, we have selected three favourites to swim, lounge, and sunbathe.
To Rosina and her business partner, Nils Kraiczy slow travel equals conscious travel. “It’s about discovering what’s beneath the surface, to fully commit to a place. It’s also about the desire for downtime, and to find that away from over-tourism,” says Rosina, adding that, to her, it doesn’t matter where you find such experiences. She and Kraiczy best reconnect and unwind in nature, as illustrated in their guide to Berlin’s lakes, a collection of littoral narratives and snapshots. What fascinates them about limnology, I ask? “The fact that every lake is an ecosystem in its own right that needs to be protected,” answers Rosina, adding that water uniquely allows you to feel closely connected to a place. Berlin and Brandenburg alone count over 3,000 lakes. Most of them emerged when glaciers retreated from Northern Europe’s landscape over 20,000 years ago, leaving them surrounded by dense forests and lush green.
Summer is usually a busy period for the two publishers, filled with trips capturing lakes and other nature reserves. What started as a list of lakes for friends and friends of friends soon turned into a publishing company born out of a desire to realise their visions autonomously. Since then, The Gentle Temper has released editions for Hamburg, Munich, and parts of Western Germany. While plans to internationalise their book series by covering Switzerland and Southern Sweden are put on hold, Rosina and Kraiczy are enjoying this somewhat forced summer staycation. “We don’t mind that everything is much slower this year. It’s not a new trend, but it’s palpable that people prefer to travel regionally.” What does a perfect lake day entail for them, I ask? “A quiet environment,” Rosina begins. “I prefer lakes surrounded by woodlands, where there are no ships and traffic. I also pay great attention to how clear the water is – though this feature doesn’t imply a lake’s water quality, which is almost always superb in Berlin.”
Tonsee, south of Berlin
A former clay pit, due to which the water is particularly clear, Tonsee is a small lake in the south of Berlin. Surrounded by woodlands, its shores are covered in rustic pine trees with one area opening up to a large sandy beach. “It feels a bit like being on summer school vacation,” says Rosina. With two camping areas on offer, which are directly located by the lake, Tonsee is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. If you can’t spare an entire weekend, make sure to factor in enough time anyways by starting your trip early in the day.
Sacrower See, southwest of Berlin
Its depth of 36 meters makes Sacrower Lake one of the deepest in Brandenburg. Belonging to a local chain of lakes also spanning Groß Glienicker Lake – to which it used to be directly linked – this one is within easy reach of the city and a perfect destination after a busy day at work. “In summer, the water glistens in a turquoise colour; it’s crystal clear,” says Rosina. Surrounded by a beautiful forest with many wild openings to the water, particularly along the western shore, there is also a small restaurant worth visiting, plus a takeaway for some simple post-swim snacks.
Gamensee, northeast of Berlin
Gracing the cover of the Take me to The Lakes Berlin edition, Gamensee is a quiet antidote to the often hectic nature of Berlin life. It may not be as close to the city as the other two, but, according to Rosina, is well worth the trip. “You get the feeling of being by a mountain lake; it’s tranquil and you can hear the trees rustling. The panorama is beautiful, and you can walk through the forest or rent a small paddle boat,” she says.
Image credits: The Gentle Temper | takemetothelakes.com