I wanted to find a pretty German lake for a swim on a sunny day, and Wandlitz was the obvious answer. But however hard I looked online I couldn’t find the answers to any of my questions, or even find the train station on google maps, so here goes…
To swim in the lake get on a train from Berlin Karow and get off at Wandlitzsee, and almost opposite the train station is a lido in the lake. It costs about two Euro to get in and there’s grassy banks, the lido, but also access to swim in the whole lake, rowing boats, diving boards, food and drink and lots of German families.
If you don’t want to go to the main public part of the lake try heading to the right as you approach the lido and take the path round, every so often there are areas you can access the lake for a swim, have a picnic, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
This is all within Berlin zone C so easy to get to, and only about 15mins from Karow. We took a picnic and asked the woman in the boat hire to look after our things while we went for a swim which she was more than happy to do, but most people just left their belongings and as with everywhere else I went in Berlin you never really got the feeling that anything would get stolen.
Apparently it takes about three hours to walk round the whole lake but it was far too hot to even consider attempting that. And apparently the town is quite pretty, but I was desperate for Kaffee und Kuchen and so bi-passed that and headed back to the city.
Highlights? Watching the many varied attempts of people falling head first, feet first, and far too often belly first off the diving boards into the lake; and just swimming in a huge, calm, clean (although not quite crystal clear) stretch of water.
A nature park with easy walking trails, elevated walkways and an imaginative indoor exhibition. Feeding the goats in the petting section is fun, there are deer, bears and birds, but the absolute highlight is the wolf pack. The wolves have a large area to roam in, but because you can climb up and look down from the walkway, you always get good views of them. Decent cafe and events throughout the year. We always stop off here on our way by car from Berlin to Rostock. It is just off the motorway, about two thirds of the way to Rostock.
Easy drive (two hours+) or train ride from Berlin. Hanseatic city with picturesque market square, shopping and fountain focal point. Great toyshop, two floors for kids of all ages - Wupatki, Rungestrasse 19, 18055 Rostock. Christmas market in December - try the deep fried bananas! Catch a tram to the imaginative zoo (with good playground), or a train or boat (in season) to the seaside town of Warnemunde. (Wide, sandy beach, good fish restaurants, fish market and lots of boats and ships coming and going.)
To the south west of Berlin are the Wannsee lakes and the great Strandbad Wannsee, the largest inland lido in Europe. This is one of my favourite places to visit when in Berlin. If the weather's good what could be better than a day at the 'beach', having a swim and watching the boats sail by? Who would believe this is just a tube journey away from central Berlin. A short walk through the Grundewald from Nicholassee S-bahn and the lake opens up before your eyes!
Google map: bit.ly/UU2Iob
Europe's largest indoor waterpark sits in an aircraft hanger outside of Berlin. Surrounded by flat fields, the structure is completely incongruous with the setting and indoors, it is hard to believe you are in Germany.
It is an enormous and cheesy but fun tropical water park with spa, sauna, cabaret, Germany's highest water slides, a "Bali lagoon" and waterfalls.
It is a bit of a white elephant, having failed to attract the optimistic forecast of one million visitors a year but the plus side is, it is rarely uncomfortably busy.
Located about 35 miles outside Berlin and easily accessible on the train from Alexanderplatz - a shuttle bus from Brand station takes you to the "resort".
If the rain and cold of Berlin winter get you down, pop there for a dose of jungle fever.
One of Germany's most beautiful natural areas is only an hour and a half by train from Berlin's Hauptbahnhof. The Spree Forest is laced with lakes and canals channelled from the Spree River hundreds of years ago. There are barges with guides for a relaxing glide through the forest, or canoes for a more energetic exploration. The local dill, mustard and herb-flavoured gherkins taste good with locally smoked fish sandwiches. There are plenty of paths for walking and cycling, and there's hot-air ballooning if the weather is right. A glass of refreshing Lübbenauer Babbenbier is the traditional way to end the day before heading home.
I lived in a university guest house behind the scenes in the gardens a while back and spent hours each day wandering around. The most fascinating walk takes you through the northern hemisphere temperate zones, starting with swamp cypress from the south-eastern US through Japan and China and onwards, ending with a typical German beech wood near the northern exit.
This is the place when you're looking for free events like parties and museums in Berlin. Perfect for low-budget travellers. These are the events locals go to. Even real Berliners don't know everything you can get in Berlin for free. Most of the content is german, but can be translated at the bottom of the page.
Off-the-beaten-track but central (in Prenzlauer Berg)
little cute family-friendly cafe serving cornish pasties, PG tips tea, great ice cream and soups. With English-speaking owner.
senefelder platz U-Bahn
A compact but very illuminating visit to what life was like in communist era Germany. Reveals many artifacts of the era in the form of mock-ups of an apartment, a Trabant car etc, some of which you can handle. English and German commentary on the displays.
Great Winter diversion but light content, near cafes / aquarium near Alexanderplatz, open late to 8pm (10pm Sat).
By the river side at Spreepromenade
an der Liebknechtbrücke
Phone: +49 (0)30/847 123 73-1
Modern, clean and friendly hotel - especially for families. Rooms around £60 per night accommodating a family of up to four. The hotel is approximately 200 metres from a surviving piece of the Berlin Wall. It’s in a central location about 5-10 minutes walk from Potsdamer Platz.
Anhalter Strasse, Anhalter Bahnhof S-Bahn; www.suitehotel.com
The Egyptian Museum, just across the road from Schloß Charlottenburg, has a superb collection of artefacts, but is worth visiting for one reason alone – as the home of the famous bust of Nefertiti. And nobody objects if you take your own photos of it either!
Schloßstraße 70, Charlottenburg, 14059 (3209 1261). U2 Sophie-Charlotte-Platz/U7 Richard-Wagner-Platz.
Prater Garten is a biergarten at Kastanienalle Prenzlauer Berg, the best bier, the best ambient for families and groups. It has great food and location, you must go.
www.pratergarten.de at prenzlauerBerg Berlin in the middle of the funky suburb of Berlin (east)
I recommend exploring east Berlin. Take the U-bahn to Schönhauser Allee U-bahn station, or better, Eberswalderstrasse, one stop earlier. There’s a fast food stall under the station where you can get an excellent currywurst with chips. From there you can walk to Kollwitzplatz, a small square commemorating the artist Käthe Kollwitz. She was known for glowering portraits drawn with charcoal. Until a decade ago it suited this north-eastern part of the city, but the neighbourhood now is cheerful and gentrified. The buildings in the streets around Kollwitz Strasse have had their bulletholes filled in and been painted bright colours, and there are lots of excellent cafes, restaurants and bars. There’s even a weekend farmers’ market.
Eberswalder Strasse, U2
Trabi Safari is a 90-minute guided tour around Berlin in one of the iconic former DDR cars. The highlight of this tour is that you are the driver. A great and fun way for you and three friends to see the city and engage with a piece of Berlin history.
This is Berlin's one and only hostelboat, which means you can actually stay overnight on a boat on the River Spree for reasonable and have superb views over the river. I recommend it because it is something different, but apart from this, it's a very cosy place with very helpful people. Rooms are nice and have all attached bath. It is next to what's left of the wall and in general a cool place.
You can get off one of the main station, which is Ostbahnhof and walk along the wall, which enables you to admire the numerous murals, or you can get off the tube stations Warschauerstrasse or Schlesische Strasse, which are a bit closer;
Ice cream cafe and art gallery. Marvellous organic ice cream from Devon. Run by lovely ex-pat Galina and Kirstin. Easy, friendly ambience in centre of Bohemian East Berlin. Art works change every month. Great to sit and chill out. B&B possible too, with English-speaking flat owner.
Zionskirchstrasse 75, Berlin 10119; Nearest metro: Senefelderplatz; Tel: (004930) 44038577
A fascinating look into Berlin's tumultuous recent history and its glorious past. The tour takes in all the major landmarks, but what makes it extra special are the superb guides - they are knowledgeable, approachable, friendly and full of interesting anecdotes. They take you off the beaten track, revealing much of what made Berlin such a vast metropolis. You visit hitler's bunker, the largest remaining stretch of the Wall that still stands, Checkpoint Charlie, Brandenburg Gate and the dizzying TV tower. You will never learn so much in 5 hours as you will by taking one of these tours. They are good value, perfectly paced and laden with enough facts to make up for the times you fell asleep during history lessons at school.
Their leaflets are dotted around all Hotel & Hostel lobbies in the City Centre. Just turn up at the meeting point at the correct time, pay around 10 euros and off you go.
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