A swim in Berlin's Liepnitzsee

Jump right into one of Berlin's cleanest lakes

Liepnitzsee in Berlin.jpg
••• Erin Porter

As temperatures slowly climb, the summer hunt begins for the perfect lake for swimming. The area surrounding Berlin is full of them, but not all lakes (or See in German) are created equal.

I had heard rumors among other Berliners of a large lake up north that migth fit the ideal criteria. With visibility up to 3-metres down, an island (Großer Werder) reachable by ferry or a strong swim and surroundings of idyllic German forest land, this did indeed sound like the mythical perfect lake.

I felt the need to check out these claims for myself and decided it was time to plot a trip up to Liepnitzsee.

A holiday Monday (Pfingsten or Pentecost) proved the perfect opportunity. I mapped my route, grabbed a beach towel and heading out for the water. My little party arrived at a sleepy country station of Wandlitz and followed the steady stream of visitors and signs toward the lake.

We weren't alone - as usual - in our quest. There was a buzz of visitors to and from the lake with crowds joining us as early as Karow train station. We saw several bicyclists struggle to find a space for their bike abroad and eventually get left behind as we chugga-chuggad toward our get-away.

While today's crowd ranged from teenagers equipped with beer to families on an outing to middle-aged FKK bathers, the crowd of yesteryear was quite elite. This area was once a summer escape for GDR VIPs with an exclusive Waldsiedlung (summer house colony).

There are still plenty of fine estates lining the way to the park which provide ample fodder to imagine an even richer life.

A last-stop hotel marked the parking area before entering the woods. The warm June air noticeably cooled off beneath the canopy and a 15 minute trek took us to to our first glimpse of the emerald green waters which met the lush green of the forest.

However, any hope of privacy was quickly dispelled as we came across towel after towel. We trudged on for another 20 minutes in search of our spot along the tantalizingly clear water and gently sloping beaches. We passed the area for boat rentals, the paid beach (3 euro) and finally found a spot to lay our towels and rest our weary sandled feet.

We could wait no longer and stormed into the quiet waters. We watched as our feet slowly shuffled off the sandy shelf and launched us toward the island. Almost chilly beneath the trees, swimming out past the tall tree shadows in the water we once again felt the heat of the sun. Paddle boaters and rafts serenely floated by, a sunny beach area across the lake withered like a mass of humanity and we swam until it the air was cool enough to return to land. I don't know if it was perfect, but I was happy to end our search for that day.

How to Get to Liepnitzsee

By Public Transport: Take the S2 to Bernau or a regional train to Wandlitz (not Wandlitz See which is one stop further from Berlin). Plan your trip with the BVG journey planner.

By Car: Drive the A11 until taking the Lanke exit in the direction of Ützdorf.

Path to the Lake: Bike or walk toward Liepnitzsee (maps are posted) and into the forest.

The path is marked with a red circle surrounded by a white rectangle sprayed on the trees and it takes about 15 minutes to reach the lakefront.  

More of Berlin's best swimming beaches