As temperatures slowly climb, the summer hunt begins for the perfect lake in Berlin. The city itself and surrounding state of Brandenburg are full of beautiful waters, but not all lakes (or see in German) are created equal.
I had heard rumors of a large lake up north that might fit the ideal criteria. With visibility up to 3-metres, an island (Großer Werder) reachable by ferry or a strong swim, and surroundings of idyllic German forest and old-school country mansions, 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 to the water with friends. My little party arrived at the sleepy country train station of Wandlitz and followed the steady stream of visitors and signs toward the lake.
Visiting Liepnitzsee from Berlin
We weren't alone 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 the paked cars and eventually get left behind as we chugga-chuggad toward our day trip get-away.
This area was once a summer escape for East German 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 your life as a moneyed country-dweller just a short ride from the capital.
There are a few shops around the train station, but load up on supplies before heading to the lake for your best options.
The warm June air noticeably cooled off beneath the leafy canopy and a 15 minute trek took us 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 of other sunbathers. We trudged on for another 20 minutes in search of our spot along the tantalizingly clear water and gently sloping beaches which extend just beyond the trees. 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 sandal-clad feet. Shady trees loomed overhead along the shoreline offering sun protection.
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 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 was a glimmering 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 Berlin 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 30 minutes to reach the lakefront when walking. If you are feeling sporty, this is a popular biking destination.
Staying at Liepnitzsee
If you really want to beat the crowds, there are a few hotels scattered around the area, as well as a campground so you can further commune with nature.
However, one of the reasons this lake is so desirable is that its easily reachable from the city by public transport and only takes about an hour to reach.