‘Gross Glienicker See’: The Nicest Bathing Lake in Berlin

Gross Glienicker See is a great lake to jump into. The joy of being there might be marred by the fact that most of the lakefront is private property. But those who want to swim in the cleanest lake ever should go there anyway.

Berlin, June 8th, 2021. Update: June 12th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — Berlin’s health authority has quite a few missions. One of them is to check the water quality in the city’s bathing lakes, including Gross Glienicker See, one of the most beautiful and cleanest lakes in the city. There are hardly any lakes in which swimmers can not only see their feet, but also what is going on below them.

No, this is not Varadero Beach, but the lakefront at Gross Glienicker See. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Plastic Shovels

As long as people behave, nothing will contaminate Gross Glienicker Lake’s water. There is no inflow. Heavy rain could wash dirt into the lake, at least in theory. That is why officials with test tubes check the water on a regular basis. Littering or abusing the lakeshore as a bathroom should be avoided. The next rule, according to which motorboats are forbidden here, gets rid of another potential pollution source. Four words: This lake is clean.

The ‘Bootshaus’ rents out boats. It is a restaurant too. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

That is why the ‘Europäische Wasserstelle’, a beach at the lakefront, is usually crammed on the weekends. The water is still cold enough to shrink certain body parts, but people do not seem to care. They need a tiny beach vacation after two years of Corona and because the other crises and issues we face. Here, teenagers play Christopher Columbus on inflatable boats while smaller kids dig into the sand with tiny plastic shovels.

Pricy but Delicious

At Gross Glienicker Lake, there are many activities adolescents and adults engage in. For instance, they swim from Berlin to Brandenburg and back. Since the state border runs right through the middle of the lake, this is a lot easier than swimming across the English channel, or from Cuba to Key West in an anti-shark cage. People also stand on SUP boards (standup paddle boards), and they rent boats to explore the lake.

There are sunbathing boats, rowboats and pedal boats. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

At the ‘Bootshaus’, located on the Berlin side, but right at the border, families enjoy pricy and delicious lunches and dinners while their kids play at the playground. People pour beer down their throats. And they rent those boats. On one of the trees in the restaurant’s impressive garden, an old sign reminds people of where they are: “Frontier area. Passage not allowed.” Yes, this used to be the border between West Berlin and the German Democratic Republic, which was about as democratic as Belarus is today, meaning it did not live up to its name at all.

The path to Brandenburg for non-swimmers looks slightly different. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

Exhaust Pipes

Another option, which does not seem to be too popular, is walking to Brandenburg through a little forest. In the province, another tiny public bathing spot is hidden behind elegant family homes with big gardens. From here, bathers can wave to all those people at the crammed beach in the city state of Berlin. Walking any further at the lakefront is forbidden, according to a sign.

In early June, the water was rather cold. Photo: Imanuel Marcus

There are two camping grounds on the Berlin side of the lake. Many Berliners placed their caravans there permanently. Why go to Delaware Beach, the Copacabana or Bordeaux if the next beach is so close? Well, maybe because parking is difficult. Everyone will come to Gross Glienicker Lake on sunny weekends, including those ignorant contemporaries on Harley Davidsons with manipulated exhaust pipes who terrorize the entire area with their noise. Going there at a crazy time, such as 7:00 a.m., might be a good idea.

Pikes and Basses

Taking a nice walk in winter, when hardly anyone goes there, is a lot easier than hitting the lake in spring or summer. Yet another activity here is fishing. According to an information board at the lakefront, Gross Glienicker See accommodates eels, pikes and basses. Don’t forget your fork.

By the way: Let’s keep Gross Glienicker See a secret. The residents around it are annoyed because the entire city seems to be going there on sunny spring and summer days. So, no recommendations, no articles, no photos.