Queer Swimming Spots in Berlin: Cool Off with a Splash
Berlin lies on the water. And it’s well-known that the Spree is Berlin’s largest river. But besides that, the smaller Panke River as well as the numerous canals all over the city can provide a breath of fresh air. An ideal summer can be enjoyed at Berlin’s many lakes and countless outdoor swimming pools. Over time some have established themselves as beloved meeting points for the lesbian, gay and queer communities. So pack your swimming trunks, grab a beach towel and some sunscreen and make some new friends at the beach!
Strandbad Wannsee: The Classic
It’s been 50 years since Rosa von Praunheim shot scenes for his film classic It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives at Strandbad Wannsee. With its 1,375-meter-long and 80-meter-wide sandy beaches, this lido on the shore of Wannsee, actually a bay of the Havel River, boasts being the largest inland lake resort in Europe. Enough space to lounge around, sunbathe and put yourself on display. The queer area is located at the far-right end of the beach, where swimsuit-free bathing is also allowed. Once there, the cool and wadable water of the Havel River beckons in front of you, while behind you a refreshment stand offers cool beer, draught soda, currywurst and French fries. The sanitary facilities, including showers, offer something of a feast for the eyes for architecture enthusiasts: The historically listed bathroom was built in the late 1920s modelled in Germany’s New Objectivity style of the time. In order to spend a relaxing afternoon at the Strandbad Wannsee, a tiny bit of your attention is required in getting there. While the Wannsee bathing facilities can be reached from the city centre with the S-Bahn’s S1 line in only 20 to 30 minutes, rather confusingly the closest S-Bahn station is not Wannsee, but one station earlier, Nikolassee. From this S-Bahn station, it's a good ten-minute walk through the shady Grunewald forest – and then you’re in for some splashy fun.
Wannseebadweg 25, 14129 Berlin-Nikolassee
Teufelssee: Chilling in the Middle of Nature
There’s a bit of alternative hippie flair detectable at this little jewel of nature: on the shores of Teufelssee everyone does exactly what they feel in the moment. The lake itself is small, yet exquisite. The eastern shore lays under environmental protection, but the western shore holds an inclined beach for nude sunbathing. For some time now however, Teufelssee’s clothing quota has been steadily increasing. Be that as it may, Teufelssee has also become a popular destination among Berlin's queer expats in recent years, so you can look forward to an almost Babylonian smattering of languages there. Likewise to someone or another packing speakers and erupting into a spontaneous dance performance – the later the afternoon, the more celebratory the mood. In contrast to Wannsee, you don’t have to have to pay entrance for a swim at Teufelssee, nor to mind opening hours. That’s why the lake is ideal for long, balmy summer evenings. Just keep an eye out for the wild boars emerging from the bushes every now and then – after all, Teufelssee is in the middle of Grunewald. You can get to the lake from the S-Bahn stations Grunewald or Heerstraße, and then a 30-minute walk. Of course it’s faster with a bicycle.
At the end of Teufelsseechaussee, Berlin-Grunewald
S Grunewald oder S Heerstraße
Strandbad Müggelsee: The Pearl of the East
What Wannsee is for west of Berlin, Müggelsee is for eastern part of the city. And just like Wannsee, Müggelsee has also long been a beloved meeting point for the queer community. Advantage Müggelsee: you can visit this beach without paying admission. Like it’s western counterpart, the queer area is located at the end of the site and close to the nude area. Thanks to its west-facing location, you can enjoy the sun until late in the evening. And the lake side opposite the lido is also something to behold. Guests here are looking out over the Müggelberge, an extraordinarily hilly backdrop by Berlin standards. The lake is relatively shallow. In order to be able to swim with any sort of power, you’ll have to first wade deep out into the lake. The best way to reach Müggelsee, also known as the Pearl of the East, is by tram line 61, which stops right in front of the entrance.
Fürstenwalder Damm 838
Tram 61, stop Strandbad Müggelsee
Prinzenbad: Central and urban
Smack in the middle of Kreuzberg is Berlin’s most central queer meeting point for wet and merry summer fun: the crown prince of Berlin’s city bathing facilities, officially called Sommerbad Kreuzberg, but known locally as “Prinzenbad”. In the summertime it attracts lots of regular visitors from the surrounding districts – many of them come mainly for sports. Near the front of the establishment and near its three pools, the atmosphere is lively to say the least – see and be seen is the order of the day here. Those who like it quieter can get their money's worth sunbathing on the lawn further back. There’s also a protected nudist area. Because of its more urban atmosphere, SIEGESSÄULE and L-Mag, in cooperation with Berliner Bäderbetriebe, picked Prinzenbad as the venue for the Queer Summer Splash, a wet and wild party currently on hiatus due to the corona pandemic. When it happens, food trucks, concert stages and an exercise program designed by Berlin's queer sports clubs draw a large part the queer community to Prinzenbad on the same day. The event has also ensured that the staff here is well sensitized to the needs of queer guests – all important in a place where it can get crowded at peak hours, as well as a bit heated. On sunny days, all those who are serious about swimming should come as early in the morning or late in the afternoon as possible. From the U-Bahn station Prinzenstraße you practically fall directly into the pool.
Many more tips and suggestions can be found on the homepage of SIEGESSÄULE, Berlin’s biggest city magazine. With the SIEGESSÄULE map you can filter by numerous categories.
Text: Carsten Bauhaus