by Alice Mariscotti-Wyatt
The Bathing Ship, a swimming pool which floats in the Spree, has long been one of my favourite places in Berlin. But since moving here I’ve discovered this city has a whole lot more weird, wonderful and beautiful pools. Perhaps it’s because Berlin is at least 2 hours from the coast, but it’s put a lot of effort into where to swim.
Swimming in the Spree isn’t advised – unless you head to this unique outdoor pool, floating in a barge on Berlin’s main river. The pool shimmers against the waters of the Spree, and the edges are all shallow ledges, inviting swimmers to pause and enjoy the river views of the Molecule Man and passing paddle boarders instead. The on-land section has a beach club vibe, with DJs and deck chairs. It’s an excellent chill out spot, but get there early on sunny weekends, as it does get busy.
Photo source: Liquidrom http://www.liquidrom-berlin.de
Liquidrom’s pools are more about relaxation and rejuvenation than getting the laps in, but they definitely deserve a mention. For starters there’s the exterior, built to resemble an abstract circus tent. Inside you’ll find a futuristic spa, with a succession of pools and saunas, including a Finnish sauna and Japanese-style onsen. The highlight, though, is the cupola hall with its multi-sensory salt-water pool featuring light shows and underwater music – expect anything from classical to techno.
Dip into Berlin’s history – quite literally – when you take a dip in the Olympic pool from the infamous 1936 Olympics. It’s been refreshed several times since then, but much of the imposing, stern architecture remains. As you swim laps in the 50-metre pool you’re surrounded by the looming audience stands and the grey columns of the Olympic stadium. Newer additions include two leisure pools and a grassy lounging space.
Stadtbad Neukölln may look like some decadent spa, but this is actually one of Berlin’s public swimming pools! It was constructed in 1914, and designed to resemble Roman baths, as was the vogue at the time. Beside from the two pools surrounded by classical columns, there’s also a Greek-Roman steam bath, a Finnish Sauna and a sanarium with colored lights.
More Public Pools!
Grand as it is, Stadtbad Neukölln is far from the only public swimming pool worth visiting for the architecture. Stadtbad Mitte “James Simon” is encased in a striking Bauhaus construction bathing swimmers in light. Then there’s art nouveau Stadtbad Charlottenburg Alte Halle, the oldest swimming pool in Berlin – it dates all the way back from 1896.
As already noted, Berlin is a long way from the sea. But that doesn’t stop Berlin being a great beach destination. The city is surrounded by lakes, many of which have sandy shores which Berliners flock to when the weather gets hot. There are so many to pick from, but if you have time it’s worth making the 40-minute journey to Strandbad Wannsee, the largest inland beach in Europe. That beach is 1,275 meters long and up to 80 metres wide, made of white sand imported from the Baltic. Relax in one of the 20s-style wicker chairs and watch yachts sail the lake while children paddle in the shallows.
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Côte d’Azur glamour meets gritty, urban Berlin at Haubentaucher. This events space with pool is built in a former train repair workshop. The 240-square-metre heated pool forms the centrepiece, surrounded by sundecks and gardens designed to evoke a Mediterranean beach club. It’s a great pool for showing off your swankiest swimwear and sipping cocktails – in the middle of the city.
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