Berlin is encircled by lakes and bisected by the Spree hence – given the efficiency of both the U-Bahn and S-Bahn – it’s a doddle to get out of city and spend a day by the water. As all trains have designated carriages for bicycles, embarking on a two-wheeled ‘walk’ could not be easier ... as long as you remember to pay the €1.50 bicycle supplement.
Großer Müggelsee and Treptow
Ride the S-Bahn east to Rahnsdorf, then bus (or cycle) south to Müggelwerderweg and one of the small BVG urban transport piers. The little, once-an-hour F23 ferry potters across die Bänke, with its sleepy harbour, to Neu Helgoland with a delightful waterside restaurant-hotel-cum-concert hall. This is the venue for Germany’s wackiest programme of ‘Ost-Rock’ and cover bands. On any evening you could hear an ersatz-AC/DC, Joe Cocker or Bruce Springsteen. But be warned; if you settled in for a beer you may not leave for days.
Head west along the south shore of the Müggelsee, the city’s largest lake. Strand yourself at the ‘gestrandet’ beach bar, go for a swim or rent a paddleboat complete with waterslide. With a forest on your left, and the water on your right, this walk – or ride – is one of the most tranquil inner-city excursions in Europe.
At the lake’s western end walkers can take the Spreetunnel under the river and back toward the S-Bahn Friedrichshagen, pausing for a bout of window shopping along Bölschestrasse, the so-called ‘boulevard of the east’. Cyclists should push on along the Spree’s south bank, past canoe and rowing clubs, eyeing the elegant riverside conversions on the opposite shore. Ahead lies Köpenick, a relaxed yet quirky one-time fishing village and Slavic fortress which – according to existing records – is older than Berlin itself. Quirky? The town hall’s ‘basement’ restaurant is on the first floor and its prison is on Freiheit (freedom) Strasse. Above all Köpenick is known for the antics of Wilhelm Voigt, an unemployed shoemaker who in 1906 masqueraded as a Prussian officer and confiscated the town’s treasury, cocking-a-snoop at the-then unquestioning habit of deferring to men in uniform.
Now idle at a waterside bar, watch the sunset and hang around until June when the jazz and blues music festival is in town. Alternatively catch the tram back into the city.