The German word “Naherholungsgebiet” very elegantly sums up the lakes, streams and rivers extending from Berlin’s east flank into the outskirts of Brandenburg. Within 20 minutes of Kreuzberg, you can reach a beautiful network of canals at the crossing of Spree and Dahme in Köpenick. From here, we chartered a motorboat on which we traveled up the Müggelsee, Müggelspree and continued to extraordinary New Venice.
Trust me: Of all of the things in summer, this is the best thing. You don’t need to have a license to drive the motorboat, which reaches around 15 km/h at its best. It’s easy and uncomplicated. You can bring your own food, snacks and drinks, and if you want it to take it up a notch, maybe also bring a sunscreen that actually works. Just a thought.
Touring Neu Venedig and the Müggelsee
We drove along the Spree (which becomes the Müggelspree) into the supersize Müggelsee, where we hung around for a bit before we continued through the canals of New Venice (Neu Venedig). Neu Venedig is an amazing network of little canals which pass along the private gardens of botanically inclined citizens. Here, you will finally get to know what “Deutsche Spießigkeit” really means. Although all of the little garden estates and houses are beautiful, it’s ridiculous how many lawns have been measured with a ruler.
After getting lost in the canals, we continued down to Dämeritzsee, where realized that we didn’t have a ladder to climb back into the boat. Apparently, you have to let the rental place know beforehand. It was already too late for us at that point, so like the little piglets that we are, we had to use all sorts of demeaning climbing techniques until we finally made it up again.
By the way, Neu Venedig really looks like the Spreewald a lot, so if you’ve always wanted to go but didn’t want to commit to a long trip, this is a great alternative.
Theoretically, you can get pretty far with your boat if you don’t speed all the way (and remember to bring another gas tank). You can even ride up the Spree, back into the Landwehrkanal, if you’re so inclined – but we were pretty content in our little corner South East Berlin.
I was excited to discover new swimming spots at the lakes we drove through, but all of us were relieved that we got to escape the hot weather and tight public pools and shitty traffic. Pro-Tipp: Put a whole bag of ice into a freezer bag (which you can get at any supermarket) and store your drinks in there to keep them cool. Unless, of course, you have a cooling bag.1
The further away you take it from Müggelsee (for example, to Flakensee further North East, or Seddinsee further south), the clearer and more beautiful the water becomes. Throw out an anchor, have a picnic and enjoy the unconstricted, nuclear and shrill sun of Berlin.
Renting a boat on Müggelsee
We charted a boat from Schlossboote, a reliable little shop in Köpenick (right opposite the Altstadt). The Unsinkbar II cost around 130€ for 8 hours and fits 4 people comfortably, although you will definitely need to ask for a step ladder to climb into the boat from the water.
I also want to point out that the boat was spacious enough to sit, but not for lying down, and if you’re carrying a lot of stuff, I also suggest packing neatly. I regret not bringing my inflatable palmtree to lounge in while in the water, so pack that as well.