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Not many people associate Berlin with dense forests and crystal clear lakes. Yet the city is richly endowed with both, particularly in the south-west, where several idyllic lakes - of which Wannsee is the largest - stud Grunewald Forest like glistening emeralds. A popular summertime destination for day-trippers, people gather at Strandbad Wannsee, Europe's largest inland beach, while water sport enthusiasts and hobby sailors take to the water. Several boats offer cruises on the lake and surrounding waters and there are also ferries to Peacock Island, Potsdam and Spandau.
Strolling through the windswept square between the TV Tower, the Town Hall and the Palast der Republik, you may unexpectedly stumble across an exquisite baroque fountain known as the Neptunbrunnen (Neptune Fountain). Built a hundred years ago and severely damaged during the World War II, it was removed from its original site close to the former Royal Palace, thoroughly restored and then re-erected at Alexanderplatz. Surrounded by faceless socialist architecture, the intricate fountain seems slightly out of place here, yet this simply adds to its fascination.
Head to a great lido on the Großer Wannsee in the South-West of the city. Located in a beautiful park, this 1.3 km stretch of sand offers you all the comforts of beach life: wicker beach chairs with an awning, ice cream places, chips shop, life guards, open air chess, etc. A great place to stretch out on the sand imported all the way from the Baltic coast. You can round off your trip to the Wannsee with a two-hour boat tour on one of the many pleasure steamers that cruise the seven lakes (Sieben-Seen-Tour). They depart hourly from near the S-Bahn station Wannsee.
Tropical Islands Resorts is one of the most visited theme parks and provides a wide range of themed zones for fun and relaxation. The park is located in a former air hangar and is the largest indoor waterpark in the world. Enjoy an amazing day with children and friends at Tropical Village, Rainforest, Tropical Sea, Bali Lagoon and Amazonia. Watch the Tropical Islands show or have a delightful time with water slides, whirlpool, beach volleyball and more. Overnight accommodation is also available and provides an excellent opportunity to unwind after a busy and tiring day at the park. A must-visit, the theme park is a haven for water park lovers.
On hot summer days, swimmers and sun-lovers congregate at Flughafensee, a scenic reservoir situated close (but not too close) to Tegel Airport in the north of the city. The unique aspect of the lake is its sandy beach, a relic of the days when the area was scattered with sand quarries. Just relax on the banks, as you enjoy the warm weather and tranquil atmosphere of the lake. It's not exactly the Copacabana, but there are worse places to hang out on a sweltering summer afternoon.
Built in the early 1930s near Rahnsdorf, this is not Berlin's most central swimming spot. Strandbad Müggelsee, the largest lake in the close vicinity of the German capital, makes it worth the trip. Lean back in wicker beach chairs and watch the distant boats pass by, while children build their sandcastles and youngsters play volleyball.
Tegeler See is a large lake located in the north of the city. The beach boasts wonderful white sand, long lawns for sunbathing and facilities for ball games in the summer. Kids have the choice of three water slides to shoot down, and there is a great playground located in a shady area. Nudists can get their kit off on a specially reserved part of the beach. All in all, a perfect place for a bit of summer fun!
Many of the city's most important buildings and historical sights are situated on the banks of the River Spree. Examples include the 13th-century Nikolaiviertel, Schloss Charlottenburg, Palast der Republik and Schloss Bellevue. Several new government buildings including the Chancellery, where German Chancellors have their office, are boarding the river in a quarter called the Spreebogen. Broad paths along the Spree make it ideal for a peaceful stroll, best of all through parks like the Tiergarten, Treptower Park or Schloss Charlottenburg's Royal Park. A boat trip is also a great way of doing a bit of sightseeing (boats depart regularly from Museum Island or from Schlosspark Charlottenburg). However, the river is at its most attractive in the Spreewald, a beautiful biosphere reserve 50 miles south-east of Berlin. It is here that the river splits into hundreds of canals and streams, surrounded by rain forest. An extremely popular day-trip destination, the Spreewald is also home to Germany's minority Sorbian community, well-known for their colorful costumes and lively festivals.