Autumn is my favourite time of year to visit two of Berlin’s most popular lakes: Schlachtensee and Krumme Lanke.
The other seasons have their charms of course, but by early October the days are still warm, the foliage is changing into vibrant hues of amber and gold, and there is a distinct lack of crowds compared to the summer months.
Here you have the chance to hike one or both lakes in a single day, and still have time to swim and relax in a beer garden if you wish.
If you walk both lakes, your route will be approximately 10 km long including the connecting trail between them and of course you can walk in either direction.
The continuous walking path around each lake is quite flat although there are some stairs at the start and endpoints, and there can be some uneven ground due to rocks or tree roots.
Access for swimming is usually easy as the trail closely follows the shorelines although some areas may be off limits for environmental conservation.
Schlachtensee is the largest of the lakes in the Grunewald forest and the trail around it is approximately 5.5 km long.
The water is cleaner and warmer than expected, and if you decide to swim you might be joined by some small curious fish.
The first time I swam here, I was surprised to find them at my feet! This lake is also a habitat for a fair variety of birds including cormorants, swans, coots, several types of ducks, and even a Grey Heron.
There are places along the shore to lay a picnic blanket as long as you respect the fencing in place for environmental protection.
Small grass lawns of Paul-Ernst Park between the train station and lake path are often also used for recreation and sunbathing in the summer.
If you visit in the summer, go early as it is very popular and by mid morning there may not be space to lay your towel!
If you start your walk from Schlachtensee in a counterclockwise direction from the train station, you’ll soon spot a beer garden and restaurant on the opposite edge of the lake, just as you round the shore.
Before stopping for a refreshment, continue straight ahead and cross the street to Krumme Lanke, which means “crooked lane” and is named for its curved shape.
This lake is a little smaller, with a 3.8 km path around the shore. Swimming here is also easy from shore, but some areas have a few steps.
This smaller lake allows nudity while fishers will find up to 18 types of fish here including perch and bream. Complete your walk around Krumme Lanke returning to Schlachtensee on the same path as before.
Stop for a beverage or snack and then continue your hike around the larger lake. There is also an option near the beer garden to rent paddle boards and get out onto the water.
On the western end of Schlachtensee, there is a trailer-style outhouse (bring your own TP and hand sanitizer – there are no sinks) and then a little farther on one more small cafe before your final stretch back to the train station.
How to Get There
Located in the Grunewald forest south-west of Berlin, both Schlachtensee and Krumme Lanke are both easily reached by public transportation from the city center.
S-Bahn line S1 will take you directly to Schlachtensee or U-Bahn route U3 will take you to Krumme Lanke. Near the entrance to Schlachtensee, there are a couple of small cafes on either side of the train station and the lake is just across the street.
It’s easy to hike from one to the other, so take whichever train is most convenient.