In comparison to other European inland towns and cities, Berlin comes out the leader by far in terms of the surface area of the city made up of water. Numerous lakes and rivers in the urban city connect different neighborhoods, and Berlin is first nationwide for exploring a city via boat, ship, or yacht. It is not just the great Havel and Spree rivers, which are larger and go across the city, which are navigable. Lake Tegel, Großer and Kleiner Wannsee, Dämeritzsee, Griebnitzsee and Groß Glienicker See, the Großer and Kleiner Müggelsee, Nieder Neuendorfer See, Seddinsee, Jungfernsee, Langer See - known for its long regatta course – and Zeuthener See can all be explored in detail, with your own boat or one from one of many boat rental companies in the region. You can also get to know the larger region by boat. Berlin’s waters are not isolated to themselves, but rather connected with man-made canals and channels that connect the waters in the middle of the city to those in the surrounding areas. Through these waterways, Berlin is connected to the cities of Potsdam, Rathenow, Oranienburg, Niederfinow, Teltow, Erkner and Rüdersdorf. By taking a more extended timeframe for your sailing journey, you can get to know Berlin along with parts of the state of Brandenburg. In the south, the Spreewald, by Lübben and Lübbenau and Oderbruch region in the east are also worthwhile excursions. To the north, the lakes in and around Mecklenburg are nice to visit, along with Waren on the Müritz. It’s even possible to sail to the Baltic Sea from Berlin. There are more than a hundred different water sport organizations in Berlin itself, so those who want to go paddling, rowing, surfing, sailing, or swimming while on their visit to the city can certainly do so by having a look at the relevant organizations. There is the Berlin Swimming Association, the Berlin Sailing Association, the Rowing Association of Berlin, the Student Rowers’ Association of Berlin, and another rowing association called the Landesruderverband, plus the Windsurfing Association and another windsurfing organization, the WSeV – Berlin. Have a look at the different organizations and learn which would best suit your water sport needs.
As a city which was largely rebuilt with the help of ships bringing construction materials, Berlin is naturally equipped with many big and small, industry and trade ports, but also many sport and sailboat ports, marinas, and landing places. The districts of Neukölln, Rummelsburg, Lichterfelde, Spandau (Nordhafen), Moabit (Westhafen), Wedding, Tempelhof, Mitte (Humboldthafen - historical marina in Berlin), Friedrichshain (Osthafen) and Kreuzberg (Urbanhafen) in particular have numerous ports and marinas. In these ports, however, most of the traffic comes from freight and passenger ships, in part via the connection of the almost eleven kilometer long canal between the Spreekreuz in Charlottenburg and Lohmühlen Island in Alt-Treptow. Very close by, at Treptower Park, you can also find the headquarters of the Stern und Kreisshifffahrt (Star and Circle Boat Rides) GmbH Berlin, a well-known boat tour company. Stern and Kreis offer not only tours through Berlin – even one that is eight hours long – but also through the city to other regions, such as Werder, Stettin, Bad Saarow, Magdeburg, Neuruppin, Chorin and Werbellinsee. Another passenger ship tour company is Reederei Riedel GmbH, with a similar program of excursions, and which moved its homeport to Rummelsburg in 2012. Smaller boat tour companies in the region include Berlin Wassertaxi-Stadtrundfahrten (water taxi around-the-city tours), or BWTS, which begins at Berlin-Köpenick with branches at the Palais am Festungsgraben (Palace on the Moat); Reederei BWSG, which also is based in Köpenick; and the Weisse Flotte Potsdam (Potsdam White Fleet), with tours that feature motor ships and also go on the Großer and Kleiner Wannsee and Müggelsee. In the waterways and boat areas in Berlin, there are a dozen places to dock your boat for free. They range from 15 to 150 meters long, on waters 0.8 to 1.3 meters deep, and are available to people traveling on leisure boats so they can step ashore and have a look at the varied parts of the wonderful city. They exist on the Spree-Oder, Lower Havel, Dahme, and Rüderdorfer waterways, but the maximum time allowed at one of these free docking areas is 24 hours. The places are also located near limited but existent food shopping stores.
With 15 to 20 marinas, boat stands and yacht ports in Berlin and its environs, you can easily make a trip that stays pleasant long after the first day. The prices vary of course from place to place and based on boat type and size; more detailed information for the districts with respect to the length of stay, winterized vessels, as well as equipment such as ramps, swimming bars and electricity pillars, can be found on the regions’ respective websites. The websites also sometimes feature boat schools and yacht rental companies. In Berlin-Schmöckwitz, “Pier 38” at the Krossinsee camping site is a well-liked location; in Spandau you can enjoy the city’s Altstadthafen Berlin-Spandau, the Reiffer marina, docking location Lahe, Lanke Marina, Schulz Marina, and Eiswerder boathouse, all of which have good reputations; and the Griewatsch boathouse in Tegel, which is also in good standing. Mette and Richter in Berlin-Westend, are two docks on the path to the Havel in Brandenburg. At the newly designed Tempelhofer Hafen, there are some docks that have a direct connection to the Teltow Canal as well as the U-Bahn. Walz boathouse on the Müggelsee and WSG Marina Wendenschloß are both located in the southeast, and the leisure-boat Wannsee Marina and one called H2O are well placed in the southwest. Directly center in Lichtenberg in Brandenburg is the CITYMARINA Berlin-Rummelsburg. Also in Brandenburg but not far from Berlin are Marina am Tiefen See (Marina on the Deep Lake) in Potsdam, the yacht marinas Ringel and Porta Elisa in Werder/Havel, and the Schlosshafen (castle marina) in Oranienburg. Shipyards are located around the Adlergestell in Berlin-Adlershof; in Berlin-Spandau on Heerstraße at Bootscenter Keser GmbH; on the Müggelseedamm at the Boots-Klinik (boat clinic) and at Yachtservice Groll; on Biesdorfer Obersfeldstraße at Ship and Yacht Electrician M. Heinrich; and in Spandau at the “Werft zum grauen Hecht” (Hecht Wharf) on Siemenswerder Weg. Gas stations for boats in Berlin are located at “Scharfe Lanke” and on the “Spandauer Burgwall” at Schiffsservice Berlin (“Boat service Berlin”) in Spandau. A little more outside the city, there are also gas stations at Hohen Neuendorf and Werder/Havel-Töplitz.
A detailed overview with photos, hours of operation, exact location, telephone numbers, dimensions, and addresses of locks in Berlin and some in Brandenburg on Mühlendamm and Landwehrkanal (upper and lower locks) are available online at the respective websites for the water and ship tour offices of Berlin. Information is available for Charlottenburg, Spandau, Plötzensee, Neukölln, Kleinmachnow, Fürstenwalde, Kersdorf, Kummersdorf, Storkow, Wendisch-Rietz, Wernsdorf, Woltersdorf, Neuhaus and Eisenhüttenstadt. A very traditional restaurant in a nice, green setting, though also centrally located, is the “Schleusenkrug” on Müller-Breslau-Straße in Tiergarten. At Schleusenkrug, tables are set up outside, by a lock on the Spree, and you can sip a beer and enjoy delicious food in the shade while watching other ships come by. Located near the Zoologischer Garten (the zoo, and its convenient S- and U-Bahn stations) and the Siegessäule (Victory Column), the Schleusenkrug is a wonderful place to take a break on land. The agency for Berlin waterways and the navigation administration of the state also provide information on all other relevant topics for a leisure boat ride in and around the city, including the current police orders and instructions for boat navigation. This includes driving instructions and requirements and inner waterways, waste management for your boat, environmental protection policies, and the speed limits for the various areas you might sail. You can also find various leaflets for information; rules about marcations; sport boat rental; service books; boat certifications, such as for waterskiing and personal watercraft; and you can get the corresponding applications for those permits. Some well known Berlin sites and landmarks that you can sail by and gaze at from the water are, among others, the Bundeskanzleramt, where the Chancellor of Germany has her offices, along with many other federal workers; the Hauptbahnhof, which is the central train station for Berlin; the Museum Island, which features five incredible museums, and which in 1999 was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; Nikolaiviertel, the oldest part of Berlin; the Spandau Citadel; the Oberbaumbrücke – a beautiful red bridge with two towers – in Kreuzberg; the Reichstag building; Friedrichstraße station, which was the main train station for East Berlin when the city was split, and through which many people attempted escape to the West; Potsdamer Platz and the Sony Center; the Gründerzeitvillen on Wannsee; the remains of the Berlin Wall at Mühlenstraße (now the East Side Gallery); the former transformer station (“Cathedral of Electricity”) on Paul-Lincke-Ufer; Schloß Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace); and the Bundes-Innenministerium (Federal Ministry of the Interior) in Moabit.