The Havel and Spree Rivers in Berlin are definitely not fit for human dipping. But with more than 160 kilometres of navigable waterways that eventually connect to The Baltic Sea, The North Sea and The Rhine, they offer fantastic views of the city by boat. A river cruise of Berlin, which boasts even more bridges than Venice, is characterised by carefree summer days and a refreshing perspective of famous landmarks. Here are a few golden tours and cruises you can take by boat.
Historical City Cruise
Tourists interested in the historic and cultural landmarks of Berlin, and also in seeing the city from a different vantage point should opt for an organised boat tour. Companies like Exclusiv Yachtcharter and Reederei Riedel put together the ultimate city tours that run through the main vein of The Spree and Berlin’s historic city centre, which includes views of Museum Island and many other architectural treasures. The yachts and boats always have a dining option, a bar and live commentary of the passing sights and history (check for tours in your language).
If the weather is fine and the wine is flowing, it’s a nice idea to take in Berlin’s illuminated city lights on a leisurely evening cruise. A three hour cruise costs around €20. Try the Stern und Kreis Kreisschiffahrt cruise company for this option.
East Side Tour
Since Berlin’s reunification, the city’s waterways have transformed into a network of recreation and connectivity. While the land bordering The Spree continues to develop, boating has evolved into an increasingly popular pastime.
The historic East Side Gallery, with its murals painted on the remnants of The Berlin Wall, can be seen from The Spree. The former industrial harbour of Osthafen is now a vibrant strip of bars, clubs and restaurants. Continuing under The Elsen Bridge towards Treptow, you can take in the enormous high-rise buildings and the iconic Molecule Man sculpture. You’ll also pass by the charming Nikolai Quarter which is the oldest section of Berlin, Museums Island, The Reichstag and Hauptbahnhof.
A one-way boat ride to the historic quarter of Köpenick costs about €11. A metro ticket back to Berlin when you’re finished exploring this sleepy, tranquil town costs less than three. The cruise marks the point where the rivers Dahme and Spree meet. Once you disembark, explore the island and baroque-moated Köpenick Palace, the gothic Town Hall, or simply enjoy a meal at one of the riverside restaurants.
Rent Your Own Boat
If you wish to be the captain of your own ship, the best thing to do is rent a rowboat or motorboat from Rent-a-Boat, at the entrance of Abtei Bridge in Treptower Park. Heading east will give you views of the famous Bauhaus industrial buildings and lush riverside forests. Eventually you’ll float all the way to the weeping willows, swans, and Berlin street life that unfolds along the picturesque Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg. Steering west into Charlottenburg, The Spree feeds into The Havel River, until you reach the gorgeous lake towns of Wannsee and Potsdam.