8 best swimming pools in Berlin

8 best swimming pools in Berlin

Pools in Berlin are an oasis during summer months in the big city. When a breezy cycle to the Berlin Schwimmbad seems more inviting than a sweaty trek on the S-Bahn to the nearest lake, there are a million places to dip your toe.

Public swimming pools in Berlin

Berlin is a city swimming in pools. The capital has no fewer than 61 public swimming pools, which have all been run by one body, the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe (BBB), since 1996. This system makes the capital’s bathing opportunities relatively simple to navigate since the same rules and prices generally apply for all BBB pools.

Swimming in Berlin’s public pools is a relatively affordable activity. For your chlorine cleanse you can expect to pay anywhere between 2,00 and 5,50 euros for a trip, depending on whether you are a student, your age and at what time of day you’d like to swim.

Once you’ve paid for your entrance, the first thing you’ll be expected to do at a swimming pool in Berlin is remove your shoes. Whether you leave your shoes and socks in a cubby at the entrance or take them with you to your locker depends on your trust in the goodness of your fellow people.

If you were once bitten by a shoe thief and twice shy, you’ll need to remember to bring along a one- or two-euro coin on your trip to ensure maximum shoe security. Lockers at Berlin pools are generally large enough to fit your precious shoes, clothes, towel and shampoos, though some outdoor pools are only equipped with valuables lockers, just large enough for your mobile phone, purse and a few small belongings. In this case, most bathers leave valuables locked away and keep a bag with their towel and clothes at the poolside.

What Berliners wear to bathe in the city’s spots is really up to them. At indoor and outdoor pools nudity is forbidden but the rules are still pretty relaxed. Bathers can wear anything from a bikini to a burkini and anyone can go topless. Many Germans are dedicated to Freikörperkultur (free body culture) or naturism, but swimming naked is mostly done at the lake. For that reason, all of the BBB locations where nude swimming is allowed are Strandbäder or "beach baths", which are connected to a Berlin lake but run by the public swimming body. 

While swimming naked is left to the lake, getting starkers in a German swimming pool changing room is commonplace. Most changing rooms have cubicles but guests often get changed in the public locker area, which can be mixed or divided by sex depending upon which pool you visit.

Find a swimming pool in Berlin

If you’re looking for swimming pools in Berlin the best place to head is the BBB website, instead of Googling “swimming pool near me” and being unsure what kind of pool you’re actually being recommended. The site is kitted out with a map and list of the city’s public pools, along with information about opening times and lane limitations at different hours of the day.

Swimming lessons in Berlin

If you or your child is just a beginner, many of Berlin’s public swimming pools offer lessons (Schwimmkurse or Schwimmunterichten) for children and adults who would like to learn how to swim or to develop their swimming technique.

Berliner Schwimmbäder: Schwimmhalle, Hallenbad or Freibad?

Once you’ve found a spot that fits your swimming criteria, you may think, "What's with all this new swimming pool vocabulary, how can German have so many different kinds of pools for just one activity?"

The answer is pretty simple; a Schwimmbad covers all kinds of swimming pools, while a Schwimmhalle (swimming hall), or a Hallenbad (hall bath) refers to an indoor pool. A Freibad is in the Freiluft - meaning it is outside, and a Kombibad can’t decide whether it wants to be a Schwimmhalle or a Freibad, so combines both.

Best pools in Berlin

Now you’ve got all your Bad vocab covered, it's time to jump in at the deep end and take a look at the best pools in Berlin.

Indoor swimming pools in Berlin (Hallenbӓder)

36 of Berlin’s publicly-owned pools are Hallenbäder, which, unlike outdoor pools, are open all year round. From the art nouveau arches of Paul Bratning’s Stadtbad Charlottenburg to the sous-terrain silver box of Dominique’s Perrault’s Schwimm- und Sprunghalle im Europasportpark (SSE), there is an indoor swimming pool in Berlin for every kind of swimmer.

Stadtbad Mitte (James Simon Bad)

Stadtbad Mitte, also known as James Simon Bad, is the perfect location for a rainy day swim. The swimming pool was built in the late 1920s by three German architects of the Neue Bauen movement under the motto “Licht, Luft und Sonne” (light, air and sun). This resulted in the hall’s walls and ceiling being made up of long, panelled windows, perfect for the feeling of the Freibad when the weather isn’t quite sunny or warm enough to make it to the real deal.


Thumb image credit: Mo Photography Berlin /

Schwimm- und Sprunghalle im Europasportpark (SSE)

Europasportpark SSE is the largest swimming pool in Europe. Built to impress officials as part of Berlin’s bid to host the Olympic Games in 2000, the building houses multiple competition-ready pools and a diving pool with Olympic-standard springboards and platforms. It is located next door to the city’s velodrome.

Like any good pool, it is also kitted out with a paddling area and hot tub (if you want to feel like you're at a spa). This spot is good for everyone, from dedicated swimmers to hot tub-hanger-outers. If you can’t even be bothered to put your costume on, it's also a great place to watch other people exercise instead - 51 world swimming world records have been broken in this pool.

Stadtbad Neukölln

This next one is often cited as the prettiest indoor pool in Berlin. Constructed between 1912 and 1914, the neoclassical building houses a smallish pool surrounded by ionic columns with a descending stairway entrance flanked by two chubby cherubs riding some walruses. The sauna room is also something to write home about, a circular room surrounded by decorative niches.

You could swim some lengths here, but it is better suited to lounging and pretending you live in a version of ancient Greece where there was no bloodshed and philosophising, just bathing.


Thumb image credit: Mo Photography Berlin /

Stadtbad Charlottenburg - Alte Halle

A less-often mentioned contender for the most beautiful Berliner Hallenbad is Stadtbad Charlottenburg’s Alte Halle, the oldest swimming pool in Berlin that still serves its purpose. This art nouveau-style pool is decorated with turquoise wrought iron arches and matching overhanging lamps, blue and white tiled walls and a beautiful triptych of two bathers practising some FKK at a lake.

Stadtbad Charlottenburg’s Alte Halle is another spot for a leisurely Saturday morning swim, rather than a spot to get your cardio in.

Outdoor pools in Berlin (Freibӓder)

A trip to the outdoor swimming pool in Berlin involves much of the same preparations as listed above, though outdoor locations are also more of a hangout spot in summer. In Berlin Freibadsaison (outdoor pool season) begins at the end of April and normally lasts until the end of September. Most public outdoor pools are closed during the rest of the year when people move to Hallenbäder.

A traditional German trip to the Freibad involves swimming a few lengths, but it is also about eating some staples of German cuisine: chips and ice cream. Berliner Freibäder vary greatly in size, but like pretty much any outdoor swimming pool you go to in Germany you can count on one thing - there will be Pommes available.


Thumb image credit: Mo Photography Berlin /

Sommerbad Kreuzberg (Prinzenbad)

This Berlin swimming pool is so iconic that there is a whole German movie, Prinzessinnenbad, centred around the Kreuzberg location. Sommerbad Kreuzberg, or “Prinzenbad” to the locals, is located in the heart of the southeastern neighbourhood. A stone’s throw away from the U1 trundling along its overground tracks, Prinzenbad has no fewer than two swimming pools, one large playing pool and a slide. 

These pools are surrounded by sufficient grassy areas where you can eat your Pommes and other German foods.


Thumb image credit: ArtMediaFactory /

Sommerbad Olympiastadion 

Another pool closely connected to Berlin’s history, Sommerbad Olympiastadion was built for the now-infamous 1936 Olympic Games. The giant, grey limestone arena of Nazi neoclassicism looms over the site, which hosts a swimming and diving pool. A nice swimming spot, but it is advised to go on a sunny day to avoid an overload of grey.

Even Olympic athletes need their Pommes; head to the Sommerbad Snackpoint for those.


Thumb image credit: Hendrik Wolter /


As the only addition which is not publicly-owned, Badeschiff is a bit of an outlier in this list, but it is too special to miss out. Floating in the eastern part of the River Spree, Badeschiff is made from the hull of an old ship - the pool’s eponym.

The pool is long, thin and only really suitable for hanging out. Set in the river with views to the fairytale-like Oberbaumbrücke connecting Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain, the TV tower in the distance and the Molecule Man sculpture close by, this swimming spot is perhaps the best Berlin location for party swimming. 

At 8 euros per person, tickets are more expensive than Berlin’s public pools but still affordable. Stay until late in the evening and enjoy the views, bar and regular DJ sets.

Strandbad Friedrichshagen

Connected to Müggelsee, Berlin’s biggest lake, Strandbad Friedrichshagen is an example of a classic German Strandbad, a swimming area cordoned off in a lake which feels a bit more like a beach. Why would anyone pay for that, you ask? If you just go to the normal part of the lake you don’t have immediate access to Pommes.

Strandbad Friedrichshagen has also got some pretty good diving boards, and the option to lounge under a parasol. Since this pool is part of the lake, it’s one where you can get your kit off - at least in the FKK area.

Time to go swimming in Berlin!

Now it’s time to pick a spot to get out and do some swimming in Berlin. We hope it goes swimmingly!

Thumb image credit: Pfalz-Drohne /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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