This tour takes you not only from land to water, but also from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the idyllic tranquillity of the nature reserve in Spandau. By bike you will set out from the magnificent palace gardens in Charlottenburg in the direction of the Tiefwerder Wiesen, then you will continue by kayak through the picturesque canals of Little Venice. Along the way you can experience a piece of Berlin’s sports and industrial history.
Where the agaves bloom
The cycle and kayak tour starts in the park of Berlin’s largest palace, Charlottenburg Palace. Named after Prussia’s first queen Sophie Charlotte, the rococo building sits enthroned directly on the Spree. A walk through the magnificent garden offers a glorious view of the entire complex with its many flowering beds, wild meadows and enchanted bridges. At the moment, there is also a real rarity to admire: for the second time in more than 180 years an agave is blooming here again.
A glance at Berlin’s industrial culture
After the tour of the palace gardens, follow the path along the Spree towards the Rudolf-Wissell-Brücke bridge. This guides you along the water and old allotment gardens. On the opposite side of the river is a piece of Berlin’s industrial culture. It is definitely worth taking a quick look: the history of the Siemensstadt district began here at the end of the 19th century with the rise of the Siemens & Halske company. Parts of the historical industrial and factory buildings made of red brick can be seen, for example the striking Siemensturm (Siemens tower) with its golden clock. The large Siemensstadt housing estate, which is one of six housing estates of Berlin Modernism and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is also famous. At the end of the Knüppeleldamm you will ride over the Spandauer Damm into the Olympiapark.
Now things get sporty
Rominter Allee leads to the monumental Olympiastadion, built in neoclassical style. It was the venue of the 1936 Olympic Games, in which Germany presented itself as a superpower. A history trail with 45 panels in German and English informs visitors of the origin and history of the former Reichssportfeld (Reich sports field). Today, 75,000 fans cheer in the stadium when the Hertha BSC football team play at home. The large outdoor area is home to the famous summer swimming pool, where many water lovers still swim lengths under the open sky. Along Jesse-Owens-Straße you will visit the Murellenschlucht nature reserve and Schanzenwald. In the middle of this hilly landscape lies Berlin’s Waldbühne, one of the most beautiful open-air theatres in Europe. If you want to take in a panoramic view of the entire grounds along the way, you can make a detour to the bell tower - an elevator will take you up to a height of over 70 metres.
Water as far as the eye can see
From Heerstraße, a wonderful view opens up to the Pichelssee bay with its numerous marinas, bobbing boats and fluttering sails. Get a taste of maritime flair in Berlin-Spandau! The Tiefwerder Wiesen are not far away now – are you ready for a trip on the water? There are several canoe and kayak hire stations around Heerstraße. There you can switch from the saddle to the water and follow the many old branches of the Havel river through the landscape conservation area. The Tiefwerder Wiesen provide a habitat for rare animal and plant species. If you are lucky, you can even watch water buffaloes swimming and grazing.
Off the saddle, into the kayak
You can start the boat tour on Pichelssee, one of the many open lakes on the Havel, for example. If you paddle in a northerly direction until you reach Spandauer Südhafen harbour the first foothills of the landscape conservation area will emerge on the right-hand side. Before you go under the Tiefwerderbrücke bridge into the Große Jürgengraben canal - another piece of cultural history awaits: in Tiefwerder’s Dorfstraße you will find Europe’s oldest rock discotheque, the Ballhaus Spandau. People have been dancing here since the 70s. Rumour has it that the history of the legendary punk combo Die Ärzte also began here.
From the club to the lagoon settlement
The Großer Jürgengraben canal leads directly into the lagoon. In picturesque fashion the cottages of the allotment colony nestle up to the water of the canals. Almost every inhabitant has their own little boat moored in front of the door. A gentle dip of the paddle into the water is enough to slide you silently through the lagoon. Open your eyes! Here and there you can discover original garden art on the properties and there is the possibility to buy regional products from the boat. A real insider tip: honey from the Tiefwerder Wiesen.
Expedition to the Shire
At this point you will leave the last of the hustle and bustle of the big city behind: densely overgrown banks, lush green meadows, water covered with water lilies, everywhere the landscape hums and whirs. Is something rustling? Watchful observers may even spot a beaver. Asian water buffaloes, especially in summer, enjoy a swim in the marshy ponds and keep the meadows short. Now is the time to take a deep breath and enjoy nature: stow the paddles in the boat for a moment and let the gentle rocking of the waves carry you off into another world.
Time for a picnic
After the expedition on the water why not take the opportunity for a longer break. Paddle from the Tiefwerder Wiesen back to the main canal – opposite the Pichelsberg peninsula you can go ashore. Before the picnic you can lie down on a blanket on the grass and take in the picturesque scenery of Little Venice. If you have forgotten your lunch, you don’t have to go hungry as there are numerous restaurants along the banks of the Havel.
A broad horizon
Past the Stößenseebrücke the view opens up to the vastness of the Havel. When the wind is good, sailing boats and sometimes a mighty catamaran sail across the water. From a distance you can see the Schildhorn, a forested headland - a possible stopover for the more sporty canoeists. There is also a bathing spot here. The route continues along the sandy beaches of the Pichelswerder island until the turn-off back to the Pichelssee appears. There the round trip on the water ends. After landing you will swap the kayak for your bike once more. If you don’t want to make the journey back via Olympiastadion again, simply follow Heerstraße towards the city centre.
Information about the Tour:
- Start: Charlottenburg Palace
- Tour duration: one day (including sightseeing, breaks)
- Cycle distance: about 20 km, about one and a half hours riding time
- Kayaking distance: approx. 6 to 7 km, about three hours kayaking time
If you want to get out on the water, you will find a list of boat rentals here. In Spandau, near the route, you will find the following rental stations:
- Bootsladen am Brandensteinweg 37, 13595 Berlin. Please reserve by telephone, under: 030 - 362 56 85.
- The Kanu Kajak Verleih Havelschlenke at Toni's Marina is open daily from 10 am and can be reached on 01575 - 44 99 299
- 13Kanus also rents rafts and motor boats, Am Pichelssee 40 in Spandau, Phone: 0163 - 191 40 00
Round off your excursion with a visit to a restaurant, for example on the restaurant ship Alte Liebe. We also recommend Nevio's, Siemenswerderweg 50, directly at the Pichelsee and right next to the canoe kayak rental Havelschlenke you will find it in the harbour café.