Discover new perspectives from the water

Despite not being on the sea, Berlin still has a lot of contact with water: 7% of the surface of the city is water; the banks and shorelines of all the rivers, lakes, and canals extend for over 600 kilometres; and the navigable waterway network branches in all directions for more than 180 kilometres. It therefore makes sense to explore the city from the water. There’s nothing like being on one of the 130 passenger ships of the “Weiße Flotte” (White Fleet), which set sail from around 50 Berlin piers and cruise along 30 routes on the Spree, Havel, and Dahme rivers, as well as on Berlin’s canals. 


The classic sightseeing introductory tour is the one-hour Historical City Tour on the Spree. Sitting comfortably on deck with a cool drink, the passengers pass the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (known locally as the ‘pregnant oyster’), the government district and the chancellery, Hauptbahnhof (completed in 2006 for the football World Cup at a cost of €1.2 billion) and the Berliner Dom, which was built from 1893 to 1905 in the style of the Italian High Renaissance. As life on Friedrichstraße pulsates, the tourists on board head for Museumsinsel and Nikolaiviertel – a district of somewhat different high-rise apartments. Almost completely destroyed in World War II, it was reconstructed in the 1980s for the 750th anniversary of Berlin’s foundation – mostly as tower blocks, but the facades of the new buildings were based on those of the old, destroyed ones.

Too short to really be able to enjoy sightseeing from the water? Then maybe the three-hour Spree cruise is the one for you. The ship sails from the government district and historical centre to the East Side Gallery in the east, to where remains of the Berlin Wall still stand, and to Schloss Bellevue in the west, home of the President of Germany.     

The short trips begin from the piers at Friedrichstraße, Nikolaiviertel, chancellery or Alte Börse, and also end there. Price: from 10 Euro. The longer Spree cruises begin (depending on the shipping company) at the Schlossbrücke in Charlottenburg, at Jannowitzbrücke or at Treptow harbour, amongst others, and cost around €20.


Passengers cruise under more than 60 of the 1,000 bridges in Berlin during the Bridge Tour, a 23-kilometre cruise along the Spree and Landwehr Canal. On this three- to four-hour trip (times vary depending on the company) passengers can take in modern Berlin architecture as well as the venerable old Berliner Dom. And while some passengers on deck will have to watch their heads on the low bridges on the 12-kilometre stretch of the Landwehr Canal, they will cruise by the Research Institute for Shipbuilding and Hydraulics, founded in 1901 and with enormous pink pipes on the exterior; the Bendlerblock, the current seat of the Ministry of Defence; the Neue Nationalgalerie; the State Library and the Technology Museum – easily identifiable thanks to the ‘Raisin Bomber’ suspended over the building. Doesn’t sound romantic enough? Then ‘cast off’ on the evening bridge tour instead.

The bridge tour is a round trip and can be started and ended at a number of piers. It goes clockwise through Berlin. Price: around 20 Euro. 


If pure relaxation is your priority, the two-hour Seven Lakes Round Tour is highly recommended. From the pier at Wannsee, you cruise around the large and small Wannsee lakes, Pohlsee, Stölpchensee, Griebnitzsee and Glienicker Lake to Jungfernsee, then back to Wannsee via the Havel. There are villa colonies on the route, and you can see the former villas of the painter Max Liebermann on the western shore of Wannsee, the publisher Carl Langenscheidt, the manufacturer Herz or the banker Arons, as well as the location of the Wannsee Conference of 20 January 1942. While cruising in Griebnitzsee, passengers see Babelsberg Castle, once the summer residence of Kaiser Wilhelm I and a Unesco World Heritage Site, as well as the former residences of Ufa movie stars like Heinz Rühmann, Anni Ondra or Lilian Harvey in New Babelsberg. And before reaching Jungfernsee, the boat goes under the Glienicke Bridge, where agents used to switch sides during the Cold War.      

The tour starts and ends at the Wannsee pier and costs around €10.


A variety of tours are offered by (selection):


Stern und Kreisschiffahrt

Reederei Riedel

Reederei Bruno Winkler

Berliner Wassertaxi-Stadtrundfahrten

Berliner Wassersport und Service GmbH

Reederei Grimm & Lindecke


In total, there are around 50 piers for passenger ships in Berlin.

Examples of piers in the city centre are:

Alte Börse, S-Bahn station Hackescher Markt

Treptow harbour, Puschkinallee, S-Bahn station Treptower Park

Wannsee station, Königstraße, S-Bahn and regional train station Wannsee

Märkisches Ufer / Jannowitzbrücke, S- and U-Bahn station Jannowitzbrücke  

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