Berlin – Fact Check

How to turn a polluted river into a pool

The Badeschiff, a floating public swimming pool allows worry-free bathing  in the East Harbour section of the polluted River Spree in water heated  to 24 degrees Celsius. The pool was a 2004 project by Berlin artist Susanne Lorenz but proved so popular it is now a permanent fixture.

Photo by Graham Monro / Getty Images

Berlin – Fact Check

How to turn a polluted river into a pool

Berlin is known for its creativity and innovation. So it should come as no surprise that the hull of a recycled cargo ship doubles up as a cool poolside venue on the River Spree.

Meera Dattani
Meera Dattani Travel Writer

The river itself is too polluted to swim in. So enter the Badeschiff – 'bathing ship' – in the city's Friedrichshain area. It’s not Berlin’s only urban beach venue – there’s YAAM where live music is the big sell and BeachMitte where toned volleyballing bods dive to the delight of happy spectators.

But the Badeschiff has the best story. This floating pool, set at a balmy 24 degrees Celsius, began life as a 2004 art project by Berlin artist Susanne Lorenz. It was intended to be mobile, but was so popular that it has become a permanent fixture in this otherwise neglected eastern section of the river near the Kreuzberg neighborhood.

It has city views, an open-air bar, yoga classes, live music and late-night parties. When Berlin gets hot, it’s certainly not the worst place to be. And when Berlin gets cold, the Winter-Badeschiff’s Finnish saunas, bar, and covered pool provide warmth and wellness in the frostier months.

Not only is the Badeschiff a Berlin hotspot, it’s a lesson in creativity. Just because a polluted river isn’t safe enough for swimming, that doesn’t make it a no-go area. Vienna, Antwerp and New York all opened similar venues to resurrect abandoned waterways. All you need is imagination and an old shipping barge.

There's a TRVL Truly Wonderful hotel right next to the Badeschiff. Check it out!