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Late summer trips: Campfires, swims and stargazing

Time to squeeze in a final trip to Brandenburg before you spend your winter huddled under 10+ layers.

Head to Liepnitzsee for a campfire and late summer swim, Spreewald for overnight boating, and Westhavelland for a season-ending meteor shower before it gets too cold.

Bonfires & dock diving at Liepnitzsee

Liepnitzsee. Photo: Rainer Fuhrmann

Close enough that it works for a day trip but far enough away that it can warrant an overnight, Liepnitzsee is one of those dreamy lakes that makes a trip to Brandenburg worth it. The doughnut-shaped lake surrounds a tree-covered island, and is lined by leafy paths on all sides. The southern part of the lake has big sandy hills for lounging, while the northern part houses the campgrounds and paid swimming beach, but you’ll get sun almost anywhere you settle.

The nearby campsite is nothing to write home about — a quiet field near the forest on the far end of the lake — but the relaxed vibe of the staff makes it a great place for a group trip. Unlike many places in Brandenburg, fires are usually allowed, and late in the season you can typically make a last-minute reservation. Even after a tipsy evening around the bonfire, you should still try to drag yourself to the lake first thing. There are a couple of small docks that are open to the public if you manage to get there in time – the perfect secluded spot to dive straight into the clear blue water.

Directions Take the RE3 or S2 out to Bernau. From there you can either catch the 890 or 909 bus, but it’s easier (and prettier) to approach Campingplatz am Liepnitzsee by bike, a journey of around 40 minutes.

Kayaks & swans in the Spreewald

Luebbenau, Spreewald. Photo: imago/Thomas Eisenhuth

While many associate the Spreewald with the gherkin-rich tributary an hour south of Berlin, the river area extends all the way up to the city’s edge. Just around the bend from Müggelsee is a no-frills kayak rental shop (no reservations needed) with access to a number of lakes as well as the small quiet waterways the area is known for. Much like the Berlin club scene, the Spreewald is a place to see and be seen: keep an eye on the swans and ducks floating through the water as the locals sitting outside their quaint holiday homes keep an eye on you.

If you want to just make a day of it, do a circuit through the “back alleys” before striking out for the beach at Kleiner Müg- gelsee, which has a large FKK area. For an overnight excursion, pack a dry bag and head through a series of lakes and small waterways to Möllensee, where there are a number of lakeside campsites that let you park your boat and stay the night.

You can rent single or double kayaks (a great way to test your relationship: try to coordinate paddle strokes), as well as canoes. You’ll also find canisters for protecting electronics and other valuables, and ice creams for some pre-trip fuel.

Directions Start off at kanuverleih-berlin.de (yes, this appears to be the official name) – you can hop on the S3 out to Wilhelmshagen and walk or cycle the rest of the way. The Müggelseefischerei around the corner also makes a tasty fried fish sandwich if you’re feeling peckish.

Shooting stars & countryside in Westhavelland

The area around Westhavelland. Photo: imago/Matthias Koch

Around September 9, the Perseid meteor shower will be visible in Germany’s night skies. Meteor showers = tons of shooting stars, making this weekend the ideal time to head to the Dark Sky Reserve area in Westhavelland. If you can’t make that, the weekend of the 23rd-25th, when the new moon creates a pitch-black night sky, will also be good stargazing.

There are a number of campgrounds around Westhavelland, so it depends how far you’re willing to trek. Campingplatz Rathenow is easy to reach from the train station and has all the proper facilities and a lake for bathing during the day as you wait for the sun to go down. For a wilder experience deeper in the star park, Biwakplatz Grutz is a bare-bones campsite right on the Havel where kayakers stop over on their multi-day excursions. With no nearby shops and no running water (the campsite is essentially a farmer’s backyard), you miss out on creature comforts but will get a darker sky and the deep quiet of the countryside.

Directions To reach either campsite, hop on the RE4 towards Rathenow. You can take the 672 bus to Campingplatz Rathenow or cycle (about a 25 minute ride). The cycle to Biwakplatz Grutz takes you along mostly paved paths through golden, peaceful countryside for about an hour and a half, but the (irregular) 673 bus will get you there in about 20 minutes.