US swimmer Marc Spitz won seven gold medals at the 1972 Summer Olympic Games. The Dantebad swimming pool facility was the venue for the water polo competitions then, and these days it is open to everyone. You can discover many other attractive outdoor and indoor swimming pools, not to mention bathing lakes, in the Munich metropolitan area. An overview.
An outdoor pool offers... the rejoicing of your body as you dive into bright blue water, swimming lengths with your eyes almost closed against the sun’s glare. Heavy legs become light; your overheated body is cooled; then you lie on the grass and gaze into the sky – and that’s ultimately the stuff that counts in life. Days like that might also feature some chips with ketchup, a Weissbier in your bikini, a Capri ice lolly, a sweet candy necklace and always the same bronzed gentlemen playing chess.
Does life get any better than this? Yes it can, if you know about the pools in Munich which have retained all of the nostalgic charm of public baths while also meeting ultra-modern standards.
Schyrenbad in Giesing is Munich’s oldest outdoor swimming baths – it was at the edge of the pool here that Werner Enke wooed Uschi Glas in the 1968 film “Zur Sache Schätzchen”(“Go for it, baby”). Four years later it was used as a training venue for the Olympic Games. The baths opened in 1847, though it only admitted men right up until 1938. It is the first pool to open in Munich each year, welcoming swimmers from the end of April. Swimming here, with a view that extends into the ancient treetops is, as one of the regulars says, “simply blissful”. The pool is just a few minutes’ walk from the biking and walking trails that run along the Isar river, and it’s right beside the Rosengarten city park.
On the sandy beach beside Prinzregentenbad pools in the district of Bogenhausen, sun-worshippers frolic in the middle of the city: on deckchairs, playing beach volleyball and cooling off at the beach bar or in the 25-metre sports pool. Those who don’t want to swim can let the lazy river carry them along or relax their muscles using the massage jets and neck showers. Then in winter, the beach is transformed into a playground for ice skating enthusiasts. The outdoor pool and open-air ice rink have been here since the 1930s, and many people from Bogenhausen had their first experiences of swimming and ice skating here. When plans to demolish the facility were announced at the end of the 1990s, the locals successfully lobbied to keep their “Prinze”, as they fondly call it.
No outdoor pool could have a more beautiful setting than the Naturbad Maria Einsiedel park and bathing area. Here, where the city ends, spacious parkland and floodplains following the Isar river invite people to cycle, bathe and visit the beer gardens. You can even hear the sounds of the animals in the Tierpark Hellabrunn (zoo) on the opposite bank. The water in the swimming pools is cool, green and chemical-free, and feels almost like swimming in a lake. The Isar canal also flows through the park for a length of almost 400 metres, transforming it into an idyll that is only disturbed now and then by the screaming of teenagers drifting past in the icy waters.
While all of Munich’s swimming pools are family-friendly, the Michaelibad and Westbad centres are designed to particularly appeal to children, offering features such as lazy rivers, water slides, diving platforms and water mushrooms. You can enjoy these pools in summer or winter, no matter what the weather, as they both have expansive indoor and outdoor areas with appealing wellness offerings.
Winter swimming at Dantebad baths is one of those things that you simply have to do in Munich. This was the venue for water polo competitions in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games.
Once you’ve swum a few lengths in the heated outdoor stadium pool, you’ll be untroubled by frosty outdoor temperatures or snow flurries. And specially for us dedicated amateur athletes, there are two 50-metre swimming lanes for fast swimmers here, clearly cordoned off from the regulars in the rest of the pool! Afterwards, it’s always a pleasure to join the kids in the adjacent experience pool with its underwater loungers and massage jets. Of course summer is peak season at Dantebad, when it also offers a separate kids’ pool as well as a nudist area with its own pool – the only one of its kind in Munich.
Dantebad’s swimming pool is historically connected, via the Nymphenburg-Biederstein canal, with two other attractive Munich outdoor bathing facilities: Bad Georgenschwaige, which is unfortunately closed at the moment, and Ungererbad in Schwabing. Long before artificial swimming pools were being built, the canal constructed by Elector Max Emanuel at the start of the 18th century became a magnet for bathers and swimmers. Incorporated into a large network of other waterways, the canal served to connect the palaces of Schloss Nymphenburg and Schloss Schleissheim.
The Ungererbad – still a natural pool at the time – was the preferred bathing spot of the Mann family. In his autobiography “Wir waren fünf” (“There were five of us”), Viktor Mann, the youngest brother of famous authors Thomas and Henrich Mann, evocatively describes the Ungererbad as it appeared during the early 20th century, with its artificial grottoes and water features.
If you can’t bring yourself to go ice bathing in the Isar river or the Eisbach stream in the Englischer Garten, Munich boasts some ten indoor bathing facilities where you can swim and relax in the winter months, and make use of attractive sauna facilities.
Built in the Art Nouveau style, Müllersches Volksbad opened as Munich’s first public indoor swimming baths in 1901 and it remains a special gem to this day. It is located in the district of Au between the Isar river and the Auer Mühlbach river, just a stone’s throw from the Deutsches Museum. The facility has been renovated with painstaking attention to detail, with almost every element preserved and remaining true to the original. One of the two pools here was originally reserved for women and the other for men, and the old wooden dressing rooms can be seen in what is still referred to as the “Damenbad” (“ladies’ pool”).
The Roman-Irish steam bath with open-air courtyard, which was part of the baths from the beginning, is one very special feature. Construction of the facility was originally funded by a donation from Munich engineer Karl von Müller, with the intention that even destitute residents of the city should be able to bathe regularly – although most of the many showers and bathtubs that were once here have since disappeared.
Its Olympic roots make the 50-metre Olympiaschwimmhalle (Olympic indoor swimming pool) in Olympiapark (Olympic park) the perfect training facility for ambitious swimmers. During the Games, all swimming and diving competitions took place at this indoor swimming pool. Today, anyone who wishes to can swim lengths exactly where Marc Spitz once competed.
Like the Olympiastadion (Olympic Stadium) and Olympiahalle (Olympic Hall), Olympiaschwimmhalle is also covered by the iconic tented roof designed by architect Günter Behnisch. As well as the pool itself, the facility contains numerous saunas, a sunbathing area, an area for non-swimmers and a paddling area as well as a 20-square-metre whirlpool. As an Olympic sports venue it also has the obligatory ten-metre diving platform with its five diving boards, and grandstands for spectators.
A visit to the newly renovated Cosimawellenbad wave baths, in the district of Bogenhausen, is sure to delight any youngsters in your life. The paddling and play area is some 120 square metres in size and, as the name indicates, the facility also includes a 35 x 16 m pool that mimics the movement of the sea. The wellness offerings here include a heated outdoor pool with bubble loungers and neck jets as well as a sauna area.
You can find out more about these pools and others around the city on the Stadtwerke München (public services company) website.
Bathing, paddling and swimming in the Isar river in the heart of a city like Munich is certain to delight! In addition to bathing and barbecuing on the banks of the river, spending a day at one of Munich’s swimming pools, and an excursion to nearby Starnberger See (lake), we have one more insider recommendation to share: meet for an ice lolly to cool off at one of Munich’s many bathing lakes. These include some beaches that are positively reminiscent of Rimini, as well as some hidden pockets of biodiverse habitat. Many of these are easily accessible by bike or on public transport.
The Isar river is a veritable dream of a natural waterway. After a jog, the river basins along the Flaucher riverbank area in Thalkirchen beckon you to jump into the cool water. You can even swim naked there. From Marienplatz, it is about half an hour’s cycle to this local recreation area in the southern floodplain of the Isar river. You can get there even more quickly if you take U-Bahn Line 3, getting out at Thalkirchen. The nearby Tierpark Hellabrunn zoo is also well worth a visit. But there are numerous other spots further north and at the same altitude as the city centre, where you can enjoy some spontaneous bathing in the unspoilt, ice-cold mountain river.
The Langwieder Seenplatte lake district, with its three quarry ponds of Langwieder See, Lusssee and Birkensee, is in the west of Munich. All three lakes were created during works to build the autobahn to Stuttgart. From mid-May to September, every 20 minutes from the S3 stop in Lochhausen, a Badebus (“bathing bus”) departs which will take you to Langwieder Seenplatte. Right on the shores of Langwieder See is a hotel with a restaurant and beer garden, where you can rent rowing boats or play mini-golf. The land to the south and east of Lusssee is preserved as a natural biodiversity habitat, while sunbathing areas have been created to the north and west. Birkensee and its sunbathing areas are designated as nudist areas.
The three lakes to the north of Olympiapark which are known collectively as the Dreiseenplatte have been there since the end of the 1960s, and are called Lerchenauer See, Fasaneriesee and Feldmochinger See. After serving its purpose as a gravel pit, the area was redesigned by landscape architects to include sunbathing areas, playgrounds, volleyball and table tennis courts and a small skate park, but also several areas that are designated nature reserves. Fasaneriesee lake is located close to the Fasanerie stop on S-Bahn Line 1, travelling towards the airport, and is so shallow in places that even non-swimmers can enjoy a dip in it.
Feldmochinger See is one of the largest lakes in the Munich metropolitan area. Its northern side offers wheelchair-friendly access to the water, while the area to the south-east is preserved for biodiversity and the south-western bank is a designated nudist area.
Riemer See dates back to the 2005 Bundesgartenschau national garden show and is part of the park landscaping designed as part of the event by French landscape architect Gilles Vexlard, for the new Munich city district of Riem. While the northern bank with its lakeside promenade has an urban character, the southern and western banks are very natural in design. The eastern bank features a shingle beach and an adjacent sunbathing area for bathers. As the bank slopes away very gently, Riemer See is ideal for families with children. The lake can be reached easily from the city centre by taking U-Bahn line 2 and exiting at Messestadt Ost.
You can find out everything you need to know about Munich’s swimming pools, lakes and the Isar river, as well as details of how to reach them, opening times and the water quality at muenchen.de.