Seenland Oder-Spree: lakeside lounging
In Germany’s largest aquatic area you can picnic on the water in summer and soak in the spa in winter
The Seenland Oder-Spree is the largest aquatic area in Germany, with over 200 lakes and many rivers. It’s home to some of the standout names in Brandenburg country folklore – the Schlaubetal region, the Märkische Schweiz Nature Park and the Oderbruch marshland, which spills over into Poland. The Oder-Spree district also boasts the two largest lakes in Brandenburg – the Schwielochsee and the Scharmützelsee.
This doesn’t mean that Oder-Spree is only a summer destination – throughout the seasons, there are 40 castle and estate parks to explore. You’ll discover architectural masterpieces from famed architects like Schinkel and Lenne, as well as the influences of Prince Puckler Muskau.
For a relaxing getaway, head to spa paradise Bad Saarow, located on the northern shores of Scharmützelsee. You’ll have your pick of thermal spas with extensive indoor and outdoor facilities. The heated rooftop pools come alive at night in a swirl of misty heat and glowing lights.
Come February, plan a romantic holiday with your boo. The grand Schloss Reichenow hotel is perfect for a cosy weekend by the fire or snowy walks through the forest and around the Langer See.
Not to be missed: this year, the district will host the Picknick im Seenland, a celebration of outdoor eating, “where nature is your restaurant.”
Seenland Oder-Spree: Baroque gardens, Bad vibes and baskets
Picnic season 2022
The Seenland Oder-Spree district is a giant stomping ground for outdoor activities. You can hike, cycle, swim, canoe, kayak to your heart’s content. But what about picnicking? This region is the spot for it in 2022. Say no to the warm beers you bought from the späti, say no to the headache-inducing Rotkäppchen, and say never again to the half-melted strawberries and sandwiches at the bottom of your backpack. This year it will be different.
Picknick im Seenland kicks off on Easter Sunday (April 17th) in 2022, in the wake of Seenland Oder-Spree’s triumph in this year’s pro-agriculture awards (combining nature and tourism). The tourist association has teamed up with local vendors to provide regional produce to avid picnickers. You can get hold of a basket-full of goodies from restaurants, farm shops, leisure spots, museums and cafes, and even directly from the tourism information offices.
You don’t have to commit fully to a three-course picnic hamper, though. You can also purchase hiking provisions put together by the local producers to keep walkers fuelled on their adventures.
Where shall we eat?
With a picnic, surely the simple answer is: wherever you want. But if you feel like getting into the spirit of things, there are some predetermined locations in the region, specifically marked out for the intrepid outdoor foodies. The full list is coming prior to the official launch on the 17th of April, but they have released a sneak peak. Museumspark Rüdersdorf, the largest lime mining site in northern Germany, makes the list, as does Schlosspark Neuhardenberg, which has been around since the Baroque period. For a classic lakeside picnicking experience, head to Kurpark Bad Saarow to dine on the shores of Germany’s most popular lake, Scharmützelsee.
Many of the picnic locations combine their offerings with outdoor cultural events, such as free concerts in the parks and gardens with live classical music. The halcyon days have arrived, as you graze on provincial produce, carried off by castle garden concertos.
Lake district landscape gardens
You can only spend so much time snacking, but luckily there’s plenty more to explore In the Seenland Oder-Spree region. You’ll find 40 castle and estate parks, but if you just have time for one, head to the Barockgarten Neuzelle. Walk off your meal on your way to the monastery, where you’ll be rewarded with killer views of the baroque gardens and the Oder marshlands. The inside of this building has unexpectedly lavish interiors and is also worth a look.
Another good choice is Steinhöfel Castle Park, considered to be the first English-style landscape garden in the whole of Brandenburg. Steinhöfel Palace, located within the garden, is the crème de la crème of the late classical aristocratic residences in this region. Have a wander through the extensive park to take in the soft meadows, centuries-old trees and quiet pond. Just be sure to give a proper hello to the park’s guards, twin sculptured sphinxes.
Bad Saarow, good skin
After all the adventuring, you deserve a break. The mineral rich mud and natural hot springs at Bad Saarow have made it the well-loved thermal spa hotspot (pun intended) that it is today. Thermal brine bubbles up from depths of more than 400 metres. This old-school health treatment has been used for skin ailments since around 1900.
On Scharmutzlsee you can clamber into a copper bathtub filled with healing mud (nicer than it sounds). Or you can book a weekend break in one of the town’s many resorts. You’ll find indoor pools, as well as heated outdoor pools, with great views by day and soft ambient lighting by night. If you visit the Saarow Therme, you can bake in the sauna while delicious homemade treats bake in their in-house bread oven. This way, you can get one final bite in before your Oder-Spree trip comes to an end.
This article featured in the Insider’s guide to Brandenburg, a magazine commissioned for the Brandenburg tourism board in spring 2022.
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