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Berlin’s Tropical Islands

This winter in Berlin is really starting to drag on. The forecast even for early April includes snow days. Thankfully I spent seven winters living in Boston, which seems to have a similar weather pattern—cold and snowy for the vast majority of the year—so I’m somehow able to manage.

Berlin weather is terrible!

Last spring, when winter was dragging on in Berlin, I took a day trip out to probably one of the weirdest places I’ve been in Germany. Traveling with my friend Cheryl, we left Berlin early on a Saturday morning with beers and McDonald’s for breakfast. The train ride wasn’t more than an hour and from the looks of some of the other people in our train carriage, we weren’t the only ones looking for a winter escape.

indoor rainforestStepping off the train right back into the chilly air, we boarded a free shuttle bus which drove us to… a tropical island? No, it was to a giant biosphere once used as a facility for building aircraft and other big things. I’ve also heard it’s where zeppelins were constructed, but that might be a myth. Upon approaching the giant hangar (the largest free-standing hall in the world), the sight is incredible. It really is massive. And without really knowing what the inside would be like, the whole situation just seems bizarre.

Essentially, Tropical Islands is a resort. In fact, it reminded me a lot of the Great Wolf Lodge I visited in my Texas hometown: a large indoor water-park that’s exceptionally kid-friendly. And for a tourist like me looking for something weird to do, Tropical Islands met all the crazy requirements!

Tropical Islands trip

When entering you’re given a bracelet that tracks all your purchases in the resort. Cheryl and I opted to pay extra to visit the spa and sauna area. It was my very first trip to a German sauna, and as I quickly learned, Germans aren’t afraid of nudity. It was my first foray into public nudity…and to be completely honest—it wasn’t half-bad! It might’ve taken me a moment to get comfortable with the idea, but once I did, there was little turning back.

The rest of our day at Tropical Islands included water slides (see them in the distance in the photo above?) and lounging on the sandy beach. I also made a point to explore the entire resort so I could see just how bizarre this place was. There were themed areas (I especially liked the Angkor Wat replicas because everything just seemed so out-of-place. In a strangely large, grey hangar in the German countryside. But hey! Once you embrace the silliness of a trip or a destination, it’s suddenly awesome. Cheryl and I enjoyed the afternoon exploring the Tropical Islands, I had a great Caesar salad (even if it was expensive) and we got to do some serious people-watching of Germans on a beach. Brill.

Camping Tropical Islands

Caesar Salad

Inside Tropical Islands

Cheryl Howard in Berlin

Now you’re probably curious how much a day trip to a resort costs? Well, even if it was more expensive than how I would’ve spent my day in Berlin, for less than €80 I can’t complain much. It was an awesome experience and I’d definitely go again. For more tips on my favorite things to do in Berlin, visit my travel tips & guide for tourists.

Tropical Islands Berlin

Tropical-Islands-Allee 1, 15910, Germany

*Note: An earlier version of this story included another myth about the building’s origins: that the Nazis constructed it as an airbase and hangar. Information on the Tropical Islands website is vague concerning the building’s origins.

  1. Synke says:

    Actually the myth is that the hall has ANYTHING do with the Nazis. The hall itself was constructed to build aircargo ships in the late 1990ies. Before the wall came done the areal was used as an airbase by the Russian who had occupied it in 1945.

    • Adam says:

      Ah, thank you for correcting that Synke!

      • Synke says:

        you are welcome. I went there on a tour when it was still an aircargo.

        I forgot to add that it is definitly a great and cheap way to escape Winter for a day. I also been to the actual Tropical Island with my brother a few years ago and we both enjoyed a realxing day before Christmas.

        I did miss the sun while lying on the beach but it feels good to be able to walk around in shirt, shorts and flipflops for once during the cold months. very relaxing, too.

  2. Sofie says:

    Hmm… We have several parks like this in Belgium as well. Usually they also have an outdoor area for when the weather’s better.
    It doesn’t really appeal to me, though.
    You might have a beach, water and heat, but the most important ingredient of all is missing: real sunshine!

    • Adam says:

      Couldn’t agree more that real sunshine is vital – but when the winter is dragging on (like this year), it’s nice to have somewhere warm to escape to!

  3. Patrick Smith says:

    Thanks Adam! Never heard of this. We are planning on an extended trip to Berlin next year, and I am putting this on the list. What I also love is youir followers add so much information in their comments. I appreciate them, and it reflects on the quality of your blog!

    • Adam says:

      Thanks Patrick and glad to hear it! A day trip to Tropical Islands makes for a nice escape from the regular Berlin tourism sights. And glad to hear you find so much value in the comments on my website as well.

  4. Tara says:

    Personally, I prefer going to to the Botanical Garden in Dahlem! Its like a jungle.

    • Adam says:

      You know I haven’t been there yet! Need to make a visit – thanks for the suggestion Tara

  5. Gloria says:

    Good timing with this. I am starting to get stir crazy in Berlin. Enough snow.

  6. Talon says:

    Wild and clever!

  7. Cheryl Howard says:

    Awww Adam, I miss you! This was so fun. Our beer and McDonalds breakfast was awesome as were many other moments that day. :)

    Really, I have to write about this someday too.

  8. Claus Gurumeta says:

    Haha that’s awesome! Clever idea. Weird, yes, but looks very cool!

    I am unsure as to why nobody has though about building similar things in Vancouver where I live… I’d totally go :P

    • Adam says:

      Sounds like you’ve got a great business idea for Vancouver, Claus. Expensive project, but can you imagine the fun?!

  9. Yeity says:

    Did you end up trying that wedgie-inducing waterslide?

    • Adam says:

      I didn’t actually take the waterslide. You have to pay extra and I splurged on a caesar salad instead. Now that I look back on that, it sounds pretty silly!

  10. 35 of the best things to do in Berlin - Hipster Travel Blog says:

    […] Leave the city for day trips to the weird Tropical Islands, pretty Potsdam or […]

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