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June 2003


What’s on offer at Munich’s outdoor swimming pools

Public baths and swimming pools have been a popular part of Munich life for more than 150 years, since Schyrenbad, the first outdoor public pool in Munich, opened its gates in 1847. Since then the investment in these facilities has been considerable. Within the city limits and easily reached with public transportation or bicycle are seven outdoor summer swim complexes (Freibäder). All are well maintained, affordable for families and offer a variety of activities for every type of visitor.

Although Schyrenbad was originally just for men, the women of Munich didn’t have to wait long to get their own pool, and mixing of the sexes was eventually permitted at all public pools in the 1920s. During World War II most of the Freibäder were heavily damaged or destroyed by Allied bombing (except the Müllersches Volksbad; see the April 2002 issue of Munich found.) In the 1950s there was a push to rebuild indoor and outdoor pools throughout the city. They proved so popular that in 1959 the number of pool-goers exceeded one million. In preparation for the Olympic Games in 1972, renovations and improvements continued at various pools where international athletes trained for swimming and diving competitions. Since 1996 the SWM (Munich’s incorporated entity in charge of water and electricity) has invested over € 100 million into upgrading and remodeling the pools. And the investments have more than paid off.

Ranging in style and size, Munich’s pools cater to every taste. Starting in the north of the city in Schwabing, there is the Georgenschwaige Bad, which is the least flashy of the outdoor pools in Munich, and has the advantage of being in the Luitpold Park and is close to the Olympia Park, where additional hours are easily spent on the biking and footpaths. There is a 50-m pool for dedicated swimmers, a 25-m nonswimmers pool, a diving pool with a 1-m board, a splash pool for kids, a playground with sandboxes, plus a fountain and a huge lawn for picnicking and relaxing. The atmosphere is family oriented, with a mix of youth from the surrounding residential areas and some young mothers. It is also well equipped for guests with physical disabilities and wheelchairs. To get there it’s a quick walk from Scheidplatz, which you can reach by taking the U2/U3, or from Petuelring on the U3.

Heading east you come to the Ungererbad, one of the most impressive swimming facilities in town. In total there are five pools here, including Munich’s longest swimmers-only pool, the 85-m “Kaiserbecken,” which also has two diving boards at one end (1 m and 3 m). The other pools are the 35-m “Mariensee” for nonswimmers, with a fountain and an island; the “Luitpold” pool with a huge water slide for all ages; the parent/child pool with small waterfalls and slides near the playground; and a shallow pool for both kids and adults to lounge around in. The creek running through the park gives the place a natural feel and bridges connect the different pools and lawns. There is a pleasant beer garden, two nudist areas (one for families, one for women only), a small soccer (football) field with goals, a few beach volleyball courts and a small shop selling various swimming articles. The crowd seems to mirror that of Schwabing: it’s a place to see and be seen, and can get pretty busy. It’s a five-minute walk from the Dietlindenstrasse or Nordfriedhof stations on the U6.

If you cross the river into Haidhausen, you will find the Prinzregentenbad. A slightly smaller facility compared to the others, the Prinzregentenbad recently underwent a complete renovation. Like the other locations, it has an array of pools to choose from: a beautiful nonswimmer fun pool with a whirlpool island, a fountain in the middle and a small slide; a diving pool with a 1-m board and a 3-m platform and a 30-m swimmers-only pool. The children’s fun pool has a giant, colorful mosaic salamander island to climb around on. There is also a regular playground for the kids, with a slide and sandboxes. The complex is centrally located, at Prinzregentenstrasse 80, offers a good-sized lawn for picnicking, a small kiosk for food and drinks and a classy water slide with its own landing pool. Apparently it has an enthusiastic crowd and gets pretty flirtatious, so get your game face on if you’re going to the “Prinze.” To get there, take tram 18 to the Friedensengel or the U4 to Prinzregentenplatz. It’s a few minutes’ walk on the Prinzregentenstrasse from either direction.

Out a bit farther east, on the U5, is the Michaeli Sommerbad, easily the grandest location of all, with an impressive range of offerings. The indoor facility, separated from the outdoor complex, provides everything from massages to a solarium to earth saunas, but costs extra, too. The outdoor complex, on the other hand, has all you need for a day’s fun at the pool or in the sun. In addition to the vast lawn areas, there is a 50-m swimmers-only pool that was refurbished in 1998 with a stainless-steel lining and a large fun pool for all ages, with a whirlpool island, fountain and giant water slide. The other large, nonswimmer pool has no “attractions” as such, but offers extra lounge space when the fun pool is crowded. There is a parent/child area with a big pool for splashing around in and a nearby playground. And, perhaps best of all, there is a 10-m diving tower with platforms at 1 m, 3 m, 5 m and 7 m. A store on the premises sells swimming gear, there are beach volleyball courts and a nudist section open to everyone over 16—minors must be accompanied by an adult to be admitted. An advantage of the Michaelibad is the separate but adjacent Michaeli beer garden, set on a lagoon about 100 m from the main entrance to the pool, and the huge park within which the pool complex is situated. The Michaelibad gets absolutely all kinds of visitor and can get quite full on sunny days, so arrive early! To get there, take the U5 to the Michaelibad station and from there it’s a five-minute walk.

To reach the Schyrenbad, Munich’s oldest public pool and one of the complexes used during the Olympics, head south. It is centrally located on the Giesing side of the Isar (in fact, the pool was filled with Isar water in the old days) and has a giant lawn area for all-day sun worshipers. It also offers a huge nonswimmer pool and a 50-m swimmers-only pool with starting blocks for those who want to show off their diving skills. It has the longest opening period: from May 1 to September 30 (not September 15), rain or shine. Apparently, the boutique and pro shop do quite a bustling business with some very low prices in summer, so if you’re looking for a new pair of goggles or even a suit, it might be worth a look. The regular clientele would seem to be quite young, with or without family, some of them hip singles from the Glockenbach neighborhood across the river or local youth from the Giesing area. To get there, get off the U2/U1 at Kolumbusplatz or take the 52 or 58 bus.

Farther south and back on the west side of the Isar not far from the Flaucher and Thalkirchen (opposite the zoo in Hellabrunn) is the Maria Einsiedel Bad, in the most natural setting of all the public pools in Munich. The area is surrounded by the Isar nature preserve and has a relaxing and idyllic feel. Getting there is part of the adventure, whether you’re on a bicycle, taking the footpath along the river or arriving by U-Bahn. Once inside, vast lawn areas, a generously sized beer garden and a small Isar canal (for wading, not swimming) running through the grounds make Maria Einsiedel Bad the closest thing to a “trip to the country” within city limits. There are three pools here: the 50-m swimmers-only pool, a big nonswimmer pool for all ages and a parent/child area with splash pool, plus a women-only nudist area. Get off at the Thalkirchen U-Bahn station on the U3 and walk 10 minutes to the entrance.

Built in 1912 in Neuhausen, the Dantebad was the second outdoor public pool in Munich. In addition to having the only heated outdoor winter pool in Europe (the other one, in Moscow, was recently closed), it has six other pools to jump into when summer comes: two 50-m swimmers-only pools, a 40-m nonswimmers pool, a 40-m kids pool, a 45-m pool in the mixed nudist area (the only one in Munich with a pool included) and a fun pool with whirlpool, water jets and fountain. The lawn area includes a beer garden and a playground. Like Michaelibad, the Dantebad indoor facilities include a sauna, a solarium and steam rooms, albeit at an additional cost. It’s family oriented, but also attracts a mix of seniors during the day and young people in the afternoons and evenings. This pool is open every day all year round, from 9 am to 11 pm, except for December 24 and 31, when it is open for only a half day. Take the U1 to Westfriedhof, and from there it is a five-minute walk.
Tips and Information:
· In general, all Munich public pools are heated to 24ºc. · Almost all the pool grounds have trampolines, table tennis, large-size chess, soccer goals and snack bars/beer gardens. · All have lockers for storing valuables, changing rooms, hot and cold showers and wheelchair access. Seasonal lockers are available at each location for the early birds—these lockers sell out quickly—who don’t want to schlepp their gear home after each visit. The cost is about € 15 per season. · Opening times are usually 9 am–6 pm, but on hot days in July and August they stay open until 8:00 pm or even 8:30 pm. · Entry is the same at all the pools, € 2.60 per adult. · The SWM Website at is very useful for checking times, directions and the latest prices, but is in German only.

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