Germany // Berlin and Brandenburg //

Tropical Islands in the Spreewald

Since 2004 an old hangar for zeppelins 60km south of Berlin has housed Tropical Islands (035 477 60 50 50, tropical-islands.de), an indoor landscaped water park the size of four football fields containing pools, lagoons, water slides, waterfalls, whirlpools and saunas as well as a clutch of bars, restaurants and shops. The quality of the landscaping is first class, and the tropical shrubbery and birds that flit around its undergrowth get to luxuriate in the constant 27°C temperature. A Disney-esque quality is added by interior buildings and monuments – like the Bali, Borneo, Thai and Samoan pavilions – and regular evening dance shows, but what really sets the place apart is its laidback convenience. A wristband received on entry handles all purchases electronically – to be paid on exit – but best of all, the place is open all day, every day, allowing you to stay overnight. Tents (€24.50 per person) can be rented, but most people just crash on the beach with a mat and blanket, which costs an additional €15 per night on top of the one-off complex entry charge of €29.50. Other one-off additional charges valid for your entire stay include use of water slides (€4.50) and the immense, nudist sauna area (€8). Tropical Islands lies off the A13 motorway from Berlin (exit Staakow), and near Brand (Niederlausitz) train station where free shuttle buses to the complex meet every train.

For an alternative, much-scaled-down experience, visit the Spreewaldtherme (daily 9am–10pm; 2hr €13, day-ticket €23; 035 60 31 88 50, spreewald-therme.de), a top-notch spa and sauna complex in Burg, 18km east of Lübbenau.