Beach holidays and swimming retreats with sun loungers, cocktails and sun cream might be not the first thing visitors associate with Germany. But the country of beer, the Oktoberfest and sausages boasts a long coastline and picturesque islands, as well as great river shores and lakes, which all make for the perfect summer getaway destinations.
What many people don’t know is that Germany actually has 2,000 kilometres of coastline along the North and Baltic Seas on offer. Furthermore, over 30 islands can be found in both seas which showcase an exciting mix of nature, events and easy living. The people that live further away from Germany’s coastline, however, don’t miss out either. Any bigger city in Germany can sport a public swimming spot on one of the country’s beautiful lakes or rivers where people congregate to relax in the sun, have drinks with their friends or play a round of volleyball.
So, whether you prefer an endless white sandy beach or a relaxing lake retreat, Germany has it all! To make your choice a tiny bit easier and to give you some inspiration on where to cool down on a hot summer’s day, we have collected Germany’s top 10 swimming spots for you.
ELLENBOGEN NATURE SANCTUARY, SYLT. PHOTO: © DZT W.V., FRANCESCO CAROVILLANO
1) Ellenbogen Nature Sanctuary, Sylt
Sylt is a popular North Sea island in the Frisian archipelago. Known for its long beaches, top-class hotels and great culinary offerings, the island is especially popular with the rich and famous. However, nature enthusiasts really will get their money’s worth here too. While the eastern side of the island sports the Wadden Sea mudflats, many long beaches invite for extensive beach walks and swimming. The Ellenbogen Nature Sanctuary on the north side of the island, for example, is one of Sylt’s top swimming spots which sports wild dunes and grasses. Here, a relaxing swimming experience is complemented with a nice lighthouse, plenty of parking space and a surfing school.
2) Elbstrand, Hamburg
Luckily, you don’t have to travel to the far north corners of Germany to enjoy a nice beach. In Hamburg, the Elbstrand is just as good as the beaches on Germany’s islands. As a 13-kilometre-long sandy beach with numerous green coves on the Elbe river’s northern shore, the Elbstrand is the perfect setting for a day off from sightseeing in Hamburg. While enjoying a cold beer you can even watch the big ships leaving and entering Germany’s largest port. And even better: barbecues are allowed here!
Hamburg’s Elbstrand. Photo: © www.mediaserver.hamburg.de, Jan Traupe
3) Tachinger See, Bavaria
Bavaria might be far away from the coast of Germany but nevertheless boasts some top swimming lakes which impress with great water quality and beautiful vistas. One example for this is the Tachinger See – a lake in Bavaria’s Traunstein district which borders the more famous Waginger See.
For those that want the ultimate island retreat experience with a multitude of swimming opportunities and top-notch beaches, head to Wangerooge. It is one of the 32 Frisian islands in the North Sea, close to the coasts of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. What makes Wangerooge so special is that it has a population of just over 1,000. Furthermore, no cars are allowed on the island so that you can only reach the pristine white beaches by bicycle or horse-drawn carriage.
WANGEROOGE. PHOTO © WWW.OSTFRIESLAND.TRAVEL
5) Badeschiff, Berlin
The Badeschiff is a floating public swimming pool in the middle of Berlin. One of the trendiest places to go swimming in Germany in summer, the Badeschiff is situated in the East Harbour section of the river Spree and can be found between the districts Alt-Treptow and Kreuzberg. Enjoy a cool drink from the bar, sit back and gaze at the unique panoramic views of the river!
6) Ahlbeck Beach, Usedom
The island of Usedom is another popular summer destination of Germans and international visitors alike. Known for beaches and nature parks, it is divided between Germany and Poland in the Baltic Sea. One of the most beautiful beaches – especially popular for its grand swimming opportunities and the famous pier – is Ahlbeck Beach.
AHLBECK BEACH, USEDOM. PHOTO © USEDOM TOURISMUS GMBH
7) Timmendorfer Strand
The Baltic Sea coast is also a popular summer destination for many. For example, head to Timmendorfer Strand – a coastal town near the hanseatic city of Lübeck. Here, you can find great relaxation, superb culinary offerings and a top-notch beach with great hotels and many things to do and see, like the Sea Life aquarium or the Vogelpark Niendorf bird sanctuary.
8) Isarstrand, Munich
Munich, just like Berlin, has fabulous summer swimming opportunities in the middle of the city too. Located on the Isar river, the Isarstrand is a favourite among the locals. If you’re looking for a local summer vibe, some relaxing beers and a picnic in a cool atmosphere, this city beach is the top pick for you. Another tip for Munich: the Eisbach in the middle of the Englischer Garten. Here, surfers (!) are likely to be met as the 12-metre-wide Eisbach waves make it possible to surf all year round.
BADESCHIFF, BERLIN PHOTO © VISITBERLIN, PIERRE ADENIS
9) Königssee, Bavaria
If you want to enjoy a refreshing swim while gazing at breathtaking panoramic views of the mountains, head to the Königssee in Bavaria. It is a natural lake in the south-east of the Bechtesgaden district of Bavaria. As most of the lake is situated within the Berchtesgaden National Park, visitors can expect untouched nature and lovely, unparalleled views.
10) Langener Waldsee, Langen
Comprising of 72,000 square metres, the Langener Waldsee is a hotspot for summer activities in the Rhine-Main area – not least due to its beautifully turquoise waters. As a former borrow pit, it is one of the largest lakes in this region of Germany and can be easily reached from Frankfurt. Visitors can look forward to a 900-metre-long sandy beach and surfing, sailing, angling, as well as camping opportunities. Once a year, this location is also used for the Ironman European Championship.
ISARSTRAND, MUNICH. PHOTO ©DZT, JÖRG LUTZ
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF