While many Germans flee their country for southern locales in summer, there is no need to leave Germany's borders for a beach vacation. While it may not be swimsuit weather year-round, every inch of the country's sandy corners is coveted in the warmer months.
Whether you swim in the Baltic's wide, white, sandy beaches or prefer island life, you will be surprised at the quality of beaches in Germany. From May through September the waters are (usually) warm enough to swim and boast temperatures ranging between 77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Try to find a space for your beach towel at the 10 best beaches in Germany.
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This Baltic Sea island of Usedom, divided between Germany and Poland (like nearby Stettin), is the quintessential summer destination.
It is one of the sunniest locations in Germany, nicknamed Sonneninsel (Sunny Island). Its almost 30-mile-long coastline is all sandy beaches, seaside mansions, and hotels perched right on the water's edge. Ahlbeck beach is a highlight with its long stretches of sand and many wicker Strandkörbe (German beach chair).
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The largest and most popular German island is—of course—the site of some of the country's best beaches. It averages 1,800 hours of sun each year, making Rügen one of the sunniest places in Germany (the top title oddly belongs to a city in the Black Forest, Freiburg).
Located off the northeast coast, it was once a luxurious tourist destination for East Germans. Today, it is everyone's favorite with UNESCO World Heritage sites such as ancient forests and the beautiful chalk cliffs of Jasmund National Park.
There are 37 miles of white sand waterfront. Visit Binz and Sellin for promenades, piers, and seaside resorts that hark from the 1800s. In the south, Baabe and Göhren also feature a promenade paired with calm waters, which is ideal for families. Perhaps the best beach for those looking for an island experience is Prora with miles of fine sand.
Want to visit more than one? Take the Rügensche BäderBahn (nicknamed Rasender Roland or Raging Roland), which carries its sand-covered passengers to four beach entrances.
The island can be reached by passing through Stralsund (worth a stop in itself) and is just three hours north of Berlin.
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Oddly-shaped Sylt has nearly 25 miles of beachfront—enough to satisfy any dedicated sun-worshipper. Called Königin der Nordsee (Queen of the North Sea), its white sands against Rotes Kliff (red cliffs) in Kampen are otherworldly beautiful as if you landed on a different planet and not just one of Germany's best beaches.
Westerland beach on the west coast has perfectly manicured sands and elegant hotels. For families, the beaches of Wenningstedt-Braderup has peaceful waters. Imagine you are somewhere altogether more tropical in exotically-named Samoa and Sansibar. If the attractions of Sylt have brought the crowds, travel a little further to the nearby island of Amrum where the Wadden Sea beaches to the east and the Kniepsand to the east are usually deserted by people and mainly occupied by seals.
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Located to the west of Rügen, this car-free island in the Baltic Sea is relatively unknown to outsiders—but that is changing. The majority of its west coast is an idyllic sandy beach buffeted by dunes. The beaches of Kloster and Neuendorf are well-maintained and the softly sloping sands of Vitte make it a pleasant beach for small children.
Leave your car back at the harbor, and make your way around the island on foot, by bike, or by horse-drawn carriage.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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A seaside resort next to surprisingly charming Rostock, this was once just a small fishing village founded in 1200.
Today's visitors are more likely to spend their time sunbathing, swimming, and sailing. This expanse of sandy beach is located at the junction of the Warnow river flowing into the Baltic. Step back from the beach and climb the iconic lighthouse from 1898 for an unbeatable view.
A nearby resort, Graal-Müeritz, provides landlubbers the chance to stop to enjoy the smells at the Rhododendron Park Festival every spring.
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Germany's largest ferry port has connections to Scandinavia, Russia, Latvia, and Estonia. Aside from the boats, Travemünde has been a beach destination since 1802. Wide expanses of beach are dotted with the classic German Strandkörbe with many people taking to the water by sailboat. It is located near lovely Lübeck with its distinctive Hanseatic brick architecture and has a strong seafaring history.
Like Warnemünde, Travemünde has a historic lighthouse, Leuchtturm Travemünde. It is the oldest on the German Baltic coast as it was built in 1539.
If you arrive in July, attend the annual sailing week, Travemünder Woche.
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This peninsula stretches into the Baltic and features a 9-mile-long beach backed by sand dunes. Kick off your shoes and feel the sand beneath your toes as this area is maintained as an environmental conservation with designated dog beaches located elsewhere.
The small population that calls this area home is a bohemian crowd of international and national artists. Even the mayor, Hans Götze, has an art career. You never know who you could bump into coming out of the endearing fisherman’s cottage.
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Long stretches of sandy beachfront extend side to side and far out into the water in this spot. The dramatic tides create additional sunbathing space at low-tide, while at high-tide kite surfers and swimmers rule the beach.
Soothe the pains of an active day with waters inland. The town is known for its sulfur springs (Dünen-Therme), the cure to everything for a German.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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It's not all about the sea for most Germans. Lake swimming is a big deal, either for a day trip escape or a full-on vacation. The country is covered in pleasant lakes, but some of the best include:
- Lake Constance, known as Bodensee by the Germans, is a 40-mile-long lake that you can't even see across. It borders Germany, Austria, and Switzerland and has an iconic island, Lindau. One of the best beach fronts in Germany is Strandbad Horn.
- Chiemsee is the largest lake in Bavaria and has two islands and a castle to explore.
- Lake Starnberg is only a 30-minute ride on public transport from Munich and offers typical watery delights.
- Lake Ammersee is little-known outside of Germany, but it offers beautiful green waters, water sports, and hiking opportunities galore.
- Lake Wannsee has almost anything you desire and is Europe's largest outdoor swimming area on an inland body of water.
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