Germany's most beautiful lakes
According to estimates, there are 15,000 to 30,000 lakes in Germany. Here is a selection of some of the most beautiful — from north to south.
Lake Müritz in northern Germany covers more than 110 square kilometers (42 square miles). This makes it the largest lake in Germany. Lake Constance in the south is even larger but shares its surface with the neighboring countries of Austria and Switzerland. Lake Müritz is part of the Mecklenburg Lake District, a holiday region with many lakes, beaches, extensive meadows and forests.
There are also many lakes around Berlin, the best-known of which is Wannsee. A fine sandy beach 1,200 meters (3,937 ft) long makes you feel like you're at the seaside. And that feeling is not so wrong, because part of the sand on the beach here came from the Baltic Sea coast. Wannsee's bathing beach offers space for up to 50,000 bathers. Even so, it quickly gets very crowded in summer.
You also get that seaside feeling at Steinhuder Meer. That might explain the misleading name of the lake (Meer means sea, not lake), which lies about 30 kilometers (19 miles) northwest of Hannover. There are two beaches here — on the north shore and on the island off Steinhude. The scenery around the lake is varied — forests, moors, heath and ice-age shifting dunes invite you to cycle and stroll.
Should Hanoverians not want to travel far, there's a lake right on their doorstep — the Maschsee. It was created artificially in the 1930s and stretches out in front of the New Town Hall, one of Hanover's great sights (picture). From its dome, you have a wonderful view over the lake.
Lake Titisee nestles romantically in the mountains of the Black Forest in southern Germany. In summer you can swim or rent a pedal boat here. In winter the lake is occasionally frozen over. The promenade where both tourists and the residents of Titisee-Neustadt stroll is especially well known and beautiful.
The largest and deepest lake in Germany, which shares its shores with Austria and Switzerland, lies in the very south of the Federal Republic of Germany. The climate here is so Mediterranean that even palm trees grow, while in the background the snow-covered Alps rise towards the sky. The urban center is Konstanz (picture). From here excursion boats set off over the entire lake.
Munich's bathtub — that's what Lake Starnberg is often called. It's only a few kilometers from the Bavarian capital and in summer it's a local recreation area for city dwellers. There are many beautiful bathing spots, some with sandy beaches. Sailing, cycling, walking — and all with a wonderful mountain panorama as a backdrop.
Lake Chiemsee also has a nickname. It's called the Bavarian Sea because at 18 kilometers (11mi) in length, it is the largest lake in Bavaria. The natural beauty of this lake was also appreciated by the fairy-tale king Ludwig II, who had Herrenchiemsee Castle built as a Bavarian version of Versailles on Herreninsel, the largest island in the lake. Its gardens and interiors are open to the public.
At Walchensee, one of the deepest and largest alpine lakes in Germany, the Caribbean seems to mix with bucolic Bavaria. Surrounded by majestic mountains, the lake shimmers in turquoise. The unusual color of the water comes from the many calcium carbonate crystals it contains, which reflect the sunlight. They are washed into the lake from the Karwendel mountains.
Many painters have been fascinated by the beauty of Lake Königssee in Berchtesgaden National Park and captured it on canvas. Next to the lake, the Watzmann massif rises steeply, providing a spectacular backdrop. You can take an environmentally friendly electric boat over the lake to St. Bartholomew's pilgrimage church on the Hirschau peninsula. It's well worth a visit.